Six Days, Six Languages and One Historic Election: The Virtual U.S. Election Program

USEP 2020 • A Virtual Conference Case Study

Strategy | Platform Setup | Coaching | Production

1
Registrations
1
Countries

The Challenge

Every four years, the Arlington, VA-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) holds its U.S. Election Program (USEP), a multi-day conference that brings together leading elections experts to support accountability in the world’s democracies. IFES is an international, nonprofit organization founded in 1987, that reaches over 200 million people with civic and voter education in over 145 countries. As part of its commitment to adaptation, innovation and resilience in the wake of COVID-19, the 2020 USEP went virtual for the first time in its 33-year history. IFES knows a thing or two about event planning, but Virtual USEP 2020 required an event platform solution that could navigate the logistics of multiple languages, conflicting time zones, networking opportunities, social media integrations, contests, video forums, field reporting and live support. And We & Goliath knows a thing or two about … all of that.

Our Solution

We & Goliath helped IFES transform USEP into a thriving online hub that showcased USEP’s packed agenda of panel discussions from academic experts, a (state-level) Secretary of State, democracy think tanks and political organizers. Topics ranged from the impact of COVID on voter turnout to the role of youth activism in political movements. The Virtual USEP 2020 event lobby also included options for attendee networking, an immersive social media wall, an “Ask a U.S. Elections Expert” video forum, and the “This Is What Democracy Looks Like” photo and video contest, which encouraged visitors to upload media to be considered in one of five prize categories.

Results

The event lasted six days (October 27 – November 4), four of which had multiple sessions with different formats, including sponsored sessions from Microsoft, which presented its Defending Democracy Program and featured a speech by Microsoft president, Brad Smith. All sessions were broadcast live with real-time translations in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, French, Russian and Spanish. Attendees could submit questions in these languages that would be translated for panel moderators.

Election Day itself included expert commentary alongside live reporting from 5 different polling stations around the United States. With over 2,493 registrants from 130 countries around the world, Virtual USEP 2020 carried on a tradition and brought it virtual. Panel sessions were interspersed with custom-illustrated “Whiteboard” animated videos that addressed topics like Gerrymandering and the Voter Rights Act — all with the five language translations. Recordings of each day’s events, including their captioned translations, were posted on IFES’ YouTube channel to become the focus of virtual “viewing parties” internationally.

What We Did

01Speaker Coaching

02Graphic Design

03Accessibility

04Live Production

05On-the-ground Filming

06Live Technical Support

Whiteboard Videos

Our illustrator/animator, copyeditor, and voice-over artists collaborated on four animated topic tutorials, or “Whiteboard Videos,” that educated attendees on everything from the history of Gerrymandering to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These videos also engaged event viewers at strategic points between live segments.

Live Interpretation & Captioning

Six days of live panelists and keynote speeches with real-time translations in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, French, Russian and Spanish.

Schedule

The accessibility page featured the whole event schedule with translations for each session.

Social Wall

The event lobby featured a social wall, where attendees and post-event viewers could follow the conversation via a hashtag feed that included shared media.

Contest

Attendees were invited to submit entries in a photo & video contest, titled, “Show us what Democracy Looks Like.” Winner recognition was given across 5 elections-related categories.

Graphic Design

Custom campaign graphics for email and social media with custom sizes for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were created to maximize event reach for every session.

Interactive Electoral Map

The event lobby also included an Interactive Electoral Map that invited attendees to track electoral developments as votes were tallied state-by-state.

Sponsor Booths

Facebook and Microsoft helped sponsor the event and each were given a custom virtual booth to present their election security efforts.

Need Some Advice on Hosting An Online Event?

Let our online event experts help you decide which format and software is right for you, and how to attract the audience, speakers and sponsors you need to succeed.

Shopping Basket