Long Distance Canvassing: a modest idea for the safe states

Election 2004 | Access/Network
My parents, who have volunteered on numerous political campaigns over the last thirty years, attended their first “Meetup” in Tarrytown, NY, at Horsefeathers on US-9. As the campaigns instructions for meetup are not very concrete (“discuss the issues, plan local actions, and build networks of people… or any other action your group wants to take.”), the Tarrytown group discussed the issues and came up with some action that they’d like. Here’s a plan that my Dad put together and sent to me:

  1. A group of Kerry Supporters wish to campaign long distance to another state.
  2. We want to find aswing district in an important battleground state; Ohio, Missouri, etc.
  3. We would like to partner with a similar type of suburban county that may mirror our locale.
  4. 20 or so of us would like the names and phone numbers of 4000 independent voters
  5. We want literature crafted from that state, with a specific or regional appeal to those type of voters.
  6. We all wish to contact between 150-200 of these voters each and convey the Kerry message.
  7. We can call people or address letters with our own message, or with the local piece provided from that region. Our purpose is to have similar groups in Kerry states making strong efforts to sway independents in swing states.

I think it’s a great idea; we just wonder how it could be pursued. I’ve been trying to find out how the Kerry phone banking is coordinated– last time I heard, the Boston and LA offices were being connected with whomever, and the rest of the country was left to their own devices. Similarly, I also have argued that contacts to voters should appear to originate from trusted volunteers, instead of from the candidate or his staff, which don’t allow for follow-up.

Of course, as we discussed, this is one of the poor consequences of the Electoral College system (the other being that, on occasion, the person who wins the popular vote does not get elected!) It doesn’t encourage us get out the vote in our own communities. In the past few years, I have done a little bit of volunteering in Boston’s minority Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods. My Dad has dedicate a lot of his time towards working with the city he grew up in, Mount Vernon, especially with the high school. Neither of us have any great incentive to do voter registration efforts in these neighborhoods. Which is too bad– it would be another

So, in the meantime, we hope to do our part to reach the battlegrounds. I’m going to vote absentee, and will probably fly down to Florida to ensure that the Sunshine State gets their votes counted this time around. It’s the least we can do.