What Is GOTV?

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) is a popular movement, especially within campaign spaces. While it is technically a phase of the campaign process, it’s also a lot more than that. 

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) is a popular movement, especially within campaign spaces. While it is technically a phase of the campaign process, it’s also a lot more than that. 

GOTV, or Get Out the Vote, is an important movement and a phase of the campaign process focused on increasing voter turnout. Keep reading to learn more about GOTV and how it can help your campaign.


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Get Out the Vote

In general, GOTV refers to a movement or effort to increase voter turnout. Organizations or campaigns will encourage people to register to vote, and they’ll help them take advantage of alternative voting options. 

The difference between the two types of GOTV is the goals of the organization urging people to vote. While some GOTV movements are general pushes to increase voter turnout, others intend to increase their supporters’ turnout.

General GOTV talks to everyone, regardless of party affiliation, and tries to get them to vote. They’ll help people register, learn about their voting options, and figure out a solid voting plan.

Partisan GOTV is targeted at a campaign’s or candidate’s supporters. The campaign will find likely supporters and convince them to vote for their candidate. Because it’s easier to get a non-voter to vote for your candidate than it is to flip a current, opposing voter to your side, campaigns work on increasing their likely supporters’ turnout.

GOTV in a Campaign

Many organizations refer to the last phase of their campaign as GOTV. They’re talking about the effort to increase the number of campaign supporters who vote in the election rather than general voter turnout.

Campaigns utilize phone calls, personalized messages, canvassing, in-person communication, and providing transportation to get their supporters to the polls. Because it’s the last phase of the campaign, campaigns have already identified their sure and likely supporters. All they have to do is make sure that their supporters will actually vote.

GOTV takes place in the last few weeks before the election. With most of the actual persuading and campaigning done, campaigns can focus on their confirmed supporters.

Campaigns hone in on the people who are committed to their candidate rather than undecided voters. Anyone who is still undecided at this point in the campaign process will take too much time and effort to convince, and there’s a possibility they might vote for the opposing candidate. It’s a better use of time and resources to encourage current supporters to get out and vote.

Additionally, within their supporters, campaigns focus on people who don’t regularly vote. They know that the super voters will be there, voting for their candidate, so they work to make sure occasional voters are there as well. 

With the right people as the targets for their GOTV efforts, campaigns can make sure their supporters have a reliable voting plan. They can tell people where their polling locations are, where the closest ballot drop boxes are, and any relevant dates or deadlines.

Low Turnout

America’s elections have a long history of low voter turnout. While the number of voters in presidential elections has increased as voter eligibility increases, the highest level of participation in a presidential election over the past four decades has been 66 percent. 

That number is even lower for non-presidential elections. Additionally, the unique nature of the 2020 election, which had the 66 percent turnout, meant that registration and GOTV campaigns were stronger than ever. Activists worked tirelessly to get underrepresented groups, especially minorities, registered and voting. 

The reason GOTV campaigns work so well for candidates is that regular voter turnout is so low. If a campaign can get their supporters to the polls, they’re much more likely to see the results they want. 

That effect is magnified in local elections. Small campaigns might only need to convince a few dozen people to vote to achieve their desired outcome. 

Addressing the obstacles that prevent people from voting makes it easy for campaigns to help citizens vote. For example, offering transportation to bring voters to the right polling locations is a great way to help people that might not have other transportation options.

Another hurdle is often the complexity of registration. For people without the time or resources to get registered, having a GOVT campaign to assist them can mean the difference between registering and not registering.

It doesn’t take much to help voters get to the polls. With enough resources, campaigns can get more people involved in their elections.


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GOTV is any movement that encourages people to vote, whether it’s run by a partisan or non-partisan organization. Because of how many Americans aren’t registered to vote and don’t regularly participate in elections, just encouraging people to vote can be a huge help to campaigns.

Whether through general registration efforts or targeted partisan campaigns, GOTV pushes are incredibly helpful in increasing voter turnout.

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