Absentee Voting & Early Vote Strategies for Membership Organizations

by Joe Fuld

Absentee voting ballot in envelope

 Absentee Voting & Early Vote To Help Your Membership Organization

In 2020, a majority of states in the country have no-excuse absentee voting or early voting. If you are trying to get more members in your membership organization to vote and engage in elections, early and absentee voting is an opportunity you can leverage. When it comes to early and absentee voting laws, many states have changed for the better over the last few years. With New Jersey and New York passing early vote and absentee voting laws, the majority of the US population now has the option of early or absentee voting.  

Health concerns will increase early and absentee voting
Absentee and early voting will grow exponentially in 2020 as voters are looking for a way to avoid crowds and any unnecessary human contact. Election Day voting is often busy and crowded. Absentee voting requires virtually no person-to-person contact, and early voting is typically less busy and allows voters to get in and out of the voting precinct quickly and safely. 

The difference between early vote and absentee voting
Early voting is in-person, sometimes at area polling places that are different from Election Day but still convenient to voters. The hours of early voting can also be very helpful for voters as polls are often open on weekends and all throughout the week. No-excuses absentee voting is by mail and without a needed reason. In the past, many states required you to have a valid reason to vote by mail (i.e. you were sick, out of town, over a certain age, etc.). 

Why should all states have early voting and no excuses absentee?
Voter turnout is a big issue in the United States. We have less than 50 percent of the adult population voting in general elections. Getting people invested in their government and elections in general is an important challenge we need to take on. 

Why encourage members to early vote? 
Getting members to vote is a critical job for any organization. The more engaged a member is in the community, the more engaged they will be in your organization. Engagement is an important muscle to strengthen. 

Why is absentee voting important?  
These days people don’t have time. Having the ability to vote in the comfort of your own home or on your own time allows people to participate in elections when they might not.

How do I get members to focus on early and absentee voting? 
Establishing a new behavior is hard, but early and absentee voting can create a compelling case for organizing. It also allows organizations to provide real information to members about how they can vote in an easier, faster, safer, and more convenient way.

How do you establish new voting behavior? 
I am a big believer in a tactic called habit-stacking. If your members have existing habits and you are trying to add a new one, link them together.  If you have meetings or events connect them with an early or absentee voting habit.  

Early voting strategies 

  • Organizer goals. Set goals for organizers to increase absentee and early voting. Make them as specific as possible. Make sure you track metrics to judge success. 
  • Commit to vote campaigns. Ask members to create a plan to vote. Fill out a pledge-to-vote card and send it back to them as the election approaches.  
  • Educate voters about early voting. Many folks just don’t think about voting. Letting your members know there is a convenient and easy way to vote is a service you can provide. Make sure they have information on the topic that is easy for them to access. Consider bilingual and multilingual information.
  • Have a goal thermometer. What were your past numbers for early and absentee voting? Can you top it this election cycle? Create a goal thermometer at your office, worksite, or virtually on your website. 

Ways to get the word out about early voting

  • One-on-one member organizing. Members simply talking to each other and telling their stories of the importance of early and absentee voting can be impactful. 
  • Flyers. Information in the workplace is important, and creating workplace flyers is an underrated tool to engage members. 
  • Direct Mail. In an era of information overload, mail from a member organization has a high engagement rate and allows a two-way conversation to a wide range of members.  Make sure to have clear information on mail that lets members know how to early vote or absentee vote. 
  • Texting/SMS. Opt-in texting is a good way for folks to engage and connect on multiple issues. Building an SMS list takes time, but for membership organizations, it is well worth the investment. This list can be harnessed for early and absentee voting to give real actionable information such as dates, websites, polling locations, and more. 
  • Email. Email is an underrated tool, but for membership organizations, it is a great way to communicate and engage on a continuous basis with your members.
  • Video. Video in many forms. either through user-generated content, explainer videos, or skillfully produced ads, can help encourage your members to vote and provide needed information about when and where. 
  • Facebook Live. Facebook Live is a way to engage with your audience in a long-form and organic way. The best Facebook live videos are longer than five minutes and engage and answer questions from viewers. 
  • Digital ads. Targeted ads are a good reinforcing tool. If done in the right way, sharing members’ stories and using members as the voice in ads can help connect in an emotional and informational way. 
  • Geofencing work sites. People spend a ton of their lives at work. Serving ads to workplace locations can be an added way of engaging and connecting with members. 
  • Search. Have frequently asked questions on your website and pages that can be found in search so members can get easily find information about how to absentee vote and locations for them to vote early.
  • SEO. Once you have the content, make sure it is optimized for keywords and search. Think about how your content proactively answers members’ questions. 
  • Social media. This can be a good reinforcement for members to engage with each other and build a connection in their membership network.
  • Organic content. Having members talk to other members in their own voice is a good way to get engagement and connection. Creating infographics that explain policy and data can also help. 

Have questions on how early and absentee voting strategies can help your membership organization? Drop us a note