What should I write?
What works best
Heartfelt personal messages are best, and messages should always be respectful, friendly, and nonpartisan. Some people talk about voting as a way to express themselves, and how important it is to be heard. Others focus on welcoming their letter recipient into a community of voters. You could also describe memories from childhood of going to the polls with your parents, or doing the same with your kids. For help crafting an impactful personal story message, please see our training exercise.
Following research-proven "Get Out The Vote" (GOTV) best practices, 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 sense of urgency and excitement about voting
- Make voting seem easy and accessible
What to avoid
GOTV research has shown that partisan messaging is less effective than nonpartisan messaging. This is why we ask volunteers to avoid:
- Mentioning candidates by name
- Mentioning political parties
- Framing the message overall in a partisan fashion
- Assuming that the recipient agrees with you on issues or policy
It’s fine to mention specific issues, just be careful not to assume the recipient agrees with your policy preferences.
Crafting your "I vote because" message
When writing Vote Forward letters, you'll be completing the following sentence: I vote because ...
Whether you're writing "vote by mail" or "please vote!" letters, keep your messages nonpartisan, as nonpartisan messages work better than partisan messages. Partisan means “one-sided,” and in this context a partisan message shows strong support for a particular candidate, party, or cause.
Below is the prompt for these letters, with examples of nonpartisan messages that would work well and partisan messages that would not work, with suggestions to make them nonpartisan (Remember: Personal messages are the ones that come from your own unique experiences and perspective, so we recommend that you use the examples below as guidance when you craft your own message, rather than copying them directly onto your letter.) For help crafting an impactful personal story message, please see our training exercise.
I vote because:
Try these kinds of messages:
- I want to be part of history and participate in our democracy as a voter.
- I feel that it is extra important to speak up because our country is going through such a challenging time
- I care about the future of our country, and I wanted to make my voice heard.
- I've always remembered how inspired I felt going to the polls with my Mom when I was a child.
- My vote is a way to create a better future for all of us, with good jobs, good healthcare, and safe communities.
Avoid these kinds of messages, or make them nonpartisan:
- I want to be part of a blue wave. (Instead try: I want to be part of a movement for change.)
- I couldn’t live with myself if more Republicans win reelection. (Instead try: I want to elect leaders to represent all of us.)
- I want Democrats to win a majority in the Senate. (Instead try: I want representation for all of us.)
- We need to elect representatives who will ban fracking. (Instead try: We need representatives who care about our communities’ health and well being.)
This FAQ offers guidance on what to write, but on the whole, it is important to be friendly and stay positive about voting, and the best messages generate excitement about voting and make it seem easy and accessible.