Seven Principles for Getting Out The VoteNovember 4th is almost here! Over the next week, your discussions with clients and constituents about voting are critical. Use these tested strategies to make your get-out-the-vote efforts as effective as possible.

  1. Make it Personal
    Voter mobilization research shows that people are more likely to participate when contacted personally by someone they know. Voters respond best to other people, especially friends, neighbors, and community-based agencies that are familiar and trusted. Rather than focusing on impersonal handouts or mass emails, look for opportunities to initiate conversations about voting while delivering services, in meetings, on the phone, or at trainings and events.
  2. Make it Easy
    Voters can let little things keep them from the polls. Not having basic information about the election–like when the polls are open, how to find your polling location if you’ve recently moved, or what kind of identification is necessary–can create participation barriers. Fortunately, nonprofits are well equipped to help voters get the information they need to vote with confidence.
  3. Competition Counts
    Competition drives turnout. Voters respond when they perceive that an election is competitive or high profile. You can encourage this by highlighting closely contested candidate races or ballot measures.
  4. Timing is Everything
    Get-out-the-vote efforts have the greatest impact in the final weeks and days leading up to the election when voters who are less likely to turnout pay more attention. Designate a day for a big early voting push. Then pump up the volume in the final week and on Election Day itself!
  5. Picture It
    People are more likely to vote if they visualize their plan to do so. Will they request a mail ballot or vote early in person? What time will they head to the polls on Election Day? Ask people to think specifically about when and how they plan to vote.
  6. The Power of Positivity
    Negative messaging–like “If you don’t vote, don’t complain”–or calls to civic duty without additional information about the election can be confusing and counterproductive. Use positive messages that encourage people to vote by connecting the election back to your community’s future and your organization’s issues.
  7. Raising the Stakes
    Voters respond to urgency. If the election seems important, people a re more likely to turn out because they believe that their vote will make a difference, benefit them, or avoid negative results. Use your mission and core issues to highlight what’s at stake.

Get-out-the-vote efforts pay dividends. Voting is contagious. Research shows that if you persuade one person to vote, they will likely influence at least one additional friend or family member to vote too. Voting is habit-forming. Casting a ballot for the first or second time can instill a lifelong voting habit. Download Seven Principles for Getting Out the Vote.

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