Can I encourage voting for particular candidates or political parties in my handwritten message?

No. "Get out the vote" research has shown that nonpartisan language is more effective than partisan language for increasing voter turnout. Partisan language is one-sided, and in this context it means with strong support for a particular candidate, party, or cause. 

To ensure your letters are as effective as possible, avoid partisan language:  Do not mention candidates by name, or political parties, which extends to terms like “red” and “blue,” or assume that the individual receiving their letter agrees with you on issues or policy. If you are writing letters to Georgia, please see our "What should I write in my letters for the Georgia Runoff campaigns?" FAQ for more information.

Relevant examples of partisan language (that should not be used) include:

  • "Vote blue!"
  • "The only way we can get our country back on track is by electing Jon Ossoff and Rev. Warnock."
  • "We need to elect Democrats."
  • "Your vote in this runoff election could give us control of the Senate." (Here, it's clear that "us" refers to a political party.")
  • "I want to end Mitch McConnell's stranglehold on the Senate."

Relevant examples of nonpartisan language that would be appropriate for your handwritten message include:

  • "Your vote is your voice. Don't miss this chance to be heard."
  • "I want to have a say in who is elected to represent my family, my neighbors, and me."

Vote Forward uses list targeting rather than partisan language in Political Campaigns to encourage Democratic-leaning voters, who only vote about half of the time, to vote.  So, the goal is to encourage someone who may not be planning to vote at all to take action and vote, not to encourage voting a particular way.

According to the research, the best messages:

  • Foster the recipient's identity as a Voter (Note: research shows the words "voter" and "voting" resonate more than “vote”)
  • Create a fear of missing out on what everyone else is doing as a community
  • Stir urgency/sense of the stakes that this is a big election
  • Encourage planning of when to vote, which increases likelihood of voting