Daily Archives: April 27, 2010

Low voter turn-out due to lack of information about candidates?

I have a new idea about why the voter turn-out was so low in the March 2 Rockwall County election (22 percent) and in the April 13 run-off election (9%).

Why did a whopping 78 percent and 91 percent, respectively, of our 45,134 registered voters not show up at the polls during either the early voting or on election day?

We’ve often heard about “voter apathy” and how citizens just don’t care about elections.

That may be partially true, but I think there’s another very important reason.

I’ve had several people tell me that since they just didn’t receive or see any information about the candidates and had no idea who to vote for, they just stayed home.

Think about that for a moment. How do people obtain their information nowadays?

If people aren’t reading newspapers much anymore, do voters see the candidates ads in the local weekly newspapers? Not many.

Do road and yard signs explain why voters should vote for a candidate? No.

Do direct mail pieces to home mailboxes work? No. Even direct mail experts will tell you that only about 5 percent of direct mail pieces are read – if they’re lucky!

Does door to door campaigning work? Maybe a little,  but how many people are ever home anymore and how many will actually answer the door to strangers?

Public speaking by candidates works, but few people show up to hear them speak because most folks are either too busy trying to provide for their families or are turned off constantly hearing about roads and taxes.

I believe that all candidates and especially Rockwall County candidates can increase voter turn-out and get more votes by putting their messages where people already are and make it easy for people to learn more.

That’s essentially the definition of marketing. Give people what they want and where they want it.

Research shows that over 70 percent of Americans now use the Internet regularly. YouTube is a worldwide phenomenon. Email is so much a way of life that mail delivery is way, way down over what it used to be.

If candidates would simply learn to use the low-cost Internet for campaigning, I believe we would see much higher voter turn-out and candidates would get far more votes.

Gov. Rick Perry easily won the GOP primary, partially because he used the Internet effectively. Instead of using road and yard signs, for example, he used email.

Besides having a simple but decent website, newly-elected Rockwall County Judge Jerry Hogan also used web videos on his website, advertised on TheRockwallNews.com and regularly made comments on his Facebook page.

It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the city election candidates will effectively use the Internet to get elected in the May 13 election.

Perhaps we’ll go interview some more people who didn’t vote and run a news story about why they didn’t in TheRockwallNews.com.

Any volunteers to comment?

Political candidates losing votes by not effectively using Internet to campaign

Has anyone seen even one email from a local political campaign during this election season telling you why you should vote for a Rockwall County candidate?

Not me.

How about one even just urging you to vote?

Not me.

Considering I’m active politically and the publisher of one of the County’s leading news providers, I’m shocked that I have not yet seen even one email from a candidate.

I’ve seen a few posts from candidates on Facebook¬† and Twitter. That’s good. But many people still don’t use those either of them, plus entries are only brief and not always easy to find amongst the clutter of games like Farmville and other posts about what somebody had to eat that day.

Considering that over 70 percent of all Americans regularly use the web and it’s now a way a life, I ask why candidates don’t use simple emails, email newsletters, videos, websites and more to campaign?

After all, they’re practically free to use.

Instead, most candidates still are spending thousands of dollars on yard and road signs which most everybody hates that rarely even has a message on it other than a name announcing that someone is running.

I just don’t get it. Few candidates even have a decent website.

What I do know is that political candidates are losing votes by not effectively using the Internet.

One reason that Gov. Rick Perry easily won the GOP Primary for Governor, for example, is that his campaign decided to use the Internet effectively and forget about signs. All expensive signs do is announce candidacies anyway.

Another old school campaign tool is direct mail. How many of us really read the deluge of junk mail we receive? Few is the answer. Businesses that advertise using direct mail know that they’re lucky if they get even a 5% return of coupon mailers. But Rockwall County candidates continue to use costly four-color mailers rather than basically free email newsletters.

I guess campaigns just didn’t want or didn’t think to do the work to compile email lists.

I’d recommend that future candidates begin to learn to use the Internet when they campaign to tell voters why they should vote for them and urge people to vote.

Maybe then we’d also have more than a 22 percent turn-out rate, such as we just had in the County elections, or a 9 percent turn-out as we had in the County run-off election.