Person

Scott J. Forman

Occupation:

Founder and Executive Director, Vote Forward

Lives:

Oakland, California

Scott J. Forman is a left-leaning political activist and software developer who is the founder and executive director of Vote Forward (Vote FWD), a Democratic Party-aligned voter registration and mobilization political action committee (PAC). [1] Vote Forward provides template letters for people across the United States to complete, sign, and send to registered voters who are unlikely to vote in target areas in order to increase Democratic voter turnout in competitive elections. Forman founded the organization as an experiment during the 2017 special election for United States Senate in Alabama, and it has since expanded to support races targeted by Democrats across the nation. [2]

Background

Scott Forman is a California native who graduated from Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, Forman worked at a variety of software companies, including Positive Energy and OPower, before founding OneRoom, a company that provides software for writing coaches. In 2017, Forman founded Vote Forward, which he currently runs. [3]

Vote Forward

While working in the electric and software utilities industry, Forman gained experience in direct mail campaigns, mailing letters to consumers to persuade them to decrease their energy consumption. Forman, a Democrat, became interested in testing the same process to help Democratic candidates win elections, running a trial experiment during the 2017 special election for United States Senate in Alabama in which Democrat Doug Jones narrowly won.

Forman mailed letters from his home to 1,000 voters in Alabama and compared the results to a control group of 6,000 voters who did not receive letters. Using public voter records, Forman found that the turnout among voters who received his letters was three points higher than turnout in the control group. Forman also conducted trials in subsequent special elections that found similar results, demonstrating that the letters produced higher results than other voter mobilization methods. [4]

During the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, Forman reported that hundreds of volunteers had signed up to receive letter templates and mailings lists, with the volunteers providing their own stamps. The 2020 effort let by Vote Forward has been dubbed “The Big Spend,”[5] with Vote Forward hoping that the organization will “channel the energy of restive, homebound Democrats” who fear that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost them valuable organizing power. [6] Forman has also claimed that the pandemic has helped Vote Forward to grow by expanding its base of volunteers. [7]

Vote Forward received criticism during the 2018 midterm elections for claiming to be bipartisan. In reality, the organization partnered with Democratic-Party aligned Super PAC Swing Left, which raised $10 million for 2018 Democratic candidates and used Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue to raise funds for the mailing initiative. The group focused its efforts on Republican-controlled districts that needed to flip in order for Democrats to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 and distributed candidate descriptions that were slanted in favor of Democratic candidates. [8]

References

  1. “Contact.” Vote Forward. Accessed September 29, 2020. https://votefwd.org/contact ^
  2. “Vote Forward’s Partisanship is Showing.” Capital Research Center. November 16, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020. https://capitalresearch.org/article/vote-forwards-partisanship-is-showing/ ^
  3. “Scott Forman.” Linkedin Profile. Accessed September 30, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottforman/ ^
  4. Berman, Russell. “A Throwback Way to Win a Pandemic Election.” The Atlantic. April 30, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/04/2020-election-letter-writing/610879/ ^
  5. Berman, Russell. “A Throwback Way to Win a Pandemic Election.” The Atlantic. April 30, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/04/2020-election-letter-writing/610879/ ^
  6. Berman, Russell. “A Throwback Way to Win a Pandemic Election.” The Atlantic. April 30, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/04/2020-election-letter-writing/610879/ ^
  7. Berman, Russell. “A Throwback Way to Win a Pandemic Election.” The Atlantic. April 30, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/04/2020-election-letter-writing/610879/ ^
  8. “Vote Forward’s Partisanship is Showing.” Capital Research Center. November 16, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2020. https://capitalresearch.org/article/vote-forwards-partisanship-is-showing/ ^
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