18 Tips to Increase Voter Turnout

September 13th, 2013 by David Simms

Categorized as: Election Tips, Increase Voter Turnout

18 Tips to Increase Voter Turnout

The first five are things Skypunch clients don’t have to take any action to enjoy as they’ve already been done for you. Tips 6 through 18 however get into some things you can do from your end to ensure happy, participating voters.

  1. Announce the election by email. Voter’s can’t vote in an election they don’t know about so Skypunch offers the ability to send emails to voters (for elections with no more than 5000 voters) on the election start date, or you may choose to do this with your own email system. Emails should be personalized with the voters’ name and also include a link directly to the ballot to make participation as simple as possible.
  2. Employ social media. Skypunch is the first and only election service provider to integrate social media into the voting software so voters may encourage other voters to vote. It’s the electronic equivalent of the “I Voted” sticker Americans receive upon exiting the voting booth in many parts of the country.
  3. Ensure the ballot’s accessible. A voter can’t vote using an electronic ballot that’s unavailable due to a faulty web site. In this day and age with cloud computing and the redundancy that comes with it, any respectable election service provider should be able to keep a ballot accessible virtually the entire time your election’s under way.
  4. Ensure mobile friendliness. As usage of mobile devices to access the web becomes more commonplace, this is becoming more crucial. A voter that can’t vote on-the-go may not vote at all.
  5. Ensure graceful degradation. “Graceful degradation” is a web design principle which states it’s OK to use technologies like javascript to make useful things happen on a web page but that the software shouldn’t become inoperable when javascript is disabled. Employing graceful degradation in the design of the Skypunch voting pages means the ballot will be accessible regardless of the operating system, browser or anything else technology related.
  6. Place a prominent announcement about the election on your own web site. Learn how to best do this. 
  7. Place an article about it in any monthly publications you produce. Perhaps this article could feature interviews with the candidates.
  8. Use social media tools like Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or whatever else you use to announce the start of the election.
  9. Use email signatures to link to the ballot by having everyone in your organization include a link to the ballot in your email signatures while the election is underway.
  10. Piggyback off of dues. If you’re an organization with a dues season in progress at the same time as the election, include a link to the ballot on the online dues payment receipt. Ditto in any receipt emails.
  11. Consider single sign-on. Many clients choose to host their election on the Skypunch web site, but the software supports the ability for the ballot to be integrated into the client’s web site. By doing that, you give your voters a single sign-on experience which simplifies the voting experience. In other words, once logged into your web site, they are already logged in to also access the ballot which makes it simpler for them than having to visit another web site and sign on again. A simple, easy-to-use system means increased participation.
  12. Send email reminders. The Skypunch system permits sending email announcements at the start of the election, plus two more during the course of the election to voters who’ve not yet voted. Be sure to take advantage of this capability and you will always see an uptick in voter participation in the 24 hours or so following a mailing.
  13. Perform data hygiene. Take measures to ensure you’re maintaining a clean collection of emails for your voters. This means monitoring your email delivery reports year-round and removing from it any emails which simply no longer exist. For individuals whose email has been decommissioned, send a postcard requesting that they contact you with a current email address.
  14. Shorten the election. If it lasts more than two weeks, it’s probably unnecessarily long. See How Long Should Elections Last? for more.
  15. Create a sense of community. Voter participation rates are higher for smaller organizations where the voters and candidates are more familiar with each other.
  16. Ask yourself why should a voter care. Why would a rank and file voter care who wins an election? Does it really effect anything? If so, would that effect be felt at the rank and file level or only within the organization’s governing body? This one is obviously less of a tip and more something to think about. But if you’re able to define a good reason why voters should vote, be certain that reason is being communicated to them loud and clear.
  17. Consider an Ignite to raise awareness of issues and give voters a reason to care about voting in the first place. See Ignite Your Voter Turnout for more.
  18. Display the ballot count on your own website. Skypunch provides a ballot counter you may use to retrieve the number of ballots cast for an election in real time. The blog post, Social Proof to Increase Voter Turnout explains how to use this in detail.

It is almost unheard of that an Skypunch client reports a downturn in voter participation when moving to online voting. Most enjoy a slight increase, while a few hold steady. By employing the tips above you give yourself the best chance of success.