A nonprofit that targets unlikely voters will launch a major push next week to register and help new voters navigate a general election made trickier by a pandemic.
The group Vote.org has enlisted Common and Jaden Smith — two actors and rappers known for their political activism — and companies such as Twitter to signal-boost their message, beginning Tuesday, July 28, with the first of several #VoteReady days of action.
These partners and others will use their social media presence and digital platforms to promote the campaign, officials with Vote.org told BuzzFeed News. Tuesday’s kickoff will focus on nearly 600 companies that have pledged to allow employees paid time off to vote this fall. A program scheduled for Aug. 25 will be aimed at schools and signing up young voters and helping them request mail-in ballots.
Efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have created more opportunities for — and confusion about — voting by mail or in other socially distant ways. Primary elections in many states this year were postponed or converted to largely mail-in formats. Many states and elections officials from both major political parties have recognized the benefit of voting before Election Day. But President Donald Trump continues to raise unfounded suspicions about the integrity of voting by mail, even though he cast his primary ballot by mail in March.
“#VoteReady was created to ensure voters are prepared to vote safely in November, whether they choose to vote by mail, vote early or vote on Election Day,” Andrea Hailey, Vote.org’s chief executive officer, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News announcing the group’s push. “Most states weren’t prepared for the ravages of COVID-19, forcing states to reschedule elections, scramble to shift safe social distancing tactics like vote-by-mail, and rewrite election laws to respond to the public health emergency. Voters should have every possible option to participate and to do so safely, and we want all voters to make a plan to get #VoteReady now.”
Smith is partnering with Vote.org through his 501CThree nonprofit, which has provided portable water filtration systems in Flint, Michigan. He and Common will serve as “influencers,” according to details shared by Vote.org.
The companies involved in next week’s push are committing to give their employees paid time off to vote and are in some cases donating space promoting the campaign on their websites. Group Nine Media, which owns NowThis News, Thrillist, and other sites, will run banner ads Tuesday. WikiHow will offer a custom landing page featuring how-to articles written by Vote.org staff. Mailchimp, the email marketing company, will transform its log-in page to promote Election Day as a national holiday.
Vote.org officials said they already have helped more than 1 million voters register and more than 1 million voters request mail-in ballots this year.
Correction: Twitter is participating in the new Voter.org drive. A previous version of this story misstated the companies involved.