Nonprofits Launch Voter Initiatives As Election Draws Close

United Way Worldwide and People For the American Way Foundation have each launched an independent program geared toward informing and enabling Americans to vote. 

The new program from United Way Worldwide, Alexandria, Va., is its online Vote United Election Hub, which was launched in conjunction with BET, the National Urban League, National Voter Registration Day and When We All Vote.

The Hub offers individuals the ability to register to vote, obtain an absentee ballot, contact local election offices, verify voter registration and find polling places. The effort does not back a given political party or ideology. Instead, it advocates for civic participation.

“Voting gives individuals a voice in the vital decisions being made about the future of our society,” said President and CEO of United Way Worldwide Brian Gallagher.

“Civic engagement is at the heart of what United Way does, and today, more than ever, engaging people to vote and stay involved is fundamental to solving our most challenging problems and creating strong, equitable and resilient communities,” Gallagher continued.

The Hub is the latest in a series of initiatives under United Way’s United We Count United We Vote Campaign. During 2020, the United We Count United We Vote has boosted U.S. Census participation, offered training in digital organizing and grassroots mobilization and helped register new voters during National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 22. With its partners BET and the National Urban League, United Way was also part of the inaugural National Black Voter Day on Sept. 18.

Separately, People For the American Way Foundation, Washington, D.C., has launched a nonpartisan 15-state initiative to combat voter suppression and misinformation. That effort, Defend the Black Vote, seeks to combat efforts to disenfranchise Black voters in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The list of states might grow as the election nears.

Defend the Black Vote’s activities include regional tele-town halls aimed at voters in Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin. More than 1 million texts have been sent to eligible voters in several key battleground states, with a focus on increasing voting among Black men between the ages of 18 and 35. Potential voters are provided with details on how to check their eligibility and how and where to vote.

“This is probably the most important election of our lifetime and any attempt to silence Black voters is a threat to Black communities and all Americans,” according to Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way.

“For generations Black Americans have experienced some of the most intense and targeted efforts to systematically intimidate and prevent people from casting their ballots,” Jealous continued. “Our Defend the Black Vote campaign is a massive effort to help put an end to voter suppression and increase voter turnout in 2020.