VBM (Vote by Mail) Chase wins campaigns.
Running a good chase program is like GOTV every day of the month running up through Election Day.
A good VBM Chase program requires commitment, tenacity and organization and frankly just plain old hard work.
All winning campaigns always have a good VBM chase program in place.
It sounds complicated but it really isn’t and can mean winning or losing on election day.
What is VBM Chase?
VBM chase is literally chasing ballots, or more exactly, chasing voters and making sure they mail in their ballots.
This all GOTV all the Time. It is like chasing your tail (or maybe the dragon).
With VBM Chase, you are constantly monitoring returned ballots of your identified supporters.
You keep after those voters with your winning message, reminding them to turn in their ballots, until they do turn them in.
Here are the basics for setting up a winning chase program.
An effective VBM Chase requires determining your targeted universe early.
As discussed in other articles, polling is essential to determine who you may even have a chance at getting to vote for you.
If you are not polling, or at least conducting an automated poll, you will be at a disadvantage.
Figure out the issues and what turns voters on early, build your winning message and get it to voters long before the first ballots are mailed to voters.
For VBM Chase to work you got to know who the absentee voters actually are.
Your data provider should be able to give you this information. They should be tagged in your voter file or system or you should get a list.
However, you get it or manage it, this is essential. If you do not know exactly who is a PERMANENT mail-in voter and who has REQUESTED a mail-in ballot, you won’t be able to run a VBM chase program.
IF you want to do a VBM Chase program and win on Election Day you got to get in the mail early.
An early mail program to early voters and all absentee voters will give you a leg up.
Once you get your mail out early to mail-in voters you can start the hard work of identifying them.
But you’ve got to get your mail out or there will be nobody to identify – because they won’t know who you are.
So get your mail out early.
A good Voter identification program is a necessity to run VBM Chase.
You must identify Vote By Mail voters in your targeted universe that have been built out of polling and analysis – targeting.
Again mail to these voters early and tell them your story.
Call voters, walk to them. Run your voter identification program early.
Determine who is a supporter and who is not. Who is undecided and who you can persuade and bring over to your side.
Not having a reasonable idea of who those ballots are for runs the risk of turning out your opponents voters.
Think of VBM Chase like just being another GOTV program. It just happens every day of the week until election day.
Executing the VBM Chase
Once you have your identified supporters in the Vote By Mail universe you can start your chase program.
Start before the ballots arrive.
Have a volunteer or paid phone callers call your targeted absentee universe reminding them that a ballot will be arriving shortly and they can vote for your candidate.
Robocalls (where and when they are legal) can be a great tool for reminding voters that their ballots are on their way,
Remind voters that if they do not receive their ballot shortly to contact the local election authority.
About a week or more after mail-in voters receive their mail in ballots, most local election authorities will publish a list of who has returned their ballot – check and see what the rules are in your local jurisdiction.
Compare the list of returned ballots to your list of identified supporters that are mail-in voters, remove from your list those that have voted.
This new list is the list you chase.
You chase by calling, walking to, or even mail reminders to those that have not yet returned their ballot.
Keep repeating the process of removing those that have voted as the updated lists of returned ballots become available.
This process is repeated up to Election Day.
Starting a day or two before Election Day it is probably best to tell voters that have not returned their ballot that they can personally carry their ballots into the polls. But make sure this is allowed in your area.
Some states will allow ballots to simply be postmarked on Election Day.
Check with your local jurisdiction to make sure you know what the rules are with regards to turning in mail ballots.
Consider paid phone for VBM Chase.
IF you are a serious contender for public office you really should consider paid phones for your VBM Chase program.
If you don’t have a large army of well-trained volunteers that can make your calls and walk precincts, give serious consideration to a paid phone program.
Paid phones, if you go with a reputable vendor, can provide you with professional callers who are well trained.
Contracting with a live call center can give you a lot of voter identifications really fast.
And, they can also follow up with your identified voters for you if you do not have the volunteer resources to do it all yourself.
For these callers, your campaign is not their first rodeo. They know the drill. They know how to talk to voters. They are efficient, productive, and well supervised.
Paying for live phone calls may not be as expensive as you think and they are a great supplement to your volunteer program.
Full disclosure. I am a partner in a live phone operation – politicalphonecalls.com (this is an affiliate link). I am telling you this because I want to be straight up with you. And yes, we can definitely make your calls for you if you want.
A live phone paid operation can definitely take much of the burden of a necessary VBM chase program off the shoulders of your campaign.
VBM Chase up to Election Day
Once you identify your Vote By Mail supporters, you must make sure they vote.
Many political jurisdictions around the country will issue a list of people that have turned in their absentee ballots. In California, they all do so check with your local election clerk and see how they handle this.
This list will show you who has voted to date and who has not. It will tell you how they voted but it will tell you if they voted.
When you get this list, match it with your existing list of identified voters. Those that voted, take them out of the universe.
A good data vendor or voter contact software can do this for you quite easily. If you have to, you can do it old school with paper and markers, but this is a lot of work if your district or universe is very large. And besides, this is the 21st Century.
The people on this list that have not yet turned in their ballots – voted – are your chase universe.
These are the voters that you have identified as being your supporters. You have got to keep reminding them to mail in their ballot.
Some people will lose their ballots and your volunteers or campaign workers need to have instructions for them available on what their options are – check with your local election officials and find out exactly what a voter must do to get a replacement ballot.
Many voters will not turn their ballots in until the very end of the campaign cycle.
In California, as long as the ballot is postmarked on Election Day it still counts as long as it is received within a certain number of days. Know how your state or local jurisdiction handles this important issue.
Generally, people are allowed to turn their ballots in at the polling place. Make sure people can do this where you live.
Again, check with your local election authorities and make certain you know the rules on turning in absentee ballots before you get started on your chase program and certainly before you tell the voters anything.
VBM chase can actually be fun but it does take a lot of discipline, tenacity, organization, and just hard work.
We hope this article was helpful. What tactics will you be using for your VBM Chase? What else would you like to know about this?