Election officials have more ways to communicate with voters than ever before, from traditional printed booklets, to the web, radio and TV, and social media. During Superstorm Sandy, officials even used emergency service announcements to let voters know that the election would go on.
This Field Guide gives an overview of how to use each communications channel effectively. These tips are intended to help you think about how to coordinate election information across many different media.
Voters don’t have a strategy for how they will get information about elections. They hope that it will be available in their favorite format, from printed material to social media.
They want to know when, where, and how they will vote, from finding their polling place to being reminded of how the voting system works. And they want this information in language they understand.
Most of all, they want the right information in the right format at the right time.
Tailor the level of detail to the delivery channel.
How do I affiliate with a political party?
Voters may register with any of the state’s recognized political parties. Choosing not to register with a party, means that the voter is “unaffiliated.” Unaffiliated voters may not vote in primary elections, but may be able to vote in any nonpartisan primary election held in your jurisdiction, such as a primary election to select nominees for the board of education, and any general election.
Why should I choose a political party when I register to vote?
The main reason to register with a political party rather than choosing “unaffiliated,” is to vote in partybased primary elections.
Most voters will use information from various sources to learn about an election.
Consider the voter context and the timing within the election cycle for when you will deliver the message.
Voters who use social media will enjoy engaging in the online conversation with you.
Voters who don’t use social media like to see that your department uses them because it shows you’re up to date.
Voters come to you when they’re ready to learn and ready to do.
Answer their questions in the order they ask them. After that, you can add information they didn’t know they needed.
Note: A sample ballot helps voters decide whether to vote, and who and what to vote for, making it easier for them to mark their ballot on Election Day.
The web and social media are excellent for getting the word out on everything from changes in polling places to how long lines are at early voting locations.
Carefully highlight major changes in print materials.
If you offer materials in languages in addition to English, make sure they are easy to spot and recognize.
Put links to other languages on all materials, even if they are small.
Choose a visual design that is somewhere between boring and cheesy, that conveys the authority and (friendly) voice you want your department to have.
Voters like to know who the people are behind the election. This helps them know who the authorities are. Include names, position titles, and contact information.
Some of what makes information authoritative is whether it is current. Everything you publish should show a date.
Showing dates is more helpful to voters than just putting a “new!” badge on it.