Toronto

They want you to vote, but they're not political parties

Ontario Proud and Leadnow.ca are taking different approaches to motivate voters to head to the ballot box next week.

3rd party groups are in the midst of aggressive get-out-the-vote campaigns

Ontario Proud's street team is trying to reach public transit riders in the GTA. (Ontario Proud/Twitter)

It's not just political parties trying to get you to the ballot box next week.

Several third-party organizations from across the political spectrum have initiatives underway to persuade Ontarians to vote in the provincial election.

Ontario Proud, an organization that has produced advertisements and social media content critical of the Liberals and NDP, is now focusing on get-out-the-vote efforts in the final days of the campaign.

Ontario Proud founder Jeff Ballingall says his group started a voter identification program last weekend, "so we have a better understanding of the vote, and so that we can get voters to the polls."

He says the group is using an automatic system to make phone calls to ask people how they plan to vote.

He says if Ontario Proud can determine someone it's reached is a PC supporter, "they'll receive a message closer to election date to make sure they are voting."

The group is also hiring students to act as "street teams" to distribute pamphlets critical of the Liberal Party outside transit stations in the GTA and the Ottawa area.

An Ontario Proud street team handing out flyers outside Union Station. (Twitter)

But Ontario Proud isn't the only group hitting the phones in an effort to influence the vote.

Leadnow.ca is helping to organize its own get-out-the-vote effort, targeting Liberal or NDP voters.

"This election is super volatile," said Leadnow's Brittany Smith. "A handful of votes could make the difference between a PC candidate winning or losing."

She says the organization is providing volunteers with a software package that allows them to set up a phone bank in their community.

"They can use this super simple tech that lets them call into battleground ridings and talk to our key voters and make sure that the voters we want to show up and vote on election day actually have a plan to show up and go vote."

Map showing volunteer-run phone banks set up by Leadnow.ca. (leadnow.ca)

Smith says there are 67 phone banks in place across the province, and figures Leadnow volunteers have reached about 30,000 voters so far. She says unlike political parties, they can't work off of membership lists, and are instead sourcing their numbers from telephone directories. That means they're more likely to reach voters with traditional landlines instead of mobile phones.

That's why some of the political parties are trying to move their efforts to smart phones.

An NDP text message sent to potential voters. (Tom McManus/Twitter)

The NDP says it is asking its supporters to sign up for text-based updates about the campaign. It's also using a service to randomly generate numbers for cellphone users to reach potential non-supporters.

Ontario Proud is also now trying to reach voters via text messages.

Ballingall, the Ontario Proud founder, admits he was hesitant to do it because of the public perception that it is intrusive, but now expects it to be a pivotal part of his group's final get out of the vote effort.

"Phones are just so key, because everyone is addicted to them," said Ballingall. "People will be seeing us on Facebook, or getting texts from us."

About the Author

Mike Wise

Host, CBC Toronto News at 11

Mike Wise is the anchor of CBC Toronto News at 11. Mike grew up in Brampton, but now calls North York home. He started at CBC when he was just 17 years old, as part of a high-school Co-Op placement. Mike is married and teaches journalism part-time at Humber College.