If your organisation wants to run a successful election, then it is vital to make every effort to engage with the electorate to encourage the largest possible number of members to vote. Naturally, each organisation will need to carefully plan and co-ordinate its election strategy to ensure that members are provided with a straightforward and stress-free voting experience. However, the key to electoral success isn’t simply about doing the right things at the right time: it is just as important to avoid doing the wrong things. Mistakes and bad planning can have a negative effect on elections and can directly affect how voters engage with the electoral process. Voters who are not engaged and involved in the electoral process are unlikely to vote. Here are 5 common mistakes your organisation should avoid if it is looking to boost election turnout.

Don’t make the process difficult for voters

The problem:

Your organisation can try to ensure that the voting process is as easy to understand and as simple as possible, but there will inevitably be occasions when some members will need help or assistance: for instance, in online ballots it is not unusual for members to forget member IDs or passcodes. To implement this successfully all hurdles in the way of the voters who are looking for assistance should be removed. If voters encounter difficulties in trying to access help they will switch off and will be unlikely to cast their votes.

The solution:

Firstly you should make sure that simple, easy to follow instructions are included. In addition, steps should be made to ensure it is as easy as possible for members to contact you and get access to the help they need. Include a phone number and email address on any printed voting material and on the log on screen for online voting.

Don’t ignore those members who haven’t exercised their right to vote

The problem:

It’s all-too-easy to concentrate all your efforts on those members who are enthusiastic about the election process. The problem is these members are already engaged and will vote regardless of what your organisation does. It’s the voters who aren’t engaged or have forgotten that need encouragement through engagement.

The solution:

Organisations should make every effort to encourage those members who have not yet voted to exercise their rights. A multi-channel communications strategy should be deployed to pique their interest. Targeted reminder emails and postcards are a great way to engage voters and bring the election to the forefront of their minds. However, it is important to ensure that you only use a proven email delivery system, as members can only act on those messages they receive, furthermore, it is necessary to make sure you have the right contact information to post printed reminders.

Don’t over-complicate any last minute publicity

The problem:

In the run up to any election it is often necessary to send out last minute reminders. However, if the publicity sent by your organisation is overly-complicated and unnecessarily wordy, many potential voters will be reluctant to read it. Often they will ignore the reminders so your efforts will be wasted.

The solution:

Keep any late reminders to vote short, concise and direct. Too much information can simply confuse members. An eye-catching design and use of colour will help attract attention.

Don’t choose unpopular times and dates

The problem:

If a date or time has proved to be unpopular in the past, then it is unwise to run any future election on the same date. For maximum engagement and participation, election timings need to be run at popular times.

The solution:

To achieve the greatest voter turnout, you should run your elections on days that have proved to be popular with members. Election management providers like UK Engage will be able to provide you with reports and statistics which will show which times and dates have historically proved to be most popular with the electorate. Once a date has been determined any last minute reminders should be targeted accordingly. It often pays to send a number of reminders during any election campaign; for instance one at the start, one mid-election and a final one just prior to the close of voting.

Don’t limit the scope of your election message to one medium

The problem:

If all your election communications are limited to one medium only, be that print or digital, then it is inevitable that you will potentially fail to engage with some members.

The solution:

Organisations can improve voter turnout by using every channel to communicate their election message. Indeed, print and email play a big part but social media is emerging as an important channel and presents a number of opportunities such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube. Digital media has the potential to reach audiences that are sometimes inaccessible to conventional communications, and can deliver real-time information instantly. So it can pay to incorporate social networking technologies in your organisation’s strategic election plan.

UK Engage offers a wealth of expertise in all aspects of electoral services, voting, surveys, scrutineering, adjudication services, member engagement and referendum management. If you are looking for expert electoral services advice, then look no further than UK Engage.

Contact us on 0161 209 4808 or email enquiries@uk-engage.org

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