June 12, 2014 4:20 pm
Updated: June 12, 2014 4:44 pm

Retweets are useless: To win an election, get voters voting

Voters head to the polls on election day in Carleton Place, Ont. on Thursday June 12, 2014.


TORONTO – On election day, no one cares if you’re trending on Twitter.

“You get a lot of stories these days about the importance of Twitter and Facebook and all that crap, and they are, you know, they have changed campaigns,” political strategist Warren Kinsella said in an interview Wednesday.

“But on election day, what really matters the most is that person-to-person contact and whether you’ve done the [voter identification] work before election day.”

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While Tim Hudak, Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath spent weeks slinging mud and speechifying, their staff was out building lists of supporters they can count on to vote.

The Tories say they started as soon as the writ dropped. In every riding, they identify supporters to contact in the days leading up to election day.

Read More: Ontario’s $90 million election could bring province right back to where it started 

“We send letters, we have community folks send letters to supporters, we send people door-knocking again to say make sure you get out and vote,” PC communications director Will Stewart said in an interview.

“That’s what the whole campaign is about – figuring out who those people are and then getting them out to the polls on election day.”

The NDP touts its ability to mobilize supporters, saying it’s what differentiates them from the other two parties.

One place they claim to have mobilized support – and one place they’ll certainly need it – is in Brampton.

Read More: Haven’t paid attention to the campaign? Here’s a cheat sheet

Rowena Santos, the campaign manager for Brampton-Springdale candidate Gurpeet Dhillon, said they’ve been able to find a huge contingent of NDP supporters since Jagmeet Singh was elected in Bramalea-Gore-Malton in 2011.

“For the first time in 2011 with Jagmeet we had a significant breakthrough where the NDP finally won a seat in the Brampton ridings. Because of that there has definitely been spillover,” Santos said.

Santos said the NDP campaign has to personalize communication with supporters in Brampton due to the large immigrant population: Not everyone answers the phone and, if they do, not everyone responds well to robocalls in English.

“You can only connect with them with proper language skills, and connections and knowing where to find them,” she said. “We’ve identified a tremendous amount of support.”

The Liberal party did not respond to requests for comment for this story Wednesday.

In Depth: Ontario Election 2014

Having a broad base of support is only good if they show up on election day.

Campaign teams are knocking on doors, calling supporters and doing everything they can to ensure they vote.

And on election day, teams of people drive voters to polling locations with the hope they’ll vote for their party’s candidate.

“Whether its old people in an old folks’ home, get them down to the common area to vote,” Kinsella said. “If its people in remote areas… just picking them up, getting them there, getting them home and getting them a donut and a cup of coffee.”

But watch out: Election day interactions with voters are strictly regulated by Elections Ontario.

Any vehicle parties use to get voters to and from polling station must be unmarked: There’s a blackout on political advertising within 36 hours of the election, so any partisan stickers or signs on the vehicle would count.

Bribes are also verboten.

Party volunteers can pick you up and drive you to the polling location but can’t – directly or indirectly – trade, pay or promise anything for a vote.

Elections Canada says political parties aren’t allowed to trade anything of “valuable consideration” for a vote.  What’s that mean? A valuable consideration is anything that is material or significant in the circumstances – so a coffee and donut would likely be ok. A car? Probably not.

Interactive: How did your riding’s turnout change since 2007? Type an address or postal code in the box above. Double-click to zoom, click and drag to move around. Click a riding for details, and switch between views using the drop-down menu.

Ontario voter turnout by riding »

Ontario voter turnout by riding


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