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    Civic Engagement: Election 2020

    We’d seen record fire seasons across the US West and a hurricane season so active that authorities ran out of letters to name storms. We’d watch a national reckoning on racial justice begin, swiftly followed by a conservative backlash. We knew our future was on the ballot in the US elections.

    So along with our affiliated-but-separate 501(c)(4) organization, the Climate Reality Action Fund, we launched our largest and most concerted civic engagement campaign in a decade. Recognizing the power of young people and BIPOC voters to play a critical role in the election, the Climate Reality Action Fund ran a three-phase campaign to enlist, engage, and activate these constituencies in the most important election of our lifetime.

    Phase One: In-Person Events – January–March 2020

    The Climate Reality Action Fund began work to register college students to vote, with organizers working on nine campuses in four key states, field operations active in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh, and national campus tour planned headlined by Vice President Gore.

    These efforts began strongly, with organizers collecting several thousand voter registrations and Vice President Gore and legendary environmental justice activist Dr. Robert Bullard together rallying students at Texas Southern University in Houston. Then the pandemic arrived, forcing us to cancel in-person events and pause field organizing.

    Phase Two: Voter Engagement and Education – April–August 2020

    With traditional organizing tactics off the table, we had to get creative. Creative meant the Action Fund partnering with influencers like Saad Amer, co-founder of Plus One Vote, and NRDC President – and former EPA Administrator – Gina McCarthy for online conversations with Vice President Gore to promote the practice of vote tripling and encourage audiences to ensure their friends, family, and colleagues register to vote. Together these events earned over 70,500 views and reached 266,000 people online.

    Creative meant using the power of Climate Reality’s email list, blogs, and social posts to educate audiences on how to register, the importance of vote by mail for democracy, and important timelines.

    Creative also meant going beyond our platforms and using online tools and peer-to-peer SMS messaging to empower our audiences to get their friends registered too.

    Phase Three: Voter Registration and Turnout – August–November 2020

    As we came to better understand COVID and how to conduct safe outreach on the ground, Climate Reality and Action Fund both supported a broad coalition of progressive organizations working to ensure all Americans could vote.

    To do so, the Action Fund opened five offices focused on registering and turning out BIPOC, young, and historically low propensity voters in North Carolina, with organizers knocking on doors and speaking to people on the street. Meanwhile Climate Reality organizers in Arizona and Nevada worked tireless to contact, register, and turnout voters in November.

    Your Vote Your World

    As part of this effort, on National Vote Early Day, October 24, Climate Reality partnered with EARTHDAY.ORG and the Hip Hop Caucus to host a large GOTV online program to encourage young people to vote. “Your Vote, Your World” featured important messages from Al Gore, fellow activists, artists, musicians, and cultural icons – such as Stacey Abrams, Bishop William J. Barber II, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dave Matthews, Kal Penn, Questlove, and more.

    The program aired live on Twitch and through partner social media channels, garnering nearly 350,000 views. We also partnered with the Hip Hop Caucus’s “The Year of Truth” campaign to help ensure audiences in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Michigan were able to vote amidst the COVID crisis.

    Special Election Turnout

    Finally, Climate Reality joined the coordinated voter registration effort in Georgia during November and December, to ensure all voices were heard in the special elections.
    We opened seven offices that ran for 17 days, from November 20 to December 6. We concentrated heavily on the Atlanta metro area, as well as more rural parts of the state. Our canvassers worked through voter fatigue and a smaller pool of unregistered voters (given the amazing work other organizations) to expand the electorate and still managed to collect 3,205 voter registration cards across 1,555 shifts. Collectively, our partners collected 21,000 voter registration cards through additional in-person efforts in a short period of time.

    Key Metrics

    Together, Climate Reality and Action Fund activists and organizers:

    • Made 2.2 million voter contacts.
    • Registered 79,666 voters.
    • Sent 1.3 million unique emails.
    • Sent 184,336 peer-to-peer messages.
    • Attracted 70,590 views of vote-by-mail and voter registration videos.