Thousands of volunteers are writing random people on behalf of political campaigns
My neighbors got a postcard in the mail last week. This is not unusual. Your Vote Matters! it proclaims on the front, atop an American flag design. Also not unusual in October of presidential election years. What is strange is that the postcard was handwritten, by a complete stranger, who mailed it from the other side of the country.
Postcards to Voters was started three years ago right here in Georgia with five volunteers organized through Facebook. Their mission was to help Jon Ossoff, then Democratic candidate for US House, run what ended up as the most expensive House race of the 21st century so far. Possibly also the most expensive losing congressional campaign in history.
Now Postcards to Voters boasts over seventy-five thousand volunteers in every state of the union. Their volunteers “have written close to 8 million postcards to voters in over 200 key, close elections.” according to their website. Their mission now to send “friendly, handwritten reminders from volunteers to targeted voters giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast.”
So it was that Bonnie, a volunteer “writing from my kitchen table” in California, wrote a postcard to my Democratic neighbors. She encouraged my neighbors to “Vote for Jon Ossoff – Democrat – for US Senator.” Who they were going to vote for anyway but they still thought it was curious so they showed me.
Ossoff has a decent chance to win. But he probably won’t. While I don’t pretend to know much about Georgia politics yet, I do know something about polling. Ossoff is consistently trailing in the polls and has been for months. He has strong name recognition however not as much as his Republican opponent who is not only the incumbent but also cousin to popular two-term former governor Sonny Perdue. Given the state’s political genealogy, and from what I see here in rural Georgia, the Peach State is going Red in a big way.
Postcards to Voters is currently focused on multiple campaigns. From Georgia’s Senate race to unseating Alaska’s Congressman for all eternity, Don Young, to two Supreme Court seats in Ohio. (That should blow your mind, by the way. Ohio not only follows the American tradition of voting on positions that shouldn’t be elected offices in the first place, like judges, but they are also one of only nine states that elect Justices for the State Supreme Court.) They are also a visible symptom of the further decentralization of campaigns over the last few decades, exacerbated by the 2010 Citizens United ruling, as well as a strong demonstration of not only how important volunteer contributions are to contemporary campaigns but also the increasing engagement of partisan Americans.
“So much is at stake” wrote Bonnie. A lot of Americans feel that way. Which I guess is why thousands of them are out protesting and thousands more are sitting at their kitchen tables exhorting random fellow citizens to vote.
Thomas Brown is a history teacher and freelance writer. He runs The Swamp and is featured in Grunge, Quillette, Spiked, The Bipartisan Press, Human Events, among others. Follow him at his Medium page and argue with him on Twitter.
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