October 23, 2018

By Jacob Vurpillat

A Candidate’s Election Day Checklist

Election Day can be pretty crazy. To help with that, we’ve put together a short Election Day checklist to remind you of a few things you’ll need to do on the big day.

Months, if not years of work all culminate into one single day. This can be an enormous amount of pressure, particularly for candidates. Running for office is a fulfillment of a dream for a candidate, and a single day can make or break that dream.

In other words, candidates (and staff) have every right to be nervous on Election Day.

That said, there’s still work to be done. In fact, Election Day may end up being the longest, hardest, most tiring day of your campaign.

To make sure you’re successful, every candidate should check these four items on their Election Day Checklist.

Get Out The Vote

If you’ve been reading our blog posts over the past few weeks, you’ll have noticed a trend. In all of our posts, we talk about the importance of Getting Out The Vote.

Put simply, if you do not Get-Out-The-Vote, you will not win. This should be the first item on your Election Day checklist.

For candidates, Election Day should be spent knocking on doors and encouraging folks to go vote. Let your community know that you are out there and work non-stop to be elected.

Your campaign has likely recruited volunteers to help with its Get-Out-TheVote efforts. If they see the candidate out and about, this will be a motivator for them.

We’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks covering the Do’s and Don’ts of GOTV, a GOTV FAQ, and Recruiting Volunteers for GOTV. For more information on GOTV, check out any of those blogs, or take our course on GOTV.

Vote for Yourself

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first.

Ideally, you will have already voted. You have a very limited amount of time on Election Day. If you have the chance to vote early, we highly encourage you to do so. A trip to the voting booth is time that you could have spent knocking on doors.

Hopefully, you’ve ticked this box off of your Election Day checklist early. Vote early. Do not waste time that could otherwise be spent knocking doors.

That said, it’s not every day that you get the chance to vote for yourself. If voting for yourself on Election Day is a lifelong dream of yours, we can’t stop you from achieving this dream. But please be quick about it. And then go knock doors.

While we’re on the topic, there is something we want to be absolutely, undoubtedly, crystal clear about.

Vote for yourself.

This may sound like common sense, but we want to make sure there is NO confusion here. Do not vote for your opponent. You may laugh, but people do it. There is nothing honorable about voting for your opponent. Your opponent will not be returning the “favor”. You don’t want to lose by one vote, don’t take any chances.

Prepare for Both Scenarios

On Election Night, your supporters will expect to hear from you. Whether it’s a speech, a Facebook post, or a tweet, you need to make a statement.

This is true if you win, and this is true if you lose. Be ready for both scenarios. Prepare two statements ahead of time – one for a loss, and one for a win.

No matter the result of your election, it will be an emotional time for you. You will either be happy and excited, or you may be defeated. While we’re certainly hoping it’s the former, neither state of mind is ideal to craft the message that your supporters deserve to hear.

On Election Night, prepare yourself to release both of these statements. If you’re to give a speech, prepare yourself emotionally to face your supporters after a defeat. Some candidates need more time to prepare for this than others, and that’s okay. Hillary Clinton even waited until the next morning. But, at some point, you will need to say something. And it’ll be far easier to have something prepared ahead of time.

Think through how you’ll want to handle both scenarios on Election Night. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll be glad that you spent the time to prepare.

Bring It Home on Election Day

In an ideal world, Election Day would be easy. All of your voters would have voted early and you’d have nothing to worry about.

Realistically, this will not happen. Election Day is going to be a long and tough day. But, we believe in you.

You’ve worked as hard as you can for months. You’ve put in the work you’ve needed to do. Now it’s time to believe in yourself.

Bring it home.

Jacob is the Manager of Political Communications for NDTC. Jacob was initially an intern for NDTC in 2016 before moving on to work for both a Chicago Alderman and an Illinois State Representative. After working in Parliament in the Republic of Ireland, Jacob joined NDTC in April of 2018. Jacob is a graduate of DePaul University with a degree in Political Science. Outside of politics, Jacob tries to forget the Chicago Cub's century of losing while enjoying their recent success.