How to Engage in Battleground States without Ever Leaving Your Home
By Scott Eliasof
I love living in a blue city in a blue county in a blue(ish) state. Most of my friends and neighbors agree with me on many critical issues. And I feel well represented on the local and state level. But if you want to help maintain control of the US Senate, the House, and the White House, you have to engage with people in battleground states. This means reaching out directly to voters in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc. The good news is you can do this easily, on your own schedule, with as little or as much time as you have.
The gateway I use is the website https://www.mobilize.us/. This site (and similar sites like Indivisible and Vote Forward) is a portal to Democratic Party and progressive organizations across the country. Here you can sign up for phone banking, text banking, letter writing, workshops, canvassing, community events and more.
On a weekly basis, I look at my calendar, figure out if I have any time to commit in the coming week. I then go to the website where I can filter on date, type of activity, and location (if it requires being somewhere in person, otherwise I leave that filter blank). Then, I find the activity that appeals to me and sign up. Mobilize will send you a Zoom link and instructions before the scheduled hour of work.
Now is the perfect time to get involved.
The battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida all have their primaries in early August. There is a big push to get everyone registered, get them absentee ballots (where appropriate), ensure they know their voting rights (including new voter ID laws in some states), then get everyone out to the polls to vote. There will be a similar push in September to get everyone registered and voting for the November general election.
Midterms tend to have low turnout and tend to favor the party not in the White House. We need Democrats and progressives everywhere to turn out the vote. So much is at stake, and if Republicans take over either the House or the Senate in 2022, President Biden will have little opportunity to get anything more done before the next presidential election. Please help whenever you can. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you are already plenty busy, but even a couple of hours can make a big difference.
Here are a few activities that you can do from your dining room table, your office, or even your bed:
To me, this is the most impactful activity. All you need is a computer (you won’t be texting using your phone) and a couple of hours. If you’ve never done it before, the organization will train you via Zoom, and they generally use Slack to answer any questions that come up. (They will teach you how to use Slack as well, if you need help). There’s a script for the first text message, and in a couple of hours you can easily send 2,000 or more. (Pro tip: make sure you have a comfy place to sit and good posture.)
Once you send out a few hundred texts, you will start getting answers. Canned responses are provided just a click away, but you can head to the Slack page if you have questions. Sure, you will get the occasional f-bomb, but I find most people are friendly and appreciative for the information. Please note that organizers would appreciate it if you can be available for the next 24-48 hours to respond to delayed responses – this generally only requires a few minutes every few hours during waking hours.
Want the more personal touch? Are you good at the art of persuasion? Then phone banking may be more your thing. You will need a computer and a phone, though you will not be calling using your phone number. Most people don’t answer the phone, and fortunately the software handles that for you. You spend a good deal of time waiting to talk to someone, but then you go through your script and follow-up questions, enter details into the computer, and you’re done. Again, you will get on Zoom with the organizers beforehand, and they will be available for anything that comes up.
Pro tip: sign up for a free Google Voice account beforehand so you can text people links to websites with details about voter registration, polling locations, etc. Google Voice will let you do this from a temporary phone number, not yours.
Letter & Postcard Writing
Love to decorate? This might be for you. Organizers will give you a script, along with a list of names and addresses, then you write and send postcards or letters. In the case of postcards, you may have to buy your own blank postcards. For letters, simply download a letter, add a few of your own lines at the top, and print. (You’ll need a printer and a computer for letters). You will be expected to pay for paper, envelopes, and postage. Some organizations may help defray the cost of postage if you are financially unable to do so. Then decorate your cards and letters with stickers, colored pens, highlighters, etc.
The beauty of this is you generally have a few days to finish, so you aren’t under immediate time pressure. Once you’re done, you let the organization know you’ve sent off all your cards or letters. This is sometimes as easily as clicking on a QPC code with your phone.
Pro tip: I’m told letter writing is about 2-3 times more impactful than postcard writing. If you can afford the extra postage, I recommend letter writing.
Helpful links to national action sites:
Vote Forward: https://votefwd.org/
Scott lives in SW Portland and is an active Democrat.
To get involved in local campaigns and causes, and to be more involved as a Multnomah County Democrat, visit the MultDems Volunteer page.