Alan Montgomery was sick and tired of telling his local representative about the flooding his house would succumb to each winter. Requesting a flood defense plan to be put in place for him and neighbours shouldn’t be too much to ask from the person he had helped elect, but after each election cycle, it seemed like his problems were pushed to the bottom of the pile and seen as minor compared to larger Government issues.
This all changed one evening when Alan opened the door to a candidate out canvassing, this young man listened intently to Alan and his complaints. The enthusiastic politician tapped his issues into his smartphone and assured him of a follow-up. Sure, people had promised before and even followed up with Alan, but the level of organisation and commitment this man showed was different. Issue tracking was important to him and he discussed in detail, a plan of action about how he would record Alan’s concerns and ensure they were looked at. Brushing aside Alan’s worries over being forgotten, the canvasser talked about how politicians today must bridge the gap between election cycles and issue tracking was the perfect way of doing this. Months later when the rain came, Alan no longer had to trudge through floods with sandbags, no, finally his problem was solved- and all thanks to thorough issue tracking. Keeping Alan up to date throughout the issue tracking process ensured the politician was top of Alan’s ballot paper in the next election.
How To Track Voter Issues
It might seem obvious but voter issues are a core element of all politics, and yet it can to be quickly forgotten once election season is over. So how can voter issues like Alan’s be tracked more easily in order to avoid this? We have identified three key steps in this process from our dealings with campaigns and representatives.
Creating a framework to ensure everything is managed efficiently is the easiest way to ensure no voters problems fall by the wayside. We saw earlier how Alan’s local representative was using new technology to record any comments he heard on the doorstep. Now we are not saying eradicate the pen and paper model but perhaps it’s time to use the technology that is so readily available to us. With smartphones, you can type in your reports or even record audio.
Once you are confident that you have successfully discussed any concerns that your constituents have, you can then upload all the information you have gathered into a database. This will allow you to easily access specific issues and also to see what problems are more prominent than others, you can then decide which ones are more accomplishable or urgent.
This is the third and final step in your framework. What was the point in talking to all those people and recording their problems in a database if you weren’t going to do anything about it? Make your constituents aware that you are attempting to solve their issues. Communicate back to them the steps you are taking to assure them that their concern is a priority for you. At the end of the day, people just want to know that they haven’t been filled with empty promises.
How Does This Help Engage Voters?
The challenge for candidates during the busy election period is to make campaigns local and that means touching base with as many potential voters as possible. By showing commitment to helping out with issues, you are showing the electorate that you are in it for the long haul. Make them aware when you are out canvassing that you have a plan in place to implement change and that you intend to do your utmost to see it carried out.
Be honest with your public. When you get elected you won’t suddenly be able to fix all your constituents’ issues overnight. Some issues may be outside of your control so don’t make commitments to things that you simply cannot change. Your voters will appreciate you much more for your honesty and you can work together to think of an alternative solution. Showing the public progress on issues you are addressing will also help drive voter engagement. They will then see that you have put your plan into action. Keep them informed on all your updates, either by email, in person or phone calls.
The more you are in contact with your electorate, the stronger your relationship will become. Opening channels of communication drives voter engagement and makes you more visible in the community. Over time, this voter trust and engagement will build, so stick with it.