When folks talk about increasing voter turnout, there’s a common mistake in the way we talk about it. Specifically, there’s often a tendency to highlight the low number of voters who are actually voting, with statements like, “Turnout is low this year, so we really need your vote!”
But behavioral science shows us that this approach is actually less effective than emphasizing the number of people that actually are voting. This tactic will be most persuasive to people who only vote infrequently or occasionally.
So, how can you change your script to reflect this? If you were emphasizing low turnout, it’s simple to turn it around.
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!”
You can say: “This is a very important election, and thousands of people in our district are turning out to make their voice heard. Make sure your vote is counted, too!”
This simple change of the frame can make a big difference in motivating people to vote.
If you try this trick, let us know how it works in the comments on our Tumblr.
Melissa Varga is Candidate Outreach Fellow with the Candidate Project at NOI.
PS - Wanna read the whole study? Check out ”Descriptive Social Norms and Motivation to Vote” from Alan Gerber and Todd Rogers here.
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