Many campaigns will be devoting the next week to getting postal voters “out to vote”.
A good campaign will deliver:
- An eve of poll or good morning leaflet
- A “how to” letter summarising your campaign and include postal voting instructions
- Phone knock or foot knock once over the weekend 21st/22nd
- A reminder letter before May 3rd – addressed (and posted where you can afford it)
- A second reminder letter specifically to those whose PV address is outside the ward. – addressed (and posted where you can afford it)
- Include information on May 4th Knock up materials that remindds postal voters that it’s not too late and how they can still use their postal vote.
If you don’t have the resources to knock up all non-anti-postal voters then it is sensible to prioritise knocking up by concentrating on Lib Dem voters first.
Postal Voters Good Morning (or Eve of Poll)
The whole idea behind Good Morning leaflets is that they are delivered to people early on the day they vote. So if the person is a postal voter – they should get their Good Morning leaflet on the day postal votes are delivered. So – plan to deliver a targeted Good Morning leaflet to postal voters, delivered first thing on the day on which postal votes are due to hit doormats.
As many postal voters live in properties with other, non-postal voters, it is best to address the leaflet (e.g. with a label) so it doesn’t confuse non-postal voters.
Time your delivery to arrive before first post (good news if your postal delivery is later in the morning!). Remember also that some postal votes will go astray or get delayed in the post – so word the leaflet accordingly saying that they are scheduled to receive their postal vote that day and giving contact details for any problems.
“How to vote” direct mail
This is the target letter from the candidate, which:
- repeats election key messages
- has instructions on completing the paperwork.
- Includes reminder slip for them to keep.
- You can prepare most of the contents well in advance, so don’t stint on production qualities – e.g. have an insert on coloured paper (which can be stuffed into envelopes ready to use in advance of the election) and have a blue ink signature on the letter (again, the signature can be printed in advance of the election) .
Not everyone casts their postal vote straight away, so you should send postal voters a reminder a few days after they have received their postal vote. Tell people how to get a replacement ballot paper if they need one. Very few people know how to do this – so reminding people is very important. Finally, include instructions on how to complete the postal voting paperwork again.
One way of “knocking up” our postal voters is to combine it with “firming” canvass of our shuttleworth on the final Sunday before Polling Day.
The idea is to doorstep “knock ” both our supporters and our postal voters on the weekend before polling day. This delivered a number of benefits:
1. It’s more like a friendly chat rather than the slightly manic knocking they would later receive on polling day – more like a soft re-canvass.
2. Probables/waverer can be firmed up
3. Errors can be removed before polling day
4. Additional poster sites can be found to provide visible momentum
5. Late swings and Tory smears can be spotted with enough time to rebut them.
6. “Do not knock before” times and lifts can be identified for polling day
7. Postal voters who have sent their ballot papers in can be crossed off the shuttleworth thereby narrowing the numbers for polling day knock up.
This technique will perhaps benefit safer wards with a large shuttleworth – making the decision to switch to target marginals on polling day easier and earlier. Remember to consider “others in house” as you do it.
On polling day itself, it is sensible to include postal voters in knock ups, at least in the early stages of polling day (you can always exclude them from later knock-ups). Any who have not yet returned their postal votes may well not know that they can be returned to any polling station before close of polls. Again you need to make a decision about whether you include just postal voters canvassed as Lib Dems or a wider range possibly including all except Antis and supporters of your main opposition. This decision can only be made after considering the current position of your campaign, how many other D’s & P’s you have to knock up and your available resources.
If resources are scarce, you should consider as a minimum, delivering a special leaflet to postal voters during the first knock up reminding them that they can return their ballot to any polling station in the district. If this is done without door-knocking it will be a very time efficient technique as knockers-up will be walking down those streets in any case.
Our helpers should only offer to take their postal ballot to the polling station if they have no other way of getting it there – and in such cases only let them give our helpers the completed paperwork, all contained in the sealed outer envelope, so there is no scope for any suspicion about paperwork being interfered with or altered.
Remember, trying to be helpful and offering to go into someone’s house to help complete their postal ballot paperwork can very easily be misconstrued. If they need to fill in the paperwork, let them do it in the house while you are waiting on the doorstep.
Entitlement to list of postal voters
Knowing who in your area has a postal vote is a key piece of campaigning intelligence.
Although there has been a long-established right to see records of postal voters, some Returning Officers have been very slow at providing information, some have tried to avoid providing it at all and some have tried to make people jump through all sorts of hoops to get the information.
Changes in the law from the 2006 Electoral Administration Act make our legal rights to this information much clearer and simpler. Political parties are entitled to a copy of the postal and proxy lists at any time of the year.