What Is Voter Identification?

Voter identification is a long and essential part of any campaign. You need to understand the concept and know how to successfully implement a voter identification strategy if you want to win an election.

Voter identification is an essential aspect of any successful campaign. The stronger your voter identification efforts, the higher your chances of winning an election, especially in small and local elections.

Campaigns need to develop and implement a powerful voter identification strategy if they want to win their election. Here’s a quick guide to voter identification and how it can help your campaign.

What is Voter Identification?

Voter identification is the part of a campaign where you identify your supporters. Typically, campaigns start with a voter list and use that to contact people. From there, they can weed out opponents and definite supporters to focus on undecided voters or supporters with inconsistent voting behavior.

A great voter identification strategy helps you use your time, energy, and money more efficiently. Rather than trying to persuade people who are already decided or guaranteed to vote, you can hone in on voters who need some persuasion. 

Everyone involved in a campaign, from the candidate themselves to occasional volunteers, is involved in voter identification. You want to find as many people within your target audience as possible so you can start to figure out how to persuade and support them best. 

Voter identification is the foundation for all other campaign efforts, but it’s especially important for the campaign message. Knowing who you’re trying to reach helps you shape your message and make it appealing to a wide number of voters.

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 When to Use It

While voter identification is technically a phase of a campaign, it lasts almost as long as the campaign itself. Voter identification is ongoing, and you should ensure that you’re identifying as many supporters as possible to focus your GOTV strategy.

It’s a good idea to start your voter identification efforts about a year out from the election. While this may seem early, the earlier you identify your target audience, the more time you have to persuade them to become supporters.

Starting so early also gives you time to build strong relationships with your voters. Rather than showing up a few weeks before the election, you can slowly build their trust and confidence in your campaign to create a lasting relationship.

You shouldn’t stop identifying voters until the last few days before the campaign. Then, you can turn your attention towards your GOTV strategy. 

The last few days before an election are best spent making sure all the uncertain voters you turned into supporters cast a ballot. You’ve already identified as many supporters as possible at that point, and you should focus on helping your voters get to the polls.

Tips for Effective Voter Identification

Now that you know what voter identification is and when you use it, you can start to develop your voter identification plan. Here are some tips to help you create an effective strategy that identifies your target voters and initiates a relationship with them.

1. Give a Short Introduction

When introducing your campaign and candidate to voters, keep it simple. Give them a short one-to-two sentence introduction that tells them who you are and how they can learn more. 

Many people don’t like or bother to read or listen to long speeches from campaigns and candidates they don’t care about. You’re better off using the foot-in-the-door method. Get them to listen to your introduction and entice them to learn more.

2. Rank Voters’ Support

Many campaigns use a coding system to rank voters’ support levels. Most use numbers, like 1-4 or 1-6, with 1 referring to the least supportive and 4 or 6 referring to the most supportive. With this system, you can easily identify where you want to focus your efforts.

3. Prioritize Information

Small or local campaigns often have tight budgets. They can’t spend much money on voter lists, so they need to know what information to prioritize.

If your campaign is battling a small budget, focus on three key things for your voter lists: having your lists in .csv or Excel format; information about voters’ party affiliation; and voters’ past election participation.

However, if money is not a problem for you, gather as much information about your voters as possible. The more information you have about your voters and what they care about, the more likely it is that you secure their vote. 

4. Know Which Groups to Target

While we’ve already discussed the type of voter you should focus on, the general groups you should target differ depending on the type of election. You should identify which groups it’s most effective to hone in on for primary and general elections. 

For primary elections, it’s important to get out as many core voters as possible. For general elections, you should focus on undeclared voters with a history of participating in elections. 

NationBuilder gives you access to a free voter file for your campaign!

Voter identification is a long and essential part of any campaign. You need to understand the concept and know how to successfully implement a voter identification strategy if you want to win an election. 

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