A volunteer-centered progressive electoral outreach project founded in the wake of Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory in 2016, has blossomed into an effective national get out the vote organization with a proud record of success. Postcards to Voters, based in Georgia, recruits volunteers to write “friendly, handwritten reminders to targeted voters, giving Democrats a winning edge in close, key races coast to coast.”
From its first campaign on behalf of Georgia Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff in 2017, with the help of just five volunteers, Postcards to Voters has expanded to work with 75,000 volunteers in all 50 states who have written close to 8 million postcards to voters in over 200 key election campaigns.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with “Tony the Democrat,” the founder of Post Cards To Voters, who talks about how his group got its start, its involvement in the 2020 presidential election campaign, and the two critical Senate run-off elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will determine whether the Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate.
TONY THE DEMOCRAT: Our postcards are fully handwritten. We do not use printed mailing labels. We don’t send printed postcards to the volunteers where they just sign the bottom or add a sentence at the bottom. The entire message is handwritten and hand addressed. And we encourage the volunteers to use any appropriate postcard, including souvenir and travel postcards. Some people make their own. But the combination of the fully handwritten message and address along with the fact that the postcard itself is not one of these immediately obvious campaign mailers. You know you’re going through your stack of mail and you run across an 8 by 10 glossy with a photo of a candidate or maybe the opponent and headlines and all this graphic art on it. Most people nowadays are not really giving those too much regard. But then you get later in the stack of mail, you get this postcard and it doesn’t look like a campaign postcard and it’s handwritten to you and it’s not in an envelope.
So it’s easy to read. You don’t have to make a decision. Should I open this envelope from an unknown party? It’s a postcard. It’s like an open face sandwich. You know what’s inside. And it’s not a long, long letter. It’s easy and quick to read. We only write to Democratic voters. So we’re just doing a simple, fun, positive, Get Out the Vote drive. We’re not trying to persuade a voter on a postcard to change their allegiance, to jump parties, or to try to convince a new voter, a so-called swing voter. We’re not doing any of that.
That persuasion effort is important, but that should be done by the campaign with closer supervision of what’s being written, what’s being sent out. You know, those kinds of messages are really delicate works of art because you don’t want to accidentally trigger a Republican voter to be even more convinced to vote against your Democratic candidate. That would be ruining the point. And then you’re wasting the volunteer’s time and postage. So for our part, we only write to Democrats and it really is just a message to remind them to vote because a lot of these special elections, a down-ballot elections, runoff elections, the voters just are not aware of it. So that’s one reason. I think our postcards are effective. It’s that they’re authentic grassroots volunteer-driven messages.
SCOTT HARRIS: Well, Tony we’re almost out of time, but I wanted to ask this important question and that is, the eyes of the country are really focused on Georgia, where the winners of these two Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 will determine who controls the U.S. Senate for the next few years. Tell us a bit about your project here and what you have already been doing on this important set of races.
TONY THE DEMOCRAT: Well, certainly, we wrote for the candidates in the general election and we wrote for — at the time we were asked to write in support of Jon Ossoff. And so we did that. We wrote more postcards for him than we had for any other candidate in our history. And now for the runoff, we’re including his name and Rev. Warnock’s name, as well as Daniel Blackman, who’s running for public service commission. They’re all three going to be on the same ballot. They’re all three Democrats running against Republicans. We did one round where we wrote to everybody who had voted — every Democrat who had voted in the general — and we encouraged them to request an absentee ballot. The second round of writing was to everybody who had either not yet requested an absentee ballot and we were letting them know they could do that still, or they could plan to vote early in person. And then we recently changed the message as we were getting closer to the election date to simply just tell people, Plan to vote on Jan. 5. And we include voters of all voting habits, low-propensity Democrats, voters that are high-propensity, any age, any ethnicity. The point is a Democratic vote. It counts the same as any other Democratic vote. And so we work to get every Democrat out to the polls or to vote by mail.
For more information visit Postcards to Voters at postcardstovoters.org.