ActiVote’s 2023 Impact Report
ActiVote is on a mission to educate voters so that they can confidently participate in every election.
Over the past 4 years, we have received many qualitative indications that we are succeeding in our mission: we receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from voters who enjoy the functionality we provide, we have more candidates for office participating in our surveys than in any other political survey and we get continuous input from people in states all around the country, to help fill in any gaps they may spot in down ballot races.
In 2020 we did an analysis which indicated that voters DO vote more in the election immediately following their first usage of ActiVote. But the ultimate test to see if we are succeeding is quantitative: do our users actually vote more than they used to? And the answer, after a deep dive into voting records, is a resounding yes and more importantly we especially help previously low turnout voters become regular voters.
ActiVote’s Theory of Change
Our focus has always been on new and infrequent voters and how we can create a positive experience that advances them through the process of voting to create more super voters. We do this by applying a few key principles.
- Voters First : With everything we do, we ensure that voters are at the center of the process. We create features for the voter that help them feel more empowered and inspired to vote in every election.
- Civic Habit : The best way to ensure that we do something regularly is to make it a habit. And the best way to form habits is to create a daily routine and reward cycle. ActiVote is not here only for elections, but every day in between.
- Personal One Stop Shop : Democracy isn’t easy and it isn’t simple. Information can be found – if it can be found – in dozens of places. We aim to make ActiVote personal to the voter and as complete as possible to avoid the deterrent of searching for the information a voter feels they need.
Over the lifetime of ActiVote we have seen 41% of voters come back over time. Of the remaining 59% we have seen large sets of voters who sign up for election reminders return each moment they have a chance to vote.
Impact on Voter Turnout
We have measured the voting behavior of voters using ActiVote comparing their historical participation in elections to their post-ActiVote usage participation. For the purpose of this analysis:
- Low-Propensity voter is someone who had a historical participation rate between 0%-33%.
- A Regular-Propensity voter is someone who had a historical participation rate between 33%-67%.
- A High-Propensity voter is someone who had a historical participation rate between 67%-100%.
Our impact is greatest with low-propensity voters, however we do still see a substantial increase with regular voters. Overall interacting with ActiVote leads to a nearly 20% improvement in turnout!
Given our focus on low-propensity voters and the method we use to cater content to those who are either voting for one of the first times, it is clear that this approach is working to improve their turnout at the ballot box.
Note: You can see that for High Propensity voters (aka – Super Voters) who participate in nearly every election we do not substantially increase their turnout.
Impact on Turnout by Election Type
Different types of elections have historically seen different levels of turnout. Local and Special elections typically have the worst performance while the Presidential election typically has the best turnout. The 2020 Presidential election had the century’s highest voter turnout. 17M more people voted in 2020 than voted in the 2016 Presidential election.
ActiVote users already voted well in presidential elections (a 75% turnout rate historically), but still managed to increase that rate to an incredibly high 86%. While part may be caused by the overall record turnout in the 2020 presidential election, the ActiVote impact in other types of elections (e.g. local, special and primary) shows that ActiVote’s impact is consistently positive, independent of the historic turnout of that particular type of election.
Impact on Turnout over time
Now that we know that we can improve turnout for voters, the question is if the habit forming theory of change is working to ensure that turnout stays up over time. For that we looked at the 1st election for a voter after they started using ActiVote through the 9th election after they started. Making this distinction would help us determine whether ActiVote is a temporary fix, working only for one election, or creates a longer term benefit of higher voter turnout over multiple elections.
The gray thick line shows the average over the 6 types of elections. The conclusion is that on average, usage of ActiVote leads to an immediate average turnout increase of 19%. Then in the two elections after that first election, the turnout increase came in at 12%. For elections 4 and beyond the turnout increase remains steady at around 9%. Thus, this can be summarized as “ActiVote’s immediate impact is a 19% increase in voter turnout and a long-term increase in voter-turnout of 9%.”.
So what’s next
ActiVote is proud of the work we have done, but know that there is much more work to do. Turnout still needs to be improved in elections across the board. According to Unite America, in 2022, 83% of the U.S. House of Representatives was elected by just 8% of Americans. We have demonstrated a 13% improvement on these elections, but this means that increasing voter participation in primary elections has an outsized impact on the end results of the election so we will continue to focus here.
ActiVote does reach a diverse set of voters, but we will continue to focus on reaching diverse communities of low-propensity voters. We will do this through partnerships, local community groups and our own get-out-the-vote work.
Thank you to all of the voters who have shown up to vote in the past and to all of those who will continue to vote going forward. If you haven’t explored ActiVote yet, please give it a try!