NextGen California, an organization that acts politically to prevent climate disaster and promotes prosperity for every American, wanted to improve voter registration numbers.
Bergmann Zwerdling Direct (BZD) was tasked to create a mail program that moved people to action: to register to vote through the mail.
NextGen California was interested in targeting the unregistered but eligible voting age population. This group included individuals who had previously received voter registration attempts, from canvass visits to official-looking mail — a tactic viewed as a best practice. These previous attempts were not delivering the desired results. NextGen California wondered if another method would.
They asked BZD to create eye-catching, message-driven mail that would engage Latinx voters in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas.
Targeting the voting age population by ethnicity and in a race against time, BZD and NextGen California began working on a mail voter registration drive in September with a goal of registering 4,000 voters throughout California over three weeks before the October 24th deadline.
Navigating complex logistics to track self-returned voter registrations, BZD produced four flights targeted to 208,396 people in the Latinx community in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.
To ensure an innovative and successful program, a smooth process was necessary to test anti-Trump vs. issues-driven messaging, remain compliant with local and federal election laws, and blend voter registration in person and registration by mail best practices.
BZD contacted individual county Boards of Election to work with them on what documents would be acceptable and to alert them an influx of voter registrations would be on their way to the individual county administrative offices.
BZD worked closely with the United States Postal Service (USPS), local printer, and mail house to ensure that the design of mail piece and voter registration forms would be compliant with USPS standards so the piece could mail swiftly and with the utmost ease through the mail delivery system — both on the way to the recipient and for their voter registration form to be returned. Addresses to the recipient and to the county elections office were pre-printed and the form left blank so that it could be shared, with the return postage pre-paid if used.
BZD researched, identified, and implemented Analyst Institute best practices that were allowed to increase the rates of return of voter registration and shared with other partners of the project to assure success for all.
BZD worked closely with NextGen California consultants, ShareMail software, and USPS to ensure the intelligent mail barcoding would function and guarantee an understanding of the system through which voter registration forms were tracked so that a thorough analysis could be done following the project.
BZD and NextGen California consultants and staff executed this strategy quickly as the voter registration deadline loomed.
The first piece was the most effective in rates of return. We communicated an anti-Trump message, stirring over 4,000 eligible voters to action.
The second piece highlighted issues that might incite an unregistered but eligible voter to take action and returned half the number of registration forms, around 2,000 forms.
The third piece was a kicker to inform recipients their last chance was coming, in case they had missed the first two opportunities and to look out for the last form coming.
The final piece returned to anti-Trump messaging and hit doors of unregistered voters days prior to the registration deadline of October 24. Around 1,000 more voter registration forms were returned.
The four-piece program was a success, ultimately surpassing expectations and registering 6,755 unique voters.
We can conclude the mere invitation to register and ease of process through which we engaged this population was the number one reason for success as opposed to the anti-Trump messaging versus issues message — we must engage.
This economical and effective program can be implemented in any state as it uses a national voter registration form and is returned by the person registering to vote. There is no need to work around deputization laws or voter registration trainings as a direct plea to an unregistered voter is made.
With unregistered voters needing to be asked to vote seven times before taking action, a vote by mail voter registration can be used to add another touch to a voter registration program at the fraction of a cost of either expanding the field program in a dense urban area or as a primary means of communication in rural America.
The opportunity to craft individual messages and meet unregistered but eligible voters where they are — at home — is unparalleled and untapped.