Emphasize High Voter Turnout by Melissa Varga

By at October 15, 2012 | 12:39 pm | Print

Emphasize High Voter Turnout by Melissa Varga

Melissa Varga NOI

When creating GOTV scripts, there’s a common mistake made in the way we talk about voting. Specifically, there’s a tendency to highlight the possibility of low turnout to create urgency, with statements like, “Turnout is low this year, so we really need your vote!”

But when researchers applied behavioral science to test different messages on voters, the results show us that this approach may actually depress turnout. Instead, research shows that people are most motivated to vote when they’re told that many others are turning out.

So how can you change your script to reflect this? It’s a pretty simple solution:

  • Instead of saying: “This is a very important election, but thousands of people in our district are staying home. Your vote matters now more than ever!”


  • Try saying: “This is a very important election, and thousands of people in our district are turning out to make their voices heard. Make sure your vote is counted, too!”

This simple change of the frame can make a big difference in motivating people to vote.

Descriptive Social Norms and Motivation to Vote” from Alan Gerber and Todd Rogers

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Melissa Varga, Candidate Outreach Fellow with the Candidate Project at NOI., New Organizing Institute (NOI).   NOI trains organizers to build and manage effective movements by integrating tried-and-true community organizing, cutting-edge digital strategy, and data-driven decision making. NOI provide free access to revolutionary tools, technologies, and research to help campaigns reach the next level.

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Management & Strategy

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