Model & Strategy

Vote.org uses technology to simplify political engagement, increase voter turnout, and strengthen American democracy.

Vote.org works to ensure that the electorate matches the population in terms of age, race, and income diversity. Their work is accomplished using a two-pronged approach:

1. Building and maintaining the Vote.org website and the Vote.org toolset. The free Vote.org toolset currently includes a voter registration tool, an absentee ballot tool, and a stand-alone election reminders tool.

2. Vote.org proactively reaches out to low-propensity voters and encourages them to vote using a variety of tactics, including one-to-one SMS outreach, digital ads, digital radio (Pandora and Spotify), billboards, and direct mail. Vote.org reaches out to low-propensity voters for a simple reason: increasing voter turnout starts with reaching voters who are unlikely to vote without additional encouragement.

At a Glance
Founded: 2016
Civic Engagement
Location of work: Domestic, Northeast, West Coast, Midwest, Southwest, Southeast
Vote.org
San Francisco, California
Everything you need to vote.
Vote.org Founder and CEO Debra Cleaver chats with Organizing Lead William Walker at the office located in Oakland on Oct. 22, 2016. Photo by Michelle Le
Debra Cleaver Vote.org entrepreneur
Meet Debra Cleaver

Debra Cleaver’s passion for increasing voter turnout began after witnessing the low turnout rates — and razor thin margins — of the 2000 election. Debra has been working at the intersection of technology and democracy since 2004, first as Managing Director of Swing the State, then as founder of Long Distance Voter, and currently as Founder and CEO of Vote.org.  Debra specializes in overlooked populations, such as young voters and voters of color, and works to increase turnout by clearing the myriad of hurdles that stand between voter registration and actually casting a ballot.

She currently serves as the Founder and CEO of Vote.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses technology to simplify political engagement, increase voter turnout, and strengthen American democracy. Under Debra’s leadership, Vote.org won the prestigious Knight News Challenge in 2015; was accepted into Y Combinator’s 2016 Summer Cohort; ran the country’s largest Election Day GOTV drive in 2016; and ran the single largest GOTV drive in Alabama’s history in 2016..  Vote.org is widely recognized as the most cost-efficient voter turnout organization in America. Over the past two years, Vote.org has registered almost one million voters, and helped over 13 million voters cast ballots in national and local elections. Debra’s work has been featured in Forbes, Mic, The Huffington Post, and Bustle.

Impact

In 2016, Vote.org pioneered peer-to-peer SMS as a voter registration and Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) tactic. They also ran the country’s largest Election Day GOTV drive, providing polling place information to just under 1M potential voters.

In 2017, Vote.org ran multi-channel, nonpartisan, GOTV campaigns targeting low and mid-propensity young voters and voters of color in VA and AL. Vote.org purchased over 300 billboards in VA and AL (102M impressions); ran audio ads on satellite radio for six weeks (1.3M plays); proactively provided polling place information to over 1M voters via peer-to-peer text messages, and delivered over 200,000 pieces of direct mail to potential voters.

In 2018, 16M people visited the Vote.org website, and 8.2M used the Vote.org toolset. Vote.org also ran a proactive GOTV program targeting 40M voters in 29 states via billboards, direct mail, SMS messages, and fieldwork. Finally, Vote.org worked with Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Barack Obama to activate young voters and voters of color.