By Sarah O’Neill
When Alessandra Biaggi whupped entrenched incumbent and former IDC leader, Jeff Klein, as five other challengers for New York State Senate also triumphed, cheers likely erupted in 50 states.
From late July to early September, the Postcards to Voters (PTV) volunteer army, now over 20,000 strong across the U.S., had an education on eight New York primary races, in bios and guidelines, from their leader Tony the Democrat. So, on September 13th, people all over the country were tuning in for New York’s election results, which included a record turnout. That it was a Thursday instead of a Tuesday did not matter. PTV volunteers were on the edges of their seats because they had sent over 283,000 handwritten, hopeful postcards to New York, asking Democrats to vote for eight true blue primary challengers.
“Never before have I watched another state’s primary with such rapt attention!” and “Look at me, caring for NY state election results” were two of many comments flying onto the PTV Facebook page that evening.
On New York’s receiving end, the candidates were hearing about the thousands of handwritten postcards arriving in their districts. One of candidate Rachel May’s volunteers in Syracuse, Melissa Fierke, texted her, “BTW—people are talking about the postcards. They are saying they helped…” Fierke said people she knew got them and loved them. “They were awesome! They felt very personal, you know, like they were actually postcards—to you! It’s always exciting to get a postcard.”
After her win, May wrote, “It felt like the energy of the campaign was being multiplied and magically enhanced…there were the voters, who often commented on the cards they had received, and always mentioned, with awe, the fact that they were handwritten. And finally, when a postcard arrived in my own mailbox, I felt that the circle had been completed, and it gave me a burst of energy.”
Colleen Kaplin Kapklein in Biaggi’s district reported, “My husband was immediately persuaded to vote for Biaggi after receiving a handwritten (informative and rainbow-colored) postcard. I think it proved his wife wasn’t the only one on board for an upstart candidate. And made clear the progressive stances she took, in a nutshell.”
Caroline Stern said that out canvassing, one person told her yes, she would vote for Biaggi, exclaiming something like: “She sent me a postcard, with a real stamp!” Stern continued, “There was a lot more to the conversation, but it was wonderful…to have someone genuinely touched to have received a handwritten, hand-stamped piece of mail.”
Rebecca Lish, who worked hard organizing, canvassing, and phone banking for the primary was skeptical about the postcards at first but found people liked them. And Lish recognized the value for writers: “Postcarding parties may function like quilting bees; like-minded people working together toward a common goal reinforce one another’s efforts and forge bonds that can strengthen group identity, which is key to coordinated action. For the makers, postcards build solidarity.” Volunteers are lifted up, working together to move the needle as a giant team, as witnessed daily on the PTV Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TonyTheDemocrat.org/
Please join the team to help with the midterms, ASAP, at PostcardsToVoters.org! All you need to get started are four postcards, four stamps, and a pen. With hope…