This November millions of Americans are more hesitant to vote in person due to the pandemic and a desire to keep their loved ones safe. Millions more will be receiving ballots for the first time ever because of an enlightened state response to the crisis.
Recognizing the importance of Mail-in-Ballots, we have analyzed some of the key issues that voters face when voting remotely, and scripted effective messages to mitigate the most common pitfalls absentee voters face.
These avoidable risks fall under four categories:
1. Voter Distrust of Mail
2. Late Mail-In-Ballots
3. Issues with Voter Signatures
4. GOTV Scripting Pitfalls
First, many voters generally do not trust that their mail-in-ballot will be counted. According to Pew Research Center, 60% of Democratic voters believe that they will have trouble voting this election and recent changes to the US postal system have further eroded trust that their votes will be counted. This is why we emphasize drop boxes or how a voter can drop a ballot off safely at early vote locations or at the polls on election day.
Because it is required by law that states have tracking for ballots coming from overseas, Stones’ Phones uses scripting which encourages a voter to track their vote in states where the registrars have expanded the tracking to all ballots and where it is easy to find on their websites. The best example of this is California where their Secretary of State’s website makes it really easy for voters to track their ballots. https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/wheres-my-ballot/ is a great example of how this kind of tracking can be done. In future elections other states should replicate this type of crucial voter service.
Another common mistake many absentee voters make is returning their ballot too late. In the 2020 primary season alone, more than 65,000 voters had their mail-in-ballot rejected due to missed voting deadlines. Using targeted language Stones’ Phones ensures that voters getting our calls and texts calls receive ample reminders of key deadlines to avoid disqualifications. We also remind voters to submit their ballots as early as possible to account for any postal delays.
To counter the biggest mistake millennials and Gen Z voters are making, we inform voters that the signature they sign on their ballot envelope must be the same as when they registered to vote; even if it was a long time ago. A person’s signature often changes over time but in order to have their ballot counted they must use the same signature they used when they originally registered to vote.
Finally, we emphasize the phrase, “Vote at Home” rather than “Vote by Mail” in our communications with younger voters due to their distrust of the postal service.
Through addressing these four key common mistakes our scripts can ensure that no vote goes to waste.
A sample of the Stones’ Phones Vote at Home chase language we use is as follows:
You should have received your vote at home ballot, or it will be arriving soon. Here are some important instructions. [put in state specific instructions].
Remember – your signature will be checked against the signature you registered to vote with, and you may have done that a long time ago, so sign it like you did when you registered to vote.
Then, put a [price of stamp] stamp on it and mail it right away. [if there are drop boxes, insert those instructions]
For your vote to count your ballot has to arrive at the registrar’s office by [put in state specific deadlines]. [Required for all overseas ballots and sometimes available to all voters– so check]
For peace of mind you can go to the registrar’s website [insert web address] and see if [your ballot has been sent out] [your ballot has arrived at the registrar’s office] [your ballot has been counted or denied].