We Aced the Midterms!

By Sara Clark, Senior Partnerships Associate, TurboVote

At Democracy Works, we love ambitious goals. We set them individually, for the TurboVote partnerships team, and for Democracy Works. So when my colleague Emily and I sat down to brainstorm what 2018 could look like for the TurboVote higher education program, we thought about goals (we also thought about puns...) and set our sights higher than they’ve perhaps ever been set for our program.

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100,000 TurboVote signups across our community of more than 130 higher education partners. That’s what we wanted. It would mean 100,000 students, many of whom would be brand-new voters, mobilized in some way for the midterm elections: by registering to vote, requesting an absentee ballot, or simply signing up for our election reminders to have the empowering information they need to get to the polls.

Achieving this would mean good news for 2018 turnout, but would also make voting a part of the civic identity of a new generation. By engaging their students, our partners would instill positive voting behaviors into the identity of so many young voters, an impact which could create an entire cohort of lifelong civic participants.

Lofty, yes. Achievable? Well...we hoped so.

Our numbers rose steadily as the year rolled on, but by mid-August, we had not even cracked a quarter of our goal at 25,000. Steeling our nerves with hopes of what could happen when students returned to campus in September, we stayed positive and embarked on our key tactic for quarter three of the Ace The Midterms campaign: a weekly “TurboVote Tips” digest of small-but-impactful strategies sent to each implementer’s inbox. From advice on sending an all-campus email to creating a competition, these were some of our best high-impact ideas, and we hoped partners would take us up on them when students started streaming back to school.

Once September kicked into gear, we realized something—we should never underestimate the energy of college campuses. Not only did our community of partners blow past 25,000 signups, but we crossed the 75,000 mark by October 3!

Trepidations assuaged, I was giddy with excitement by mid-October. Though we typically only looked at these counts every two weeks, I’ll admit that I couldn’t help pulling the numbers on a somewhat daily basis to see just how close we were. So when we came into the office on Monday, October 15... Well, by now, you know what happened!

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WE DID IT! Our partners across the country had collectively engaged more than 100,000 students to help us reach our most ambitious goal yet. It was an A+. 100%.

Sometimes it’s difficult for us to judge the success of our work, as so much of what we do is unquantifiable. For example, it’s hard to ascertain just how many students we help vote by having a check-in call with a partner or after leading a webinar for a subset of campuses. I have no doubt that we’ll continue striving to be the best support crew we can be in the years ahead and iterating on what works best for student voter engagement. But this year, the results speak for themselves.

TurboVote partners, without a doubt, Aced The Midterms, and we are beaming with pride.

Brandon Naylor