Times have definitely changed and Election Day means less and less – or rather, Election Day is now more like Election Month. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is no longer the day you can vote, it is merely the last day you are allowed to vote.
Washington (state) has gone to 100% vote by mail. California sees roughly 1/3 of votes cast one week before the election and that is fast becoming the case in Florida.
Though Peter Schorsch recently claimed that “[he] was one of the very first consultants in Florida to recognize the value of tracking ‘absentee ballot requesters,’" I will have to be more than a little skeptical of such a claim – not that I can claim it for myself, but that I can remember the late, great Linda Hennessey coming down to South Florida in 2000 to educate several campaigns about working an aggressive absentee ballot campaign, which makes Peter’s claim more than a little unlikely, unless he was advising Al Gore or George W. Bush ten years ago.
But, absentee ballots do change everything.
They change when and how GOTV takes place.
For many smaller candidates, enacting a massive campaign to sign up people for absentee ballots does not make sense as an investment. The key investment is tracking and chasing those people who have already requested absentee ballots. They are VERY likely voters and it is foolish to let them slip away without some form of contact from your campaign.
Absentee ballots also change the timing of when direct mail starts – moving it earlier. Typically, you would backload a direct mail campaign – with one a week until the last 10-14 days, when you would drop four pieces. Now, with up to 1/3 of the vote gone 7-10 days before the election, do you change your mail schedule.
There are no easy answers here (believe me – candidates in Washington state still struggle to get the timing right).