Getting Out The Vote!
Voter mobilization is kicking into high gear with only 19 days and counting until the election. Along with the efforts of grass roots organizations like Vote Forward, the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) movement has pulled in corporations, celebrities and social media platforms, all pushing people to the polls.
And it seems to be working. Early voting and registration numbers are soaring, and election experts expect a record number of people to cast their votes. More than a half a million Illinois voters have already cast their ballots and there were long lines yesterday for the opening of early voting locations in each of Chicago’s 50 wards.
But is it the polarizing election drawing in voters, or are the GOTV campaigns really working to motivate people to vote? In other words, should you give up your Saturday to make calls or send letters to potential voters in swing states? (Asking for a friend!)
There have been a lot of experiments and research into the effectiveness of voter mobilization. Research shows that GOTV efforts do help move the needle but, like all successful campaigns, strategies and tactics are the key to success. Not surprisingly, personal, conversational and authentic conversations have a much greater impact than, say, mass emails. Unfortunately, due to Covid, door to door canvassing, the most effective tactic, isn’t a viable option for many, but phone calls, texting and handwritten letters can have an impact.
Regarding messaging, according to the Analyst Institute GOTV conversations should focus on voting, not issues or candidates. Also, employing “gentle” social pressure and helping someone make a plan to vote can be convincing. Emphasizing that voting is the social norm — “everybody’s doing it” — is more effective than sharing concern about low voter turnout. “Be a part of the in crowd and vote” may strike the perfect chord with a social climber!
I’ll be keeping this guidance in mind as I participate in Vote Forward’s Big Send campaign this Saturday. Will it make a difference? Maybe we’ll find out after the election when political researchers and behavioral scientists start analyzing the results and dissecting the data. What I do know is, like thousands of fellow Americans, this year getting involved in the election before casting my vote feels more important than ever.