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Trick Or Vote: Join the Costumed Door Knockers Boosting Turnout

It’s Halloween night. Autumn leaves rustle in the breeze. Costumed children sing as they walk by. The smells of hot apple cider and fresh-baked pumpkin waft out of windows. Contrary to all appearances, you’re engaged in serious business. Democracy business.

Sure, you’re wearing a wookie costume. You've even gotten some candy while wandering the neighborhood. But this has to be serious: You’re trying to get people to vote.

Welcome to Trick or Vote, the nation’s largest costumed Get Out the Vote effort. With events in 41 states hosted by hundreds of organizations, there’s almost guaranteed to be a Trick or Vote event near you. Consider this the perfect chance to relive fond childhood memories while making a big impact in one of this year’s most important causes.

Four years ago, we set out to study Trick or Vote. While we had a great time going out and reminding voters of the upcoming election, we wanted to know if we had an effect. In the swing state of Colorado, our fearless volunteers went out in droves, knocking on thousands of doors. Over the coming months, a Ph.D. combed through public voting records to determine our effect.

To be honest, we weren’t expecting that much. With the state up for grabs both in the Presidential race and further down the ballot, voters were getting contacted a bunch. We didn’t know what one more conversation could do. But the effect was big—a more than 5 percent increase in turnout among the folks we reached out to. What will get decided by 5 percent this year? Probably every branch of the federal government, plus the fate of Governor’s races, state legislatures, and county governments.

Since 2008, Trick or Vote has grown plenty, into cities across the nation through partnerships with community organizations. As we said, there’s probably one near you. So if you’re still trying to lock in your early evening plans for Halloween, here’s a no-brainer: look for an event in your community and volunteer!

Matt Singer is executive director of the Bus Federation Civic Fund and one of the people who started National Voter Registration Day.

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