Voter ID or Get Out The Vote

Voter identification and GOTV are two terms we hear used together a lot. In fact, some people use them interchangeably. While they go hand-in-hand, they aren’t the same thing. 

Voter identification and GOTV are two terms we hear used together a lot. In fact, some people use them interchangeably. While they go hand-in-hand, they aren’t the same thing. 

Each refers to a different phase in a campaign, with GOTV building on voter identification. Much like how you can’t have a hamburger without the bun, you can’t have GOTV without voter identification. 

Campaigns need to understand the differences between the two and how they work together if they want to succeed. With a strong voter identification strategy, campaigns can have a successful GOTV movement.


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What is Voter Identification?

Voter identification is the first phase of a campaign. It’s when organizers identify their supporters and gather information about them, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, past voting behavior, party affiliation, and registration status. 

This is a campaign’s chance to learn as much as they can about their supporters. The more information campaigns have about their supporters, the better they’re able to connect with them. 

With comprehensive information collection, campaigns can also create a detailed list of their supporters and how they can contact them. They’ll have easy access to their supporters for continued campaigning. If they ever need to send out an email or follow up with a text, their contact list will let them do so.

Campaigns should continue to identify their supporters up until the last few days before an election. They need to make sure they have identified as many voters as possible, but the last few days should focus on GOTV. 

What is GOTV?

GOTV, or Get Out the Vote, is the last phase of a campaign, though it can also refer to a general, non-partisan voter registration campaign. It’s a push for voter registration and participation.

Non-partisan campaigns aim to increase general voter registration and turnout, while partisan efforts try to get their supporters to the polls. Because America routinely experiences low voter turnout in elections, the more supporters a campaign can get to the polls, the higher their chances of success. 

Campaigns might help their supporters register, create a voting plan, or even get transportation to the polls. They provide anything their supporters need to participate in the election. 

A campaign’s GOTV phase can make or break them. If they manage to get enough supporters out to the polls, their candidate is much more likely to win. However, to help their supporters participate in the election, campaigns need to know who they are.

How They’re Related

Without a strong voter identification strategy, campaigns can’t implement a successful GOTV push. The information collected about their supporters throughout the campaign is essential for the GOTV phase. GOTV builds on voter identification to create a solid, comprehensive strategy for success.

During the GOTV phase, campaigns typically focus on people they know will vote for their candidate but who’ve had inconsistent voting behavior in the past. They already know their die-hard supporters will be there, so they don’t need to help them get to the polls. At that point in the campaign, there’s no point trying to sway undecided voters. 

Instead, they target registered supporters who may or may not vote. It’s the best use of their efforts in the last few days before the election, and it’s the most likely strategy to succeed. 

Campaigns contact these supporters during GOTV and confirm their voting plan. If they don’t have one, the campaign will help them figure out how and when they’ll vote and provide any other information they need to create a voting plan. 

However, to do that, campaigns need to know who those supporters are and how they can contact them. That’s why voter identification is so important. Campaigns have to know who they should target during GOTV. They have their supporters’ names, contact information, and previous voting behavior. 

With comprehensive information about their supporters, campaigns can figure out the right people for their GOTV push. The last few days of a campaign are essential, and thorough voter identification throughout the campaign allows organizers to increase their chances of success in GOTV. 


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Voter identification and GOTV are two different phases of a campaign. However, you can’t have a successful GOTV phase without a strong voter identification strategy. 

Campaigns that collect as much information about their voters as possible will have a better foundation for their GOTV push. More information about voters leads to more progress in the GOTV phase, increasing the likelihood of overall campaign success.

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