Encourage your friends to vote (10/19/17)

Between now and Election Day, Nov. 7, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam will deploy countless volunteers to knock on Virginians’ doors and pitch them to vote Democrat. While research shows this bumps up voting rates, Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies finds that being pitched to vote by “personal contacts may be more effective” than being pitched by a stranger volunteering for a campaign.

Given this, the Northam campaign should encourage its supporters to nudge their personal contacts to vote. They can do this by redesigning the commit to vote card — essentially a promise to vote in the upcoming election — it is currently asking supporters to sign. Instead of just committing to vote, a better card would also ask citizens to write the names of three personal contacts they commit to remind to vote on Election Day.

In addition to more votes at no cost, this tactic may create a foot-in-the-door for 2018 Democrats to encourage these engaged citizens into more time-intensive forms of volunteering. For instance, next year campaigns can ping these constituents stating, “Thanks for supporting Virginia Democrats last fall by volunteering to get your friends to vote. Can we count on you this year to help with a phone bank?”

In a gubernatorial race this close, encouraging Virginians to nudge their friends to vote may help the Northam campaign cross the finish line and could give Democrats a head start with 2018 volunteer recruitment.

Published in The Richmond Times-Dispatch