Progressive strategist launches new group to expand digital outreach to voters of color

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A progressive digital strategist is launching an effort to register and mobilize voters of color. 

The Voter Formation Project was created at the beginning of the year by Tatenda Musapatike, a former digital ad specialist at Facebook who spent the last election cycle working for Acronym, a progressive nonprofit that builds digital infrastructure for progressive causes.

The new effort will be heavy on digital outreach to voters who have been increasingly important in Democrats’ success up and down the ballot. 

“We are focused on helping to expand the electorate, among these constituencies in three primary ways,” Musapatike told The Hill. “The first is to run digital ads and social media programming to help encourage and enroll people in the idea of voting, and then help them register to vote and ultimately make a plan to vote.”

Musapatike said community organizations engaged in voter mobilization will be able to use their platform for free to help build their digital strategies, while educating leaders of those groups about the best digital tactics and strategies.

“The products available to us and the platforms available to us are constantly evolving, so it’s really, really important for people who run campaigns to not be married to what they think might be the tried and true best practice … and to challenge assumptions that we make, especially based on how we communicate with different communities,” she said.

The Voter Formation Project boasts a $4 million budget, with half of that allocated toward its media efforts. It is laying out a goal of registered 500,000 new voters ahead of the 2022 midterms and spreading its programs to community-based organizations across at least 10 states. 

Its success hinges on a three-pronged strategy that will create programs “designed to increase voter participation among under-served and under-represented communities,” develop voter registration and mobilization technology and “expand knowledge about the efficacy of digital tactics for community-based organizations.”

While the group will provide its resources to organizations across the country, Musapatike said organizers on the ground will still take the lead in campaigns.

The new effort comes as Republican states across the country propose restrictive new voting reforms and rollbacks of popular vote-by-mail and early voting programs. In total, more than 250 bills have been introduced in 43 states that would restrict access to the ballot. 

Those efforts come after President Biden’s November victory, which was fueled by spikes in turnout by Black, Hispanic and Asian voters in key swing states like Georgia, Arizona and Michigan. 

Musapatike said the rollbacks did not play a huge role in her decision to launch her group but that the efforts will help “save our democracy.”

“I did not really factor in this current ridiculousness in terms of what folks are doing into my plans to roll out this organization. But what I definitely believe in, and I’ve been saying I don’t think it’s hyperbolic, is that this kind of work and making sure that people of all electorates are represented of all communities are represented in our electorate is what is going to protect and save our democracy,” she said.

“It’s work that’s going to save America and so I wouldn’t say that that was necessarily the impetus for the work but I would say that it definitely inspires a lot of the drive I have for this to be more successful.”

Tags Joe Biden Tatenda Musapatike Voter suppression in the United States Voter turnout

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