By Sarah O’Neill
In March 2017, Tony the Democrat saved me. I was still walking around in a post-election funk, recommending Timothy Snyder’s book, On Tyranny, when a friend emailed me a photograph of a handwritten postcard reminding a Georgia Democrat to vote in a special election. One note can be a game-changer.
Tony is from Atlanta, Georgia. In the weeks leading up to Jon Ossoff’s primary for U.S. Congress in Georgia last year, Tony was concerned about low voter turnout. He had a list of voter addresses, so he asked friends to help him handwrite postcards to remind registered Democrats to vote. Before he knew it, he had 1,200 volunteers across the country writing postcards, so he created the platform “Postcards to Voters” (PTV) to support other campaigns.
I have lived in New York City since 1980 and had spent little bandwidth on politics before November 2016. Donald Trump changed that. I still wake up in disbelief but have since been to dozens of meetings and protests, knitted Pussyhats and Welcome Blankets, written postcards, canvassed, and phone-banked. I soak up the news and email a group about events and actions to take. I subscribe to Mindful Resistance, City & State, and lots more. I’m one of the newly minted, energized female activists people are writing about. I’m all in, but I especially love Postcards to Voters, and Tony the Democrat.
When something handwritten comes in the mail these days, people notice it. Heartfelt handwritten postcards from grassroots volunteers may be getting out critical votes, at no cost to the candidates. Being part of that feels great. Races are often close now. PTV candidate Kari Lerner won a New Hampshire State House special election by just 39 votes, turning a vacated red seat blue. Getting people out to vote is crucial now, and postcard writers—armed with their stamps, bright pens, and funny and serious cards—feel empowered with every new race. Tony (also a volunteer; he has a day job) keeps the races coming. He is an inspiration. He organizes. We write. People vote. We celebrate!
Seventy-seven campaigns in, we have written for candidates running for offices from school board to U.S. Congress. We recently sent over 33,000 postcards to Democrats for Shelley Mayer’s run for New York State Senate. In February, we wrote over 180,000 postcard reminders to Pennsylvania voters for Conor Lamb for U.S. Congress. Lamb won by 627 votes. And we wrote over 347,000 for Doug Jones for Senate in Alabama, another nail-biter!
PTV has made Tuesdays (special elections!) something to get excited about. We win more than we lose. We have fun. We’re excited: https://www.facebook.com/TonyTheDemocrat.org/
Tony provides guidelines that make it easy to join and help. To begin, text “join” to Abby the Bot at (484) 275-2229, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want help getting started, come to an evening of postcard writing in the Village on Thursday, May 10, from 6:30-8:30pm, at The Center at 208 West 13th Street, Room 310. Feel the hope—and joy!