We’re Texting in the Name of the Lord

9 mins read

The Lord may work in mysterious ways, but it’s pretty clear his flock at the Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta are fired up. Volunteers in the congregation are part of a nationwide team that’s texting a million voters in Georgia to remind them to vote.

This blog describes how NAACP Atlanta and Reclaim Our Vote are using low-cost apps to convert this volunteer energy to get-out-the-vote. You’ll learn:
– peer-to-peer texting works
– the types of voting related information sent by texts to Georgia voters
– cutting texting costs enables more voters to be contacted for less money


Friendship Baptist Church – Twenty-five slaves established their own independent church in 1862 during the Civil War which became the first autonomous African American Baptist congregation in Atlanta. The Friendship Baptist Church became a launching pad for educational opportunity, in providing spaces to convene for Morehouse College; and Spelman College. [Support Friendship Baptist Church]

NAACP Atlanta is part of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization with the mission to ensure political and economic equality and to eliminate racial discrimination. It aims to increase registration and voting and work for the enactment of municipal, state and federal legislation designed to improve the educational, political and economic status of minority groups. [Support NAACP Atlanta]

Reclaim Our Vote (ROV) is a campaign of the Center for Common Ground a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization. It empowers under-represented voters to fully participate in elections through voter education, find voting locations (vote centers, absentee ballot dropboxes and voting precincts), arranging for rides to the poll and more. [Support Reclaim Our Vote]

Volunteer texting campaigns

Volunteer energy is powerful, but first it has to be harnessed. ROV has over 20,000 volunteers engaged in tasks such as phone-bankingwriting post cards and texting. Volunteers like texting because they can it do based on their own schedule and it gives them an opportunity to interact with voters personally. ROV trains new volunteers on texting and provides them with an account to Text Per Cent which is configured with the text messages they should send and a list of people they should text.

Volunteers have to work quickly to process large lists like the 1m list in Georgia. ROV volunteers can text voters their closest early voting location based on their county and Zip Code. This lets volunteers provide helpful information to Georgia voters with a single keystroke. Volunteers can also text images (MMS) as such as the picture of a VoteRiders card which lists acceptable forms of Voter IDs in Georgia.

Peer-To-Peer texting

Peer-to-peer (P2P) involves a human rather than a computer program sending the text, so as to reduce spamming. Texting is widely used to send alert about all of kinds of things from your pizza arriving to your Uber ride getting close. Programmers rely on existing texting platforms that take care of sending and receiving texts. The platform takes care of the heavy lifting so the programmer can configure it to a specific application. It also reduces the cost and time to develop a new solution rather than building it from scratch. Text Per Cent for instance runs on the SignalWire platform.

The cost to send a text message is less than 1 cent/text message segment. This is public information and can be verified here. For a non-profit group small differences in cost make a HUGE difference and dramatically increase their fundraising burden. The Lord does not take kindly to those who would fleece his flock while they are doing the Lord’s work.

Peer-to-Peer texting programs involve a human being sending the texts.

Texting: the next generation

Voting can be difficult and confusing. NAACP Atlanta and ROV volunteers text voters information customized to them individually. The texts include both words, images, maps and phone numbers that can be called. They’re doing the Lord’s work in making sure that everyone has their say in elections.

VoteRiders provides voter ID education and assistance to all eligible voters. They equip voters with what they need to vote with confidence, knowing they cannot be turned away.

Voter ID Card
Voters are texted a picture of the VoteRiders card which describes acceptable forms of Voter ID in Georgia that they can also share with others.

Voter ID laws prevent millions of eligible Americans from voting. VoteRiders provides voter ID education and assistance to all eligible voters to address this crisis in our democracy. It equips voters with what they need to vote with confidence, knowing they cannot be turned away.

Absentee ballot drop box locations in Georgia.

Absentee ballot dropboxes
“Many Georgia counties offer Absentee Ballot Dropboxes for the January 5th runoff elections. Voters do not need a postage stamp to return their ballots at a drop box, but they must use a drop box located in their registered county. Other counties let voters return their ballots in person at their county Board of Registrations and Elections office. Ballots must be RECEIVED by 7PM on election day to be counted.” – Georgia Voter Guide

Use this App to find closest dropbox location.

Interactive map show early voting locations by county in Georgia.

Early voting location map
“Registered voters in Georgia can vote in person before Election Day. Early voting (sometimes referred to as advanced voting) can help Georgia voters avoid crowds or find a time to vote that’s better for their schedules in the weeks prior to Election Day.” – Georgia Secretary of State

This interactive map makes it easy to find the closest early voting location by county.

Reclaim our Vote uses chatbots to help voters with only a landline find their closest early voting location.

Find closest early voting location by phone. Poor, rural voters in Georgia without internet access or cell coverage are often disenfranchised because they cannot get the information they need to vote. This phone number created by Reclaim Our Vote, 678-679-2405 lets voters call from a landline phone to get the voting help they need from an automated chatbot.

The phone number is can be shared with others in rural areas, those lacking computers, the elderly and those with poor eyesight. Learn more about Reclaim Our Vote’s chatbot here.

SeeSay 2020 Georgia
See Something, Say Something enables voters to report obstacles they face while trying to vote. Reports are validated and then shared on a public dashboard and also escalated to voting rights groups, the media and social media influencers. Responding quickly to voter suppression is essential in order to eliminate it.

See and report incidents of voter suppression in Georgia from this link.

Take away

Check to see how your donations are being used? Both Bill Gates and Barack Obama stress the need for ‘Results based accountability‘. It’s your money – make sure it is used effectively.

Support groups like Friendship Baptist ChurchNAACP Atlanta and Reclaim Our Vote in their grassroots efforts to give every voter a voice.


“Open your eyes and look within: Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?
We know where we’re going; We know where we’re from.
Jah come to break downpression, Rule equality,
Wipe away transgression, Set the captives free.”
– Bob Marley

Image Credit: Marley Family
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Democracy Labs is a hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation that serves progressive campaigns and organizations at the national, state, and local levels.

Our focus is on long term, sustainable and affordable solutions. An approach that is longer than an election cycle, and isn’t purely dependant on volunteers, can enable more qualified candidates to run for office and for more issue groups to bring about positive social change.

Democracy Labs is a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

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