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Relational FTW: Company Spotlight, Outvote

Outvote is a relational organizing tool that has taken the progressive space by storm. Founded in 2018, Outvote is being used by staff and volunteers on campaigns up and down the ballot and organizations pushing for social change.

We sat down with Emily DaSilva, COO of Outvote, to discuss the innovative ways clients have adopted Outvote and the creative strategies they’ve used to engage voters. 

What trends have you seen these past couple months with peer-to-peer mobilization?
As scary and uncertain as the last few months have been, we have seen a real validation for digital tools, and the power digital communication can have on electoral output and outcome. 

Since most of us are all isolated from each other physically, we also have seen people using technology to connect with each other in truly creative ways. Physical isolation has inadvertently given communities more ways to focus on the ways our government is handling–or not handling–the crisis, and spread word quickly about how communities can get or stay involved. As a result, the screens we sit behind have made teetering into civic dialogue a little easier. 

What are some innovative ways clients are using Outvote? 
One of the most innovative things we saw early on was with our client When We All Vote. When so many media narratives instilled fear in all of us at the beginning of the pandemic, When We All Vote decided to create a much-needed celebration of the fact we were all home, and lucky enough to be staying safe. They decided to host an initial “couch party,” where they rallied their volunteers to download Outvote, and since have replicated the concept to contact over 4 million prospective voters to register to vote. 

We also have seen huge adoption with our vote-by-mail feature, which allows our partners and clients to make sure their volunteers are checking in with their communities to see if they’re registered to vote, and helps them apply for mail-in and absentee ballots. We worked with a client in Michigan to run a pilot program during the primary, and 85% of ballots were returned on time, plus the candidates the client endorsed won their respective primaries. 

What creative strategies have you seen clients implement this cycle to virtually mobilize voters?
People are glued to their devices more than they traditionally have been accustomed. We are seeing truly creative uses of technology to cut through the noise.

One of the most interesting strategies we have seen is the adoption of a push notification strategy. Organizations are working to ensure their communities swipe open to take action. And they are following-up with personal reminders, saying, “We texted earlier about the registration deadline. Have you registered?”

Another great thing we’ve seen is campaigns using Outvote to participate in trending conversations in their communities. For example, our partners at Planned Parenthood Texas used Outvote to create a campaign called “Don’t Call Your Ex, Call Your Governor” playing off an internet trend of people reaching out to their exes at the top of the stay-at-home order. They rallied the community to call their governor and demand abortion is essential care. It was a very creative way to tap into friend-to-friend conversations at the time and meet the audience where they were, and it worked. The governor included abortion in the list of essential medical assistance, and governors in Iowa and other states with compromised abortion access followed suit. 

What are you excited to see heading into November?
Though I find the media loves to dissuade younger generations from voting by admonishing the 18-29 bracket with stats of low turnout (rather than inspiring them to want to turn out to vote), I am personally inspired by the work we’ve been doing with the Gen Z collective Up To Us

Up to Us – which launched on National Voter Registration Day – used Outvote to create custom Check Your Registration portals for Gen Z’s biggest TikTokers, YouTubers, social content creators and gamers. The talent distributes the custom links on their platforms, and between now and the election, they are reminding their fans this election is up to us. As an incentive for checking your registration, one lucky winner (per creator) is entered to win anything from a FaceTime or DM slide from their favorite creator to a Tesla. We know young voters skew blue, and the more Gen Z voters we get to the polls, the more likely this election is to swing in our favor.

Follow Emily DaSilva and OutVote on Twitter. You can also check out Outvote’s website for more information.