Reading time: 17 minutes

Ballot Chasing: Script Samples To Request For Absentee Ballots

By:
Published: Jan 6, 2023

Absentee ballots are crucial for any election to increase voter turnout. In the 2018 midterm elections, 40% of voters used alternative voting methods, such as absentee ballots and mail-in voting.  In 2020, this number climbed up to 46%. 

The three primary reasons why absentee ballots have gained popularity include–

  1. Accessibility. Senior citizens, people with disabilities, and overseas military staff can participate in the democratic process through absentee ballots.
  2. Convenience. Since election days are not public holidays, absentee ballots ensure people can still participate without skipping work or standing in long queues at the polling booth.
  3. Inclusivity. Absentee voting allows historically marginalized groups to participate in the electoral process with much more ease.

Due to these reasons, absentee voting has seen a tremendous increase over the years.

mail-in-ballots-surge-in-votes

An incredible rise in 2020, primarily owing to COVID-related curbs and social distancing.

Source: PEW research center

For campaigns that run ballot chase efforts each election cycle, this surge is good news. However, ballot chasing, employing different ways to ensure voters request for and return their absentee ballots, is essential to keep the momentum going.

This article explores challenges in registering for absentee ballots, best practices, and scripts you can use when asking voters to opt for ballot voting.

Challenges to absentee ballot registration

Understanding people’s challenges while registering for absentee ballots might help navigate your conversations. Empathizing with on-ground realities can provide insight into directing your phone calls and maximizing registrations.

We’ve identified the top challenges people face when registering for an absentee ballot–

  1. Lack of awareness: Voters often report that they were not aware of registration dates, deadlines, voter rights, or how to register to vote early. 
  2. Rejection of ballots: Even after voters return their ballots, there is a chance that their ballots get rejected due to incomplete information, missing signatures, or more. 
  3. Fears of vote suppression: With the popularity of absentee ballots, there are also fears within marginalized groups that their votes will be rejected. Studies have found some truth to these fears, but it is also true that absentee ballots give these groups greater accessibility to voting.

Read Also: Why You Must Include Mail-In Ballots in Your Next Campaign 

How to request for absentee ballot registration

When you make phone calls to request for an absentee ballot, you need to know:

  • what topics to cover in each phone call, 
  • the number of times you need to contact a voter to ensure ballot submission and 
  • what you need to run a successful campaign. 

This section covers these points for you. 

What topics to cover when requesting for absentee ballot registration?

Here’s a list of topics you can cover during calls to voters:

  1. Voter identification: If the list you have received for your campaign is not clean or is very old, you might want to run a voter identification campaign. Your phone call to voters should include questions about absentee ballot voting and whether it is a good option for the contact.
  2. Education campaigns: Subsequent calls to voters could consist of educating them about deadlines, any documents they might need to submit, how to fill in an absentee ballot form, alternative forms of voting, etc. 
  3. Reminder calls: Once voters have received a ballot, you need to ensure they do not forget all about it. Make reminder calls to ensure voters fill out the absentee ballot form and return them. 

How many times should I contact a voter?

Ballot chase campaigns begin with requesting voters to vote via mail and end once the voter has returned their ballot. Studies estimate that you need 5-6 calls to persuade voters to vote. 

What else do I need to run a successful request for an absentee ballot campaign?

Before you begin your campaign, here’s what you need:

  1. Identify your target universe: Who will your campaign target? Will you contact only those voters who have previously voted by mail or have already registered to receive an absentee ballot, or would you encourage all voters to vote early?
Tip: Updated information about the profession, relocation, or other factors influencing one’s challenges to vote in person will help you create a more comprehensive list for the absentee ballot target audience.
  1. Run a voter identification campaign: Depending on your answer to the previous question, run a voter identification campaign to identify voters who fall under your target universe. These include voters who have previously opted to vote through absentee ballots or are most likely to choose that option.

Read Also: Your Quick Guide to Voter Identification Laws in the US 

  1. Train and assign agents: Train your agents to use your phonebanking software and the script you will use to request absentee ballots.

Read Also: How to train your campaign volunteers 

  1. Use a good phonebanking software: Your phonebanking software needs to–
  • Handle large call volumes. 
  • Allow you to manage and monitor agents
  • Add scripts. Bonus points if they allow you to add dynamic scripts to make calls easier for your agents. 
  • Help you stay compliant during the campaign with technology such as SHAKEN/STIR or features like the FastClick dialer
  • Integrate multiple channels such as text and email to reach out to voters
  • Add tags and call dispositions to improve your targeting
  • Help you avoid getting labeled as spam to increase pickup rates. Features such as the spam label shield are perfect for it.
Well, you know we would recommend a great calling software if we knew one. And we do! CallHub is built to address the needs of campaigns reaching out to voters specifically. Learn how Democrats Abroad used CallHub to run their absentee ballot chase campaign, which drove 50-70% of overseas votes in 2018.

Now that you know the challenges and best practices when ballot chasing, we’ve designed scripts you can use when speaking to voters. Read on.

Request for absentee ballot scripts

We’ve developed multiple scripts for different stages of ballot chasing. From voter identification to ballot return confirmation – we have scripts for every contact point. 

However, before you proceed, there are some terms you must be familiar with–

  1. Call dispositions: Call dispositions indicate the end result of a call. On CallHub, when you end a call, you can mark the contact as ‘interested,’ ‘registered,’ ‘unresponsive,’ ‘done,’ etc. depending on terms relevant to your call. 
  2. Autodialers: Autodialers help you make 10x more calls per hour than manual dialers by identifying the number of agents on your campaign, time taken per call, and distributing calls accordingly. 
  3. Branching scripts: These are logic-based scripts that direct agents to the associated reply based on your callee’s response. For example, if one voter says no to a question and another says yes, the next part of the script reflected to the agent will be different. Here’s how it works –
request-for-absentee-ballots-branching-scripts

Voter registration script for absentee ballots

Campaign Brief:

You are calling voters in the <area_name> area to understand if they intend to vote this election cycle. Once you establish that, ask them if they would like to register for an absentee ballot. 

——–

Hello, May I speak to <name>

My name is <agent_name>. I am calling from <campaign_name>. 

If not available–

May I know when would be a good time to speak with them?

*Understand and note down if the voter is currently unavailable, moved away, moved abroad, or passed away. Set call disposition as appropriate.*

If available–

I am calling to ask if you intend to vote this year and if you would like to request an absentee ballot to vote.

If NO to vote–

Tell them why these elections are crucial for their community. You could speak about current issues at stake, for example.*

If Yes to vote but NO to the absentee ballot–

*Thank them for their time and leave contacts details <insert contact details> to get in touch if they change their mind*

If Yes to both–

*Let them know the procedure for requesting an absentee ballot in their state*

*Inform them about deadlines for ballot requests and submission*

*Ask them to verify their details in your voter base.*

If an absentee ballot has already been requested–

*Ask them to check with their Local Election Official if they have received their ballot request*

*Inform them about deadlines for ballot submission*

*Ask them to verify their details in your voter base*

Notes:

  • Ask if they need dedicated help requesting or submitting a ballot.
  • Collect their mobile number if you don’t have it (If they are open to receiving text messages).
  • Send a follow-up text with a relevant link (to register for a ballot/deadline information).
  • Update relevant survey responses on your calling tool to help future outreach.

Add call disposition. End the call.

Awareness campaigns for absentee ballots

Campaign brief:

We have identified voters who want to or have already requested for absentee ballots. We need to ensure that they are updated with all information they need so that their ballots do not get rejected. In addition to educating them, also encourage them to fill out and submit the ballot at the earliest to avoid last-minute rejections.

—-

Hello,

May I speak with <voter_name>? I am calling from the <campaign_name> campaign, and my name is <agent_name>. 

Options:

Available

Not Available

If not available–

Thank you. When would be a good time to reach them? *Schedule callback*.

If available–

Hey <first_name>! We’re running a campaign to ensure all voters in <area_name> are registered to vote. I’m given to understand that you would like an absentee ballot. Have you already registered to receive one?

Options:

Yes

No

If no- 

Alright, is there a challenge you are facing with registering, or would you like me to walk you through the registration process?

*Understand their challenges and talk them through the solutions. Guide them through the steps to request an absentee ballot.*

If yes–

Oh, that’s great. Please remember to fill in your application and submit it before <insert deadline>. Ideally, the earlier you submit your ballot, the better it is since you will know whether it has been accepted or, on the off chance, if it has been rejected and you need to resubmit it. Would you like me to set up a reminder call for ballot submission?

*Schedule a callback for those who want a reminder.*

End:

Thank you for your time. Are there any other questions regarding the ballot that I can answer for you?

*Add call disposition*

Reminder/Follow up calls

Campaign brief

You are a volunteer with <campaign_name>, a campaign that aims to mobilize voters to vote during elections. We are running a ballot chase initiative to encourage voters who have requested an absentee ballot during previous elections or during this year to complete and return their ballot. We are currently making reminder calls to increase submissions.

Hi <first_name>, my name is <agent_name>. I’m a volunteer with the <organization_name>. I’m calling you about the absentee ballot submission. Have you filled and returned the ballot?

{wait for response}

  • Yes
  • No
  • I have questions/doubts/challenges

If yes

I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you for confirming. *End call*

If facing challenges/have questions

Why don’t you tell me about them. I might be able to help you out. *Guide the voters to the best of your ability to resolve their challenges.*

If no

That’s all right. Is there any challenge you are facing that I can help you with? Or has it been a bit busy lately?

{wait for response}

  • Challenges
  • Been busy

If facing challenges:

Why don’t you tell me about them. I might be able to help you out. *Guide the voters to the best of your ability to resolve their challenges.*

If they were busy:

Oh, that happens. However, the deadline is fast approaching, and submitting your ballot early ensures you have time to rectify if your ballot gets rejected. Is there any way I could assist you in returning your ballot?

Call Disposition: <Add call disposition>

End:

*Thank the voter for taking the time to speak with you.*

Notes:

<add notes>

What’s next?

Absentee ballot chase is one piece in the get-out-the-vote puzzle. Having a strategy to make all your GOTV campaigns successful is the key to increasing voter turnout. Read our article, The All-in-one Guide for Get Out The Vote (GOTV), to plan your get-out-the-vote strategy. All the best for your campaign!

Featured Image Source: Tara Winstead

Categories:

Enjoying my work? Share this article!