Months before the 2020 presidential race turned into the home stretch, Vote.org COO Elizabeth Daigneau and her colleagues broke into a gallop.
As the coronavirus swept across the United States this spring and kept a firm grip throughout the summer, election expectations shifted. Sixteen states, Puerto Rico, and Guam postponed their presidential primaries, and the three-fourths of American voters eligible for mail-in voting grappled with whether to ditch the ballot box for the mailbox in November.
Vote.org, a nonprofit founded in 2008, has a small but mighty staff of 11, and a simple, nonpartisan mission: getting out the vote, especially among low-propensity voters. They didn’t knock on doors as deadlines to register and request a mail-in ballot neared, but they did flex the power of a digital operation that was anything but absentee, providing critical updates to more than 7 million email and 4 million SMS subscribers.
Daigneau joined the staff in January after 15 years at Governing magazine, a tenure that reinforced her belief in the importance of exercising our civic duty. “I realized how much people could control policy at the local level, but oftentimes they weren’t engaged,” she says. “It’s nice to be part of something where I can help people understand how important it is to vote.”
Daigneau wears many hats: paying bills, approving emails and texts, assisting with communications and fundraising, and reviewing countless partnership contracts as Vote.org amped up its rallying cry. By late July, it had launched the #VoteReady initiative with rapper-actors Jaden Smith and Common, partnered with more than 570 companies that pledged to give employees Election Day off, registered 1.2 million voters, and facilitated 1.1 million mail-in ballot applications.
Vote.org also watched its web traffic climb 52-fold over the same period in 2018 as it fed an information-hungry electorate. “We don’t weigh in to any politics,” Daigneau says. “We weigh in with facts. We’re not here to tell you who to vote for. We’re here to tell you that it’s your right as an eligible voter and an American citizen.”