Voter Identification is one of the most important tasks you must engage in if you want to win your election.
Voter Identification is simply figuring out who will vote for you, who will not, and who is undecided.
Voter identification allows you to target the right voters with your limited resources so you can win your election.
Identifying the right voters will keep you from wasting time and money on voters that will not help you win.
Identifying voters will help you determine who to turnout to vote on Election Day, who not to pay attention to, and who you need to persuade to vote for you.
We have all heard of Micro Targeting and about the huge efforts made in presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, and many other large races to identify and target voters.
Presidential campaigns spend millions of dollars and bring in a battery of professionals to identify voters and develop their campaign strategy.
Don’t let all this scare you.
For most local campaigns voter identification is a fairly simple process that can easily be handled in house.
Voter Identification of Supporters.
You’ve got to know who is supporting your campaign.
Strong supporters that are not consistent voters are the group you focus your Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) program on.
These voters are your supporters but they don’t always vote. You need to make sure you get them to the polls.
Voter Identification of “Soft Supporters”.
But also you want to know who is a weak or “soft” supporters. Those that like you but could change on a dime.
In a good poll these voters respond they are voting for you, but when asked if that they definitely will be or just probably will be, they say probably.
These voters need special attention because you don’t want them to leave your camp and vote for your opponent.
If you opponent is running a strong campaign they are going to go after your soft support.
Cutting into your opponent’s base is a sure way to victory and successful campaign generally make this a priority.
Voter Identification of Your Opponents Supporters.
Knowing who your opponents supporter are is also crucial.
First, you want to know who not to waste your time or money on during the campaign. Campaigning to voters that are squarely in your opponents camp is a waste.
You don’t want to send mail to them or take the time to court these voters.
Take these voters out of your voter universe and expend neither time nor resources trying to convince these folks to vote for you. They won’t.
Voter Identification of Your Opponents “Soft Supporters”.
Second, you want to know who is supporting your opponent but who is a week or “soft” supporter.
You want to know who your opponents “soft” supporters are so you can cut into their base. Just like he might do to you if you are not careful.
A voter that says they support your opponent but is only probably voting for them can be turned into first probably supporting you, then converted into a definite supporter.
Voter Identification of Undecided Voters.
You must know who these people are.
Chances are most people, or a large portion of the voters, in your race are undecided.
The undecided voter is where campaigns are won.
It is important to figure out what issues move undecided voters which is best accomplished through polling.
When you have determined who your undecided voters are, and what issues move them, you can craft your winning campaign message to them accordingly.
Voter Identification: Working with a Data Vendor.
The first step in voter identification is to determine how many votes will actually turn out in your election.
Your vendor should have this information but it can also be helpful to visit your location election office to get the numbers.
Start with your data vendor. A good vendor should be able to provide you with a list of voters that have a decent chance of turning out in your election.
Many data vendors now have software or web based platforms that allows you to determine in house who is likely to vote in your election.
For Voter Identification Look at Past Elections First.
Look at past elections similar to your own and determine the likely number of voters that turn out and that the winner in the last election received.
This will give you a very accurate idea of what size turnout you can expect in your election.
The best predictor of a person’s future behavior is their past behavior.
Know which elections to include when looking back at past elections. And know if there was a certain issue that drove turnout in a particular election.
If you are not running in a presidential year, where turnout can be very high, do not include this election.
If the last election in your district was a special election and you are running in a regularly scheduled election or presidential election, your turnout will likely be much higher.
Was the last election actually a recall? This has an impact on turnout.
Any galvanizing issue in the form of a ballot measure such as development, corruption, same sex marriage, abortion, taxes, guns, can all have a big impact on voter turnout.
Make certain you know what happened in past elections before you use them as a bench mark to determine your voter turnout.
Voter Identification: Direct Contact.
Voter identification is mostly accomplish by direct contact with the voter.
Using volunteer callers can work, but the most effective means is a professionally trained phone bank that you hire to make your voter identifications.
You can even gather voter identification data with robo calls by asking voters to respond to a simple survey and then matching this information to your voter file.
Polling will give you an idea of the type of voter you can count on for support and of course what issues they value.
When phone calling and precinct walking you will never reach all voters. Polling can help here if you can afford it.
Through polling and simple examination of your voters responses from your identification process, you can often draw fairly good assumptions what type of voter your campaign is attracting and what issues move them.
These assumptions are not hard science but are often the best we have. This is where professional political judgement can be invaluable to even a local campaign and put you on a path to victory.
Keeping Track of Voter ID’s.
When identifying voters it is essential that you are organized and keep excellent records.
Assigning one person to ultimately keep tract of your identified voters is critical.
In the old days we kept everything on paper and highlighter with different colors and even hand entered or deleted voters depending on how they were identified.
Luckily today there are some excellent software programs that produce walk and phone sheets with bar-code number attached to each voters which allows you to scan your responses directly from your walk and phone sheets.
But even better are the new smart phone apps that can be downloaded. There has been a few problems with these but they seem to be working well now.
Not only do they upload responses in real time but they will also provide you information on where your volunteers are at any give time.
If you have hired a paid crew to go door to door this can be a great tool in making sure the work is actually being done.
Keep on Top of Your Voter Identification Program.
A word of caution. Always double check a portion of your recorded responses.
If you are employing paid live phone calls make sure you go to a reputable vendor. Same with paid precinct walk programs.
You want to make sure you are being accurate in your own recording of voter responses. So it is good to have someone check you.
But also it is critical to make certain volunteers and especially paid walkers and callers are doing what they say they are doing.
People get tired and they get lazy. Often volunteers or even paid callers and walkers have all the best intentions but at the end of the day they just don’t do the work.
Always engage in quality control. Make sure you or a trusted volunteer or staff person checks at least 10 percent of more of the responses recorded to ensure accuracy.
You are running a voter identification program to win and to use your resources wisely. If your data are erroneous, you are wasting your time and resources and will probably lose your election.
If there is a problem work it out right away.
A Final Note on Voter Identification.
Proper voter identification is key to targeting and winning your election.
Voter identification will save you money and time, giving you a clear view of what voters you should spend your time reaching and which voters are a waste of your time.
If you are not identifying voters you really have no idea who to target and you are leaving your election up to chance.