Dialing for Ballots: How to use Phones for Vote by Mail GOTV
With more and more states allowing no-excuse absentee voting, campaigns and organizations are implementing ballot chase GOTV to remind voters to fill out and return their ballots. DC and 26 states allow no-excuse absentee voting, while Washington, Oregon, and Colorado now conduct their elections entirely by mail. If you’re working in any of these states, ballot chase is a vital part of your GOTV operation.
Live phone calls are a great way to remind voters of mailing deadlines and procedures. In a scientific study conducted in Washington state in 2013, a single live ballot chase phone call to Latino voters increased turnout by 1.6 percentage points among successful contacts. For voters who tend to only vote in Presidential elections, a traditional mobilization target, turnout went up by 5.7 percentage points.
What’s the best way to do ballot chase GOTV calls? The optimal time frame is between 6 and 10 days prior to the Election, depending on the demographic group being targeted. While the contact rate is higher for earlier calls, calls that are closer to Election Day usually result in a higher increase in turnout.
One caveat: live calls are not the preferred method of contact for the youngest of voters. In this study, live calling actually depressed turnout among 18-24 year olds. We recommend using voter file texting to remind this demographic to return their ballots, as they are much more familiar with and receptive to this medium.
So how much does it cost? In this trial, the cost per additional vote was only $17.53. Compare this to the $25-$30 range that is standard for GOTV to in-person poll voters. There is certainly more research to be done on this topic, but current findings show that phone calls are a cost effective and efficient way to do ballot chase GOTV.