The League of Conservation of Voters
How can you drive voters to polling booths during an election season with a historically poor turnout?
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities.
Midterm elections are a historically difficult time to drive voters to the polling booths. Because midterm elections aren’t as widely publicized as general elections, people often don’t know why they should vote or where they should go to do so.
To increase voter turnout, LCV used the theme of “Make a Plan to Vote” to drive people to the polls for the 2014 midterm elections. They needed a way to educate people on their voting options and resources, as well as to emphasize the importance of their vote during midterm elections.
LCV decided to use text messaging to accomplish three specific goals:
- To inform people of their voting options,
- To recruit volunteers to help get out the vote, and
- To remind people where to vote on Election Day.
1) Inform people of their voting options
One of the biggest reasons people don’t vote is simply because they don’t know when elections occur. Two weeks before Election Day, LCV sent this message to their mobile list:
Over 15% of their list responded! Sending out this survey helped LCV segment their list based on how people planned to vote. For example, 107 people responded that they had already voted – which was great news for LCV, and allowed them suppress those people from other GOTV broadcasts. It also gave LCV the opportunity to send information on how to vote early or vote absentee via trackable web links to people who responded with those options.
2) Recruit volunteers to help get out the vote
One week before Election Day, LCV ramped up their efforts in key areas where they had support from organizers on-the-ground by asking their list for volunteers to help get out the vote. They sent out the following message to voters in targeted districts:
In response to this message, LCV received 53 pledges to volunteer! From those pledges, three people signed up for a shift and all three of them completed a volunteer shift, which helped give LCV’s GOTV efforts one last push in the week before elections. Though small samples, this shows promising results for future volunteer engagement.
3) Remind people where to vote on Election Day
On the day before midterm elections and on Election Day itself, LCV sent out two final messages to anyone who had not yet voted.
More than 600 people responded with their address and zip code to find their designated polling place, and almost another 150 people gave additional responses to say thanks or that they already voted!
Lessons learned from using text messaging to get out to vote
In the two weeks leading up to the midterm elections, LCV successfully ran a targeted text message campaign to learn about the polling behavior of their supporters and help them make a plan to vote.
They learned that more than 250 people confirmed that they had voted early and provided polling place information to over 2% of their entire list! By asking for volunteers, they were able to find out how many people were willing to help them with their efforts. And when they discovered that opt out rates were higher than usual, they created a campaign-specific opt-out option so that uninterested subscribers wouldn’t be kicked off their general mobile list during election period.
Overall, LCV was able to successfully educate voters about the midterm elections, help them follow through on their voting plans, and learn best practices for engaging supporters over SMS.
”We were impressed that 15% of our list responded in the first broadcast. We learned a lot about how to use text messaging in future endeavors through this campaign, and are looking forward to implementing that knowledge in powerful ways in upcoming campaigns.” –Martín Witchger, an Online Campaigner for LCV.