Last week, the Cedar Falls community voted on a $38 million bond referendum. The “what” wasn’t a problem for me (a new elementary and other updates); neither was the “why” (I believe we need it). But the “how”—the “how” caused some considerable frustration for me and many other voters, both for and against.
Expecting to be able to find my voting location easily, I put it off until that morning (rookie bond voter move, I guess). The thought of spending more than five minutes on my phone looking for the place to cast my ballot hadn’t even crossed my mind. If it had, I probably would have hunted down the iPad hiding under the bed. This may make me sound old, but I still prefer a tablet or laptop for internet searching and shopping.
As you can see below, the maps were highlighted by hand and then scanned in. While I understand the school is on a limited budget, the images weren’t scaleable. It was impossible to read them on my phone, and anyone with less than super-human vision probably struggled on a larger screen.
A few ideas that could help your cause in the next vote:
- Put voting location information in places we frequent (e.g., I’m at the grocery store nearly every week).
- There is a website that allows me to enter my address, press one button and learn my voting location. This is a helpful tool, but I was unable to find it before the vote. Instead of burying a link near the bottom of the page, make it a prominent call to action.
- Find a better way to communicate with us. We don’t read the local newspaper, listen to radio or watch cable TV; we have the Yahoo News app, Podcasts and Netflix. We don’t even call customer service anymore, we “@” companies on Twitter. Get the word out through social media.
- Whatever you do, make it mobile-friendly for the Millennials and the Gen-Xers.
And for any direct mail efforts…
Focus your limited resources on advertising to the right demographic. Millennials and Gen-Xers have a vested interest in early childhood education. This means targeting ages 25-44. Use this excellent free tool to find us. Look at how easy it is:
First, choose city routes specifically around the areas that would be most affected: neighborhoods on the north and south ends of town.
Next, choose residential routes. You want your message in our homes—don’t waste your money on businesses.
Finally, choose the age range of voters that should be on your side: people of childbearing age and those with elementary-age children.
I got one direct mail door hanger telling me to vote yes, but please, next time tell me where to vote yes. You could use the above tool for that as well.
We care, but we are busy. Focus your resources on making it easy for your voters to find you.
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