Last week staff at the Commission walked in to find signs on their computers saying ‘You can’t use a PC today’. I’m an early starter so I spent the first hour of my day suggesting people should turn over the sign to find a message which explained what was really going on. But until they did this people were unsurprisingly not happy and in many cases quite confused – they couldn’t understand what the problem was.
As the note explained, our campaigns team were just trying to recreate the situation people will be in if they turn up to vote without registering. It wasn’t long before people understood the message and got to work as normal, but it had illustrated an important point and we’ve never had a staff briefing on our campaign as popular as the one at midday last Thursday.
So what’s the campaign about?
Our campaign, which launches on TV today, reminds people they must register to vote by the 20 April registration deadline if they want to take part in the General Election. Recent research conducted by YouGov for the Commission found that:
- 21% of people who rent privately think they’re automatically registered to vote if they pay council tax
- 40% of those surveyed think it is not possible to register to vote online in England, Scotland and Wales
- 69% do not know that the deadline to register to vote, with 13% thinking it is already too late to register. When given a choice of five options only 32% correctly identified the deadline as 20 April
Many people also aren’t registered to vote because they haven’t got round to it yet, with over 60% of people who moved in the last year not registered.
Television adverts and increased digital activity – including adverts on catch-up TV and Facebook – address under-registration in an engaging way, using the concept of ‘loss aversion’ from behavioural economics. Research shows that, in certain situations, people are more likely to be motivated by realising they may lose something, than the prospect of acquiring a gain. It’s an interesting concept and one that can be used for other marketing campaigns. You can find out more about it here.
The ad is filmed with a mix of actors and members of the public captured on hidden cameras, to show people’s reaction to being stopped doing everyday activities they thought they are able to. The message at the end as someone is turned away from being able to vote is simple: You can’t vote, unless you’re registered by 20 April.
You can see the Electoral Commission’s TV advert below.
I hope that’s sparked your interest and if it did some ways to get involved are listed below. We’re also keen for organisations to partner with us – we’ve already had well over 50 from the private and voluntary sectors – so please do let us know if you’d be up for that. To get in touch, e-mail us at: email@example.com.
5 ways to help
This is a campaign everyone can get involved in and we think today’s launch is a great hook to help you raise awareness about voter registrations. Below are five practical ideas for how you can get involved:
- Share the online registration link – You can support the campaign by including a link to the online registration system (www.gov.uk/register-to-vote in Great Britain or www.aboutmyvote.co.uk in Northern Ireland) on your website homepages, through social media channels and on auto-response email messages. We would also encourage you to include a link to share the link to our television advert.
- Tweet about it – We’ve drafted up some example tweets to help you spread the word. You can find these here. Why not follow us on Twitter as well (@ElectoralCommUK) and re-tweet the tweets we’ll be issuing?
- Share our advert – Feel free to tweet it, put it on your Facebook page, embed it on your website, play it on screens at local community events.
- Include an article on your website / blog – We know many of you have great networks of contacts on your email lists and lots of visitors to your websites. We’ve created a short article here (Welsh version here) that you can use to highlight the campaign.
- Issue a press release – We’ve created a template press release here (Welsh version here) for you to amend and send to the media in your area.
Director of Communications