Innovating to Get-Out-the-Vote in Georgia

5 mins read

Reclaim Our Vote and NAACP Atlanta will text over a million Georgia voters in December to get out the vote. Their innovative campaign provides voters with details about their closest early voting location and cuts texting costs by 80% using a new solution based on TextPerCent and PDI.

Organizing a massive get-out-the-vote (GOTV) campaign has four key components:
1. Funding to cover the cost of the data and texting software
2. Recruiting and training volunteers to do the texting
3. Accurate data on voters to text
4. Software to send personalized texts with the info voters need

Background

Reclaim Our Vote (ROV) is a campaign of Center for Common Ground, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization. It empowers under-represented voters to fully participate in elections, provides voter education on how to monitor voter registration status, find voting locations (vote centers, dropboxes and voting precincts) as well as county contacts for local boards of elections or registrars.

NAACP Atlanta – Founded in 1917, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. From the ballot box to the classroom, the thousands of dedicated workers, organizers, leaders and members who make up the NAACP continue to fight for social justice for all Americans. The Atlanta Branch of the NAACP is led by its president, Richard Rose, a long-time life member of the NAACP and veteran protest leader.

Text Per Cent provides a cost-effective solution for peer-to-peer texting.

Organizing a large-scale texting campaign
ROV has over 20,000 volunteers nationwide engaged with post card writing, phone banking and texting. Volunteer power enables them to mobilize quickly and also reduce costs. How ROV coordinated their Georgia GOTV campaign:
– Volunteers were set up with their own texting accounts on Text Per Cent
– Prepared the text messages to be sent out
– Collected and uploaded a list of the early voting locations from the Georgia Secretary of State
– Procured a list of voters to text from Political Data Inc. (PDI)

Helping voters find their early voting location

“Unlike Election Day, you do not have to vote at an assigned polling location during early voting in Georgia. You may vote at any early voting location within your county. Find available early voting locations by visiting the Secretary of State’s webs and selecting your county of residence from the list.” – State of Georgia website.

Multiple early voting locations in a county is convenient for voters, but also confusing to voters who first have to find their closest voting location. Reclaim Our Vote (ROV) texting volunteers simplify this task by texting them details of their closest location with Text Per Cent. The app determines the closest location by finding the shortest distance from the voter’s address in the voter file to nearby early voting locations in their county.

Text Per Cent finds and sends out the closest voting location.

Text Per Cent

Texting is a vital part of organizing campaigns, but often out of reach of small campaigns due to cost and complexity. ROV teamed with DemLabs to design an affordable, easy to use peer-to-peer texting system. Text Per Cent runs on the Signalwire platform and enables campaigns to send text messages for 1 cent/text which which represents an 80% saving over traditional approaches. This also reduces the time, effort and costs associated with fundraising to pay for a texting campaign.

Texting campaigns often have to be organized quickly, with volunteers who maybe new to texting and working remotely from home with a range of computer skills. Text Per Cent enables ROV volunteers to be quickly trained and ready to text based on the time they have available. Volunteers choose the message to text from a list created by ROV and can then engage in a dialog with the voter. They can also provide them with details on their closest early voting location with just one click.

Take Away

“Gentlemen, we have run out of money. It is time to start thinking.” – Ernest Rutherford (Nobel Laureate)

Citizens United has ‘tilted political influence toward wealthy donors and corporations‘. Grassroots groups and social justice groups cannot match that level of spending and need to innovate. Support groups such as Reclaim Our Vote and NAACP Atlanta working on affordable campaign innovations that also benefit other grassroots groups.

Deepak
DemLabs

Image credit: NESA by Makers on Unsplash
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Democracy Labs is a hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation that serves progressive campaigns and organizations at the national, state, and local levels.

Our focus is on long term, sustainable and affordable solutions. An approach that is longer than an election cycle, and isn’t purely dependant on volunteers, can enable more qualified candidates to run for office and for more issue groups to bring about positive social change.

Democracy Labs is a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

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