If Tom Paine’s words stirred you yesterdayjoin the party Tuesday night to write letters and help save democracy.

Vote Forward‘s platform helps you send letters to voters in key places.  You select from a menu of options . . . want to write to low-propensity voters in North Carolina? to Hispanic Democratic-leaning voters in Florida? . . . you adopt 5 or 10 or 20 voters . . . and then download and print out their letters, adding a brief handwritten note to each.

Do the work whenever it’s most convenient; the letters sit ready to be mailed on dates that are chosen for maximum impact.

In high turnout elections, it’s been estimated that generating just one net incremental vote can cost as much as $1,500 or more.  Yet in 2020, Vote Forward’s letter writing program generated net new votes at just $14 each — mainly because volunteers contribute their labor and the cost of postage and envelopes, so the organization’s small budget went a long way.

“We can rely on this $14 estimated cost per vote with some confidence,” writes one fellow donor I respect. “Vote Forward conducted a rigorous randomized controlled trial — registered in advance with the Center for Open Science — to measure their impact, and they retained the well respected Analyst Institute to review their results. Analyst Institute replicated and endorsed their conclusions. They observed that every 100 letters sent generated 0.8 votes that would otherwise not have been cast. (In lower salience elections, Vote Forward turnout effect has historically been even larger, between 1-3 percentage points.)  So the 17.6 million letters sent to prospective voters by over 200,00 volunteers yielded about 126,00 votes from an overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning population, mostly in key states like Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona with tight margins. Even if you think they’re making some aggressive assumptions — and I believe if anything they’re conservative — few programs are in the same cost effectiveness ball park.”

(VF’s creation story can be found here in The Atlantic.  Founder Scott Forman personally wrote 1,000 “please vote” letters to a curated list of Alabama voters ahead of the US Senate race that sent Doug Jones to DC instead of Roy Moore. It was so effective, he institutionalized the model.)



Comments are closed.