The Value of Pledge Cards: A Brief Overview

 In Design, Political Campaigns

Gaining the support of voters during an election is challenging enough, and getting your supporters out to the polls can be just as difficult. There are many tactics that can be and are used to encourage supporters to get out and vote on Election Day. One method that has proven results in getting voters out to the polls is using pledge cards.

Pledge cards are pieces of campaign literature that essentially asks voters to commit to vote for you or your candidate. They’re often walk cards where supporters are encouraged to write their name and information on and sign a commitment to vote they’ll typically have a check-box where people physically mark their commitment. Candidates, staffers, and volunteers can mail or hand them out and get them back anytime during the campaign; then, as Election Day approaches, campaigns mail each voter’s card back to them as a final reminder of their commitment.

Pledge cards can also include commitments to volunteering, host a house party, or order a lawn sign. This is a great way to communicate with your committed supporters, giving them more opportunities to expand their involvement as well as pledging to vote.

Here’s an example of a pledge card we designed for Michigan House Rep Sam Singh:

A pledge card is essentially a promise to vote for a specific candidate. As a campaign tactic, they’re intended to remind voters (and make supporters feel obligated) to turn out to vote for their candidate.

A number of studies have been done on the benefits and effectiveness of using pledge cards in terms of voter turnout — our team has been involved in a few. For example, here’s what Michigan Voice Partners and the Analyst Institute found during a study in 2010:

The 3% number may not seem significant at first glance, but in close races, a few percentage points can make a huge difference especially in smaller and local races. Techniques like this can be used to increase the likelihood of people to vote in city council elections, state house races, and others during off election years when people are much less likely to vote.

Pledge cards are an effective way to increase voter turnout and can help deliver results on Election Day. A diverse communications plan will put your campaign ahead of the pack when it comes to reaching out to voters, and it’s important to recognize different methods that may not be as commonly used in practice. Implementing pledge cards could make the difference in the last stretch of a campaign turning out supporters and helping you win in a close race.

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