The past few months showed us just how fragile democratic electoral systems can be. Even here in the United States—perhaps especially here—democracy and the ability to vote is not a given. It’s something we must actively strive to protect. Democracy isn't a piece of paper; it's something that people enact, and believe in, together. Regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum, it's democracy that enables us to live together, work together, and achieve together, despite differing opinions on policy.
At Twilio, we believe democracy depends on the fundamental ability of every eligible voter to easily cast a ballot. In a society where you can hail a ride with your phone, you should be able to vote just as easily. In a society where you're rarely more than a mile away from a bag of Doritos and a cola, your polling place should be just as close. In a society where more households have Amazon Prime than voted in 2018, we have work to do.
That means ensuring fair and equal access to the polls, and doing everything possible to make voting easy, obvious, and accessible. Yet legislation being proposed in 47 states across the U.S. may prevent voters from having that fair and equal opportunity to vote. We made a commitment to become an antiracist company, which includes working toward equity in our voting laws. These legislative efforts run counter to our beliefs.
More immediately, the laws that passed in Georgia, where Twilio has offices, may have a profound impact on eligible voters’ and Twilio employees’ right to vote freely. We must demand better and actively work to support voter rights and our democracy.
Twilio is taking three key actions to do this. We’re calling on business leaders, employees, and the wider community to encourage others to support voting access, fund organizations increasing voter participation, and provide tools to increase voter engagement and empowerment.
1. Encourage others to support voting access.
- We encourage employees and business leaders to urge their elected representatives to take action to guarantee fair voting access for all. Tools like Call Congress (1-844-USA-0234) connect you directly with your congressional representatives through a single phone call. We also encourage Twilions and others to sign up for TurboVote.org to ensure they and their families are registered to vote and receive accurate voter information.
- We stand with leaders like Kenneth Chenault, former chairman and CEO of American Express, Kenneth Frazier, chairman and CEO of Merck, and others opposing legislation that would restrict any voter from casting a ballot. Twilio has also signed the Civic Alliance’s nonpartisan commitment to equality and democracy, alongside more than 200 U.S. companies. We are engaging leaders across the political spectrum to join these efforts.
- Twilio provides paid time off to make sure employees have the flexibility to get to the polls. We also grant every employee 20 hours of paid volunteer time, and organize volunteer campaigns so employees can leverage their talents to help get out the vote (GOTV) for nonpartisan causes. In 2020, 24 percent of Twilions dedicated their time to voter mobilization efforts, including helping Woke Vote and Black Voters Matter Fund get out the vote in historically marginalized communities, sending letters encouraging voter registration with Vote Forward, and staffing a voter support line with Democracy Works on election day.
2. Fund organizations working to increase voter participation.
- Twilio is launching an employee donation matching campaign up to $200,000 to Black Voters Matter Fund, which aims to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities by supporting effective civic engagement, and The New Georgia Project, a non-partisan effort to register and engage the rising electorate in Georgia.
- This builds on the $700,000 we’ve granted to organizations like Democracy Works, Protect Democracy, Black Voters Matter Fund, Woke Vote, and MomsRising, that are doing essential work to mobilize and engage voters.
3. Provide technology, tools, and resources to increase voter engagement and empowerment.
- Twilio provides communication tools to support and promote people raising their voices to elected officials. Key organizations supporting voting rights and voter access use Twilio, including Democracy Works, VoteAmerica, State Voices, and more.
- We promote best practice guides on how to empower, engage, and mobilize voters so organizations working on this issue can do it more effectively.
- We launched Voices for Democracy in 2017, to advance discourse between people and elected officials, and ensure decision-makers understand and reflect the people they represent. Through similar initiatives to drive voter registration, connect constituents to officials, and navigate changes in the voting process, we’ll continue to help leading organizations use simple communication tools to empower voters.
There's a popular narrative that Democrats gain and Republicans lose from more voter turnout. Yet in 2020, record voter turnout disproportionately benefited Republicans. Voter participation isn't a partisan issue—it's our only means of ensuring our government reflects the will of the people.
Companies like Twilio need a well-functioning democracy to thrive. We need wise policies, reflecting ideas from both sides of the aisle for a prospering employee base and customer base. As an American company with a global footprint, we want America to continue to lead the world through unprecedented global health, prosperity, and trade. The source of our strength is our democracy. So no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, we must all do our part to reinforce the electoral process and ensure the freedom and fairness of future elections for all Americans. Let’s work together to continue strengthening our democracy.