Non-profit

VoteAmerica

Website:

www.voteamerica.com/

Location:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Tax ID:

84-3442002

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2020):

Revenue: $10,766,084
Expenses: $10,306,435
Assets: $1,503,532

Type:

Voter Mobilization

Formation:

2020

VoteAmerica is a left-of-center voter mobilization group. It hosts information on voter registration, rules for absentee ballots, dates, and other items pertaining to the voting process on its website, as well as tools for making voting by mail easier. [1]

VoteAmerica claims that it has registered “about 20 million voters.” [2] After the 2020 presidential election and the riot at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, VoteAmerica announced that it was shifting its focus to combatting “far-right anti-democracy extremists.” [3]

VoteAmerica’s initial fiscal sponsor Democracy Builders Fund became embroiled in scandal when its founder, former Obama administration adviser Seth Andrew, was charged with stealing funds from his own charter school network in 2021. [4]

Background

Following a bitter split between Vote.org founder Debra Cleaver and its board of directors that led to the board stripping Cleaver of her role as CEO, Cleaver founded VoteAmerica in 2020. Cleaver took many of her donors along with her, and many, such as donor Adam Goldstein, stopped funding Vote.org. [5] Besides replacing Vote.org, VoteAmerica was founded to aid the vote-by-mail process in 2020 in order to ensure that there was not a decline in voter turnout due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [6]

Activity

For the 2020 presidential election, VoteAmerica introduced new online technology to let people vote by mail by uploading a photo of their signature, which the organization then automatically faxed to their respective election office. [7] VoteAmerica boasts that its research-driven campaigns have registered “about 20 million voters” and has the potential to register the 100+ million Americans who do not regularly vote. [8] [9]

It claims that “insurrectionists and far-right anti-democracy extremists” are attacking the United States’ election process “with over 400 bills presented or passed in 48 states” that allegedly aim to remove voting rights. To counter these efforts, VoteAmerica announced its “Democracy Fund,” a way for people to donate money to support its campaign against the so-called insurrectionists. VoteAmerica explained that it was shifting its attention away from simple voter mobilization efforts toward “the larger, years-long effort to protect and advance democracy.” [10]

In October 2021, VoteAmerica hosted a speaker series featuring former U.S. Attorney General and chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) Eric Holder concerning “voter suppression” and the 2022 midterm election. [11]

Funding and Prior Fiscal Sponsor

One of VoteAmerica’s initial investors was venture capitalist Ron Conway and his Conway Family Trust that had funded VoteAmerica founder Debra Cleaver’s previous voter mobilization groups. [12]

Democracy Builders Fund, a public-school funding advocacy group, [13] received a $312,107 loan in March 2020 from the Paycheck Protection Program, and then received a second loan for nearly a $1 million in May 2020. However, journalists discovered that the group had less than $400,000 in expenses during the 2018 fiscal year. The loan received in May was sent to the address that VoteAmerica would later use to incorporate itself. [14]

Cleaver has explicitly said that Democracy Builders fiscally sponsored VoteAmerica before it attained its own tax-exempt status. For a time, VoteAmerica’s roughly 20 employees received their paychecks from Democracy Builders. [15] In 2021, Democracy Builders’ founder and board chairman [16] and former Obama administration advisor Seth Andrew was arrested and charged with stealing $218,000 from a charter school network he founded to get himself a lower rate on a mortgage for an apartment in New York City. [17]

Leadership

Debra Cleaver is the founder and CEO of VoteAmerica. She has founded several voter mobilization groups in the past, including Vote.org in 2016, ElectionDay.org in 2018, Long Distance Voter in 2008, and Swing the State in 2004. [18] In 2016, she uploaded a video to her personal YouTube channel of her Y Combinator demo in which she showcased some of the digital registration methods used by her voting groups. [19]

Jordan James Harvill is VoteAmerica’s chief of staff. Before VoteAmerica, he worked for Vote.org, Nicole Yelich Strategies, and the San Francisco Democratic Party. VoteAmerica’s vice president of finance and operations, Daniel McCarthy, has worked for three presidential candidates, a congressional candidate, and various nonprofit organizations. [20]

References

  1. Homepage. VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/ ^
  2. “About.” VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/about/ ^
  3. “Democracy Fund.” VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/democracy-fund/ ^
  4. Lola Duffort, “A $1M PPP loan, a 500-acre property in dispute and a school in limbo: The Marlboro saga continues.” VTDigger, May 28, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://vtdigger.org/2021/05/28/a-1m-ppp-loan-a-500-acre-property-in-dispute-and-a-school-in-limbo-the-marlboro-saga-continues/ ^
  5. Theodore Schleifer, “How one of America’s most important voting rights groups plunged into chaos just before it was needed most.” Recode, April 28, 2020. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/4/28/21239380/vote-org-debra-cleaver-silicon-valley-fight-absentee-mail-voting-coronavirus ^
  6. Taylor Hatmaker, “Vote.org founder launches VoteAmerica, a nonprofit using tech tools to help Americans vote by mail.” TechCrunch, May 13, 2020. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/13/voteamerica-launch-debra-cleaver-vote-org/ ^
  7. Taylor Hatmaker, “Vote.org founder launches VoteAmerica, a nonprofit using tech tools to help Americans vote by mail.” TechCrunch, May 13, 2020. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/13/voteamerica-launch-debra-cleaver-vote-org/ ^
  8. “About.” VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/about/ ^
  9. “Team.” VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/team/ ^
  10. “Democracy Fund.” VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/democracy-fund/ ^
  11. “VoteAmerica Speaker Series featuring Eric H. Holder Jr.” DoNYC. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://donyc.com/events/2021/10/21/voteamerica-speaker-series-featuring-eric-h-holder-jr-tickets. ^
  12.  Taylor Hatmaker, “Vote.org founder launches VoteAmerica, a nonprofit using tech tools to help Americans vote by mail.” TechCrunch, May 13, 2020. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/13/voteamerica-launch-debra-cleaver-vote-org/ ^
  13. “Democracy Builders.” Idealist. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.idealist.org/en/nonprofit/2ee0690d36874c958924af4463193b01-democracy-builders-new-york. ^
  14. Lola Duffort, “A $1M PPP loan, a 500-acre property in dispute and a school in limbo: The Marlboro saga continues.” VTDigger, May 28, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://vtdigger.org/2021/05/28/a-1m-ppp-loan-a-500-acre-property-in-dispute-and-a-school-in-limbo-the-marlboro-saga-continues/. ^
  15. Lola Duffort, “A $1M PPP loan, a 500-acre property in dispute and a school in limbo: The Marlboro saga continues.” VTDigger, May 28, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://vtdigger.org/2021/05/28/a-1m-ppp-loan-a-500-acre-property-in-dispute-and-a-school-in-limbo-the-marlboro-saga-continues/. ^
  16. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Democracy Builders Fund. 2019. Part VII, Section A. ^
  17. Bob Van Voris, Chris Dolmetsch. “Ex-Obama White House Adviser Accused of Charter School Theft.” Bloomberg, April 27, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-27/ex-white-house-adviser-stole-from-charter-schools-u-s-says. ^
  18. “Team.” VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/team/ ^
  19. debra cleaver. “YC Demo Day Pitch.” YouTube, August 23, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax4jfkhJGfs. ^
  20. “Team.” VoteAmerica.com. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.voteamerica.com/team/ ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2020

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $10,766,084 $10,306,435 $1,503,532 $1,043,882 N $10,594,587 $171,300 $197 $45,583

    VoteAmerica

    1270 GROVE ST APT 301
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94117-1541