Dec. 7, 2020
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Wade Balkonis, AEM Grassroots Advocacy Manager

On the heels of a successful roll-out of the 2020 AEM Manufacturing Express, our nation was suddenly forced to follow stay-at-home orders, quarantine restrictions, and social distancing measures. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly thrown a curveball for many of us. But thanks to the innovative thinking of AEM’s Advocacy Team, we were able to quickly pivot I Make America’s flagship 2020 initiative from an in-person, cross-country bus tour to a digital campaign that engaged thousands of U.S. voters during the 2020 election year.  

Equipped to Vote, a first-of-its-kind digital get out the vote (GOTV) and education campaign, launched earlier this summer. Over the course of the initiative’s 13-week run, participants took thousands of actions that included a pledge to vote for candidates who support pro-manufacturing policies, educational videos and quizzes about infrastructure policy, trade rules, and issues affecting rural America, and social sharing to encourage friends and family to sign-up for the campaign. By completing each of the different actions, participants earned points towards weekly giveaways and the grand prize.  

One of our very own industry employees, Wendy K. of Terex, took home the grand prize – a four-day trip for four to Disney World! Wendy shared she’ll be enjoying that trip next year, post-pandemic, with her husband and her two sons. She told us, “Winning a prize for something to do with voting seems so in-line with the life I lead. From a young age, I have been interested in elections and learning about candidates and continue to remain engaged and share that love and interest with my own children. Equipped to Vote is one of the best non-partisan voter education campaigns I’ve seen.”  

While we didn’t have the opportunity to visit in-person with Equipped to Vote participants, we did successfully engage with voters from 49 states and the District of Columbia. This was the largest geographic footprint of any previous I Make America initiative in the program’s 10-year history. We were thrilled when new AEM member companies signed up to host Equipped to Vote micro-events either virtually or on the factory floor. Equipped to Vote also gave us the opportunity to engage with member companies who hadn’t ever participated in an I Make America event or program.  

After the campaign concluded on Election Day, we were blown away by participants’ excitement and engagement throughout the 13 weeks. Nearly 4,000 individuals signed up and pledged to vote for candidates who support pro-manufacturing policies. AEM member companies were excited to join in on the fun – 69 member companies participated. The participants collectively took 11,578 actions, and 178 of them reached or exceeded the 100-point threshold to be eligible for the grand prize. Their social share actions helped spread the word; 2,000 social posts had a potential reach of more than 660,500. That’s nearly the population of a congressional district!  

We made an impact in key battleground states on Election Day as Equipped to Vote participants headed to the polls to vote for candidates who support pro-manufacturing policies. Equipment manufacturers reside primarily in election battleground states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The impact on close races is clear in the data. For example, the race in Iowa’s 2nd congressional district was decided by six votes, and Equipped to Vote engaged with more than sixty participants in the district. The race in New York’s 22nd congressional district will likely be decided by just twelve votes, and six of its residents participated in the campaign as well. Equipped to Vote and its participants made all the difference.  

We couldn’t have done this without the support of our AEM member companies. AEM is grateful for the 69 companies who engaged in the campaign, sent messages through their Intranets, and put up flyers in their breakrooms. Across our engaged member companies, 85 micro-events (virtual or in-person and socially distanced) were held, with some companies engaging employees at multiple facilities. Against all odds, your support pushed us through the finish line. 

As always, you can reach out to me about any questions you might have about Equipped to Vote or any of I Make America’s initiatives.

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