Trick or Vote

Angel and Devil

Check out the full Trick or Vote website at

What’s the best way to mobilize voters? According to a bunch of evidence, knocking on their doors and talking to them face-to-face is the single highest-impact method.

What’s the one common tradition we have in the US of knocking on strangers’ doors and talking to them? Halloween!

When’s Halloween? Just a few days before the election–every year.

Democracy’s scariest event is coming to your community this October.

What started as a good idea a few years ago has ballooned into one of the nation’s foremost Get Out the Vote events–attracting thousands of volunteers coast-to-coast and reaching over 160,000 households in 2010. Just as importantly, many of these volunteers are getting involved in a political event as a volunteer for the first time in their lives. Why? Because it’s fun–which is also why it’s effective.

Cue the Mad Scientists:

In 2010, we were curious about whether Trick or Vote actually mobilized volunteers more effectively than other activities, so we decided to test it. We worked with some certified smarty pants researchers to run a controlled experiment a little bit like a clinical drug test. Only in this case the drug was our Trick or Vote pitch (“It’ll make you feel good! Everyone’s doing it! There’s a party afterwards!”) while the placebo was a standard volunteer ask to help us go door-to-door talking to voters. Mayhaps unsurprisingly, Trick or Vote beat out the competition.

Volunteers invited to join the monster mash were 2.5 times more likely to say yes than volunteers given the standard “come help us!” song-and-dance.

But the magic doesn’t stop there. In 2008, we also studied whether voters we reach through Trick or Vote are more likely to get out to the polls. In a similar controlled experiment in Denver, CO during the general election (some lucky households were visited by a costumed canvasser on Halloween night; others were not). The result? Voters we talked to or tried to talk to voted at a rate 5.3% higher than the folks we ignored.

So, in short here’s the Trick or Vote secret:

More Fun = More Volunteers x More Voters = More Democracy!

Want to help organize or participate in a Trick or Vote in your own community? Check out