Detroit Votes 2020 (DV2020) was an integrated media and organizing campaign designed to generate a meaningful impact on voter turnout and voter registration in one of the country’s most critical electoral battlegrounds. The largest Detroit-focused comprehensive effort, DV2020 was officially welcomed by the City of Detroit as their partner in voter education. 


DV2020’s voter education efforts were broken down into three major buckets:

  1. The Satellite Vote Center Program, which informed voters of the first-time early vote options, namely the 23 satellite locations and 30 secure drop boxes in their neighborhoods;

  2. The Voter Registration Program, which utilized social pressure and layered communications tactics to drive voter registration and replace traditional face-to-face efforts; and,

  3. Universal messaging and visibility efforts focused on driving people to the website to find voting information regarding their voting options. 


The research-based messaging approach harnessed the credibility of trusted elected officials and the hype of the Governor and Detroit Pistons, the city’s beloved basketball team. The official validators included Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Pistons Coach Dwane Casey, Vice Chair of Pistons Sports & Entertainment Arn Tellem, and Pistons players Isiah Thomas, Ben Wallace, and Blake Griffin.


By focusing just on the City of Detroit, DV2020 successfully directed people right to the information they needed whether it was the exact name and address of their closest vote center or drop box, or the website page with the information to answer their question. The layered approach allowed for multiple touches and included elements of polite social pressure and excitement. 

The result? Detroiters took advantage of voting before Election Day, easing the concern over long lines and crowds in a city hit hard by the pandemic. Overall, the city saw a nearly 250% increase in absentee voting over 2016 and over 3,000 people committed to registering to vote in response to DV2020 contacts.