Voter Roll-Off: Why You Need to Reduce It to Win! GOTV

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

Reducing voter roll-off can help you win your race. Stand out like this star!

Voter roll-off Strategy -  Win GOTV for Your Down Ballot Race

In the world of politics, there is an array of confusing and random terms that folks use to describe trends. Voter roll-off is one of them. It is a term that is very important for down-ballot races to understand and fight against. More importantly, voter roll-off can make a difference for your GOTV campaign strategy. Find out how!  

What is voter roll-off? Voter roll-off happens when voters submit an incomplete ballot - meaning they only fill out the top of the ticket. With down-ballot races specifically voters are less likely to complete their ballot because they typically know nothing about these races.

Why does it matter? For a local race, voter roll-off or "undervotes" can significantly decrease a candidate's chances of winning. In fact, they can make the difference between a winning and losing candidate. 

Why is it important now? Especially this year, with its volatility. There will be voters who are paying more attention to the national debate than local races. It is important to relate to those voters now to reduce roll-off who need to know why your race matters.

What can you do about it? Overcommunicate - Give voters a reason to
Vote in your race. Tell them why. Don’t assume that because they are affiliated with the same party that they will automatically vote for you. This assumption can be a fatal oversight for many campaigns. 

Why is roll-off important in a GOTV plan? There will likely be more undervotes in your race than your margin of victory or defeat if you don’t have a real program to reduce them. Don’t assume the sporadic voters you are turning out know enough about your race to just vote for you. Come up with a plan to target and address undervotes before they become a problem. 

How can I reduce voter roll-off? Communicating with voters specifically sporadic ones is the best way to cut down on roll-off voters. Use paid and volunteer communication (canvassing, digital, mail television, etc) to reach sporadic voters and give them a reason to engage in your race. 

So now that you know about the importance of roll-off, what can you do? 

Expand your universe - There is a bad trend in politics these days to under target universes to the detriment of campaigns in our view. It does not mean every bit of communication needs to be targeted to likely roll off voters but having a sense of who they are and adding to universes to get them is the smartest strategy. 

Think about when folks vote - Contrary to popular belief voter roll-off does not just happen on Election Day. Absentee and early voters are not immune. From Unger voting. Make sure you are taking the timing of voting into account in your communication and communicating early enough to fight it.

Use digital ads - Targeted digital ads can reach places that used to be hard to reach even a couple of years ago. Digital video, static ads and even paid search can meet voters where they are and connect with them on their platform of choice.

Use mail - Use mail to expand your target universes and engage them around issues and themes that relate to likely drop off voters (e.g. social pressure campaigns around completing a full ballot).

Use GOTV tactics - Canvassing and engaging in real conversations with voters before and during get out the vote can make a critical difference for GOTV. Be sure to have people that voters trust knocking on doors to make a pitch outlining the importance of the race. 

Using television and radio - Making sure you have raised the money to communicate can make a big difference. If you don’t have the resources or organization to communicate you can be in real trouble. Buying early and locking in ad slots that engage with your core audiences can be beneficial.

Using relational organizing - Friends and family can have a big outcome. Using digital tools to make those relationships work for you is just smart politics. Make sure you organize your volunteers early so that you can use relational organizing tools for an extended period of time. 

Using the polls - I am not the only one who has been swayed by a friend outside the polls telling me to vote for someone they thought was good. Having competent volunteer poll workers (when legally allowed) can make a big difference. Down-ballot races can be decided by two votes a precinct, so that final communication really matters. 

Having a vote goal - Good campaigns revisit their vote goal. Bad ones don’t. Don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure that you are adjusting your vote goal and communicating to voters you need to engage with.

Have questions about how to reduce voter roll off? Ask them here