The Basics of Ballot Chasing

Emma Brown

Now that voting by mail and early voting is more common throughout the country, Election Day has effectively been replaced by an "Election Month" or even more in some states. These regulatory changes mean new voting routines for both voters and campaigns. Voting by mail doesn't just mean a longer "Election Day"– it also means new voting rules and regulations, and it has led to new campaign tactics.

Enhance the need for Chasing the Ballots.

What is Ballot Chasing?
Once a supporter has requested a mail-in ballot, you want to ensure they return it as soon as possible.

Let's take a look at what an effective ballot-chasing program needs to look like. Your data source is critical to this process. First, this depends very much on your state. Almost all states offer some form of early voting, but the length of the early voting period varies by state, and other nuisances vary by state.

In Minnesota, for example, it is against the law for a campaign to receive information when a voter has requested an early ballot, but you can receive a notification when they have voted. In Colorado, all ballots are mailed, and in-person voting centers are open 15 days before the election. In some states, regulations change by county.

If you know a voter has received a ballot, you want to make sure they return it as soon as possible. To have a successful ballot chase program, following up with your voters throughout the voting process is essential to ensure they return their ballots. The program's specifics will vary depending on the vote-by-mail and early voting laws of the state in question and the data provided by the state's Secretary of State. Generally, a ballot chase involves reaching out to those who have requested or received a ballot.

Methods of Chasing

There are many effective whys to contact voters to follow up with them to validate they have returned their ballot. As you can see in the following below, the methods can be digital, in-person, and USPS. As with most voter outreach, friends, neighbors, and family are more effective than a stranger reaching out to them.

You can set up a friend-banking event to reach out to your supporters and remind them to apply for a mail-in ballot in states where this is allowed. You should also provide them with essential details, like the need for an outer envelope or a signature on the ballot. After they've sent their ballot, remove them from your list so your volunteers can focus on people who still need to vote. A good CRM system (like Buzz360) that is connected to the RNC voter data center or the SOS data makes it easy to find your identified voters, identify where they are in the voting process, and remove them from lists after they vote. Click to read more about Friendbanking.

Methods of Chasing

Example of how to do Ballot Chasing

As we said earlier, you’ll run your ballot chase program will likely differ by state, but here are some general guidelines to get you started. It all starts with the information that a voter has requested a ballot. If you can state does not provide that information like MN, we suggest using historic data to create that audience. 

Further you can easily target your audience for your ballot chase program. For instance, you may want to talk to voters who are likely to vote Republican. Or, you could target voters geographically or based on how and when they voted the last time.  Further targeting your list will allow you to contact voters who you need to turn out to win.

Here are two groups of people you should contact:
1.   Voters that your campaign and or data have identified as supporters and likely supporters, but they haven’t            requested a ballot
2.  Voters who were mailed a ballot, but haven’t returned it yet

How many times should I contact a voter?

Ballot chase campaigns begin with requesting voters to vote via mail and end once the voter has returned their ballot. Studies indicate you need 5-6 calls to persuade voters to vote.

Sometimes, people request a ballot and they let it sit on the kitchen table, in their mailbox, or they completely forget about it. By contacting voters with outstanding ballots and encouraging them to return it as soon as possible, we remind them about the need to return that ballot and instill a sense of urgency to complete the ballot.

Once the voter returns their ballot and that data is in the Buzz360 platform, they are automatically removed from your audience. 

This list is by no means comprehensive, but by taking some of these steps, you will bank some early votes and you can remove those voters from your lists. By completing a ballot chase program, you can then focus your time and resources on those voters who vote on Election Day.