County of Fresno Voters Choice
Fresno County Department of Elections
Fresno Registrar of Voters
Fresno County residents
Fresno County faced a challenge: educating the public about its transition to a Voters Choice Act (VCA) voting model for the 2020 Primary and General election. Passed by the Legislature in 2016, VCA voting replaces the traditional precinct voting model with mail-in ballots for all registered voters. Residents mail their ballots postage-free, return them to a vote center, or utilize official drop boxes. Recognizing that this significant behavioral modification would present challenges, the Fresno County Department of Elections hired Southwest Strategies to develop a plan to generate a successful transition for the 2020 elections. Our effort was soon complicated by the emergence of COVID-19 – not to mention illegal bumps in the road in the ballot collection process.
Changing voter behavior
Lack of public knowledge about voting model/rules
Increasing number of ballots received
Illegal ballot collection
Southwest Strategies began preparing for the March 2020 Primary by working with several committees of multicultural Fresno County stakeholders to prepare branding, a logo and a tagline for this effort that effectively conveyed the changes from a traditional precinct election model to a vote center model. The result: the “Mail it. Drop it. Visit” campaign. Voter education materials were translated into every language required by the California Secretary of State. From there, our team prepared and implemented a comprehensive multilingual public outreach, education and media relations campaign.
While our original plan was to piggyback off our success with the March primary, COVID-19 forced us to pivot from traditional in-person community engagement and education tactics to a digital strategy for the November General election. Our team also was pivotal in working with the county and Registrar of Voters to communicate to the media and general public the importance of dropping ballots off at official voting centers and avoiding illegal “unofficial” ballot drop boxes political groups established throughout the county.
Our public outreach campaign for the March Primary election was hailed as a resounding success, winning a national MarCom Award, which honors excellence in marketing and communication for our outreach materials and branding. The refreshed campaign for the November General election was highly successful, with the return of vote by mail ballots exceeding past elections in Fresno County (50% ballot return by Election Day).