Aug 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Media giants launch voting efforts ahead of the election

Illustration of voter checkbook crushed by stars and stripes
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nearly all of the major network news giants are launching new voter initiatives ahead of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Media companies have a long history of using their wide reach to promote voting efforts in the U.S. But ahead of this year's historic election, they are doubling down on those efforts to ensure that changes to voting procedures due to the pandemic don't dissuade voters from taking part.

Driving the news: Rock the Vote has created an election center for WarnerMedia that allows employees and audiences to register to vote, check their voter registration status, and find out how to vote in their state, executives tell Axios.

  • The center will also allow users to access registration and absentee ballot request deadlines, receive COVID-19 election updates and reminders, learn about volunteer opportunities, and get information about the documents needed before heading to the polls and casting a ballot.

What they're saying: “We recognize the vital importance of participating in the process of Democracy in the United States, so together with Rock the Vote, we want to empower and enable our employees and audiences to exercise their rights,” said Dennis Williams, senior VP of corporate social responsibility at WarnerMedia.

  • "WarnerMedia has a powerful platform to reach and provide millions of eligible voters with the information and tools they need to cast an informed ballot in 2020," said Rock the Vote President Carolyn DeWitt.

The big picture: ViacomCBS's flagship youth brand MTV has long championed voter initiatives from the TV network side, including helping to launch Rock the Vote in 1990. 

  • This year, ViacomCBS has announced several voter initiatives, anchored mostly by MTV. It kicked off its biggest effort, "+1theVote," last November. 
  • Earlier this summer, ViacomCBS brands Comedy Central and MTV launched "Power the Polls," a national campaign to recruit younger, more diverse poll workers for the 2020 general election. 
  • MTV and Logo also announced a partnership with Trans Lifeline to support transgender voters in changing their government IDs ahead of the 2020 election. 

Other networks also announced new voter initiatives Monday.

  • NBCUniversal announced the launch of "Plan Your Vote," an interactive tool that provides a state-by-state guide to voting this year. The tool was built and is powered by the NBC News Data Graphics team, with data and information supplied by the NBC News Decision Desk and politics team. NBC News is also launching a robust marketing campaign to encourage Americans to plan their vote. 
  • ABC's flagship morning show "Good Morning America" published a state-by-state voter registration deadline guide on its website Monday. In July, ABC News launched an election map for ABCNews.com/ABC News app visitors to make their own state-by-state predictions. ABC News Digital will launch a new voter guide on how to vote this year, including a roundup of changes to voter rules and laws, next week.

The Spanish-language TV networks have also been pushing new campaigns to help motivate and educate their audiences on voting.

  • Telemundo, owned by NBCUniversal, announced in July a nationwide civic engagement campaign to inform and encourage the U.S. Hispanic community to participate in the upcoming elections. Telemundo and its TV stations will host national and local phone banks in partnership with national organizations to get out the vote, in addition to running PSAs and virtual community events about voting.
  • Univision in July launched "Vota Conmigo" ("Vote With Me"), a multi-platform campaign aimed at motivating eligible Hispanic citizens to register and vote. It will focus on digital voter registration tools and regional vote-by-mail options through a series of PSAs, virtual phone banks, town halls and special programming on Univision’s TV and radio networks and digital properties.

Be smart: Noticeably absent from the list of networks that have rolled out voter initiatives is Fox News. In October 2019, Fox rolled out a new election tagline, "Democracy 2020 – It’s in your Hands," which focuses on Americans and the choice they will be making in November, according to AdWeek.

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