ideas42 takes steps to inoculate democracy against COVID-19 with the Safe Voter Playbook

New digital playbook offers evidence-based resources for election administrators and innovators to protect the vote and increase turnout by mail

August 6, 2020–New York: ideas42, the leading applied behavioral science nonprofit, today announced a new, digital and open-source Safe Voter Playbook to help officials and innovators protect and expand voter turnout in the United States as the nation seeks to adapt electoral procedures in the wake of a pandemic. The free tools contained in the playbook offer specific, actionable recommendations and resources grounded in behavioral science geared toward making sure voters feel safe, secure, and equitably served when casting their ballots.

With the onset of COVID-19 and the resulting deluge of information and misinformation, it is critical that officials design election systems that help expand turnout, maintain voter trust and confidence, and ensure equitable access to the franchise. Expansion of flexible voting options, such as vote-by-mail, must be created with voter behavior in mind. The Safe Voter Playbook draws on ideas42’s previous work using behavioral design to increase voter turnout across multiple states.

The tools in this digital playbook are intended for any and all with a stake in maintaining safe, secure and fair elections – election administrators, voting advocacy groups, mutual aid groups, and community organizations. Recognizing that officials have to move quickly in the coming weeks and months, the Playbook features easy-to-use guidance for election administrators and other innovators to plug into all aspects of the voting process, as well as important messaging that can be directly adapted for anyone engaging with voters about voting options in the upcoming election.

It starts with a voter communications checklist that presents the latest behavioral principles for strengthening all forms of voter outreach, helping voters understand, trust, and participate in new ways of voting. The playbook then goes deeper, providing more adaptive designs to solve the distinct challenges COVID-19 presents in the electoral process, including:

  • Getting absentee ballot request forms to voters when some of the traditional channels of reaching them are no longer available, such as messages on health information sites prompting individuals to make sure they protect their health in November by requesting a mail ballot.
  • Giving voters a greater sense of control over the security of their ballot after they send it through avenues such as interactive ballot-tracking.
  • A repository of customizable mailpieces and social media collateral, ready to download and put to work.

“Active participation is the lifeblood of a functional democracy. COVID-19 added another barrier to voter turnout,” said Omar Parbhoo, Vice President at ideas42 and a leader of the Civic Engagement team. “To fight back, we’re offering free tools, drawing from our behavioral expertise, to ensure that this year, millions of people don’t have to choose between exercising their right vote and staying healthy.”

The Safe Voter Playbook is part of ideas42’s broader commitment to creating a culture of voting and civic engagement in the United States. For more information, visit

About ideas42

ideas42 is a non-profit that uses insights from human behavior—why people do what they do—to help improve lives, build better systems, and drive social change. For more than a decade, we’ve been at the forefront of applying behavioral science in the real world. Our efforts have so far extended to 45 countries as we’ve partnered with governments, foundations, NGOs, private enterprises, and a wide array of public institutions–in short, anyone who wants to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives. For more, visit

Media Contact:

Mitra Salasel