The Secrets of a Successful Get Out The Vote Operation

When I first stepped into a campaign headquarters I kept hearing the term GOTV. I thought it was a special election program for campaign insiders. Quickly I found out GOTV meant Get Out The Vote! There are many methods of getting out the vote however, there are two you should be doing:  making phone calls and walking precincts.

In a world with social media, radio, TV and direct mail, many consultants do not want to spend the time, money or resources on GOTV. If you’re serious about winning though, a well-organized get out the vote effort is a must.

Don’t let the idea of a setting up a Get Out The Vote Program overwhelm you. It sounds harder than it actually is. That’s why so many candidates skip GOTV.  If you’re serious about winning your election, make sure GOTV is a key part of your campaign.

The first thing you’re going to need is a list of targeted voters. Next you need a team of volunteers. It will be the primary job of those volunteers to get these voters out to the polls or to have them mail their ballots back for you.

If you are in a partisan race, you will want to make sure voters who identify with your political party are voting.

Ronald Reagan and John Wayne put together a step-by-step video guide for a successful GOTV program during the 1966 California Governor’s race. I have showed this video to candidates running for Congress and even city council.

Now if you’re not a Republican, don’t sweat it. This isn’t really a partisan video.  It’s a great tutorial on the basic fundamentals of getting out the video.

Plus the advice is a great part of political memorabilia and it comes from the Duke and the Gipper which is a bonus.

Now that you know the basics of  GOTV, the key to turning Election Day into a victory party that evening starts months before that – sometimes a year before.

As your campaign grows you should build a strong precinct organization that will make your campaign’s Election Day activities much easier.

Here’s the steps you’ll need to incorporate into your GOTV.

Assign a precinct chairman to oversee the entire operation. This is usually a campaign manager, if you have one.

If you’re running in a large district, assign regional or city chairs. Regional chairs should assign precinct chairs. 2 to 3 volunteers should be assigned per precinct.

Precinct chairs should start calling voters as early as possible. Yes, months before Election Day or possible a year out if your campaign is up and running that far in advance.

Have the precinct chairs introduce themselves as volunteers for your campaign. Ask voters if they have any questions or would be interested in talking with you. This step should be repeated 2-3 times leading up to the Election.

These key steps will allow a voter to become comfortable with your volunteer and are much more likely to take a call or greet them at the door versus a complete stranger.

By Election Day, you’ve already done the work necessary to turn these voters into committed supporters. It’s these committed supporters you’ll spend your energy getting out to vote.

And if you do your job right, you’ll have a very happy Election Night and soon be sworn into office.