What have you been doing to Get Out the Vote this Election Season?
As someone who lives in a swing state, I’ve put a lot of energy into mobilizing my community this year. I’ve been organizing a small group of friends, neighbors and acquaintances to take actions together, and we’ve done lots of letter and postcard writing to voters this year. I’ve also been phone banking at least once a week, mostly to reach voters in Pennsylvania and inform them of their options for voting, since a lot has changed due to both recent legislation and due to COVID.
Back in August and again in September I co-led Hand in Hand’s for a “Talk Out the Vote” webinar where we practiced using HiH’s GOTV conversation guide. Out of that program, I made a list of people in my network that I pledged to talk to about voting, and I’ve been using the guide to help facilitate those discussions with neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family members, including those I am not as close to.
Have there been any moments talking to voters that have surprised you?
I’ve been surprised at how open people are to talking about voting, sharing their voting plans, and asking questions. While I’m a bit of a political fanatic myself, I’ve been shy in the past about approaching people to discuss voting for fear of seeming too partisan or like I have an agenda. I’ve learned that people don’t always see it that way, and in fact, there is so much confusion around voting in this country, that people are relieved to know they have friends or family members with whom they can discuss it.
I think there’s a prevailing narrative that we are so “divided” and can’t have these types of conversations without them getting heated — but if you are respectful and meet people where they are, then you can have really meaningful conversations, even with folks who don’t share all the same beliefs as you.
This election will be like no other. How are you preparing yourself and your community for what happens in the days and weeks following November 3rd?
I’ve been trying to casually drop into conversations and social media posts that we may not know the results of this election on Nov. 3 – and in fact, it’s very likely that we won’t. When doing this, I try not to be alarmist or freak people out, but rather drop it in as a “matter of fact” and always add that, “it’s OK, the most important thing is to ensure that every vote is counted.” Since people know I’m following things very closely, they will often come to me with their fears and concerns, and I try to project calm and confidence in the integrity of our system, instead of panic.
But I also want to be realistic, and let folks know that it’s up to us to ensure that our voices are heard and to help protect the vote for ourselves and our fellow citizens. I’ve been sharing ways to get involved in election protection — even something as simple as putting some hotline numbers into your phone so you’re prepared. It’s very easy to feel powerless, so I am trying to focus on the things I can do to help get out the vote and protect the vote, not the things that are out of my control.
How did you get involved with Hand in Hand?
I met a friend in my neighborhood who shared my interests in political activism, and she connected me to Hand in Hand. At the time, I was employing both a childcare provider and a housecleaner in my home. I appreciated the resources that Hand in Hand offered to help employers navigate things like setting up contracts and handling difficult conversations with domestic employees. The overall mission of Hand in Hand really resonated with me, as did the community it provided, so I was inspired to become a member and help spread the word about the organization to other members of my community who were in similar situations.