Nonprofit Encourages Voting through Free Pizza at Crowded Polling Places

Back in action for the 2020 elections, Pizza to the Polls sent 10,820 free pies to 611 polling places in 41 states for the 2018 midterms.

A national non-profit wants to make sure voters show up for statewide caucuses and primaries even when the lines are long, so they’re using pizza to encourage turnout and participation in the democratic process.

According to a TV news station in Las Vegas, Pizza to the Polls, based in Portland, Oregon, delivered 368 free pies to early voters for the Nevada caucuses and kept the pizzas coming on Saturday. A total of about 100,000 Democratic voters turned out for the caucuses, held over a four-day period. The majority of them, nearly 75,000, voted early, while about 25,000 voted on Saturday.

Click here to learn more about Pizza to the Polls.

“Voting shouldn’t feel like you’re at the DMV,” Pizza to the Polls cofounder Scott Duncombe told KSNV. “Like, ‘OK, I have to go and deal with this terrible, messy bureaucracy.’ It’s something we should come together to do.”

Pizza to the Polls got its start in 2016 after the founders learned of long lines at early voting locations around the country. “In a few short hours, we came up with a name, a Twitter handle, a website and a plan: Give pizza to the people. And give people watching at home a way to help,” the nonprofit’s website explains.

this photo shows pizzas delivered by Pizza to the Polls for the Nevada caucuses
Pizza to the Polls delivered hundreds of free pies to voters in Nevada’s caucuses last week.

As a goodwill gesture to encourage voting, the organizers sent free pies to polling places in Ohio, Florida and Illinois. By the morning of 2016’s general election, they had raised $10,000. To make sure they could spend all that money on pizza, they recruited volunteers to deliver 2,368 pizzas to 128 polling places in 24 states. “By the time the dust had settled and the ballots were cast, we had raised $43,307 from 1,728 donors, and over 25,000 slices of pizza were consumed,” the Pizza to the Polls site states.

For the 2018 midterm elections, Pizza to the Polls had quintupled its efforts, dispatching 10,820 pies to 611 polling places in 41 states and raising $426,622 from 10,885 donors.

Voters stuck in long lines can tweet at Pizza to the Polls with their location and a request for pizza. The organization orders the pies from local pizza shops, and volunteers handle the delivery.

Pizza to the Polls accepts donations from the general public on its website. Every $20 donation gets one pizza sent to polling places, although donating for multiple pizzas is also encouraged.

Duncombe told KSNV that the organization isn’t just about getting a free slice—it’s about instilling a sense of American camaraderie and patriotism in voters. “You pass it to your neighbor, and it creates this community sense of ‘we are all in this together, doing this together,’” he said.