Literature is an integral part of your get out the vote (GOTV) campaign. There are any number of ways that you can incorporate literature into your get out the vote efforts. Your campaign may decide to do a targeted mailing, organize a literature drop, or go door-to-door leaving palm cards and doorknob hangers reminding people to vote for your candidate. No matter how it is used, though, there are several important considerations you must make to ensure that your GOTV literature piece is successful.
Design Across Mediums
The design of your GOTV literature is extremely important. For many campaigns, this piece of literature will be the last contact the voters have from your campaign before they go to the polls. It is imperative that this contact be positive. Because it is so important, this design should be started well in advance of the start of your get out the vote efforts.
Let’s Be Friends
When writing your GOTV literature, be sure to keep the tone familiar. Your copy should read like a note from an old friend. If you have campaigned right, the voters have heard your message and they know who you are. The tone of your get out the vote literature should say “You know me and I know you – so vote for me on Election Day.”
If you are mailing a get out the vote letter, consider having a local leader from each neighborhood or precinct as the signer of the letter, if this is possible. This way, the letter truly is coming from a friend. Even if this isn’t possible, keep the copy conversational and friendly. Get out the vote pieces are generally not the time to bore with statistics and issue minutiae. Unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise, keep it “big picture.”
Short and Sweet
Your get out the vote piece should be short and to the point. Whether you are mailing a letter, doing a lit drop or handing out palm cards, your GOTV literature should generally be no more than a page long, and should be easy to read. Make your copy easier on the eyes by breaking it up into manageable chucks, using bold and underlining to create headlines and highlight key points.
Stay on Target
When designing your piece, remember the message of your campaign. Your get out the vote literature should be like the summary of a term paper – it should briefly and compellingly summarize your message. The GOTV piece is the summary of your campaign – bring it all together for the voter. This doesn’t mean that you need to get into details. Instead say, “You know me. You know that I stand for safer streets. You know that I am uniquely qualified to make our streets safer. Vote for me on Election Day.”
Make the Sale
Somewhere in your GOTV literature, preferably more than once, be sure to make the sale – ask the voters to vote for your candidate, and tell them when and how to do it. You would be surprised how many get out the vote mailers I have seen that never actually say “Vote for John Paul Jones on Election Day.” Be sure to include this vital call to action. Make sure you also tell the voter when Election Day is, and where the polls are. Remember, not every one is as politically minded as you are.
The get out the vote literature your campaign distributes will probably be the last piece of literature that the voter receives during the campaign, and may be the last contact they have with you and your candidate before Election Day. Design your literature carefully; incorporating your message in a friendly, short piece that calls the voter to action, and you can be sure that this final contact will be a positive one.
Be sure to also read A Guide to Making GOTV Calls.