Depending upon what state you live in, absentee voters–or early voters–could make up an increasingly large percentage of the vote in your particular political campaign race. In my home state of Ohio, the number of voters who cast their ballots early increases every year, thanks in part to legislation that now allows anyone to vote before election day if they choose to.
The trend of early absentee voting is likely to continue as other states give citizens more options to cast their ballots before election day. There was a time when absentee voting was limited to the elderly or voters who had a legitimate excuse for being out of town on election day, but in many states that simply isn’t the case anymore. Here in Ohio, anyone can now vote starting a month before election day by either visiting their local board of elections or ordering an absentee ballot in the mail.
Winning the absentee vote was always important to political campaigns, but putting together a good absentee voter campaign has become even more essential in states that now allow anyone to vote early. The absentee vote approached 25 percent in the last campaign I ran in as a candidate, and reaching out to early voters was an important part of our campaign’s winning game plan.
We’ll focus more on specific strategies to focus on absentee voters in future articles on Killer Campaigning. Right now, give some thought to early voting in general and how much of a role absentee votes play in winning campaigns in your district. Get a copy of election results from past cycles and figure out what percentage of the overall vote in your district is likely to come from early voters. The odds are that the percentage of absentee voters in your race grow every election cycle, much like it does in Ohio.
The increasing importance of absentee votes means that political campaigns need to get their message and literature out to the early voters far in advance of election day. In fact, I encourage some candidates not to think of election day as being in November, but rather a month earlier when absentee voting begins.
Many political candidates don’t start buckling down and promoting themselves until the last month of the election, after early voting has already begun. If you run your campaign the right way, then absentee voters will already know who you are when they receive their ballots in the mail.
Remember: in most cases, the winner and the loser of a political campaign are separated by only a few percentage points on election day. By focusing on the absentee vote and winning early voters, you can make your odds of getting elected even better.