Over the past several years, it seems that so many of the things about which we, as Reform Jews, care have been under attack. Gun violence is still the norm; Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and People of Color and immigrants are still under attack. All that is not to mention the attacks on the very fabric of our democracy.
What do all these things have in common? The best way to “fix” them, to move forward toward the sort of world we might actually like to have, is to vote. Not only is it imperative that each of us votes in the upcoming elections (and all elections), but it is also critical that voter turnout be as high as possible. The strength and power of our democracy lie in the participation of all its citizens. The higher the voter turnout is, the easier it is for folks to vote, and the more voices that are heard, the better for our democracy. This is why WRJ is working as a partner with the Religious Action Center (RAC) in the Every Voice Every Vote campaign—to turn out as many voters as possible—to make sure that all votes are counted and that all voices are heard.
Here are some effective ways for you to participate depending on your and your community’s preferences.
Postcarding and Get Out the Vote Video
Many WRJ members across the country have been sending postcards to voters for months urging them to vote. We know these postcards have a real, measurable impact on voter turnout in key states. As early voting is already underway in many states and the election is around the corner, WRJ completed one last major push, including postcarding as a group while on the Civil Rights Journey through Atlanta, Georgia, and Selma, Birmingham, and Montgomery, Alabama. The group completed and mailed well over 600 postcards to Georgia, postmarked from Georgia while visiting some of the key locations in the fight for voting rights and equality. Those images, experiences, and actions that make up part of WRJ’s new Get Out the Vote video can be viewed here.
Also, learn how to make your own voting plan and then share that plan with your community, clergy, and congregation and across social media to help ensure that we do our part and vote.
Phone banking is well established as a successful tactic to reach people and remind them to make a plan and vote. Even when we leave a message, we are getting people to think about their plans to vote. When phone banking with the RAC over the past few years, we expected a few hang-ups and wrong numbers. What we didn’t expect was the gratitude – people proud to share that they have voted every year for decades. Others were grateful to be reminded that they had to find their new polling place because of redistricting or a move. Talking to one person in a home or leaving a message impacts many potential voters. With phone banking, you log into a computer-based system, and then it routes the call to your phone with an auto-dialer, so there is no risk of exposing your personal phone number. There is a script that, as you click through each step, shows you what to say or do next. As each call is completed and logged in, you indicate whether you are ready for the next call. It takes a few calls to get into the rhythm, and then – smooth sailing. We enjoy being on a shared zoom call (muted) while everyone is making calls so that if a tricky situation comes up or someone doesn’t know how to log a response into the system, someone is always right there to answer questions and help you along. You can do as many calls as you have time for, and often can pick it up again at a convenient time for you.
It was so powerful to be a part of phone banking in Kansas before the abortion vote. When the results came in with unexpectedly high voter turnout and a huge victory for the protection of reproductive and abortion rights in Kansas – we could celebrate the small role we played in that real impact on real people’s lives. Now we have the chance to do it again For Every Voice, Every Vote phone banking and other opportunities to help get out the vote in the lead-up to the election on November 8, visit Every Voice, Every Vote.
It can seem intimidating to consider sending texts to strangers—certainly not something I ever considered before 2020. In 2020, I worked with the RAC and their partners in Colorado to text bank regarding a referendum on abortion rights. Text banking is both easier and simpler than I thought. First of all, you do not use your phone or your phone number. No text comes from or is received by your personal number. Secondly, the computer systems that we used are really easy. Of course, there was (and will be again) training, so that helped. Basically, you log onto a “portal,” sign in, and your list appears. You type in the text, click a few things, and off goes the text to 400 people. You can do it several times if you are up for that. Then you wait, and replies come into the portal. Depending on what the reply is (wrong number, take me off the list, I want to help, etc.), you send it off to the right person to be dealt with. There was even a special place to send the really nasty replies. It’s easier on your hands than postcards, reaches a lot of people, and it’s much less scary than talking on the phone. If we get the opportunity, we’ll be text banking this fall. Join us.
Let’s make a difference and get out the vote together.