Text your way onto the ballot

How to build a political movement in 160 characters or less

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When David Stemerman came to us, he was an outsider from politics who decided to run for governor of Connecticut. He needed to get on the ballot. The only problem? He needed about 10,000 signatures from a small subset of Connecticut voters to do that, but he didn’t have a massive list of existing supporters. He was just a private citizen who needed to introduce himself to his neighbors and ask them a quick favor – but he needed to contact them efficiently.

How we did it

Faced with the need to reach a lot of new people, quickly, we texted over ten thousand voters from Connecticut at once. We crafted a few messages and included a simple call to action at the end. If the user replied “YES” to sign the petition, we considered that an opt-in. Their data was funneled to grassroots operators on the ground to bring a petition to them and get a physical signature.


Our text messages garnered a response rate* 8.5X greater than non-opt in email. And the candidate? He got on the ballot.

What we learned

If you’ve got a brief, urgent message, text is the most efficient medium for your campaign. People are more willing to open a text from an unknown sender than an email.

Fine print for the nerds:

We utilized the Opn Sesame platform to deploy the messages. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) texting with Opn Sesame allows you to send text messages to anyone you have the mobile number for without needing the user to opt-in first. It’s similar to how a call center works. The Opn Sesame team physically sends each individual message in order to comply with all FCC and TCPA rules.

Since this is a 1:1 solution, all links that are sent can be individually tracked so you can see who clicked (or didn't) - and do the necessary follow up. Messages can be customized for the user, such as inserting the recipient’s first name.

*What do we mean by ”response rate”? We’re comparing the rate of responses our delivered texts received to an email CTR.