Getting First Time Voters to the Polls

Written by on September 29, 2012 in Lifestyle - No comments | Print this page

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While 46 million 18-29 year olds will be eligible to vote in 2012, only 40-50% of those voters are expected to actually go to the polls and cast their vote for the next President of the United States.

Getting young people to vote isn’t easy but there are a lot of ways you can help to motivate and interest young people in voting (calling, emailing, knocking on doors, custom lapel pins). Let’s take a look at some best practices.

Canvass
Studies show that canvassing an area with posters helps to increase voter turnout by 8%. That’s a huge difference in young voters so get out there and canvass areas that they’re likely to hang out. College campuses, malls, eateries and other hangouts make sense. Make sure that you are including basic and relevant information like where the polling stations are and when voters can cast their ballot. The more information you provide, the better.

Calling
Studies show that voter turnout increases 3-5% thanks to young voters reached by phone. These calls should always come from an actual person and not a computer. Making sure that you let young voters know where and when to vote is key. They don’t want to hear diatribes and rehearsed speeches so keep it light and fun. If possible, the best times to call them are in the evening during the week when they’re home.

Texting
The way of the world means that texting is now an integral way to reach young voters and can bump turning 3-5%. Keep your messages simple and clear and try to send them closer to Election Day or even on it rather than bombarding them with messages for weeks leading up. Texting is really inexpensive so it’s a great tool to take advantage of.

Custom Lapel Pins and Stickers
By offering up a freebie like a custom lapel pin or sticker, you’re giving young voters a reward for their efforts. While it may sound childish or simple, young voters appreciate being recognized for their efforts, especially after hearing about how they don’t go out and vote from older generations. Motivate them with rewards and they’ll feel more energized to share that passion with others.

Online
Young voters are online so it makes sense that you can reach them there. You should use websites to share your message of voting. If nothing else, make sure that it’s clear where to vote, when to vote and how to vote. Hold hands, even digitally. Build an email list and send blasts to young voters letting them know what to do. Don’t send too many as they’ll tune out easily. Take advantage of the social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest to reach as many voters as possible.

This is a guest post.   Mercedes Potter encourages everyone to get out and vote this year and every year. Voting is a way to make your voice heard and take a stand for what you believe in. Follow her @CedesPotter to read other blog posts she has authored.

Image courtesy of nirots / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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