Progressive donor group announces $59M vote-by-mail campaign
Image via AP.

Vote by Mail
Way to Win funneling money to Florida, other battleground states

A network of deep-pocketed progressive donors is launching a $59 million effort to encourage people of color to vote by mail in November, a step many Democrats view as crucial to turning out the party’s base during the coronavirus pandemic.

A nonprofit arm of the donor network Way to Win is working with philanthropic organizations including the Ford Foundation and George Soros’ Open Society to raise the money. The network has already donated $50 million this cycle, which has largely gone to groups in battleground states including Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona.

But the group says more is needed because the coronavirus — which has led to a shortage of poll workers, contributed to long lines and forced the closure of some polling sites — could alter the outcome of November’s presidential election.

“We need to meet the urgency of this moment … we need everyone to keep their foot on the gas pedal,” said Nicole Boucher, a senior adviser to the group’s nonprofit, Way to Rise. “We’re challenging others and our partners in the sector to help fill critical funding gaps for communities of color, who have long been under-resourced in philanthropy.”

They are in good company. A crush of well-funded groups on both sides of the political divide has seized on the issue.

Though a key segment of the Republican electorate — older voters — has long relied on absentee voting, some in the party view broader access as a threat and have voiced worries that mail-in ballots are more susceptible to fraud. That includes President Donald Trump, who tweeted last month that it will lead to “RIGGED ELECTIONS!” despite casting his own ballots by mail.

Democrats, meanwhile, have argued for increased funding and broad adoption of mail-in voting.

Already a fierce battle is playing out in courts, where Democrats have notched a series of victories in recent years that have made it easier to vote. A network of conservative organizations allied with the Federalist Society recently joined the fight.

The efforts by Way to Win will be focused more on outreach and education. While people of color have embraced voting by mail in some states, that often isn’t the case in some key battlegrounds, group officials said.

Their aim is to fund organizations that already have a presence in these communities to educate voters on ways they can cast a ballot. They also plan to fund poll watchers to combat any efforts to suppress turnout among black and brown voters.

Way To Win, which was founded after Trump’s 2016 victory, presents itself as a progressive alternative to established Democratic organizations. It is largely funded by a network of women, including Susan Pritzker, a member of a prominent Democratic family that derives its fortune from Hyatt Hotels.

African Americans are the backbone of the Democratic Party and were critical to Joe Biden securing the party’s presidential nomination. But the group says black voters have too often been neglected when it comes to private philanthropy.

“It’s critical that donors and the philanthropic sector step up” and “correct a huge gap in philanthropic funding among communities of color,” Pritzker said.

By conducting broad outreach, Way to Win hopes to harness the energy that has been present in protests nationwide over racism and the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

“Philanthropy has an obligation to invest in grassroots organizing and organizers leading the charge on racial justice, reproductive justice, and voter protection,” said Karen Grove, a Way to Win donor who is also chairperson of the Grove Foundation, which gave out $17 million in grants in 2017 and 2018.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Carl

    June 18, 2020 at 8:41 am

    In typical left-wing fashion: “stuff ‘them ballot boxes.”

  • Sam

    June 18, 2020 at 9:30 am

    I’m glad Democrats are belatedly tackling this issue-it will take everything we’ve got to counter the other side’s cheating and stacking the deck in their favor for years.

  • Carl

    June 18, 2020 at 9:52 am

    No, Sam. It’s just a question of “the other side” having taken sensible, workable positions on the issues of the day, that voters agreed with. Admittedly, the current administration leaves a great deal to be desired on many fronts, many of which can be dealt with by the judiciary when the time comes. However, to grant power to the likes of Mr. Biden who has not a clue about much of anything except how to do weird things is more frightening. Likewise for Mr. Obama who lacked even a basic understanding of what it is to work for a living and who learned from and was supported by radicals who wish(ed) to overthrow the underpinnings of our system of government (Saul Alinsky, George Soros).

    I suppose that you also support allowing felons to vote before they have completed their sentences by paying restitution, fines, and related costs? One can only wonder which side would benefit from that.

  • Tjb

    June 18, 2020 at 10:27 am

    I call BS on you Carl. Voter suppression is a strategy of yours and the right . You state that voters agree with sensible workable position and a majority of Floridians voted giving ex felons the right to vote. Why are you denying the voice of the voters by adding more conditions ( restitution, fines, and related cost) after the fact? Are you telling me that my vote doesn’t count because I am “the other side”? Finally, show me the the proof that the left wing stuff the ballot box … and don’t give Me a one off example.

  • Carl

    June 18, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Tjb–Thank you for your reply. The statute regarding allowing convicted felons to vote applies to those who have completed their sentences. The scope of that includes the payment of fines, costs, restitution, and other financial obligations. The Governor requested an advisory opinion on the issue last year because politicians and others either did not like the requirement or did not understand what seemed to be clear wording. The Supreme Court determined that the wording was clear so as to include the financial elements of their sentences. A summary of the ruling is reproduced below:

    FSC-OPINION: We answer Governor DeSantis’s question by stating that it is our opinion that the phrase “all terms of sentence,” as used in article VI, section 4, has an ordinary meaning that the voters would have understood to refer not only to durational periods but also to all LFOs imposed in conjunction with an adjudication of guilt. We express no opinion on any question other than the narrow one presented to us. It is so ordered. (filed 8/9/2019)

    • Tjb

      June 18, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      The Federal Judge shot the 8/9/2019 filing down last month. He essentially called the payment piece a Poll Tax.

Comments are closed.


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