Absentee Voting – Lindsey Graham for Senate

02 . 11 . 21

Note: This piece won a 2021 Campaigns and Elections Reed Award for Direct Mail > Best Mail Piece for Primary Campaign – US House/Senate (Republican). The Campaigns & Elections Reed Awards are the most exacting awards in political campaigns, grassroots and advocacy.

By April 2020, it was clear that the election year would be like none before. Senator Graham faced nominal GOP opposition in the June 2020 primary, so it was a great opportunity to test new ideas on how to get people to vote absentee/by mail.

Unfortunately, the South Carolina State Election Commission provides NO information about who requests/returns ballots until 48 hours before primary/Election Day. This lack of information has traditionally created burdens for campaigns, as it becomes necessary to play the “middle man” in collecting/hand scanning absentee applications.

Typically a campaign would need hundreds of volunteers to optical scan/hand input data and contact voters, which was impossible in a pandemic.

However, our team came up with a creative solution to this problem. We sent known, prior Republican absentee voters two (2) detachable, absentee ballot request postcards…with a new innovation of linking the preprinted USPS “returned” barcodes on each detachable postcard back to the individual voter’s registration ID number.

This reduced our caging time to zero, as we used the Post Service’s barcode scanning system to update THEIR online database in real time; which we then instantly matched to our voter file for follow up (via phone, text, email, etc). Effectively, we used the USPS scanning technology to do something that was otherwise impossible.

Our team found a new way to use existing technology – saving thousands of man hours and dollars in the process.

Using the Postal Service’s barcode tracking on the frontend (for the mailers) AND backend (for the detachable application postcards) saved days, if not weeks, of data processing time – processing that wasn’t even possible in a pandemic, leading to a record result.

Voters received follow up (to vote Graham!) while their absentee application was STILL IN THE MAIL, which is campaign magic. Senator Graham garnered 66,000 absentee votes in the primary, which was a new state record. But more importantly, we created a new process that would help in the general election to come.

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