Early voting in Virginia starts this week! But how to do walk your supporters through the vote-by-mail process in Virginia? This post will walk through how to create ballot request, chase, and cure universes using Deck, what do say to those universes, and key dates and questions. Its made in conjunction with Vote from Home.

📬Ballot Chase

  • Ballot chase is outreach to voters who have requested ballots but haven’t returned them. Ballot chase is an important part of any GOTV push to help your supporters vote.
  • Ballot chase is all about being proactive and starting early. When running ballot chase programs, it's important to inform, remind, and track.
  • Deck has a targeted ballot chase universe to make contacting ballot chase targets easy.

Inform:

  • Vote plan messaging works to help people remember to vote during GOTV, but it also works to help people remember to request and return their ballots!
  • Start reaching out to voters as ballots are sent out on September 18th to help your supporters make a plan to fill out and return their ballots.
  • Inform voters about how to request, fill out, and return their ballots starting early.

Remind:

  • Check in with your vote-by-mail universe to remind them to return their ballots.
  • Be sure to emphasize all the steps required in having a ballot accepted. Remind your voters to sign, date, and include their address and envelope B when filling out their absentee ballot.
  • Not including any of the steps above can result in a rejected ballot. Delegate races in Virginia can have razor thin margins, so it's important to proactively make sure each vote counts.

Track

  • After you help your voters make a plan to vote, fill out their ballots, and remind them to return them, its important to ask your voters to track their ballots as well. Especially for first time voters, there are lots of places a ballot can get lost or be rejected. Ask your voters to track their ballots to ensure they are requested, sent, returned, and accepted on time. Vote-by-mail involves lots of steps and there are lots of opportunities for mix-ups.
  • Voters can track their ballots using Ballot Scout.
  • Texting tip: Don’t include links in your initial text to ensure your texts are delivered!

Sample scripts

Hi, {FirstName}, this is [CAMPAIGN NAME]. We saw that you requested an absentee ballot for the upcoming Virginia election. Your voice is important and I want to make sure you complete the entire ballot envelope with your full name, address, and signature. Do you have any questions about voting absentee in Virginia?

Hi, {FirstName}, this is [CAMPAIGN NAME]. Our records show you requested an absentee ballot for the upcoming election. When are you planning to return your ballot? And do you have plans to return it by mail, at a drop-off location, or by taking it directly to your county registrar?

Once they reply, pivot to going through the absentee ballot checklist: Complete the entire ballot envelope (“Envelope B”) by filling out your full name, filling out your address, and signing the ballot envelope.


đź’ŠBallot Cure

  • Ballot curing is when campaigns contact voters who have or might have their ballots rejected. Voting by mail can be a tricky process, so it's important to ensure each vote gets counted.
  • Deck has ballot curing targets to proactively reach out to voters who may have their ballots rejected.
  • When you reach out to a ballot cure universe, ask voters to track their ballot. Vote From Home found that voters were suspicious of text messages telling them their ballot was rejected because of vote-by-mail misinformation. Vote From Home has example scripts below.

Virginia vote-by-mail check list:

  • Complete the Statement of Voter on Envelope B by writing full name and address
  • Sign Envelope B
  • Place ballot in Envelope B and seal it
  • Place Envelope B in return mailer even if you are using a drop box

Sample scripts

Proactive ballot cure outreach

Hi, {FirstName}, this is [CAMPAIGN NAME]. We saw you requested an absentee ballot for the Virginia election. Will you use Ballot Scout to track your ballot and make sure it’s accepted?

Follow up:

That’s great, here’s the link to check on your ballot: https://v2.ballotscout.org/virginia/search/state

Outreach to voters whose ballots have been rejected [Phone script only]

Hi, is this {VOTER FIRST AND LAST NAME}? My name is {VOLUNTEER FIRST NAME}, and I’m a volunteer with {CAMPAIGN} -- how are you doing today?

Great, well because we believe that every vote in this election is critical, I wanted to get in touch with you right away, because your name was included on a list from your local election registrar saying that there may be an issue with the absentee ballot you recently returned.

Q1: Have you been contacted by your election registrar’s office about a potential problem with your absentee ballot?

IF YES: Wonderful, I’m really glad to hear that. Have you been able to get back to the registrar to correct the issue so your vote is counted?

*IF NO: OK, thanks for letting me know. I want to make sure your vote is counted, so please get in touch with your county registrar. The deadline to correct issues with absentee ballots is Friday, November 5 at 12 noon. https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation/PublicContactLookup*


🗓️Key Dates and Frequently asked questions

Key Dates

  • September 18th: Registrars begin sending absentee ballots to voters.
  • October 22nd at 5pm: Deadline to request a mail ballot online.
  • October 23rd: Last day to encourage voters to mail their ballots. After October 23rd, encourage voters to drop their ballots in a drop-off location or return it to their country registrar.
  • October 30th: Last day to vote early in person.
  • October 31st: Deadline to request absentee ballots in-person at the country registrar’s office.
  • November 2nd 7pm: All ballots must be postmarked by this date and time.
  • November 5th at 12 noon: Absentee ballot cure deadline.

Remember, vote getting doesn’t end on election day! Voters will have an additional three days to cure their ballots. Remember to schedule volunteers to help follow up with voters whose ballots were rejected.

Common questions:

How can I return my ballot?

  • Send it through the mail -- USPS, UPS, Fedex.
  • Drop-off location
  • Bring it to your county registrar’s office

What if I requested an absentee ballot but now want to vote early in-person or on Election Day?

  • You can vote in-person. Do not vote your absentee ballot. Bring it with you to vote early in-person or on Election Day and surrender the ballot. If you never received your absentee ballot or misplaced it, you will be asked to sign an affidavit and then vote a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot will be counted once the county registrar verifies you did not vote your absentee ballot.

Do I need to include a copy of my ID?

  • Most Virginia voters do not need to include ID along with their absentee ballot. Only voters who registered to vote in Virginia by mail and are voting for the first time in Virginia in a federal election must include ID. Valid forms of ID:
  • A current and valid photo ID (a driver’s license or state ID);
  • or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck that shows name and address;
  • or another government document that shows name and address (for example a voter card).
  • If the voter returns an absentee ballot by mail without a copy of one of these forms of ID, the absentee ballot will be treated as a provisional ballot and counted only if the voter provides a copy of ID to the electoral board by the deadline applicable to all voters.

I returned my ballot and my county registrar contacted me saying there’s an issue. How can I make sure my vote is counted?

  • You have until Friday, Nov. 5 to respond to your registrar and provide them with the information they need to fix or “cure” your ballot.

đź“šDeck Resources:

Deck develops vote-by-mail models to help Democratic campaigns run early vote outreach! Deck's vote-by-mail models are available to Virginia and New Jersey for the 2021 cycle and nationally for the 2022 cycle. Deck has 4 vote-by-mail scores and 3 preset universes in the app to run ballot request, ballot chase, and ballot curing programs.

Deck has scores that predict how likely someone is to request a ballot, return that ballot, return it on time, and have that ballot accepted. Deck creates targeted lists for ballot requests, ballot chase, and ballot cure to help your supporters through the vote-by-mail process.

This help article and video walk through how to use Deck’s vote-by-mail scores to help your supporters vote!

This case study shows how campaigns have used Deck in the past to run vote-by-mail programs and win their races.

This document walks through model documentation and validation for Deck’s VBM models.

Email cg@deck.tools to get Deck access for your campaign! Or schedule a demo to learn more about Deck.