Research & Experiments

Sister District Action Network (SDAN) is the 501(c)(4) non-profit affiliate of Sister District Project. SDAN specializes in research and civic engagement, and focuses on research pertaining to voter registration, voter turnout, and volunteer engagement. Most SDAN research investigates the efficacy of a variety of voter registration and outreach tactics like postcarding or text messaging, as well as the efficacy of volunteer engagement tactics.

Voter Registration and Engagement Research

A board that reads Voting Day next to I voted stickers
Research and Experiments

SDAN+VPC VR Voting Pipeline Postcard Study

We ran a randomized controlled trial to determine: 1) if people who received a handwritten postcard encouraging voter registration, along with an official voter registration form from Voter Participation Center (VPC), in our March and Sept 2018 studies had higher odds of turning out to vote in the November 2018 general election; and 2) if the effect of those postcards differed based on whether or not those targets had returned the registration form sent to them by VPC earlier in the year.

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A stack of postcards with hands reaching towards the word VOTE
Research and Experiments

2018 GOTV Postcarding Results

We ran two randomized controlled trials in the Fall of 2018 to determine if receiving a handwritten postcard encouraging the target to vote increased the odds of voters turning out to vote for in the 2018 general election in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and further sought to determine if those odds differed based on the postcard message.

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A pile of handwritten postcards
Research and Experiments

Voter Registration Postcarding 2: A Replication with VPC + SDAN

We ran a randomized controlled trial to determine if the receipt of a handwritten postcard a week after the receipt of an official voter registration form increased the odds of people completing & returning the voter registration form, as compared to the odds of return among people who did not receive a postcard.

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A table covered in handwritten postcards
Research and Experiments

VPC+SDAN Postcarding Experiment Results

Sister District Action Network (SDAN) partnered with the Voter Participation Center (VPC) to send handwritten postcards encouraging registration to eligible, unregistered individuals living in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona in March 2018. These postcards were sent in conjunction with VPC’s Voting Age Population Program, which sent official voter registration forms to these same people.

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Volunteer Research

Volunteer Resources

Candidate Maria Collet (left) canvassing with Sister District DC volunteers

Get Out The Vote: Messaging For The Win

There are lots of field tactics to turn out voters, but any industry insider will tell you that a method is only as good as your message. In this post we review current recommendations for GOTV messaging, and research-based recommendations for messaging in general.

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Field Activities Research

Completed Research

StudyElection/ Year ConductedDate Reported (Blog)Type of StudyArea of Study (e.g. VR)PartnerShort Report linkBlog link
Voter Registration prime and chase with VPC20188/16/2018RCTVoter registrationVoter Participation CenterLinkBlog
Voter Registration chase replication with VPC201808/23/2019RCTVoter registrationVoter Participation CenterLinkBlog
GOTV postcards201808/27/2019RCTVoter engagement½ VPC; ½ campaignLinkBlog
VR Voting pipeline20188/27/2019AnalysisVoter registrationVoter Participation CenterLinkBlog
Relational voter turnout on FB201802/19/2020RCTVoter engagementVirginia Tech UniversityLinkBlog
Recruitment volunteer engagement pilot2018N/ARCTVolunteer engagementVirginia Tech University
Confirmation volunteer engagement pilot2018N/ARCTVolunteer engagementVirginia Tech University
Recruitment volunteer engagement study201805/07/2019RCTVolunteer engagementVirginia Tech UniversityLinkBlog
Confirmation volunteer engagement study201805/07/2019RCTVolunteer engagementVirginia Tech UniversityLinkBlog
Ladder of engagement pilot study201901/05/2021Pseudo-experimentVolunteer engagementLinkBlog
SD 2019 volunteer survey201906/07/2019SurveyVolunteer engagementLinkBlog
GOTV texting with NAACP20199/25/2020RCTVoter engagementMS NAACPLinkBlog
Phonebank/canvass postcard chase pilot201901/04/2021RCTVoter engagementLinkBlog
3 wave educational postcards20191/21/2021RCTVoter engagementLinkBlog
Friendraising pilot20198/27/2019Pseudo-experimentVolunteer engagementLinkBlog
SD 2020 volunteer survey202009/18/2020SurveyVolunteer engagementLinkBlog
Friendraising full study202010/21/2020Pseudo-experimentVolunteer engagementLinkBlog
Postcards and letters head to head202010/1/2020RCTVoter registrationVoter Participation CenterLinkBlog
Postcard postmark202006/15/2020RCTVoter engagementLinkBlog
Two primaries postcards20202/11/2021RCTVoter engagementLinkBlog
Two primaries substudy20205/28/2021RCTVoter engagementLinkBlog
Covid-19 voting survey with U of M202010/28/2020RCT/survey (intervention ineffective)Voter engagementUniversity of MichiganN/ABlog
Phonebank/canvass chaser postcard full study20205/14/2021RCTVoter engagementLinkBlog
2020 primary study downstream analysis20205/27/2021AnalysisVoter engagementLinkBlog
Mobilize + personal text study202105/18/2021RCTVolunteer engagementLinkBlog
GA VBM Text Chase202006/15/2021RCTVoter engagementLinkBlog


Sister District Action Network inspires and empowers legislators, organizations, volunteers, and voters through civic education, rigorous research, policy analysis, and strategic convenings to engage deeply in state legislative issues.

Get in contact with us or if you’d like to sign up to be part of the civic engagement team, click here!