Winning Candidates Don’t Stop Getting Out The Vote

If you want to win your election, you need to Get Out the Vote (aka GOTV) all day on Election Day — or you may not win.

I have seen it too many times. Many campaigns start slacking off on Election Day.

Campaign workers get giddy.  They start fooling around and stop contacting voters.

I have also seen it in a bunch of races won or lost by a few votes.

I have seen campaigns loose when they thought they had it in the bag.

Amazingly, I have known candidates and campaign staff that just party all day on Election  Day.

Sometimes candidates and campaign staff go to movies, hang out in bars and restaurants, or spend all day planning and preparing for the victory party that night.

Not sure why folks do this but here are some good reasons to work on turning out the vote all the way through Election Day.

Here’s what you need to remember.

Not everyone has already made up their mind.

“If they don’t know who they are voting for by now….”

Yes, most people that vote make up their minds before Election Day.

But there are always a few that don’t.  And it is your campaign’s job to make that final pitch to any undecided voter.

People forget to vote.

People have busy lives.  And many just forget about Election Day.

As much as a lot of  us political hacks love politics, most people could care less.

Yes, they know it is important.  But so is going to work, getting the kids to school, picking the kids up from school and sports, and making sure they are fed and do their homework.

It is a lot of work being a parent and running a household.

Even a single person trying to manage a career and life can be overwhelmed at times.

A friendly reminder that includes information on where and when to vote can make all the difference in their lives and your election.

I keep saying that a friend of mine lost a race by 28 votes.  Could their campaign have turned out a few dozen more voters with a great Get Out the Vote program?


People don’t know where to vote.

Yeah, sure, when election departments send out sample ballots they generally have your polling place on them.

But guess what? A lot of people lose their sample ballots or throe them out long before they go vote.

Yes, voters can contact their local election department and find out where to vote, but many people don’t even realize that and probably don’t have the number.

Voter participation in large part comes down to the effort campaigns make to educate the voters.

Local and state governments don’t have the resources to make sure everyone votes and that they know where to vote.

If a person is not a likely voter that turns out for every election, there is a good chance they don’t know where to vote.

And even likely voters can forget where they voted a few years before.

Often, polling places are changed due to a given facility no longer being available or maybe your local election department decided to consolidate polling places due to staffing or expected voter turn out.

The point is that polling places change and Get Out the Vote is an excellent opportunity to make certain “YOUR” voters know where to vote.

People don’t realize they can walk in their absentee ballots on election day.

I can’t speak for other states, but here in California voters can walk in their ballots to the polling place on Election Day.

In fact, many voters do just that. I used to do it all the time.  I have gotten further into adulthood and have become a more responsible member of society I actually mail mine in within a few days or week of receiving it.

But yes, you can just walk in and the poll worker looks up your name and has you place the ballot in the box.

Also, here in the Golden State, if a voter now mails a ballot and it is postmarked on or before Election Day, their votes will be counted.

A lot of folks are not privy to these rules and think they just missed their chance to vote.

Find out what your local rules are and inform voters in your Get Out the Vote efforts.

If you do this.  You are not just working to win your election but actually doing a great public service.

The Bottom Line With Get Out the Vote.

Work your GOTV program up to the last minute.

Yes, The Last Minute!!!

Years ago, I worked on a winning California State Assembly race.  We won by less than 200 votes, about 190 if I remember right.

We defeated a Republican in a traditionally Republican seat.  In fact, the Republicans had controlled that seat for almost all of California’s statehood.

I was talking to a member of the opponent’s campaign staff years after the election and he told me they did not have much of a Get Out the Vote program on Election Day.

They did not think they needed to and actually cut if off, or basically stopped working, in the afternoon.  Big Mistake.

Many times in the past, when I was volunteering at a phone bank, making my election day GOTV calls and 15 minutes or less before the close of polls, I found a person that forgot to vote and still had the time to make it to the polls and cast their vote.  And I generally got them to do it.

One time I got a person five minutes out and got them to vote.

Make sure your people communicate when polls close to voters and that they still have time to go vote.

Generally, if someone is in line to vote, at least here in California, and the polls close, they can still vote, even if they do not actually make it in by closing time.

It has been frustrating to be working on a campaign only to see the field people stop making calls at 6 or 7 or 7:30 PM because they don’t think they can still get anyone to the polls.

You don’t know how possible it is for someone to get to the polls.  So don’t make that decision for the voter just keep asking them to go vote up until the polls close.  Who knows, maybe they live in an apartment building, a dormitory, and their polling place is right downstairs.  Just keep working until closing time.

So like Jake Steinfield said back int he 1980’s when it comes to your Get Out The Vote operation, “Don’t Quit”.