Are your political campaigns ready for vote-by-mail? If not, they’ll need to be … and soon.
We’ve already seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much of everyday life, perhaps forever. We’ve had to adapt activities like how we work, play, travel, and shop to new procedures to ensure our safety.
How we vote has already changed in many locations because of the “new normal.” And with fall campaigns already under way for Congress, the presidency, and thousands of other offices, your mail can’t wait until after Labor Day — usually regarded as the traditional campaign kickoff — to get started.
Here are a few tips on how to how to get your mail ready:
1. Understand the new environment
Because of the coronavirus, in-person campaigning will continue to be drastically reduced, if it takes place at all. No big rallies, no handshaking, no baby-kissing, no door-to-door canvassing. Instead, technology is largely going to make up for the gap with — sorry to say — more TV and web ads than in previous election cycles.
But look at this as an opportunity to use your mail to stand out from the electronic glut that will be building up in the next 3+ months. It will give the voters’ tired eyes (and ears) a break from all of those ads.
Use your ability to segment your mailing data to target people with messaging that better matches their values and interests. Instead of relentless droning of generic campaign themes, your campaign mail can highlight your experience, issue positions, and specific proposals. Let your mail speak to voters more personally.
2. Make a plan
Time is of the essence like never before. You don’t have months to wait, like after the political conventions, or the start of the new school year around Labor Day. If your voters are in a state that allows early voting and/or absentee voting, you should already have a plan ready to go for heavy outreach with direct mail.
This means pieces on issues, your opponents, and testimonials and endorsements. You should also make your closing argument early, summarizing your candidate’s strengths so well that they’re looking forward to marking and mailing back their ballot right after they get it.
Some states, by legislative or executive action, have expanded vote-by-mail to include every (or nearly every) voter. If that’s the case, you’ll need to know when those ballots go in the mail. You should ramp up your voter sign-up efforts ASAP, well in advance of any and all deadlines. Be aware of any problems that these voters may face and know what to do to make sure that their registrations — and votes — count.
Remember, this is about more than convenience and accessibility now. It’s about ensuring voter safety and confidence. Be on the side of the voter by helping as much as possible.
3. Keep an eye on the calendar
You know how I just pointed out the importance of deadlines? Let me remind you that the clock is already running. You don’t have as much time as you think you have to help voters make up their minds.
With millions of ballots expected to be sent out this fall, your mail cycle’s timeline is getting compressed. For their votes to be counted (more on that later), you’ll want to get in the mail ASAP and stay in.
Some people have already decided who they will vote for, and will return their ballot soon after receiving it. For those who need more persuasion, however, you’ll have to pull out all the stops. You can’t take chances with them deciding last minute, only to have their vote not count by not being returned in time.
4. Help as much as you can
So your voter gets their ballot in the mail. What happens next?
If they’re one of your committed supporters, you don’t have to worry. They’ll carefully read and follow the directions and send it back as soon as they can. Don’t worry about them.
The ones you need to help are the people who:
- Never voted by mail before and are worried that it’s not secure (it is, by the way)
- Don’t know much about your candidate
- Need a reminder (or several) about when and how to return their ballots.
In your mail mix, be sure to include pieces that acknowledge that ballots are in the mail and need to be returned. Include whatever helpful information you can or direct voters to your website for everything that they’ll need to know. There’s also an opportunity here to use Informed Delivery and smart speaker tech to reach voters with an up-to-date and possibly personal call to action from the candidate.
Wrapping it up
The playing field for your political direct mail has changed, but the essentials remain the same. Your one job is to win votes for your candidate. Vote-by-mail simply means that you can’t get started too early.
Mailing.com has worked with many campaigns over the years. We mailed 10 million political pieces in 2018 alone.
Thanks to our on-site USPS verification, your mail can be checked, cleared, and transferred to the Post Office without unpleasant surprises. You’ll save time and money and have peace of mind.
We’d be happy to provide the expert guidance that you need to run a successful direct mail campaign for your election! Call us at 800-645-6659 or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.