Why I Like Writing Postcards to Get Out the Vote

(See the end of this post for a list of organizations that do GOTV postcards for Democrats and progressive causes.)

I’ll start right off with this: You should do whatever form of getting out the vote works for you. Texting, phone banking, talking to friends and family, posting about voting on social media, knocking on doors, donating money — it’s all good. The point of this isn’t to tell you you’re doing it wrong and should do my way instead.

I’m just excited about this method, and I want to share my excitement. And I think some other people might also like doing this — people who don’t ordinarily do GOTV work.

I don’t have to talk to anyone. This is the big one for me. Postcarding is the ultimate GOTV method for cranky introverts. (Texting is another good option, but even with that you generally have to text people back if they reply.)

I can bank my time. A lot of GOTV methods can only be done in the lead-up to the election. But I can do postcards weeks, even months, ahead of time. You can start now if you like!

I can do it on my own schedule. There’s a limited window during the day for calling, texting, or knocking on doors. But I can write postcards at two in the morning. I can write them for ten minutes while I’m waiting for my water to boil. I can write five a week, or twenty a day. I can power through them like a buzzsaw, or drop in and out like a butterfly. It’s totally up to me.

I can do it when I’m doing other things. I like postcarding when I’m listening to podcasts, or half-watching TV. Of course this will vary for different people: our brains all work differently, and not everyone can multitask this way. But I often have trouble sitting still (psych meds plus election-year anxiety). For me, postcards are like a fidget toy.

I can do it solo or socially. I can write postcards all by my lonesome, with only the cat for company. I can do it with a friend. I can do it sitting at a cafe. I can organize postcard parties. There are lots of options for social interaction levels.

I’m not disrupting anyone. This was pointed out to me by an organizer at Postcards to Voters. He said that phone calls, knocks on doors, even texts, all interrupt people. That’s not a terrible thing — life is full of interruptions — and again, this is not at all a dis on other GOTV methods. Do the method that works for you! But he personally likes postcards because people can read them at their leisure, when they feel like dealing with their mail. I like that too.

It feels friendly. I like imagining someone picking up their mail, sorting through a bunch of bills and ads — and seeing a pretty postcard, with a picture of flowers or something, handwritten in multi colors, from a volunteer who cares whether they vote. (Note: You don’t have to write postcards in different ink colors. I just like doing it. It makes writing more fun, and it feels more personal.)

Some of these advantages apply to other GOTV methods as well. And postcarding does have downsides. (The big one is cost: you usually have to buy your own postcards, and you always have to buy your own stamps.) Again: If you’re already doing GOTV work and have a method you like, keep doing it! But if you’re not already doing GOTV work, or you want to add another method to your repertoire, you might try this out.

Here’s a list of organizations that do GOTV postcards for Democrats and progressive causes:

Postcards to Voters
https://postcardstovoters.org/

This is my go-to. They do special and local elections as well as bigger national races. Downside: Getting addresses can be a little fiddly. Email [email protected] to get addresses — their texting system is temporarily disabled. You can also contact them with Slack.

Activate America
https://www.activateamerica.vote/postcards

They do postcard campaigns for several states and campaigns. And they’re easy to get addresses from quickly. Downside: Their scripts are often a little long. You may need to get postcards with a fully blank back (here’s an example).

Postcards to Swing States
https://www.turnoutpac.org/postcards/

Good for postcard parties. Scripts are usually short, and addresses are in a format that’s easy to print and read. And they sometimes supply their own postcards! As of this writing (April 25 2024), they’re supplying postcards as well as addresses and scripts.

There’s one more organization I haven’t used but have heard very good things about:

Reclaim Our Vote/Center for Common Ground
https://www.centerforcommonground.org/postcarding

This org is focused on getting out the vote for people of color. The only reason I don’t use them is they want you to print out addresses on Avery labels, and we’re not set up to do that.

Have fun!

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Why I Like Writing Postcards to Get Out the Vote
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2 thoughts on “Why I Like Writing Postcards to Get Out the Vote

  1. 2

    Lisa: Yes, there is research on this, and yes, it’s effective. I’ve written about it:

    https://the-orbit.net/greta/2024/01/02/getting-out-the-vote-what-works-best/

    Quick summary: Many methods of getting out the vote are effective; none is a magic wand. Which method to use (postcards, phone calls, texting, door-to-door canvassing) depends on whether you’re an individual or a campaign organizer, and on your own skills and capacities. Postcards are very much comparable to other methods, especially when looked at in terms of votes gotten out per hour spent. And with all of the methods there’s a long-term effect: if you get someone out to vote in an upcoming election, they’re more likely to vote in the next one.

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