A Step in the Right Direction for Democracy
WASHINGTON, DC— Today, When We All Vote released an op-ed on Medium laying out its accomplishments. The op-ed highlights the campaign’s major initiatives, reach to millions of Americans, and partnerships for the midterm election cycle.
Kyle Lierman, CEO of When We All Vote
One of the biggest problems facing our country is low voter participation — especially during midterm elections. There is still an enormous amount of work to be done, but Tuesday was an important first step in beginning to fix that problem and bringing more people into the process.
Earlier this year, Michelle Obama, along with fellow co-chairs Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill launched When We All Vote, a new non-partisan, non-profit organization focused on increasing voter participation in this midterm and in every election. When We All Vote is on a mission to change the culture around voting in our country by leading a national conversation and empowering Americans with the information and tools they need to participate.
Even as results are still coming in, there were an estimated 114 million votes cast. According to CIRCLE, youth (aged 18–29) turnout also increased from 21 percent in 2014 to 31 percent this year. Increases like these do not happen without the countless dedicated organizations and individuals helping to register and turn out voters.
In four short months, When We All Vote engaged tens of millions of Americans to help them register and get out to vote. I am grateful to the entire When We All Vote team, our co-chairs, our board, our over 20,000 volunteers, our campaign ambassadors and partners who helped make this crucial work possible. And I’m proud to report on how When We All Vote contributed to this year’s historic midterm turnout.
National Week of Action
Grassroots Voter Registration, Training & Education Events
When We All Vote volunteers and partner organizations held over 2,500 events across the country as a part of our Week of Action during the last week in September, which included National Voter Registration Day where a record number of Americans registered to vote. Our events were designed to train people to help register their friends, family, and neighbors and ensure all those who attended were registered.
Michelle Obama and campaign ambassadors like Shonda Rhimes, Keegan-Michael Key, Angela Rye, and Loni Love led the way at large events in Miami, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, and Houston.
Over 200,000 people took action by hosting an event, attending an event, or volunteering to register voters. We worked with organizations like Phi Theta Kappa, League of Women Voters, NAACP, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Voto Latino and the African Methodist Episcopal Church who all challenged their chapters and members to host voter registration events.
Part of changing the culture around voting meant taking the conversation online in a larger way than had ever been done before in a midterm election. Through our digital channels, volunteers engaged online, co-chairs and over 400 artists, athletes, and digital influencers supported When We All Vote and as a result the campaign reached over 220 million individuals on social media. Over seven million unique posts used @WhenWeAllVote or #WhenWeAllVote. In addition, the PSAs we released and the coverage of Michelle Obama’s rallies received hundreds of millions of views.
Research shows the most effective tactic to get out the vote is to have people encourage their friends and family to get out. In the final weeks before election day, we launched a #VotingSquad social media challenge to encourage millions of Americans to get five friends and family members to make a plan to vote and head to the polls. The campaign called on people to create a squad and challenge others in their network to do the same. The campaign took off reaching over 100 million people in less than three weeks. Over 57,000 people created a squad and posted about it on social media. Our co-chairs, and celebrities like Tala Ashe, Kelly McCreary, Rachel Ray, Adam Rippon and the Queer Eye cast, Broadway shows and artists from a number of other NBC, Netflix and CW shows helped elevate the voting squad conversation.
Texting for Democracy
We found one of the most impactful ways to utilize our volunteer base was through a peer-to-peer texting program. Through the program, volunteers and staff texted over 3.7 million drop-off and newly registered voters. We also had help from partner organizations like Rock the Vote, WeWork and The Wing which helped us reach our goal of texting voters in all 50 states.
When We All Vote would not have been able to do this work without its incredible partners. In addition to the partners we’ve already mentioned, we were fortunate to partner with hundreds of organizations across the country, from national leaders on voter engagement like Vote Together, Inspire U.S., and Headcount and organizations such as American Federation of Teachers, Belt the Vote, Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. and the YWCA. We also partnered with companies like Lyft, Uber, Meetup, and Postmates, to help their employees and customers register to vote. Media organizations like BET Networks, Elle, Essence Magazine, PopSugar, Oath, The Root, Fusion, Baller Alert, and Blavity also helped us reach large and diverse audiences across the nation. Through these these partnerships we shared best practices and resources to bring new and infrequent voters to the polls.
As an organization that makes data-driven decisions, we will continue to evaluate our work and impact over the coming months. We will build on our relationships with influential voices, companies, and partner organizations across the country, and we will share what we have learned. We will also continue to engage our volunteers and new voters to ensure their continued engagement and participation.
We look forward to continuing the national conversation around voting for future generations. Because when we all vote, we all do better. Onward.