Friday, October 27, 2017

Increasing Voter Turnout in your Elections

Getting voters to vote in your online elections can be a daunting task. Here, we'll give you some tips for increasing your turnout.

At a high level, voters will vote if they care about the election and if you make it easy for them to vote. We see a lot of different types of elections at OpaVote, and the elections with the best turnout are high school elections for prom king and queen. It is easy for the students to vote (they know all the candidates), and many students care deeply about the outcome!

Send Reminder Emails

This is the easiest and best thing you can do. OpaVote has a feature to send reminder emails to all voters who have not yet voted, and we allow you to do this every three days. Here is a typical example of how reminders work in practice.

When you launch the election, 20% of your voters may cast votes in the first day. For the second and third days, almost nobody votes. You send a reminder after the third day, and on the fourth day, 18% of your voters vote. You send another reminder three days later, and another 16% of voters cast votes. You've just increased your turnout from 20% to 44%, which is a huge improvement.

Make it Easy for Voters to Learn about the Candidates

For many elections, the voters don't know much about the candidates and they need to go out of their way to learn about who they are voting for. You need to make this really easy for the voters, and OpaVote makes this really easy for you.

OpaVote has description fields where you can include information about the candidates. If you have one contest, then there will be one description field. If you have multiple contests, then there will be a description field for each contest.

In these description fields, you can include summaries of the candidates, photos of the candidates, and links to other resources, such as your own web page with a summary of the candidates or candidate web pages. Make use to use these description fields to make it easy for the voters to learn about the candidates and decide who they would like to vote for.

Get your Voters Excited About the Election

Reach out to your voters early and often to let them know about the election. Whether by email, social media, or at meetings, let them know well in advance about the election. This increases awareness of the election and also encourages more candidates to run in the election.

In addition to using OpaVote's reminder emails, send emails via your own email lists both before and during the election and explicitly inform them that they will be receiving an email from OpaVote. This helps voters recognize the OpaVote voting email among the oodles of email they receive every day.

Consider Changing Your Organization's Structure

This last one is much harder, but I'm including it here because, for some organizations, low turnout is caused by the structure of their organization. Here are a few examples:

  • Do you have many uncontested elections or where the number of candidates is less than the number of positions to be filled? If so, many voters won't vote because their vote doesn't matter. Consider how to get more people to run as candidates or reducing the number of positions being filled.
  • Are there too many contests on your ballot? Voters are busy people and they are much more likely to vote if there are 2-3 contests than if there are 25 contests. Consider reducing the number of contests to reduce the burden on voters.
  • Do the voters care about the subject matter of the election? Maybe you don't need an election to determine who will bring donuts to the next meeting. Elections are a burden to voters so only hold elections where they are actually needed.