There is no lack of ideas for increasing voter participation. Some of them however, such as massive motivation campaigns, generate incredible organisational expenses, require a lot of planning and cannot be implemented particularly quickly. Yet others follow the saying, “Little cost, major effect.” One of these measures that can affect a lot of change has just six letters.

“No debt is greater than saying ‘thank you’.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman author –

Costs nothing, means a lot: Saying thanks

If you wish to approach voters before an election, thank them first for participating in past elections. Briefly summarise what the last election changed and what can be achieved through voter participation. At the same time you should remark that there is now another opportunity to actively help make decisions. The connection between these two statements helps motivate the voters – regardless of whether they have actually voted in the past or not.

A thank-you is feedback

When one person expresses gratitude to another, a lot more is conveyed than simply a single word. Like a smile or a nod of the head, there is a lot of additional non-verbal communication at play:

  • The other person’s efforts are acknowledged and appreciated.
  • These efforts – which were made voluntarily – are not taken for granted.
  • It is indicated that the person is taken seriously.
  • Respect is expressed.

At the same time, saying ‘thank you’ triggers mutual satisfaction grounded in a feeling of affinity. And this in turn supports the formation of a sense of belonging, which was the theme of the previous tips for increasing voter participation.

Appreciation trumps voter frustration

Many authorised voters do not vote because they feel that their participation will not make a difference. This feeling arises when they do not feel included. Small, communicative “extensions of the hand”, such as the right approach or even saying thanks, can strongly counteract this impression.

The important thing is that such communication does not come off as a pure formality peppered in on the fly – in that case it can only have little effect, or even the opposite. Serious gratitude, on the other hand, remains positive in the voter’s memory and motivates them to use their voice because they are being acknowledged.