How to Turn Out the Vote When COVID-19 Has Voters Worried
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
By: Greg Adams, Chief Executive Officer
Americans are concerned about their safety at the polls due to coronavirus, according to a recent national poll of voters’ views on voting in the time of COVID-19. The poll conducted by ACCESS’s premier polling partner, American Strategies, finds that most American voters are concerned that the pandemic will prevent citizens from participating in the election, and that voters across party lines want policymakers to take action to ensure voter safety.
What does this mean for your efforts to get your stakeholders to vote in the 2020 elections? Each of the following presents opportunities to communicate with your audiences:
Your Communications Calendars Are Outdated. First, any communications timeline you created prior to the March stay-at-home orders is out the window. With all of the changing dynamics—postponed primaries, additional voting methods, levels of infection—it’s not too early to begin providing your members/employees with information to help them feel safer at the polls. Communicate with them NOW and follow up with them as resources become available.
Start With the Basics: Register to Vote. You can’t vote if you aren’t properly registered, and this is the place to begin. Start with communications that remind your stakeholders to register to vote or update their voter registration information. Those links provide access to voter registration information for all 50 states.
Know the Updated Primary Schedule. Many states have taken action to reschedule their primaries and offer voters more voting options—but every state is different. Make sure your employees and members are aware of the dates of the rescheduled primaries in their states—especially those who live in the states where your organization has its largest presence.
Know Which States Offer Vote-by-Mail Options. Many states have expanded their absentee ballot requirements or are providing voters with vote-by-mail options. The timing for vote-by-mail/absentee ballots is different than visiting the polls on Election Day. You will want to update your communications plan to:
Determine the deadlines and voting options in the states where you operate or have a large number of voters;
Remind stakeholders that, when voting by mail, there are TWO deadlines voters need to be aware of: the application deadline and the deadline to return the ballot by mail. Include earlier reminders to ensure voters have time to apply to vote absentee; and
Send out reminders for voters to mail in ballots to meet state deadlines, sending targeted communications by state.
Voters Can Still Vote in Person. Some of your stakeholders will still choose to cast their vote in person on Election Day if their state permits it. Don’t forget to provide them with reminders.
Election Day is the ultimate opportunity to help your members/employees become engaged in the political process. This year in particular you have the opportunity to be a valuable resource by making the voting process feel safer to your stakeholders.
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If you’d like to hear more about the poll, American Strategies CEO Joe Goode teamed up with NABPAC on their recent webinar, “How COVID-19 is Influencing Voters’ Views of Election Administration & Reforms,” and will appear on NABPAC’s upcoming episode of the “Facts About PACs” podcast (the new episode will be released on Thursday, May 21).
ACCESS has a long history of developing and implementing successful GOTV and political engagement communications. Contact us today, and let’s discuss how we can help!