Oprah Winfrey Network Launches Election Initiative "OWN Your Vote" (Exclusive)

Oprah Winfrey
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey

The bipartisan registration and get-out-the-vote campaign aims to provide tools and resources for Black women overcome voter suppression in the November election.

Oprah Winfrey is really leaning into the upcoming election, putting the power of her cable network behind a new registration and get-out-the-vote initiative armed to empower its large audience of Black women.

The aptly titled OWN Your Vote, which kicks off in earnest Friday, is a bipartisan campaign that partners with national and local grassroots and voting rights organizations to provide tools and resources for Black women to vote in the November election and arm their communities to do the same.

"We find our nation on the precipice, a true tipping point," said Winfrey. "Our audience has a powerful voice. I am proud to be a part of this movement that will create the change we want to see for our country."

OWN Your Vote comes at a time when Americans are grappling with the COVD-19 pandemic, calls for racial justice, and unprecedented obstacles to voting in federal, state and local elections. Recent primaries illustrated examples of voter suppression across the country — with voters waiting in hours-long lines, only to be turned away, in largely Black districts in states such as Kentucky and Georgia. The Trump administration has also been vocally opposed to mail-in ballots, despite the dangers of in-person voting during a pandemic, with the president going so far as to suggest delaying the election in a July 30 tweet.

"COVID-19 and the racial justice movement have highlighted the need for urgent policy reform to balance disparities that exist regarding affordable health care, systemic racism and racial discrimination," said OWN president Tina Perry. "We are proud to announce this important bipartisan social initiative that supports and empowers Black women to use their voice to face the issues in America they find paramount this election season. When she votes, she influences elections, and it has never been more critical to use OWN's wide-reaching platform to ensure our core audience has the tools needed to register and cast an informed vote this fall."

OWN has partnered with dozens of organizations, including the NAACP, Color of Change and the ACLU, and target markets for the initiative include battleground states with a high concentration of OWN viewers: Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Ohio.

To help inform the campaign, OWN conducted a political impact tracking study between November 2019 and February 2020, interviewing a nationally representative sample of 800 Black women of voting age. The study identified key issues affecting Black women in America and determined that affordable health care and racism/discrimination are the two most relevant issues to Black women this election season. Three out of four respondents said they feel these issues are "very important" when deciding who they will vote for in November. Protecting Social Security, access to quality mental health care, education, crime and the justice system, and the economy were also top issues.

Winfrey has not been shying away from political discourse this election year. She announced another project intended to shine a light on social justice issues earlier in the week, with Apple TV’s The Oprah Conversation series kicking off Thursday featuring an interview between Winfrey and How to Be Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi.

Watch the OWN Your Vote promo, featuring Winfrey, below: