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Adopt-A-Voter: GOTV To Change The Nature Of The Electorate

How Stones’ Phones Changes the Nature of the Electorate

It all started in 2005 when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted to transform the state of California through a special election. If successful, this overhaul would have moved the traditionally blue state of California drastically towards the right. In order to combat the proposed propositions, the Alliance for a Better California needed to change the nature of the electorate in four and a half short months.

Many campaigns and organizations use GOTV in order to augment voter turnout on Election Day. However, GOTV targets are often extremely difficult to reach.

Stones’ Phones worked jointly with Phil Giarrizzo, the direct mail consultant for the Alliance for a Better California, in developing an “Adopt-A-Voter” program, which was a leading force in the 2005 defeat of the Schwarzenegger Referendum.

How Adopt-A-Voter Works

Adopt-A-Voter seeks to increase voter turnout by utilizing “better voters” within a household. Better voters are a staple of any campaign or organization because they can almost always be counted on to show up at the polls. For this reason, they are rarely contacted by GOTV efforts. Stones’ Phones realized that these better voters could be vital in reaching other members of a household who are not as motivated to vote.

Adopt-A-Voter asks the better voter to take responsibility in ensuring that all individuals in their household (including GOTV targets) vote. In California, we kindly asked better voters to place sticky notes with the word “Vote” on their refrigerators in order to reinforce the importance of voting on Election Day. In a stroke of genius, Phil Giarrizzo sent out a direct mail piece to thousands of voters that featured a picture of a refrigerator with an actual sticky note attached. This direct mail piece along with the Adopt-A-Voter program served as reminders to the upcoming election for the rest of the household.

Obama Did It

Since the inception of Adopt-A-Voter in 2005, the program has grown and developed immensely. It was used to secure higher voter turnout for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election, specifically in North Carolina, as well as to garner support for Our Oregon in 2010.

Statistics from Our Oregon show that 56 percent of better voters pledged to take responsibility to ensure that the less reliable voters in their households showed up at the polls. Many better voters also told our operators that they wished to volunteer on behalf of the various campaigns. Due to the surprising influx of volunteer requests, Stones’ Phones added the code “wants to volunteer” to the data-back section of the call. Better voters are not highly targeted by GOTV efforts and, therefore, the Adopt-A-Voter program allowed campaigns and organizations to utilize a plethora of new and eager volunteers.


Adopt-A-Voter is truly an innovative strategy that could be the difference between an election night victory or defeat. In a country riddled with low voter turnout, Adopt-A-Voter seeks to reinforce the responsibility of voting while also ensuring that individuals have a voice.


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