The 2020 election is finally behind us. Getting us to the point where every vote was counted, and more people voted, took a massive year-long effort by the ACLU of Minnesota.

Thanks to help from our wonderful volunteers, the ACLU-MN reached 50,000 people with information about voting and voting rights during the 2020 election season. Thanks to your hard work, Minnesota reached nearly 80% voter turnout!

Getting to that point meant facing challenges we’d never experienced before. The COVID-19 pandemic made it critical for as many people to vote ahead of time as possible, to keep voters and election workers safe. But at the same time, the need for more people to vote early was complicated by the mail slowdown orchestrated by the Trump administration. We also saw unprecedented, appalling efforts to make people doubt the integrity of our election process.

ACLU-MN organizer Ismael Dore hands out swag to a volunteer.
As if those challenges weren’t enough, everything was further complicated by an 11th-hour court ruling that could have rendered up to 399,000 absentee ballots invalid. We rushed to let people who still had absentee ballots know that they needed to vote in person or drop their ballots off, rather than mail them. We used everything from texts to social media to a digital billboard on a truck that drove all over the Twin Cities to get the word out.

Despite these barriers, Minnesota again topped the nation for record turnout, and we are proud to have played a part in that.

Run Like Harriet's Anika Bowie and Lashonda Roberts canvas voters for the ACLU-MN.
Our overarching goal was to make sure Minnesota’s voters better reflected our state’s population. We focused on increasing voter turnout among historically disenfranchised people including BIPOC voters in the Twin Cities Metro and 20,000 people who finished up their felony probation in the past four years, plus new citizens  in southern Minnesota.

With groups threatening to send armed guards to suppress the vote, we also ramped up efforts to increase voter education, recruit people to monitor the polls, and help staff the Election Protection Hotline.

Thanks to strong support from 129 volunteers, our results included:

  • Texting 37,000 people, Black and Latinx voters from Minneapolis and Greater Minnesota.
  • Making more than 45,000 phone calls, about half to people with a prior felony conviction, and half to Black and Latinx voters.
  • Sending a mailer to 22,000 people about their voting rights and eligibility now that they’re done with felony probation.
  • Hiring Run Like Harriet to knock on more than 9,000 doors and drop voting rights cards on more than 15,000 vehicles and hot spots including Black or African immigrant businesses.
  • Talking to more than 1,600 people while doing door knocking, ensuring people had a plan to vote.
  • Running print and radio ads in a number of local BIPOC-owned/run newspapers and radio stations.
  • Running digital ads and engaging voting rights content on our web page and social platforms, as well as commissioning local artists of color to create beautiful voter empowerment posters that were hung up around the Twin Cities.
  • Creating and handing out 41,000 voting rights brochures and pocket cards in English and Spanish.
  • Watching for polling place issues with poll monitors, plus attorneys helping staff the Election Protection Hotline.

Voters told our volunteers they were grateful to receive voter rights information in a non-partisan way that ensured they had everything they needed to vote.

Two high school seniors organized more than 20 high schoolers to hand out voter education materials and register people to vote. Even though they couldn’t vote yet themselves, they wanted to do their part to encourage others.

And this volunteer says it all: “I was so nervous about the election, and volunteering on Election Day made me feel so much better. I could see that everything was going okay and knew I was helping to protect voting rights.”

Thank you again to our wonderful and dedicated volunteers. You helped increase turnout and ensure that every vote was counted.