CEO Update: We are overpaying for voter registration. Let’s fix that.

This photo is from 2004. It looks exactly like a photo I saw last week taken during a $30 million dollar voter registration drive.

NB: these posts start out as emails that go to our VIP email list. That list consists our donors, partners, and generally smart and interesting people who we know in real life. The recipients have asked me to cross-post those emails somewhere public, so they can share them with their networks. This website is public, and the emails aren’t confidential, so I’m happy to oblige.

I’m back with another kind of long, but very important VoteAmerica email for you. I swear I don’t get paid by the word, I just really love talking about the smart things we do.

According to the Independent Voter Registration report of 2018, 100 nonprofit organizations spent approximately $300 million dollars to register 7 million voters. Partisan and dark-money groups spent exponentially more. This is a tremendous amount of money for a relatively modest return, with the vast majority of that money spent on staff who are paid to do in-person, paper based voter registration. In-person, paper based voter registration is the same tactic that I used when I ran my first voter registration drive on campus in 1996. I was able to register dozens of people a day using this tactic, and I was quite pleased.

25 years later, we’re still reliant on the same tactics I used as a college student. This is baffling. Voter registration in the United States is expensive because the dominant registration tactic is older than the internet. Face-to-face, in person voter registration is slow and horribly expensive. We can do better.

In 2020, VoteAmerica ran a pilot program with CreditKarma, in which CreditKarma leveraged our API to integrate our tools into their existing online workflow. In less than three months this partnership drove nearly 600,000 Americans through our tools where they were able to register to vote, check their registration status, request a vote-by-mail ballot, find their polling location, and more. By capitalizing on CreditKarma’s existing network of users, we were able to reach those nearly 600,000 voters in an incredibly cost-effective way.

This is the future of large-scale voter registration and mobilization programs and we’re excited to lead the way. As we plan for the midterm elections, we’re going to continue to grow our strategic partnerships with companies that already have millions of existing users. We’re focusing specifically on companies that exist to help you fill out paperwork, such as your annual taxes and your change of address forms. We’ll also be focusing on companies that help college students register for classes online. This three-pronged focus will help us reach literally tens of millions of Americans for the cost of a handful of software developers. The amount of time and money it takes to build out company-specific integrations is incredibly small when compared to the time and money invested in in-person voter registration.

This new model is truly meeting voters where they are, at scale, and at reduced cost. These partnerships will enable us to register and mobilize millions of voters without spending tens of millions of dollars.

Now it’s time for me to ask you to get involved. VoteAmerica is the already the most-cost effective voter turnout organization in America. We’re smart, and we’re frugal, and we’ve been at the forefront of driving costs down for decades now via our various past initiatives (including This strategy will drive our already low costs even lower, while providing an exceptional return on investment. We’ll use every dollar we receive to expand our team and run the programs (like these partnerships) that will yield the highest impact.

If you’re able, please consider a tax-deductible donation today.

One last thought: donating stock is one of the best ways to support our work. You get to write off the full value of the stock, without having to liquidate it and pay capital gains taxes. It’s a win for you tax wise, and a win for VoteAmerica (or any other charity) because we receive the full value of the stock.

Let’s go register a ton of voters.

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