Get Out The Vote 2022: Using SMS to Drive Votes and Volunteers

5 minute read

Team Mobile Messaging

To get the most from your Get Out The Vote strategy this year, having a large list is essential.  Once you have an established audience, the next step is to start delivering your campaign in a way that drives engagement. Whether you use text messaging to raise funds or raise awareness, coordinate voters, or coordinate volunteers, keep the following things in mind as you create and deploy your campaign in 2022.

Respect your list

It’s important to engage subscribers with regular messaging, but don’t send so often that you abuse your list. Maintain a comfortable frequency so subscribers don’t opt out, and make sure to monitor and respond to your replies.

Know your audience

It’s important to communicate voting information clearly in a way that resonates with your subscribers. Do your subscribers respond better to certain types of copy? Do you have a significant Spanish-speaking segment of your audience? Use this to inform your messaging.

Coordinate with other channels

Just as other channels can grow your SMS list, your SMS program can bolster other channels. Use your cross-channel efforts to complement and reinforce each other. For example, your audience may have received your email but didn’t have time to read all of the content. This doesn’t have to be a missed opportunity. Follow up with SMS to deliver an impactful message direct to your audience’s phone.

Test, test, test

It costs just as much to send a tested message as it does to send an untested message. By A/B testing with every message you send, you can continually optimize and refine your messaging. To start, try testing copy length, including a sender name, or even the tone of your messages. Just as one vote can make a difference, so can one tweak to your text.


Your list depends on you for voting information; you have a duty to make sure that information is clear and 100% accurate. If possible, run your messaging by your legal team.

Mobilizing Volunteers and Super-Volunteers

As volunteer efforts go (almost) all-digital, mobile connections to your most involved supporters are more important than ever. This election, text messaging will play an especially large role in helping you sign up, coordinate, and mobilize volunteers.

Specific opt-in path

One way to recruit volunteers is with a specific opt-in path allowing users to pledge to volunteer. Once opted in, send a message thanking them and reminding them to fulfill their pledge.

Automated updates

You can also send automated weekly updates listing digital volunteer opportunities. If this message goes out on Fridays, it can get your subscribers involved over the weekend. You can also encourage people who live in non-competitive states to phone bank and make calls into their nearest battleground state.

As you build a list of volunteers, you can segment your volunteer leaders or super-volunteers to send them special updates. Keep them engaged and active with weekly volunteer tips, exclusive campaign updates, or content to share on their social profiles. If you (safely!) host in-person events, text your volunteer leaders to check in on their events. You can also use text messaging to reallocate volunteers to precincts that need more support.

Help Supporters Make a Plan to Vote

Whether your subscribers vote in person or by mail, helping them create a plan to vote in advance makes it more likely that they will follow through and cast their ballot. Here are some key messaging ideas to include in your GOTV text messaging campaign:

Ask people to commit to vote

Not only is this a good list-building tactic, but it can also help you drive turnout. Ask subscribers to reply with their intention to vote, then walk them through voting options, requirements, deadlines, and other key dates. Promote your GOTV call-to-action and short code, and encourage people to share it with friends, family, and their social networks.

Help people check their voter registration status

In your GOTV opt in path, ask subscribers whether they are registered. Encourage unregistered subscribers to check their registration by clicking a trackable link in your message.

If unregistered, help subscribers register to vote

Ask subscribers to reply with their state, then provide information about key deadlines and requirements in their state. Use this data to segment subscribers into groups by state and sent targeted reminders as these deadlines approach.

Assist mail-in voters with the voting process

If your subscribers indicate they plan to vote by mail, use filtered groups to direct them to state specific mail-in voting resources and send automated reminders at relevant dates. With their location data, you can also help them find ballot drop-off locations.

Provide their polling place location

Upland mobile messaging allows you to return data via SMS based on user input using the mData feature. You can use this to ask subscribers to text in their address to receive the address of their polling place. As election day approaches, start promoting your polling place locator to your subscribers.

Send a Make-a-Plan series

Ask subscribers what day they plan to vote (during early voting or on the day of the election), what time of day, and how they are going to get there (car, walking, public transport, et cetera.) That way, you can send a timely automated reminder message.

With these tactics in place, you’ll be well on your way to engaging your voters and volunteers. But it doesn’t stop there, election day will be here before you know it, so check out our next blog about preparing for election day and beyond.

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