GeoElections Project: Geographic Technology for Better Elections

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: National States Geographic Information Council 
Amount: Up to $300,000 in 2017

What is the GeoElections Project?

The GeoElections Project, lead by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), aims to improve geographic technology for better elections. The effort will tap state-level geospatial information officers, election directors, and other subject matter experts to champion the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) map technology. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are technologically advanced computer systems that use data to describe the earth’s surface and analyze the relationships between locations. Digital map representations of precinct boundaries are more transparent and easier to use for election administrative purposes. For this project, NSGIC will develop and promote best practices for replacing the current ‘street file’, a catalog of voter precinct assignments that requires correct addresses to be updated.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

Democracy Fund Voice supports NSGIC’s efforts to facilitate the adoption of geographic information systems and related processes to enhance elections management and citizen engagement across the United States. By funding their project, we will be able to positively increase the quality of election administration for voters, candidates, and electoral management staff across the U.S. By providing additional states and localities with the information they require to utilize mapping technology, we believe this will lead to more accurate and accessible electoral databases and further innovate elections management best practices.

How is Voice supporting the project?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to the National States Geographic Information Council in the amount of up to $300,000 to facilitate the adoption of geographic information systems and related processes to enhance elections management and citizen engagement across the United States.

Stand Up Republic

Type of Activity: Grant
Grantee: Stand Up Republic
Amount: Up to $250,000 in 2017

What is Stand Up Republic?

Stand Up Republic is a recently launched organization founded by Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn to usher in a new era of civic engagement to defend democratic institutions and ideals in America. They seek to build and organize a grassroots movement in defense of liberty, equality, and truth in America while upholding the Constitution and defending the democratic norms and institutions upon which the protection of our basic rights depend.

Why do we think this organization is important?

This organization is confronting and engaging in important work to protect the norms of our democracy and to push back against dangerous demagoguery in our politics. Organization projects will include executive oversight (particularly related to Article I), First Amendment protections, and individual rights. By supporting Stand Up we support efforts to empower individuals to stand for their principles and for preserving our republic. Stand Up seeks to achieve its mission through creative education, leadership development, national movement building, and advocacy.

How is Voice supporting Stand Up Republic?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to Stand Up Republic in the amount of up to $25o,000 in 2017.

Stranger in My Own Country

The tone and tenor of the 2016 election and the increasingly charged ideological debate in the United States have left many Americans feeling disconnected and disoriented. To bring our country together and move beyond divisive rhetoric, we need to better understand the anxieties that people are experiencing. Stranger in my Own Country is the first in a series of studies seeking to better understand the factors that are motivating nativism, racism, and other cultural anxieties among the American electorate.

The findings in this study are the product of in-depth interviews, a national public opinion survey, and message testing carried out by a group of Republican-led researchers in the fall of 2016 as a part of an effort to better understand the attitudes driving the behavior of supporters of Donald Trump.

Our preliminary findings revealed deep cultural anxiety around four themes:

  1. Americanism: Fear of losing core, defining values that make America unique.
  2. Race: Fear that demographic change is weakening community ties and excluding people.
  3. Immigration: Fear of losing control of our borders and endangering ourselves.
  4. Islam: Fear of letting people into the country who are hostile to America.

Our findings suggest that the recent rise in populism and nativism among voters is driven by feelings of disaffection and alienation from America’s core institutions and culture. These voters feel disconnected from government, community, and a “new” America they aren’t comfortable with. However, the research offers hope that targeted messages on pride and unity in America can create significant movement in key attitudes among these voters that may help fewer Americans feel like strangers in their own country.

Please view our slideshow below, download a PDF of the presentation, or check out our fact sheet on key findings.

Our research team included:

  • PROJECT LEAD: Mindy Finn, Civic entrepreneur, former strategist for the RNC, NRSC, Mitt Romney, and George W. Bush;
  • RESEARCH LEAD: Alex Lundry, co-founder and Chief Data Scientist at Deep Root Analytics, and ran analytics for Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush;
  • PROJECT ASSOCIATE: Kelsey Jarrett, former member of the Google+ Political Partnerships Team, former digital strategist for the NRSC and the RNC;
  • RESEARCHERS: Lisa Dropkin, Stacia Tipton and Karen Emmerson at Edge Research; Patrick Ruffini and Kristen Soltis Anderson at Echelon Insights; and Emily Ekins at the Cato Institute

The initial findings described here are the product of three pieces of research focused on the attitudes of strong supporters of now President Donald Trump during the 2016 election cycle. First, hour-long, in-depth interviews were conducted by Edge Research with voters in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Then, a national survey was conducted by Echelon Insights that oversampled whites without a college degree was used to quantify attitudes observed in the earlier interviews. Finally, researchers from the Cato Institute tested how voters respond to digital and print media to see what kinds of messages could impact attitudes towards Muslim Americans.

The results conveyed in this presentation are by no means definitive, but rather the first step in our effort to understand the current positions of the electorate. Over the coming months, Democracy Fund Voice will continue to ask difficult questions and support the efforts of researchers and leaders across the political spectrum to engage with voters in ways that address underlying anxieties, frustrations, and concerns, resulting in greater unity and understanding among an increasingly diverse America.

Advocacy for Good Governance

Type of Activity: Advocacy Grant.
Grantee: Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network, Inc.
Amount: Up to $150,000 in 2016 – 2017.

What is the Commission on Political Reform?
The Commission on Political Reform was launched by the sister organization of the Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network (the Bipartisan Policy Center) in 2013 to investigate the causes and consequences of America’s partisan political divide and to advocate for specific reforms that will improve the political process in a polarized atmosphere. The Commission proposed 24 recommendations to strengthen the electoral process, the process by which Congress legislates and manages its own affairs, and the ability of Americans to plug into the nation’s civic life through public service.  These reforms and solutions, championed by both ends of the political spectrum, include reinvigorating the central role of the congressional committee and reestablishing bipartisan interpersonal contact.

Why do we think this is a good idea?
We believe that bringing together a coalition of organizations to support bipartisan political reform can increase the likelihood and the impact of those reforms. BPCAN is uniquely positioned to develop and implement a strategy for this work because of its powerful voice in congressional bipartisan policy. They will promote an ongoing conversation about how to overcome political divides and make our government work better.

How is DFV supporting BPCAN?
Democracy Fund Voice approved a one year grant to the Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network in the amount of up to $150,000 in 2016-2017 to facilitate coordination with other organizations advocating for recommendations of the Commission on Political Reform and other congressional reforms.

“Show Up and Vote” Campaign

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Global Citizen
Amount: Up to $325,000 in 2016

What is the “Show Up and Vote” Campaign?
Global Citizen is a social action platform for a global generation that wants to solve the world’s biggest challenges by learning about issues, taking action on what matters most, and joining a community committed to social change. Over the last five years, millions of global citizens around the world took six million actions to solve the world’s biggest challenges. In 2016, Global Citizen’s “Show Up and Vote” effort will focus on increasing voter registration and participation among younger Americans through a series of events and concerts with high-profile artists.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?
Registration and participation among younger voters is historically low, and Democracy Fund Voice believes Global Citizen’s “Show Up and Vote” campaign is the kind of cultural effort that reaches and engages young people where they are — through concerts and events, and digital and social outreach.

How is Voice supporting the project?
Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to Global Citizen, which is managed by the Global Poverty Project, to support the “Show Up and Vote” Campaign in the amount of up to $325,000 in 2016.

Funny or Die’s “Everyone Votes”

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Unity of Purpose Project
Amount: Up to $250,000 in 2016

What is Funny or Die’s “Everyone Votes”?

Funny or Die’s “Everyone Votes” project is a nonpartisan cultural campaign using humor and celebrity to engage young people in pledging, registering, and planning to vote.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

Democracy Fund Voice believes our politics are most robust when young people are engaged, and too often civic education fails to spur young voters to go to the ballot booth. Built on a popular and proven comedy website, “Everyone Votes” is well-positioned to reach and engage Millienials and eligible Gen Z voters who are often ignored by traditional politics.

How is Voice supporting the project?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to the Unity of Purpose Project, the 501(c)4 arm of Funny or Die, in the amount of up to $250,000 to promote civic engagement in young adults through culturally relevant videos.

National Voter Registration Day

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: National Voter Registration Day
Amount: Up to $250,000 in 2016

What is National Voter Registration Day?

National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit effort to raise national awareness of voter registration deadlines in every election cycle. On September 27, 2016, NVRD will host hundreds of events in order to reach and register eligible Americans across the country.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

Democracy Fund Voice believes an engaged citizenry is central to a responsive republic, and our elections are at their strongest when more eligible voters punch their ballots. NVRD leverages an array of technology, partnerships, and culture to engage and register eligible Americans.

How is Voice supporting the project?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to National Voter Registration Day, administered by the Bus Federation Education Fund, in the amount of up to $250,000 for voter outreach and registration in 2016.

TurboVote Challenge

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Democracy Works
Amount: Up to $60,000 in 2016

What is the TurboVote Challenge?

The TurboVote Challenge is a project of Democracy Works, a 501(c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit voter technology organization. The TurboVote Challenge brings leading corporations and organizations together in a long-term commitment to increase U.S. voter turnout to 80 percent over the next decade.

Why do we think the TurboVote Challenge is a good idea?

Democracy Fund Voice believes technology and innovation offer new opportunities to increase engagement in our political systems. We also believe individuals, nonprofits, and business can be powerful partners in increasing participation. Through partnerships with major corporations such as Univision, Starbucks, and Spotify, the TurboVote Challenge has the potential to dramatic expand the reach of Democracy Works’ digital registration and reminder tools.

How is Voice supporting the project?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to Democracy Works of up to $60,000 to provide the TurboVote Challenge with additional media and network support.

Vote.org’s Mobile Outreach Strategies

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Vote.org
Amount: Up to $75,000 in 2016

What is Vote.org?

Vote.org is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that operates at the intersection of technology and democracy. The organization’s online tools – which allow registration, absentee ballots, and checking a voter’s status – leverage technology to help ensure Americans have the modern, responsive election system they deserve.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

Research suggests mobile outreach to eligible voters, combined with email outreach, can increase participation in elections. Vote.org’s efforts to expand the impact of their participation tools through additional outreach – and publish the results of their experiments – aligns with Democracy Fund Voice’s belief that strong voter turn out is best for our republic.

How is Voice supporting the project?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to Vote.org of up to $75,000 to support a civic engagement project that digitally provides registered voters with important logistical and scheduling voter information in the 2016 election.

NALEO Education Fund’s Voter Hotline

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: NALEO Education Fund
Amount: Up to $150,000 in 2016

What is the NALEO Education Fund and its Voter Hotline?

The NALEO Education Fund is the nation’s leading 501(c)3 non-profit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. NALEO Education Fund has operated 888-VE-Y-VOTA, the only year-round, live English/Spanish bilingual voter information and protection hotline in the nation, since 2004. The goal of the hotline is to demystify the voting process and help Latinos feel confident about casting a ballot.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

Democracy Fund Voice believes ensuring Americans from all walks of life can participate in our elections is key to our election system’s integrity. NALEO Education Fund’s nonpartisan outreach and provision of timely information on state election practices and procedures to Spanish speaking voters is one way to maintain confidence in the responsiveness of our political system.

How is Voice supporting the project?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to NALEO Education Fund of up to $150,000 to provide Spanish language resources to voters in the 2016 election.