A Startup Guide to Participating in the November Election
Culturati would like to thank Joe Greenstein, Founder of Flixster & Rotten Tomatoes, for compiling this comprehensive list of resources and ideas for companies and their teams to get involved in the voting process.
US Election Resources for Startup Founders
The Basics: Support Your Employees/Users to Vote
Suggestion: Several founders I’ve spoken to are sending an email personally to encourage their employees to take time to vote which I think is powerful. Then they, or their people team, are then sending reminders. Lots of reminders.
VoteAmerica.com — Tools for your employees to register, check your status and vote by mail (if supported) from any state. (Better and more updated than vote.org)
ElectionDay.org — Join this list of companies that have committed to vote-friendly policies including distributing voting information and providing paid-time-off to vote.
IAmVoteReady.org — An excellent list of resources to help your employees learn about the requirements in their state, register, request a vote-by-mail ballot, and vote. This is a good resource for your People team to help answer questions. Download the toolkit for companies here.
BallotReady –Excellent non-partisan information on every candidate and ballot measure in every state. Help your team or community get informed beyond the headline races.
ResistBot — Voting tools for the text generation. Text “Check” or “register” to 50409 to check your status or register online. “Early” for instructions on voting early in your state. “Turnout” is a great keyword to encourage friends to register right from the bot.
Key Dates to Add to Your Calendar
September 22nd — National Voter Registration Day. Allocate an hour before or after lunch for everyone to do this.
October 24th — National Vote Early Day. Have a company party and encourage your employees to avoid long lines on election day by voting in person or by mail on October 24th instead.
November 3rd — Election Day! Give employees time off to vote, work at polls, or support others in voting.
The Next Steps Beyond Voting
Suggestion: Offer your employees a few hours off to text friends or write letters well in advance, and then another few hours to remind them again right before election day.
VoteForward — Hand-written letters (not mass mailings) have been shown to have up to a 3% impact in voter turnout — a very big number relative to other low-cost interventions. VoteForward offers a very cool program that helps people write personal, hand-written letters to marginal voters in swing states. VoteForward is a left-leaning organization but they have fully non-partisan letter-sending campaigns that focus on low-propensity voters of color in swing states if you don’t want to do anything partisan but helping mobilize electorally under-represented groups matches your organizational values.
Beyond registering, encouraging people to help get their friends to vote has been proven to be one of the most powerful tools to increase voter turnout. A super simple, lightweight, and data-driven behavioral approach is just to call or text 3 friends and ask them if they have a plan to vote, then check-in before election day to make sure they follow-through. The Organizing Empowerment project offers an SMS-based “bot” that any organization can customize to run your own vote tripling program. So you can send “Text ‘YOUR_KEYWORD’ to 55–222” and they handle everything for you. A brief deck attached if this is interesting for your organization.
For individuals who are particularly motivated, there are several apps out there that support much more advanced relational organizing efforts allowing people who download them to see all their contacts and whether they are registered to vote and organize personal outreach campaigns. VoteWithMe for those on the left and swipe red on the right seem to be the leaders.
Work at the Polls
This election, more than ever, having enough safe, fully-staffed polls for people to vote amidst COVID is critical to a fair election. If you have staff or community in states not adopting a larger vote-by-mail system, encourage them to work at the polls on election day. Power to the polls is a great resource for how to apply in every state.
Finally, For Those Who Want To Dive In Deeper
Suggestion: If this is an area of passion for you, get involved in efforts to ensure a fair election amidst COVID or offer to match employee donations to charities that support voter turnout amongst under-represented groups.
Supporting a Safe & Fair Election
Especially given COVID considerations, one significant opportunity is to raise awareness and support for safe, reliable ways to vote in case the pandemic affects election day. Exactly how best to have impact here is still a bit unclear as the key policy debates are just forming. Sign this letter from business owners demanding congress allocate resources to ensure a safe election or this petition to demand no-excuse vote by mail in all 50 states. Or, if you have money to donate, support VoteSafe — a prominent bi-partisan effort to clarify the facts around voting by mail and support creation of safe voting options, especially in critical swing states.
Support on the Ground Organizing for Underrepresented Groups
Electoral organizing is one of the most impactful long term investments we can make toward greater equity and racial justice. The Movement Voter Initiative is a non-profit that reviews and vets over 350 local electoral organizing groups that help people of color and underrepresented groups get registered and turnout to vote. (I am personally giving this year to their Black Led Organizing Fund — which is a group of 42 Black-led organizations working specifically in 12 key swing states for the 2020 election.) As a non-profit, MVI takes no fees so 100% of all donations go directly to local, on-the-ground groups.
A special shout out to data.world co-founder & CEO and Culturati godfather, Brett Hurt, for sharing Joe’s lists.