GOTV Script Writing

by Martín Diego Garcia (He/Him)

typewriter with a green phone paper and pencil GOTV Script

GOTV Script Writing Is An Art - Try Our tips for Canvassing, Phone Banking & SMS

Get Out The Vote (GOTV) scripts are important because, in the vast majority of cases, they are your last chance to talk to your campaign’s core supporters to encourage them to vote. Therefore, it’s important that you make a lasting impression with these people and engage with them in a way that will resonate enough that they’ll take an hour (or six) out of their day to go vote. First, answer these basic questions to make sure your GOTV efforts are effective before writing your GOTV script:

What is the goal? Do you still need to do some last-minute persuasion or are these strictly to turnout supporters? The key is to make sure you pick one clear goal for your scripts. The more things you are trying to do, the less the voter will understand it.

Who will be using the scripts? It’s important you take into consideration who will be using your scripts when writing it. Will they be paid or volunteers? There are benefits and problems with both. But when it comes to the script, you might be stricter on paid vendors keeping to the script while giving volunteers a little more leeway to make it their own. 

Who is the target? One of the key points in writing the perfect script is to make sure your GOTV efforts speak to the targeted voter. You are wasting money and effort if your script does not connect with your voter.

What is the one thing you want folks to know? Clarity of message is an absolute must for a script. You want to make your GOTV script as short as possible and focused on the one thing you need the voter to know. So, what is that one thing for this script? (Spoiler: to remember to go VOTE!) It’s easy to get caught up in making your point while leaving the ask implied rather than overt. Make sure you have a sentence that specifically asks for what you want .

What would you like to find out? For GOTV scripts, the only thing your campaign still needs to know is if a supporter has already voted, so that you can take them off your list or continue bugging them until they do. So, consider asking that question at the beginning of your script. 

Does your content match your universe and goals?: What content makes sense within your community? What are your most effective arguments to support your candidate or advocacy issue? What information do you need from the people you’re contacting? Answering these questions will help you to establish a baseline for the content of your canvass or phone scripts.

Once you’ve answered these questions, use these tips to make sure your GOTV canvassing and phone scripts work for you:

Keep it short

The key to writing a strong GOTV script is to keep it short and keep the focus where it should be—getting people to vote. Ultimately, your goal with a GOTV script is to make sure your core supporters do not forget about Election Day and to be helpful in getting people to the polls, if need be. Your presence at their door or on the phone will also help to apply a small amount of social pressure to make sure your supporters know that you are counting on them to vote.

Make a plan

There’s been a lot of research around GOTV scripts, and all of the recent information suggests that the best way to get people out to vote is to walk them through their voting plan. In this way, voters will envision themselves voting and are more likely to actually do so. This doesn’t have to be a long conversation, just something that will help them to picture themselves in that voting booth. 

Use social pressure

Like making a plan, using social pressure is another proven and effective tactic. Suggesting that you know the supporter you are visiting is a frequent voter and that your campaign is counting on them for this election has proven to be an effective technique.  

Focus on maximum return

Especially on Election Day, there’s a ton of work to do in a finite amount of time. During GOTV, make sure you are focusing on items with a maximum return. In most cases, it is not worth it for a canvasser or a phone banker to take 10 minutes out of their day to win over one single vote. Instead, note the amount of time a canvasser or caller should spend on each contact and remind them to keep it moving.   

It’s not about you

The one thing that is always important to remember in your campaign is that it’s not about you—it’s about the voter. GOTV scripts should not read “I need you to do this” or “I need you to do that.” They need to incorporate inclusive language like “we need to do this” in order to provide a shared sense of community and make sure there is a collective reason to ensure they turn out to the polls. It should also be written with helpful information the voter might need to get to the polls including polling location, times the polls are open, or maybe even a ride to the polls. 

Read it out loud

A good GOTV script should be natural and conversational, so focus less on writing it with perfect punctuation and grammar and more on how it sounds when you say it. So, take your time, read it out loud, and practice.

GOTV Script Writing Questions:  Ask them below or download our eBook on voter turnout.