The Elections Division of Travis County, Texas administers all elections in the County and manages every aspect of the election process from precinct locations to required notices, voting machine, election staffing and vote results.
Educate the Public on a New Voting System
The 2016 U.S. election was followed by wide-spread reporting about the possibility of election voting systems being vulnerable to hacking. County election clerks around the country began looking for alternatives to the internet-connected devices that have been in service for more than a decade.
Touchscreen voting machines with voter verifiable paper audit trails provided Travis County, Texas a path forward. The County purchased the new machines, but knew they were facing a public education challenge. Many people were skeptical about the ballot-marking devices and suspicious of their ability to be easily used by voters –– and negative opinion editorials from around the country didn’t help matters.
The Travis County Clerk Elections Division engaged Hahn Public to promote its new election system for the November 2019 election cycle. Our team mapped out a voter education campaign plan through the March 2020 primary that included creative development, media outreach, social media, web development and paid media.
Research & Creative
To arrive at precision messaging and creative work product, the Hahn Public research team set up and conducted a mock election with registered voters interested in the new machines. The findings then developed a comprehensive creative brief, which were used by our creative team to design easy-to-understand campaign concepts. To prepare for the education campaign, our digital team completed a social media audit and our strategy group developed a message platform for use through all outreach channels including on a microsite, which our web team set up as the digital hub for the voter education campaign.
Press demos introduced reporters to the new polling machines well in advance of the elections so they understood how the electronic machines and paper cards interacted. Small features, like how the new machines allow voters to adjust font size, display colors to make the ballot easier to read and headphones for the visually impaired, were highlighted to reporters for use in earned media. Most prominently, our team made sure reporters understood that the devices were not internet connected and had no hard drive to store vote selection. From early press reports, we refined our messaging and assigned specific messages to each outreach channel: paid, earned, social and owned to launch “The Election is in Your Hands!” campaign.
Extensive TV, Digital and Print Media Coverage
The initial phase of the awareness campaign was very successful. Facebook/Instagram sponsored posts reached almost 60,000 voters with 216,000 impressions. The engagement rate of 3.5% was more than three times the average. Along with print and radio spots, digital ads were seen by likely voters almost one million times. TV, digital and print media coverage conveyed the key campaign messages and generated 38 separate media stories in the days leading up to the election. In press reports, our client lead said, “The feedback that we are getting from voters is they just love it.”