It’s great to be back at Sabo PR – this time as director of municipal communications. In this role, I support our municipal clients and SPR team members embedded with some of them in their communication efforts.
Lately, these efforts have centered on Tuesday’s elections. You know, that thing we’re all so ready to be over with its nonstop commercials, daily mailings and vitriol discourse.
But elections are the Super Bowl for our municipal friends. That’s because in addition to providing clean drinking water, keeping streets plowed and responding to emergencies, making sure voters can exercise their right to cast a ballot is an awesome responsibility municipalities take incredibly seriously. And the SPR team is honored to be part of game day and all the prep leading up to it.
Preparations for today’s elections began more than a year ago when clerks’ offices welcomed new voting machines and then got busy training poll workers on them. Add to that COVID-19 and the first presidential election under Michigan’s no-reason absentee voting law, and you can understand the need to overcommunicate with residents about how to safely and securely vote and what to expect at the polls.
Our SPR team has worked closely with local clerks to do just that. We’ve been in constant contact with our clerks since before the August primary to track frequently asked questions about the elections, voter registration and absentee voting.
Through this partnership, we’ve updated municipal websites with comprehensive FAQs that cut through all the misinformation out there to ensure residents have accurate and up-to-date information about voting. These FAQs break down everything from how to register to vote to where to take a completed absentee ballot to what’s up with all the mailings and everything in between.
We’ve amplified these FAQs on social media with branded graphics and in e-newsletters, water bills and videos. As new questions have come in to our clerk’s offices and misinformation or confusing information has been spotted on social media, in third-party mailings and in public discourse, we’ve updated the FAQs to ensure we’re providing voters with the most accurate information in real time.
We focused on the website first to ensure residents had the information they needed with just a few clicks 24/7 . Because, let’s be honest, questions pop up when you’re in your jammies late at night or pouring that first cup of coffee early in the morning. And for residents who prefer to talk with a person, the FAQs have served as a script for those calls.
We’ve also helped elections staff respond to inquiries from local and national media eager to report on what’s happening in a battleground county in a swing state in the most important election of our lifetimes. Our local clerks’ offices have been able to lean on their strategic planning and strong communications with voters in answering reporters’ questions efficiently and effectively.
Unlike past presidential elections – unless, of course, you’re talking 2000 and hanging chads – it’s likely we won’t know the winners of Tuesday’s elections for a few days. This Super Bowl will be more like a marathon vs. a sprint – and voters no doubt will continue to have questions. Our local clerks will have answers, and we’ll continue to help them communicate with voters.
No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s elections, everyone wins by being informed and being able to safely and securely participate in the democratic process.