Getting out the vote is potentially the single most important aspect of a campaign. If you want to win on election day, you need to get at least one more vote than your opponent.
If you don’t get out the vote, then getting more votes than your opponent will be essentially impossible.
The GOTV phase of your campaign is vital in ensuring success come election day.
To that end, we’ve put together our list of Do’s and Don’ts of GOTV.
Do tell your volunteers what the goal of GOTV is
The GOTV phase of your campaign is notably different than the persuasion stage of your campaign. While those of us who are familiar with campaigns might understand the difference, your volunteers may not. Knowing that, it is best to explain what GOTV is, why it’s important, and what the goal is.
Your field efforts to this point have been all about persuasion. At GOTV, we’re done with that. We’re done identifying new supporters, and it’s time to actually turn out and make certain your identified voters actually vote.
Now, this may be shocking to you, but your campaign is not always the most important priority for every voter. Sometimes, life gets in the way of people remembering to vote. I know, it’s crazy. That’s why it’s up to you to harass, cajole, drag every last base and identified supporter out to the polls.
This means you want to focus on a GOTV universe made up of your base voters or party voters. Remember, these are the voters who have a good record of voting in your party’s primary over several elections. Now in addition to those base voters, it also includes all of the persuasion voters that you’ve identified throughout the course of your campaign up until now.
Don’t focus on voters the campaign hasn’t identified
At this point in your campaign, you’re no longer knocking on doors trying to convince potential supporters to vote for you. If you’ve done it right, you should have already identified the voters who want to vote for you. These are the voters who should be getting your attention now.
If your campaign is able to hit it’s win number if your identified voters vote, that’s great. You should focus your efforts solely on getting these voters to the polls. You no longer need to convince people to vote for you. If you do, you’re wasting time that you could be spending getting your identified voters to the polls
That said, there’s a caveat to this rule. You may find that even with all the party voters and the persuasion voters that you identified that are supporting you, you don’t have enough votes to win. If all of those folks combined are not large enough to get you to your win number, this is not a reason to panic.
When this is the case, you need to expand your GOTV universe to include other groups. It’s not ideal, but happens all the time. Perhaps you add more persuasion voters that have not been contacted or you add more party voters who have less reliable turnout history.
But, if you’re sending volunteers to persuade a voter during GOTV, make sure that they’re aware of this. They need to understand what their goal is when talking to a voter. It will also be helpful if you mark this down on their walk sheet.
Do contact voters frequently
Campaigns would be a lot easier if you could call a voter, leave a voicemail reminding them to vote, and then they’d show up at the poll.
Sadly, this is not the case. A voicemail is likely to go unheard. A single phone call, even if answered, is likely to have little impact on a voter. Realistically, you’ll need to contact a voter at least three times before your message really hits home.
If your GOTV phase coincides with early voting, you’ll want to keep knocking on a voter’s door until they tell you that they have finally voted. When a voter still hasn’t voted when when you knock on your door, make note to knock on their door again to see if they’ve voted.
Don’t be leave a bad impression of your campaign
One of the worst things you can do for your campaign is to leave a bad impression when you’re interacting with voters. Above all else, you want to remain respectful and polite at all times. Smile and say hello. Walk on the sidewalks, not through someone’s lawn. If a voter tells you they don’t want to be bothered, don’t bother them.
During the GOTV stage of your campaign, you might come across voters who have previously said they intend to vote for your candidate, but now they refuse to do so. This is frustrating. You thought you had a vote locked down, but now you don’t. You may even feel like you need to stand there and argue with the voter in an attempt to get them to vote for you.
This actually helps you in the long run. Now you know to not spend your limited resources trying to get this voter to the voting booth.
If someone has already told you that they will not be voting for you, do not waste time by trying to convince them otherwise. Chances are, you won’t. Instead, focus on getting the voters who will be voting for you to the polls. Smile, thank them for their time, and move on to voters who will vote for you.
Leaving a poor impression on a voter can only serve to hurt your campaign. Not only have you made the voter more likely to vote for your opponent, they may encourage those around them to do the same.
Do make voting as easy as possible
If you make voting easy, a voter is more likely to vote (and to vote for you).
When you contact voters during the GOTV stage of your campaign, make sure you provide them with important information that they should know when it comes to voting.
Where do they need to go to vote? What are the options for early voting? Do they need an ID when they vote? These are questions that your campaign needs to be prepared to answer for voters. The easier you can make voting for them, the more likely they are to vote.
And, if you’ve identified voters who might need physical help in getting to the polls, make sure to have a volunteer set up who is available to drive voters to their precinct. You can designate one person or a group of people to be available throughout the day, keep them at your headquarters, and have them do phone banking in between giving rides.
Do Get Out The Vote
Getting out the vote is a vital part of election day. If you don’t do your part to get voters to the polls, you’ll end up disappointed when the results come in.
By following these do’s and don’ts, you’ll be able to run an effective GOTV strategy.
Want to learn more about GOTV? Make sure to check out our GOTV course!