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Strategies for a Successful Get Out the Vote Campaign

by Veronica Magan, FiscalNote

The success of your campaign can depend on your get out the vote strategy. Read our guide on tactics for helping your supporters get out & vote!

gotv strategy planning

You want your organization’s mission to be represented by the elected officials who win, and that means getting the folks who support them to the polls for federal, state, and even local elections where voter turnout is often pitifully low and seats can be determined by just a few hundred votes. Even if it’s simply communicating how the results impact your supporters, get out the vote (GOTV) campaigns connect your advocates to your organization in a way that is challenging to do in non-election years. 

The positives from a good get-out-the-vote strategy can reverberate far beyond engaging advocates and encouraging good citizenry. Here at FiscalNote, we’ve found GOTV campaigns can help with member retention and donations, as well as creating a community. Here are some get-out-the-vote tactics to help you find success in your next campaign.

What is a Get Out the Vote Campaign?

Get out the vote campaigns are meant to energize and mobilize your supporters to exercise their right to vote. While it may seem that GOTV campaigns are solely an election-day activity, they require months of preparation to make a real impact. 

6 get out the vote strategy tips

Get Out the Vote Strategies Before Election Day

1. Get People Registered to Vote

First, you need to make sure your advocates, be it supporters, members, or employees, are registered to vote. Typically, voter registration ends 20-30 days before Election Day, depending on the jurisdiction, so you want to make sure to start your campaign before then and maybe even segment your efforts depending on location to provide the most up-to-date information to your advocates.

You can ease that process for advocates by allowing them to register directly through you. FiscalNote’s VoterVoice automatically provides the users simple steps to register to vote, including relevant information on where and when to vote, and what the requirements are depending on their location. This also allows you to grow your advocate base with possible new members who register to vote through your campaign.

Beyond giving them the option to directly register to vote, you can educate your supporters with additional resources. For example, a Q&A on how to register through your site, or even linking out to supplemental nonpartisan resources, such as VoteSmart to learn about the specific deadlines for registering, absentee or early voting, qualifications, and other useful information by state.

2. Educate Supporters on Candidates

Unless you are directly and openly supporting a specific candidate, most get-out-the-vote campaigns try to be nonpartisan. Educating your supporters on the candidates running in their localities doesn’t mean you are endorsing them, but rather you are looking to give your advocates all the resources they need to make an educated decision on Election Day.

You can allow your advocates to specifically search using their zip code and find their candidates with the most up-to-date information on how to contact them or learn more, all in one place: your FiscalNote’s VoterVoice action center.

VoterVoice also allows you to easily create a voting scorecard for legislators to rate how each lawmaker has voted on your key issues. These scorecards are a powerful tool you can distribute to help educate your supporters before Election Day. Again, this doesn’t mean you are endorsing specific candidates, but when it comes to your issues, you want to make sure your advocates are well informed.

3. Give Tools to Vote Absentee or Early

There is a lot of misinformation and questions around absentee ballots and early voting. Though every state supports absentee voting, rules on who can take part vary. Some states require an excuse for voting absentee. Due to the coronavirus, some states are giving all voters an excuse to vote by mail for certain elections, while other states may automatically send voters an absentee ballot or a form to fill out to request one. The situation changes daily and you need to keep your supporters up to date with what's going on. As mentioned before, this is a unique opportunity for you to be that main source of information your supporters can trust and come to for answers.

You can automatically display the correct resources depending on each person’s location on how to file an absentee ballot or vote early using FiscalNote’s VoterVoice. The best part is, you don’t have to do any of the work. It is all integrated into your action center and your users only need to provide their zip code and street address to get all the relevant information.

4. Communicate What’s at Stake 

Throughout your communication with supporters, make sure you explain why this election is important, tying it closely back to the issues your organization and your supporters care about. 

Voters and your supporters respond best to other people, whether in their community, workplace, or friends and neighbors. Getting groups of like-minded people involved can help you spread the word and boost your get-out-the-vote campaign.

How to Get Out the Vote on Election Day

Of course, a GOTV strategy is not complete without day-of communication. You can go with a broad message or use different messages for specific jurisdictions or states, but the main goal is to express the importance of voting and motivate people to get out the vote.

You can contact your advocates via email, text, push notification, even fax all through FiscalNote's VoterVoice tool. Whether you want to contact everyone at once or segment your list, we make it easy to activate your base. VoterVoice features a very powerful search filter where you can look up by district or state and build a list of your supporters in those areas and quickly message them through any of the aforementioned tactics.

1. Offer Rides to Polling Station

Make it easier for your supporters to vote. Use the list segmenting tools in VoterVoice to round up volunteers in a specific location and offer rides to polling stations.

2. Text Reminders About Going to the Polls

Texting your supporters can be a great way to bypass crowded inboxes and get your message across in a more immediate manner. While you have to be careful not to overwhelm people with texts, you can leverage VoterVoice’s texting feature to reach your supporters with a quick call-to-action message to remind them to get to the polls and exercise their right to vote.

3. Don’t Stop Until the Polls Close

Make sure you continue to communicate with your supporters and make them aware of when their polling places close to encourage them to get out the vote!

Your Guide to Running a Successful GOTV Campaign

Download the checklist you can print or share with your organization to make sure you don’t miss any step!

Post-Election Follow-Up

After the election, it is time to reap all the benefits from the hard work you put into your GOTV campaign. Using the momentum and the sense of community you built, it is now time to reach out to your base with a communication or series of communications that seek to inform supporters about the results from the election and to provide additional context of how that impacts them directly, as well as the work your organization is doing.

The idea here is that you're sending emails or text messages, or even creating visual materials to help answer questions such as how newly elected officials align with your organization. You can also poll your advocates to see how they feel about the results. You can make all these resources available on your VoterVoice action center to have one central source of truth, and even start getting users engaged on the next advocacy campaign you are preparing.

Now that you’ve learned about the steps for a successful get-out-the-vote campaign, download the checklist you can print or share with your organization to make sure you don’t miss any step!

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Your Strategy

Once the results are in, and whether your preferred candidate won or lost, make time to evaluate your advocacy efforts and assess what worked and what didn’t in your GOTV campaign. Analyze your campaign metrics such as open rates, action rates, and how many people visited your action center to get information on how to vote in their specific location. Then, compare those metrics with your regular campaigns to see what tactics you can improve on for future get-out-the-vote strategies, and what tactics you can apply to other campaigns throughout the year.

Create a Winning Get Out the Vote Campaign with VoterVoice

FiscalNote’s VoterVoice helps advocacy professionals with every step of their GOTV campaigns — from execution to evaluation. We bring together more than 50 years of digital advocacy experience from the multiple product lines from CQ and VoterVoice, under the umbrella of FiscalNote, to give you the most comprehensive set of tools available on the market.

Build your advocacy campaign in minutes and mobilize your supporters to quickly message lawmakers in multiple ways — be it email, phone, or social media. Track engagement from beginning to end, segment and grow your supporters’ database, and build shareable reports, all while trusting your data is guarded and your communications are deployed safely with VoterVoice.

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