Virginia Boosts Impact of Pocket Guide with Civic Icons and Twitter

Virginia pocket guide: featured image

Shouldn’t a guide for voters fit in a pocket? A few months ago, when Paul Stenbjorn, Tanya Pruett, and Rob Vance of the Virginia Department of Elections started to work on updating materials for the 2016 election, making a true “pocket guide” was their goal.

They wanted to slim down their 19-page “easy voter guide” from comprehensive information on nearly everything to something that would just answer voters’ most critical questions.

To help, Paul, Tanya, and Rob used the Civic Icons and Images available in the Election Toolkit. They knew that one of the most effective ways to communicate concepts and demystify the voting process is to use simple icons and images — especially for new and infrequent voters.

Yellow sticky notes with notes and images on them

Virginia ELECT staff used icons in their paper prototypes

They also wanted the guide to become a kind of “souvenir” for voters that any local election office could print and distribute. So it had to be printable on any office printer, using regular copy paper.

Together, Virginia ELECT, the Center for Civic Design, and Oxide Design Co. created an adorable, foldable, pocket-sized guide.

On the outside, there are 3 panels and a cover. Two of the panels are upside down for printing double-sided. On the inside, there are 4 more panels, all printed right side up.

Front and back of the printable version of the pocket guide

Final version of the pocket guide

The finished pocket guide uses icons from the Election Toolkit along with design elements from other voter guides made by the Center for Civic Design. It’s simple and inviting for voters.

But there’s a bonus! The pocket guide fits in digital formats, too. It’s the perfect size for mobile devices, and it fits nicely into social media campaigns.

In mid-October, Virginia ELECT was ready to share the pocket guide far and wide. First, they sent the PDFs off to their local jurisdictions. Next, they started a fantastic social media campaign.

Posting on Twitter, they used one panel from the pocket guide at a time. They posted every day leading up to Election Day. They created a tweet, included a PDF of one panel, and posted links to the full digital and printable versions of the guide in each tweet.

Tweet with icons that show how to mark a ballot

Tweet about how to mark a ballot

Through a strategy of scheduling tweets on different days and at different times of the day, Virginia ELECT targeted different audiences with different needs. They did an amazing job of creating compelling content and delivering it on a specific calendar, using Twitter to its fullest.

Many of these best practices for Twitter can be found in the Twitter Guide for Election Officials.

Scattering the times of the posts over the course of each week, they got super positive responses. They even saw tweeters sharing the guide among themselves through retweets. And to reach beyond Twitter, Virginia ELECT staff cross-posted automatically to Facebook.

Turns out that Virginia’s new pocket guide for voters is user friendly, accessible, and super digestible. And it really does fit in pockets — whether printed or mobile.