What is Vote Buddy / Votons?

We've had a great response to our request for donations to build our Vote Buddy / Votons! application. Thank you to everyone who donated. We've also had a lot of requests for more information about it. So here goes.

In the last two elections we were very active in the strategic voting arena. There are several other groups doing that this cycle, including LeadNow, so we want to do something different. We want to turn out more young voters than ever before. Here's how:

We all know that vote-splitting is a big problem in many ridings across the country. Voters who would be happy to see any party other than the Conservatives win in their electoral district (aka ABC voters) wind up voting for candidates that actually have no chance of winning. An additional and perhaps even bigger problem for ABC voters is voter turn-out. In other words, voters who support parties other than the Conservatives seem to turn-out in lower percentages than Conservative voters. There is a reason for this.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party has great discipline when it comes to getting out the vote. It is one of the main secrets to their success. The flipside to this fact is that there may be a treasure trove of progressive voters among those who have not voted in the past. The Liberal Party, NDP, Greens and Bloc are not as successful in the GOTV area.

Using what we've learned from our combined decades of online campaigning, we want to mount a serious effort to motivate voters, particularly in the younger demographics, to get out and vote. A non-partisan campaign aimed at the younger demographics will help defeat Harper because we know from numerous studies that the younger demographic voting intention is heavily skewed toward the ABC parties. We can see this phenomenon in this poll from May. 81 percent of voters polled in the 18-34 age group indicated they would vote for a party other than the Conservatives.




Another important factor in this equation is the growth of the younger demographics compared to earlier elections. We can see the large number of potential voters in the younger demographics in this chart from StatsCan.




This is from Elections Canada regarding 2011:

"Turnout steadily increased with age from 38.8% for ages 18–24 to 75.1% for ages 65–74 and then declined to 60.3% for those 75 and older. This same general pattern has been seen in every general election since 2004, when these studies began.

This is where Vote Buddy / Votons! comes in. It is a bilingual, mobile-focussed system to help the younger demographics help each other get out to vote. Here's the basic pitch:

Vote Buddy / Votons!

Simple and effective, Vote Buddy aims to leverage the power of mobile systems, social networks, friendships and peer pressure to increase voter turnout in the important 18-34 demographic.


The 18-34 demographic is overall quite progressive. Polling shows a strong lead for NDP, Liberal and Green over Conservative in this demographic. The problem is there is a low voter turnout in this demographic. This is because politicians are not speaking to them directly any more. They are not watching TV commercials. They are not listening to commercial radio. 18-34s are spending most of their communications and media consumption time on their devices: smartphones, tablets and portable computers.


Take the voting process to the 18-34s in ways they respond to. 18-34 voters do respond to their own peer group. They pay attention to what is being said by people in their network. They respond to peers in their own networks via social networks and peer-to-peer communications. They consume their information via apps and web apps. VoteBuddy.ca will leverage 18-34s who do vote to increase turn-out among those who do not.

Campaign Components


A mobile-optimized SMS-driven website and CRM with two main functions:

  • Helping people help their friends to vote and support Vote Buddy via the Personal Profile feature of NationBuilder
  • Signing up voters who want to be reminded about voting and receive information about how, when and where to vote.

The votebuddy.ca website will be very mobile-focussed. The home page will present two clear options.

Option One: Help Your Friends Vote

This choice leads the visitor to a sign-up form that walks them through the process of setting up their personal profile. Once set-up, they will share their personal profile in the social networks to encourage people to sign-up for Vote Buddy. The personal profile will include a message from the Vote Buddy volunteer about why it is so important to vote. It will also  show other friends in their network who have signed up.

Vote Buddy volunteers will receive information from Vote Buddy Central about how to help their friends vote. They will then be encouraged to follow through with their friends, giving them that extra encouragement that an anonymous email or SMS message can’t convey.

Option Two: Get Information and Reminders about Voting

People who sign-up via this option will go into the general Vote Buddy database and will receive information from Vote Buddy in the manner they choose (e-mail or SMS).

Advertising Campaign (Within the rules of Elections Canada and to the extent we can afford it).

The advertising campaign targets likely voters in the 18-34 demographic. It does not target non-voters. The advertising campaign is about making likely voters aware of the app. “Friends don’t let friends #votefail.”

  • A series of crowdsourced, short, funny pre-roll ads for Youtube.
  • Mobile display network advertising
  • Memes for Facebook, Twitter and other social channels

The Budget

The budget for Vote Buddy Votons is set at $40,000. The bulk of this goes to develop the mobile-responsive NationBuilder application and to pay for the SMS messages sent on-demand to Vote Buddy users.

Will you kick in what you can to help us reach our goal? 

Do you like this post?