As campaign operatives, we spend much of our time and resources convincing people who they should vote for and then hoping those voters actually turn out and cast their ballots. But sometimes, even if voters know where to vote, life can get in the way and prevent voters from getting in their car and actually heading to the polls.
That’s why we created the VOTE PLAN, a simple document that campaigns can use to help voters find their polling location and to create a plan of action for election day that takes into account things like their work/life schedule and factoring in driving time to the polls.
Contents of a Vote Plan
Your vote plan should always include the basics, like the address of their polling location and times the polls remain open. You can tailor that information to each unique voter using the voter file or databases like NGPVan. That way each voter gets their specific polling location directly on their vote plan. You can also just include a simple link to your state’s polling locator where the voter can look up that information themselves. Remember, the less work you require the voter to do the more likely they will follow your instructions.
You can make your vote plan more interactive by helping people plan a trip to the polls, creating directions from their workplace or home to the polling place, adding travel time, even waiting time if going to a popular poll.
We like to remind people to check their registration status before heading to the polls. Every election bureau has a method of purging inactive voters from the rolls – sometimes with little or no public communication. Because registration status on some voter files and databases can be unreliable, we like to go straight to the source here and include a link to a county or statewide registration status checker.
Some districts require you to provide identification at the polls, especially if it’s your first time voting. Adding information about the type of documents required can help helpful to potential voters, especially if there will be some lead time in obtaining that documentation.
How to Deal with Issues that Arise at the Polls
There are several issues that come up each election day and making people aware of those issues can be the difference between that voter casting a ballot or being turned away from the poll. This includes simple mistakes like the voting list not including the voter’s name or not having a voter card on file at a particular polling location. It can also include mechanical issues with the voting machines or more serious offenses like voter intimidation or campaign interference outside the polls.
We like to let people know what they can do in these situations, which can be as simple as asking for a provisional ballot or calling a voter protection hotline. Check with your county or state election bureaus to get their published phone number. Political parties often staff their own election protection units on election day and help candidates of their party.
Download the Think Big Campaigns Vote Plan
Our Vote Plan is a one-page document you can copy, edit and make your own. Use it in your campaign to help get out the vote and increase turnout in your race!