*steps on soapbox*
Is this thing on?
Ok, now that I have your attention, I’ve got some thoughts to share.
It’s the end of October. The air is turning crisp. Pumpkin spice everything is everywhere. This can only mean one thing. . .
IT’S TIME TO GET OUT THE VOTE (GOTV)!!!
For those of you that don’t do political stuff, this is the phase of a campaign where we move from IDing voters, and doing general name recognition things (like parades) to actually working to get voters that support your candidate or issue to check the box, or fill in the box, or punch the chad, or pick the candidates name on a screen on or before Election Day. It’s a targeted effort because while voting is awesome, you don’t want to turn out votes to hurt your candidate. That’s someone else’s job.
For some reason, people often think they have the perfect new idea that will surely make sure that all voters get to the polls. Too often these are passive, indirect ways to “talk” to voters. While people may believe it to be true, they are often not amazing, brilliant, and/or original.
But, sorry, they aren’t.
They’ve been done before. I swear. Someone, somewhere has tried it. Or a version of it.
While it may be fun for the volunteers and supporters, at the end of the day, these passive attempts at voter contact really don’t end up actually contacting many voters and definitely don’t provide measurable data or ways to follow up to make sure the voter actually gets to the polls (which is the whole point of GOTV, but I digress).
So, fast forward to Election Night. Let’s say your candidate wins? Yay! Go team!
However, it won’t be because of a flashmob or signs on an overpass or anything like that.
It will be because organizers are working behind the scenes to have conversations with voters. To ask them about their voting plan, give them information about how and where to early vote, share information about candidate positions. Hell, often they’ll keep calling or knocking until the voter said they voted or just starts to ignore the contact attempts. (and spoiler alert: you’re talking to supporters, or should be, they aren’t gonna not vote for your candidate because of the GOTV calls)
This activity cannot be done via *insert random passive idea* here. It requires direct connections.
You can’t persuade via a flashmob. You can’t give a person a vote by mail form when they are speeding by you on the freeway while you stand on an overpass. Those things really only do one thing – get people to recognize a brand, but this is not the end all, be all of campaigns. It’s just marketing 101, tbh. And it’s something that should happen *before* GOTV.
Now, some of you may be asking, “but what about the people that don’t or can’t go door to door or make phone calls” or maybe “I want to help, but I live in a deep blue area with no competitive races”. So, I’m going to hook y’all up with some information on various ways people can help during GOTV that either directly help get out the vote or support those getting out the vote.
- Volunteer your time. Go to a local campaign office and sign up for a canvassing or phonebanking shift. Some campaigns may have it so you can make calls from home so you don’t even have to put on pants.
- Donate. Those that can, do. Those that are too busy give money to campaigns to help pay for things that do.
- Bring food/water/supplies to a local campaign office. Campaign workers are working 12+ hour a day during GOTV and tend to eat like crap when they remember to eat at all. Bring a crock pot with something tasty in it or some fruit and veggies. The staff and volunteers will appreciate it.
- House a campaign staffer. This isn’t for everyone, but if you have a spare room, think about offering it up for a staffer that isn’t local to crash for a bit. You don’t see them much anyways.
- Download the Vote With Me app. Just head on over to https://votewithme.us and get the app. It allows you to reach out to your contacts from all over and make sure they have the most accurate information on where/when to vote. Plus, you’re helping remind them to vote so helping the team.
- Vote early if you can. If you vote early, the campaign then doesn’t have to spend time continuing to reach out to you and can focus on others that still need to vote.
- Help with election protection. Often times a candidate or campaign will need lawyers or law students to help make sure that people aren’t wrongly told they can’t vote. This helps keep on-going voting suppression efforts at bay.
I’m sure there are other ways that I’m forgetting right now, so add them in the comments below. But remember kids, it has to either be something that actively and directly contacts voters OR something that supports those doing such things.
Now is not the time to be passive. Our democracy depends on it.
(Psst. . .Visit https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote to get information on voting.)