Increase Voter Engagement This Year for Better Turnout in 2024
The 2024 Election cycle is already underway. But municipalities across the U.S. are focused on local elections this November. While off-year election turnout is often incredibly low, stoking interest among voters now, through the election, and into next year will increase participation and engagement for both votes.
Civic leaders can cultivate a more active electorate by reaching voters through their preferred communication channels; personalizing messages to their unique situations; and being prepared to engage with them when they come to you.
Start by broadening engagement channels
More than half of all eligible voters are Gen X or Millennials. But many public sector organizations are still communicating with citizens with methods they’ve used since Baby Boomers came of age.
The modern citizen engages with government differently, so if those methods and channels aren’t be utilized, government ends up with a huge segment of the population left in the dark.
That means finding out which platforms your citizens use and what their preferred style of communication is, whether that’s email, text alert, social media, or something else entirely. Once you know where to find them and what to say, it’s easier to get them involved more frequently.
Understand the competition
The number of competitors vying for people’s attention is staggering. Getting voters to focus on the ballot is difficult, even in hotly contested election years.
Inboxes are flooded with marketing emails, text alerts are buzzing in people’s pockets, and every app wants to notify you of something. And none of those accounts for the ongoing non-digital distractions of the physical world.
Government communicators should cut through the noise by ensuring all messages are succinct and catered to the individual. Communication campaigns should be structured to maximize engagement and open rates using personalized, targeted messaging and continually updated using data metrics.
While these methods require an added layer of initial effort, the right communications tools can simplify the execution.
Don’t forget about inbound communications, as well
When people think engagement, they often assume it means reaching out to the intended audience to get them to reciprocate. But that’s only half of the equation.
Getting your message out is outbound engagement, and it’s a great, proactive step for messaging. But equally important is inbound engagement—that is, the type of engagement that an organization provides when citizens come to them first.
Make sure your government website is up to date and easy to navigate. If a resident wants to find their polling station, for instance, but they can’t find that on the municipal website, they will become frustrated and might move on.
A case study in Minnesota
As the Director of Digital Media for the Office of Gov. Mark Dayton in Minnesota, Katherine Lindemann knows about the ins and outs of citizen engagement. When she joined the team several years ago, it was already clear that Dayton wouldn’t be running for another term. But he wanted to make sure that citizens still understood why they elected him and the decisions his office was making.
“Constituents are most engaged with politics and government during election season,” Lindemann said. “So, the challenge … was how we engage with our constituents every day of the year.”
One way to do that was through digital channels. The governor’s office already had a robust following on Facebook and other social media channels. The audience was overwhelmingly older women—an important demographic, since they are the group most likely to vote.
But Lindemann wanted to expand beyond that to reach more people.
“Online media is the art of distraction,” she said. “I imagine someone scrolling endlessly through their social feed. How can we get them to stop and say ‘wow’ and get their attention?”
The Digital Media team posts a lot of image-heavy posts that run the gamut from what Lindemann calls “vegetables”—posts about important things like opioid abuse—to “dessert”—award lists like Minnesota being named the “2nd Best State 2018.”
Lindermann’s methods also blend the on- and offline world. When the governor hosts events throughout the state, the team organizes Town Halls on social media to collect questions for the in-person panelists.
The work led to triple the number of Facebook and Twitter followers and a more responsive, engaged voting community.
Want to learn more about how you can engage your voters every day? Get in touch with us to find out how we can help!