When We All Vote’s 2022: Party At the Polls

How community voting celebrations helped us turn out 12,000+ voters who would have stayed home.

When We All Vote
5 min readSep 26, 2023

If “Did Not Vote” had been a candidate in the 2020 presidential election, they would have won the race with a decisive 278 electoral votes, carrying 24 states. Despite a record voter turnout rate of 66% — the highest since the election of 1900 — there continues to be a disproportionate number of people of color and young people who do not cast a ballot. In 2022, When We All Vote’s Party at the Polls program sought to mobilize the “Did Not Vote” bloc.

By offering a vision of voting that is accessible, inclusive, and fun, our voter turnout program empowers local partners to host a party in their neighborhood and increase voter turnout. Since 2016, When We All Vote and Civic Nation have been pioneers in researching the impact of these events and have worked with hundreds of volunteers and community partners around the country to drive turnout through local, nonpartisan voting parties.

Background on Party at the Polls

Party at the Polls aims to turn voting into a community celebration for voters of all ages. The parties are designed to turn the voting experience into a memorable community celebration, increase turnout, and reinforce the importance of voting. In 2022, When We All Vote provided local volunteers and community organizations with grants to throw parties in their communities with the following parameters:

  • Fully nonpartisan in branding
  • Free and open to everyone
  • As close to an early vote location or ballot drop box as possible
  • Include free food and entertainment
  • Have a robust outreach plan to invite community members

When We All Vote’s goal was to empower event hosts to facilitate organic events tailored to their communities’ interests and lean on experienced local leaders who know how to engage their community. Hosts received When We All Vote merchandise, ranging from t-shirts to yard signs, and the information they needed to host a party.

In 2022, the Party at the Polls program had 210 parties, 90 partners, and more than 14,000 attendees. Community hosts partnered with local organizations, schools, and celebrities to make voting fun for everyone. Standout events from 2022 included:

  • Quince To The Polls: In San Antonio, Texas, When We All Vote partnered with Harness, Jolt Initiative, America Ferrera, and more for a celebration of Latino voter engagement featuring a parade and festival with live music, food, art, carnival games, vendors, and young people in the community wearing their quinceañera dresses.
  • Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Squad Challenge: As a part of When We All Vote’s VOTE LOUD HBCU Squad Challenge, students at 20 schools hosted parties for their campus communities.
  • Black Bikers Vote: More than 100 bikers with Black Bikers Vote joined When We All Vote for a motorcycle ride stopping by drop boxes and polling places in Philadelphia. The community ride ended with a party featuring food, music, and entertainment to celebrate the West Philadelphia community voting together.

In addition to the work done by community hosts, When We All Vote reached out to nearly 2 million voters of color and voters under the age of 35 with a party invitation and early voting information through letters in their mailboxes, text messages, and phone calls. We also worked with more than 40 celebrities and influencers, including When We All Vote Co-Chairs Kerry Washington and Steph Curry, to share information about Party at the Polls on their social media platforms.

The Results

During the 2022 early voting cycle, our data showed that voting celebrations continue to be a powerful and effective method for encouraging turnout, especially among young people and people of color.

To test our hypothesis, we partnered again with Dr. Donald Green, Burgess Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. We conducted a randomized control trial (RCT) to examine the impact of 69 parties held before Election Day 2022 in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Michigan. Our analysis reinforced the incredible impact of these parties and found an estimated increase in turnout by 2.7 percentage points among young voters and voters of color.

So what does all this information mean? Through about 70 events, When We All Vote’s Party at the Polls program turned out an additional 12,000 voters who likely would not have otherwise voted. This number doesn’t include increased participation from more than 130 other parties across the country that were not part of this experiment.

Additionally, we found that the parties had an even more pronounced impact on several important demographics. Parties in North Carolina increased turnout by an average of 4.5 percentage points, which we attribute to the state’s history of early voting. Parties were also more impactful with registered voters over the age of 25. This group saw an average increase in turnout of 3.3 percentage points. Lastly, we looked at individuals voting in their first midterm at their address and saw a 4.7 percentage point increase in turnout for this group.

These findings provide essential guidance for the future of When We All Vote’s Party at the Polls program for 2024 and beyond. More work needs to be done in states like Pennsylvania, which has a less established culture of early voting, to increase the impact of these parties. We’re also looking at ways to reimagine some parties to be more relevant to Gen-Z voters since our findings showed parties were less effective with this important group of potential voters.

Voting parties continue to show promising potential as a strategy for closing the voter participation gap. Election after election, we continue to find strong evidence that parties are effective at increasing turnout and are scalable across the country. The use of trusted voices to reach out to their friends, families, and neighbors has always been a part of the success of Parties at the Poll. By creating a culture of community and celebration surrounding civic engagement, we continue to reinforce the idea that voting can be a community event that is as enjoyable as it is important.

There are no off years in democracy, so join us as we stand up for voting rights. You can get started today by registering to vote, (weall.vote/register), texting three friends (weall.vote/check), or by taking action (weall.vote/take-action).



When We All Vote

We’re shaping the promise of our democracy through voter registration and participation. Because #WhenWeAllVote, we can change the world. WhenWeAllVote.org