A recent briefing by Todd Rogers–a Harvard professor and former founding executive director of the Analyst Institute–synthesized research and data on effective voter turnout strategies. Many of the findings can be applied to nonprofit voter engagement efforts, helping us strategically nudge voters to the polls on Election Day.
While it’s important to raise the profile of the election and make ongoing announcements about dates and deadlines, try to make your one-on-one conversations about the election more personal. Prompt your clients to think through the logistical details of their plans for voting–such as when they intend to head to the polls, how they will get there, and what they will be doing beforehand. This type of conversation is twice as effective (among single-voter households) as simply asking people if they intend to vote. (Rogers suggested that voters who lived with other voters were already more likely to discuss their Election Day plans as part of everyday life.)
Additionally, negative messaging–like lamenting low turnout–can be counterproductive and is unlikely to motivate voters. Instead, emphasize that turnout is expected to be high–this approach particularly impacts infrequent or occasional voters.
We’ve already reported on the difference between the importance of “being a voter” and the importance of “voting”–so think about how to phrase conversations with clients in a way that frames them as voters, rather than just asking them to vote.
Although this information can help inform your voter engagement work, don’t be afraid to try new strategies and figure out what works best for your nonprofit. And if you have a tactic that’s particularly effective, share it!