The Right to Know How Measure 92 Could Have Easily Won in Oregon

oregon right to know logoThis is a story about how Measure 92, the “Right to Know” law mandating that food containing GMOs be labeled, would have passed if just 1.39% more of Multnomah County’s registered voters had turned in their ballots.

This is a story about second chances and the importance of every single vote.

This is a story about how Oregon Right to Know could have leveraged Facebook Advertising to win not once, but twice.

First, let’s do some quick math to understand the potential swing power of Multnomah County.

Some Math

Number of Registered Voters in Multnomah County: 447,935
Voter Turnout in Multnomah County: 300,995 (67.2%)

Number of Registered Voters in Oregon: 2,185,690
Voter Turnout in Oregon: 1,519,804 (69.5%)

Percentage of Oregon’s Registered Voters in Multnomah County: 20.5%
Percentage of “Yes” Votes on Measure 92 in Multnomah County: 62.4%

Number of Votes Needed for “Yes” to Win (as of Monday AM): 4,524

What This All Means

If 62.4% of votes cast in Multnomah County were “Yes,” then each additional voter that turned out can be estimated to represent .624 “Yes” votes, which means the measure would win with 6,225 (1.376 x 4,524) more votes.

That’s a 1.39% higher voter turnout, which would bring Multnomah County to a 68.59% total voter turnout. That’s still lower than the entire state of Oregon’s average.

The Final Opportunity

Even though the ballots are closed, Oregon is faced with one last chance to close the gap. There are 13,000 challenge ballots that have not been counted due to reasons described as “Signatures Do Not Match” and “No Signature on Ballot.” Coincidentally, it appears that many of these challenge ballots are from counties that would likely vote “Yes.”

Owners of these challenge ballots are able to reclaim them and make the vote count by following instructions laid out by Oregon Right to Know. The kicker is that it involves showing up in person to the county elections office by 5pm on Tuesday, November 18th. Otherwise it’s over.

Enter the solution

The Secretary of State has released the problem voter list to the public. This data was then turned into a searchable database, and was then further transformed into a Facebook app that cross-examines the names of people with challenge ballots against your friend list, showing you if you know any of the people. Genius.

Yes on 92 ballot chase Facebook app


The efforts behind this final push rely heavily on social sharing, which has proven to be a powerful tool (see how I found Dan for $3). They’ve multiplied their reach by empowering eager supporters to bug their friends on the list and get the measure passed. However, perhaps the most powerful tool available to them is not being fully utilized.

Where They Failed

Oregon Right to Know has managed to make an app that matches names on the list with Facebook accounts, but didn’t take the final step to then create a custom audience list using the Facebook User IDs that it harvested. Right now they could be paying under $500 to reach ALL 13,000 people on that list– and they could be doing it directly. Note: The “Yes” side has raised almost 9 million dollars for their campaign.

The really painful part here is that I’ve contacted them twice about donating my time to pull this off– once in person and once on the phone. Both times I was told they’d be in touch and never heard back from them. I suspect it’s because the Facebook advertising efforts are being orchestrated by an unnamed consultant out of California, and than the ball was dropped by them. Who are you, mystery consultant?

Who knows, maybe they are advertising to the remaining 13,000.

Maybe they are making use of the Custom Audience pixel I detected on the Oregon Right to Know website (using the Facebook Pixel Helper Plugin) to reach all their website visitors over the past 180 days (see my Facebook Retargeting Pro course for how to do this)

Maybe they are leveraging the 37,323 fans they’ve accrued on their Facebook Fan Page by paying to reach them all in this time of crisis.

And if they’re not? Then they missed the biggest opportunity they had to win.

If all it would have taken was getting 6,225 (1.39% of those registered) more Multnomah County voters to turn in their ballots.

If, when handed a list of 13,000 people who could swing the vote if they could only be contacted, they could reach them.

If they had only taken me up on my offer to help…

But this Isn’t a Sob Story

With the clock ticking down to 5pm tonight and only a few thousand “Yes” votes away from such a monumental victory, you can’t afford to sit around and rely on others to take action. Sometimes you need to step up and do it yourself.

That’s why I’ve poured $350 of my own dollars into the campaign Oregon Right to Know and their unnamed consultant SHOULD have run.

How I Set It Up

Without many intricate options available to me, I simply setup an ad targeting people living in Oregon who’ve identified “Right to Know” as an interest. This gave me an audience size of 18,000 people and an estimated budget of $350 to reach them. The beauty of such a time-sensitive and charged topic is that social sharing will multiply the efforts.

Earn Enough wins measure 92 oregon

What I Would Have Done With Oregon Right to Know’s Cooperation

While the ballots were still open, I would have focused heavily on increasing the voter turnout in those final days. This could be achieved by:

1. Creating an ad targeting all 37,323 Oregon Right to Know Facebook Page fans urging them to get out and vote.
2. Using Website Custom Audience technology to retarget everyone who visited the Oregon Right to Know website, again, urging them to vote.

Simple. After the ballots closed and the 13,000 challenge ballot names were released, I would:

1. Create another ad targeting all 37,323 Facebook Page fans asking them to use the Facebook app that checks the challenge ballot list against their friends list.
2. Extract the Facebook User IDs from the Facebook app and make an ad specifically targeting the 13,000 challenge ballot owners informing them about their uncounted ballot and how to remedy the situation.

Now, after these measures have been taken, we wait.

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  • Albert Kaufman

    Neat stuff. I wrote a couple articles about the app (when it first came out and now) on BlueOregon.

    Started a fan page (the campaign didn’t have one that said “Yes on 92…”

    Followed that up with an “event” – which is all about inviting people to use the app and invite their friends to use the app, etc.

    I also teach free classes 🙂 Let’s talk!