Every Vote Counts

Associations are working to inform voters of their options in 2020.

This year marks three milestone anniversaries for voting rights advocates. Ironically, it’s also a year in which the coronavirus and other factors are creating barriers for those trying to register and cast their votes. In response, REALTOR® associations have used distance-friendly approaches to register voters and get out the vote (GOTV) for the Nov. 3 election.

Florida REALTORS® promoted voter registration through an email campaign. “We have a proprietary system that tags each of our members as registered or not registered,” says Tom Butler, public policy communications director, “and we continuously clean the list as members register. This gives us a very accurate universe to work in and ensures we are using our resources efficiently.” The association supplemented its initial round of emails with postcards, targeted Facebook ads, and more emails.

In addition to email, the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® used social media blasts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to encourage members and the general public to vote, says Kelli Starrett, senior vice president, governmental relations. The campaign emphasized that early voting was an option; NOMAR began running it in September, ahead of early voting, which starts in late October in Louisiana. “We wanted to run the campaign early enough so that people would have time to plan, but not so far out that people weren’t thinking about the election yet,” Starrett says.

The REALTOR® Difference

2018 General Election

  • 67% of REALTORS® voted
  • 49% of the general public voted

2016 General Election

  • 74% of REALTORS® voted
  • 58% of the general public voted

Text messages have proved to be another effective way to get out the vote. “With REALTOR® Party Mobile Text Alerts, you get a message to members instantly,” says Jamie Horbach, government affairs director at the Iowa Association of REALTORS®, which planned to use a combination of text alerts and social media to promote registration and voting starting two weeks prior to the election. In Iowa, voters can register during early voting or on Election Day with a photo ID and proof of residence.

“Text alerts are our most important form of outreach,” Horbach says. “Our members are using their phones all day, every day. The open rate is good, and very rarely do we have members unsubscribe.”

Members Who Mail

In anticipation of record absentee voting, associations have been working to inform voters that mail-in ballots are an option. Lisa May, government affairs director of the Howard County Association of REALTORS® in Maryland, is educating members and the general public about mail-in ballots and other voting issues through weekly videos on the association’s YouTube channel.

“The absentee ballot process is not automatic for the general election,” May says. “[Those] who want to vote by mail will need to request it. We want members to have the choice to vote in the way that makes them feel most comfortable.”

The REALTOR® Party offers a variety of GOTV resources, including the Voter Registration Program and customized REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts.

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Voting Rights Milestones

55 YEARS AGO

On Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, outlawing discriminatory voting practices.

100 YEARS AGO

The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, is approved by Congress in 1919 and ratified Aug. 18, 1920.

150 YEARS AGO

The 15th amendment, banning voting restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude, is approved by Congress in 1869 and ratified March 30, 1870.

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