EHS students and alumni tackle partisanship with Downballot Solutions


Art by Ellanor Splinter

Mia DiLorenzo, Head Staff Writer

Most high school students experienced the typical quarantine schedule: regular Netflix Party sessions and Disney+ marathons. Not the founders of Downballot Solutions—current and former EHS students Ananth Veluvali, Arvind Veluvali, Theo Teske, and Tanner Jones collaborated to form Downballot Solutions earlier in the pandemic, prior to the 2020 election season. Downballot Solutions, formerly known as Rally Together, is a self-described non-partisan organization specifically focusing on local races. “We knew that COVID-19 would act as the catalyst for the digitization of political campaigns, and we also knew that there was no non-partisan alternative. Things like paving your streets, filling your streets, and funding your schools shouldn’t be partisan,” co-founder Ananth Veluvali said. Veluvali referenced the fact that most Democratic Farmer-Labor candidates use NGP VAN and Republican candidates typically rely on NationBuilder for digital organizing and canvassing, leaving independent and non-affiliated candidates without many resources.

From June to November of 2020, Downballot Solutions worked alongside 14 campaigns in seven states to provide consulting services and data analysis for local races. The organization utilized existing public data and demographic numbers to establish an individualized campaigning approach for each of their clients. “We developed a software that we used in our campaigns during the first election cycle and used that stratified data to see voters they need to be targeting in order to meet their voter threshold,” Veluvai said. Using this software and the individual consulting opportunities, Veluvali states that Downballot Solutions saw a 93% success rate across their 14 campaigns.

Those 14 campaigns aren’t the only ones with their eye on the organization—several universities and financial service groups are recognizing the budding political consulting firm. Goldman Sachs declared Downballot Solutions to show great promise within the political technology industry, in addition to winning a Brown University venture prize initiative and acting as a runner-up for a Dartmouth College startup competition  

Linda Ji, a former candidate for the Woodbury City Council, saw Downballot Solutions as an invaluable resource during her campaign. A mechanical engineer by training, Ji had no previous experience as an elected official when she entered the race. “Most of the other candidates had support from the Republicans or the DFL; it was great to have somebody there that was able to talk to me about how campaigns work because I didn’t have any [prior] experience,” Ji said. Downballot Solutions often spoke directly with Ji to formulate her campaign strategies and coordinated specific canvassing actions that expanded the number of Woodbury residents reached.

Even after the 2020 election cycle, the organization isn’t planning on slowing down. Downballot Solutions is working with a number of candidates participating in special election races and providing data analysis along with political consulting. In Minnesota, candidates of special elections in Ely and Brooklyn Park are utilizing the digital services offered by the organization.