Project Description

“We tightened the messaging to ‘your voice matters’ and focused our outreach efforts on getting residents to vote early.”

OUR ACTION: We got out the vote and controlled potential rumors.

OUR SUCCESS: The district passed the levy in a non-presidential or gubernatorial election year with 58% of the vote.

Situation

Outdated and overcrowded buildings

The buildings at one medium-sized central Ohio school district became outdated and overcrowded, and no matter how they tackled the problems, the cost would be significant. The district’s leaders gave themselves two years to get through a multi-level process to identify the best approach. They used that time to develop their plan by holding community meetings, consulting with financial executive volunteers living in their district, surveying residents, and partnering with Allerton Hill Consulting (AHC).

Together, the district and AHC, knew that most voters supported the levy. The research data showed that voters saw the need for the new buildings so no persuasion was necessary. However, this was not a presidential or gubernatorial election, so low voter turnout was inevitable.

Solution

Push for early voting and control rumors

Weighing issue support with low voter turnout, AHC determined that getting out the vote had to be the key strategy, while controlling any potential rumors. We tightened the messaging to “your voice matters” and focused our outreach efforts on getting residents to vote early, especially considering that there are 30 days to vote early vs. only one Election Day. We created campaign pledge cards and mailed early voting applications to be sure residents received a ballot. We wanted them to think about how, when and where they were going to vote, and we were sure to communicate all the polling locations and hours. It was a multi-level process to make it as easy as possible for people to have a plan and a commitment to vote. Additionally, a Rapid Response Team was assembled to address and control any rumors circulating on social media.

Success

By Election Day, the issue already was passing by 57 percent

Even though it was a significant request, the issue won with 58 percent of the vote. The issue’s only vulnerability was its cost, which voters understood made more sense in the long term because the buildings were becoming cost prohibitive. The district did a great job of communicating throughout the planning process. Ultimately, this was not a persuasion campaign, but a get-out-the-vote campaign. And, we did.