2020 Election Campaigning (from Robert Hubbell’s Newsletter)
If the 2020 election is fair, Democrats will win the presidency and both houses of Congress. Republicans know that their only hope of winning is to corrupt the election process by suppressing the vote. That prospect worries readers of this newsletter on a daily basis. We should be worried, but we must also act. That’s where you come in. As promised, I am highlighting opportunities for you to become involved based on recommendations from readers, but please do not rely exclusively on my list. There are opportunities for involvement in every community in America. Ask trusted friends and neighbors, contact your local Democratic party, call your city council representative, or contact your local voter registrar. We must support the electoral process from top to bottom.
The 2020 election will be determined by turnout. That is a universal truth about all elections. But it is especially true with respect to Trump’s reelection bid. He eked out a victory in the Electoral College by 70,000 votes in three states in 2016. Against that backdrop, Trump has two choices: increase Republican turnout or decrease Democratic turnout. He knows his base is shrinking, so he has only one option: suppress Democratic turnout. We have multiple tools to combat Trump’s plan. We can increase turnout by registering new voters, encouraging existing voters to show up on election day, and encouraging the use of mail-in ballots. We can also support efforts before election day to challenge efforts designed to make it more difficult to vote. We can show up on election day as volunteers or poll watchers. And, after election day, we can participate in legal challenges to efforts to discard or ignore votes that have been cast.
For those of you who have written to me over the last few months expressing worry, this is your opportunity to get out of your own head and do something that will affect the outcome. And to those of you who have written me over the last few months saying that I am not taking the threat of disaster seriously enough, this is your opportunity to show how seriously you are taking the threat of disaster. Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone to do something you have never done in your life? If you are already doing much, are you willing to do more? None of us must carry the weight of the election on our shoulders singly, but we each must do something. If we all do our part, the cumulative effect will be a tsunami.
If I omit your favorite organization from the list below, let me know and I will promote it later this week.
Many readers of this newsletter have joined PostCardsToVoters, which asks volunteers to mail handwritten postcards reminding voters in crucial races to vote. I receive uniformly positive feedback from readers who join PCTV. A similar organization supported by many readers is VoteForward, which has a goal of sending 10 million letters to voters before election day. The NAACP Civil Engagement Project needs volunteers to call or text Black voters, reminding them to vote. Color of Change is a racial justice movement that provides periodic action steps that members can take to promote social justice, including protecting voting rights.
Sister District is a grass-roots organization dedicated to flipping state legislatures from red to blue. Although it also engages in letter writing, it has a broader strategy that includes phonebanking, textbanking, and canvassing (not sure if the latter is still going on in light of the pandemic). Flippable.org follows a similar strategy of supporting key races in state legislatures. It also provides volunteer opportunities for phonebanking, texting, and canvassing.
Another way to become involved in local and national races is to join a SwingLeft chapter. SwingLeft is focusing on U.S. Senate races by creating strategic funds for close races, but also offers virtual volunteer events for collective action. I know that the 31st Street SwingLeft chapter covering DC, Maryland, and Virginia includes a number of newsletter readers. 31st Street Swing Left uses multiple strategies to support grass-roots groups that are working on expanding and encouraging voter registration and turnout in local, state, and federal races.
The League of Women Voters is a highly effective, multi-faceted organization with chapters across the U.S. Its mission includes education, registration, election support, voter access, and fighting voter suppression. Don’t overlook LWV; many readers belong to LWV and report positive and impactful experiences.
The Campus Engagement Election Project (CEEP) focuses on overcoming barriers to voting for college students. CEEP is bi-partisan, but increasing turnout among college students favors Democratic candidates. CEEP has a library of resource materials for college educators and administrators.
Several readers have recommended VoteRiders.org, which has a focused but effective strategy. VoteRiders’ mission to ensure that all citizens are able to exercise their right to vote by helping citizens obtain voter ID cards. State requirements for voter ID vary wildly and are sometimes purposefully confusing. VoteRiders provides resources, education, and training. The VoteRiders site is particularly helpful for college students living away from home. I recommend that you check out the VoteRiders’ website. Chances are high that you know someone who can benefit from its guidance.
NextGen America is working to turn out people under the age of 35 who are less likely to vote or who are not currently registered to vote. The NextGen website describes its strategy as follows: “Nothing beats in-person contact, and our teams are already on the ground across 11 battleground states having thousands of face-to-face conversations with the people who will decide this election. Organizers educate their peers on the issues at stake in the election, contrast the candidates’ stances on those issues, and get young people to pledge to vote for progressive candidates.” Help NextGen if you can.
Fair Fight 2020 is dedicated to protecting voter access across the U.S. Its strategy varies depending on state. I know readers have volunteered through Fair Fight as poll watchers and field organizers in special elections over the last year.
Win2020 provides a curated list of House and Senate candidates in close races where financial support can make the difference between victory and defeat.
If you are an attorney who is willing to provide volunteer legal services, I recommend checking with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which has a special Election Protection project. You can assist by answering questions from voters over the phone or by helping voters at polling locations. The ACLU also provides election protection. The ACLU website is a bit complicated to navigate, but follow the link to the “Take Action” page and connect with your local ACLU chapter. The Black Voters Matters Fund provides training for a one-day “Warrant Clinic” to help remove outstanding warrants and fines that create barriers to employment, housing, and voting.
In response to yesterday’s newsletter, a reader sent a note about the Blue Wave Coalition in Florida, which is dedicated to electing leaders who share progressive and democratic values. Florida is an important state in 2020 and beyond. Help turn Florida blue.