Knowledge is power, according to that poster on my third grade classroom wall. If you have additional questions, reach out and ask us.
What does creating a grassroots movement to expand vote by mail even mean?
It means getting each and every member of the progressive movement to become involved with the goal of ensuring that the voters who are at the greatest risk in this election -- both from COVID-19 and of being disenfranchised -- can vote by mail from the safety of their homes. We are not powered or driven by fancy consultants or political insiders; we are run by the activists and volunteers who want to fight for voter rights and beat Donald Trump this November. By donating just $25 you can pay for mail in ballot applications to go to 20 priority voters in targeted states. Or by signing up to volunteer, you can make calls or send text messages reminding these voters to fill out and complete their application, and how important it is for them to vote safely this year.
This is an organization where you can get involved with your time, money, and energy and see it magnified 1000x by the power of other passionate and dedicated individuals who want to ensure that the voters most at risk of not voting in this election can vote from home, with safety.
What’s the point of mobilizing people to vote by mail, aren’t state election officials just going to send out mail ballots, or at least applications, to everyone regardless?
Well for starters anyone who is guaranteeing you that state or local officials are going to send out a mail in ballot to every eligible voter probably also has some quality oceanside property in Colorado to sell you. No one is certain how election officials -- particularly those in states where Republicans control at least one branch of the state government -- are going to be able and willing to respond to this crisis. At a time when local governments are being deprived of basic funding, and consistently undermined by the Trump administration, we can’t sit back and hope that they will take care of this for us.
Additionally, past studies from political scientists have shown that sometimes when states switch over to voting by mail on their own, there is an initial decrease in turnout, particularly among low income and communities of color. Over time this effect is mitigated as voters get used to the new system, but we don’t want to take that risk or wait until 2022 for vote by mail to be effective in these communities. Those same studies show that this effect can be negated by sending repeat mail and having repeat contact with voters about how and why they should vote by mail. Vote From Home 2020 is building a grassroots team to do exactly that, so all our voters can safely turn out to vote this year, and hopefully in greater numbers than ever before!
Who are we targeting, and why them?
We are focused on voters in three initial states: Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. These states all allow any voter to request a mail in ballot without needing an excuse, but historically have very low rates of voters using this option (in Pennsylvania and Michigan in particular, no excuse mail in voting was enacted after the 2016 elections, meaning this will be the first Presidential election year when every voter can take advantage of it).
This means that if COVID-19 continues to force voters to stay at home for their safety as we approach Election Day, voters in all of these states will be in the position of having to figure out how to vote by mail while juggling a global pandemic.
As noted above, historically this problem disproportionality affects low income and communities of color -- which not coincidentally are the voters who are suffering disproportionality from the ravages of COVID-19 as well. We are targeting these voters who have this double risk -- from the dangers of COVID-19 and the problem of switching to a new system of voting. By sending them additional applications with pre-paid return postage, instructions on how/why they can vote by mail, and chasing those applications with calls and texts from grassroots volunteers, we can mitigate some of this risk, and ensure that voters in each of these critical states do not have to choose between their health and their right to vote on Election Day.
Why vote by mail at all?
Because it’s safe, convenient, easy, and did we mention you can do it from home while in quarantine or maintaining social distance without having to wear a mask? Several states such as Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah, and Hawaii conduct almost all of their elections by mail and have some of the highest voter turnout rates in the entire country. Voting by mail allows every voter the chance to get a paper ballot, carefully review their options in the election, and then fill out and return their ballot without risking contact with potential carriers of COVID-19.
You can vote from the comfort of your house and return your ballot without ever having to wait in line or worry about polling place malfunctions on Election Day.
But what about the risk of voter fraud when voting by mail?
What risk? A comprehensive study by the Voting Rights Project of every election from 2000 to 2012, where just in the Presidential contests along almost half a billion votes were cast (so not even mentioning every Senate, Congressional, Gubernatorial, other races in between) there were only a grand total of 2,068 cases of alleged voter fraud, and of those cases only 491 involved absentee or mail in voting.
Less than 500 cases were brought out of over a billion votes cast. Put another way, based on current rates, a voter in the U.S. has a 6,414% greater chance of contracting COVID-19 than they do of having encountered an instance of absentee voter fraud. Seems like we have more important risks to focus on at the moment...
Voting by mail gives you a paper ballot, and a secure way of voting that can’t be disrupted by long lines or risk of infection on Election Day.
Should we be worried about the Postal Service going bankrupt though? Wouldn’t that mess up the elections even worse if more people are voting by mail?
Well we definitely need and would support reforms to ensure the longevity of the Post Office, but we have a couple of independent observations that make us believe more strongly in voting by mail than ever given the hardships currently faced by USPS.
1. We are getting our program going early, before the fall when the greatest burden will likely fall on local election officials and the USPS if we don’t act now. We want to start sending out our mail in ballot applications over the summer, so that people can receive and return them without overly taxing local governments and the mail system.
2. Our program directly benefits the USPS! Because we are paying for postage not only on all our mail in ballot application mailers, but also for postage on the enclosed return envelopes, we can do what we can to generate some much needed business for the USPS. It won’t be enough to solve their budget shortfalls on their own, but by supporting Vote From Home 2020, you can directly help support the USPS as well.
3. Moving more voters to vote by mail increases the pressure on Congress to take action and provide a long-term solution for the postal service. If voters rely on their mail delivery for access to the ballot box, then funding the post office is not just a civil issue, it’s a civil rights issue! We can help force Congress to take action on this by making this a constitutional issue as well -- fundamental to our most basic right to vote.
Aren’t other groups already promoting vote by mail? What’s the difference?
The difference is YOU! There are a number of great organizations this year supporting candidates or getting out the vote or running any number of other programs designed to beat Donald Trump and Republicans across the country in November. However, we are the only group taking a grassroots approach to promoting vote by mail. We are laser focused on recruiting and mobilizing an entire movement of people just like you, across this country, with the shared goal and vision of ensuring that all these voters have the chance to vote and vote safely in 2020. We work directly with a union printer and our grassroots team to design and mail out our applications, and then run our follow up chase program once they land in voters’ mailboxes. This keeps our costs down and lets us be transparent with you on what your time and money brings to our organization.
The difference is that we count on you, and we are here to give you the chance to make a difference where it is needed most.
Can I really make a difference though on my own?
100%. This is what we’re all about -- providing an opportunity for YOU to make a difference. Whether you donate $25 to send out 20 mail in ballot applications to voters, or sign up to make calls to ensure those applications are filled out and returned, or share about us on social media, or all of the above, we are a direct impact model organization. That means that YOU can have a direct impact on what we do, and on this election.
Your contribution will make the difference between a voter getting a mail in ballot application and having to decide on Election Day whether they’re going to risk catching COVID-19 by going to vote in person. Your time making calls or sending text messages will determine whether someone actually fills out that application, or whether it gets buried on the coffee table until it’s too late. As we said, this organization is about YOU, and we exist to provide an opportunity for you to make a real difference in the election.
We are not helpless. We are not alone. We are part of something bigger than ourselves -- our communities, our movement, our country. Each one of us can be part of this and help make change happen. So sign up today, and let’s get to work!