• Victoria Miller

What's Up with Voting by Mail?

Happy Tuesday, Activists!


“The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.” ~ Rep. John Lewis, July 30, 2020


Voting. It all comes down to voting safely, securely, and this year, early. Today we address your questions about voting by mail. And of course we have what you can do to improve our chances of winning on every front.


First, if you haven’t signed up to vote by mail, sign up now. You have two choices for how:

1. Sign up online using this link. For a mail-in ballot answer “no” to the first three questions (military, absent, illness) to get to the VBM sign-up page.

2.  Paper application – If you live in Philadelphia, print one out here or call 215-686-3469. If you live outside Philly, print one out here or call 877-868-3772.

Go to our Voter Resources page on our website for this and a lot of other voting information including checking the status of your application.


Q.  What is the status of the PA Vote By Mail rules?

A.  The PA Department of State came out with a lengthy report on Saturday asking our legislature to quickly pass legislation to make it easier to vote by mail and to streamline procedures in county election offices. Yesterday the PA Post published a good article summarizing the important parts of the report (support your local news outlets!). The article gives you good info on the primary VBM numbers too.

Details about items like drop-off boxes have not been decided yet for November, according to the City Commissioners office.


Q.  What about problems with the Postal Service and delivering the ballots?

A.  We know the Postal Service is struggling with timely mail delivery right now. We know who’s at fault (hint: it’s Trump), but you can fight back with two actions:

1.  Make the calls in the Call To Action below and demand our legislators fix this. 

2.  Sign up NOW for VBM. And when you get your ballot fill it out and send it back right away. When voters wait until the last minute to sign up or mail their ballots they run the risk of their vote not being counted, especially now with slower delivery times. Don’t be one of those voters! See how above.


Q.  What about voting in person vs. voting by mail?

A.  We know people are worried about going to the polls because in the primary over half the voters used mail-in ballots. We don’t expect the pandemic to be relieved much if at all on November so we could see a large reduction in polling places again, and thus long lines. Many people may not vote at all if they are worried about going to their polling place, which may be much farther away, have long lines, and may not feel safe to them. So voting from home is the better option for many voters.


Q.  What about rejected ballots?  What we are doing to reduce that?

A.  We know that people may fill out their ballots in a way that they get disqualified.  

1.  We will be doing all we can to help people fill out their ballots so they won't be rejected, and encouraging early mailing. You will see this change in our postcard scripts in the late September/October phase of our Vote By Mail project, once the ballots start to be distributed. 

2.  We also direct voters to our Voter Resources page for more information and a video showing how to properly fill out their ballot (NOT how to vote!).  

3.  We will be phone banking to the very voters we’ve written postcards to, to answer any questions and remind them to return their ballots right away. More on that soon!


CALL TO ACTION Three things – do them today, tomorrow, and the rest of this week.  

Each one takes literally one minute. You probably have that time.

1.  Call and email our Senators to pass the Heroes Act now, which would fund the Postal Service, plus other good things. That’s the whole message – “Pass the Heroes Act now.” See details about the Heroes Act here

Sen. Casey – Phila office 215-405-9660; D.C. office 202-224-6324; email link

Sen. Toomey – Phila office 215-241-1090; D.C. office 202-224-4254; email link


2.  Call our state legislators and demand they pass legislation to relieve the mail-in ballot issues. Ask them to enact legislation to address the issues raised in the Department of State’s August 1 Report.

Find your state legislators here. They will be happy to hear from you!

Here’s some good news. The Department of State announced it will pay for all postage for mail-in ballots to be mailed in by voters. That’s one less step in this process!


3. Call the City Commissioners, the Mayor, and City Council and tell them they need to act now to ensure our votes in November are protected. Demand they invest in staff and equipment to secure mail-in ballot counting and safe polling places. 

Commissioner Lisa Deeley: (215) 686-3460, 3461

Commissioner Al Schmidt: (215) 686-3464, 3467

Commissioner Omar Sabir: (215) 686-3462, 3463

Mayor Jim Kenney: (215) 686-2181

City Council President Darrell Clarke: (215) 686-3442, 3443

Find your City Council person here


We are in regular conversation with the City Commissioners office to get the latest updates on their procedures. We'll try to keep everyone informed with what's happening, and of course monitor the news.


PHONEBANKING

Last week we told you all about why we need to do everything we can to get Joe Biden elected in November. That’s not hyperbole – our Democracy is literally at stake. You know you want to feel good in election week knowing you did everything you could to help in Trump’s exit from the White House.


We have the gold standard for getting out the vote -- phone banking.  You can read our Q&A from last week’s newsletter here. And we’re making it fun. 


Call voters for Joe Biden. Last week’s phone bank was a lot of fun! Next Tuesday we’ll be on Zoom again. Once you sign up we’ll send you all the information.

When: Tuesday, August 11, 6:00 PM

Where – On Zoom 

Sign up here.

More phone banks coming soon!


NEW -- MERCHANDISE!

We. Have. Merch! You can see all of our beautiful items on our website! Here’s how it works:

1.  View the selections and pick out what you would like to order.

2.  Make a donation for the amount (or more!) listed for each item.

3.  Use the email link in the item description and tell us you made your donation.

4.  We’ll ship you the item.

5.  You’ll enjoy it, and know you donated to a worthy cause!


CENSUS  The time is shorter – get counted now!

Yesterday, the Census Bureau issued a press release announcing that they will “accelerate” their counting efforts and end enumeration efforts on September 30. The previous deadline to complete counting efforts was October 31.  

This means it’s more likely there will be an undercount. Make no mistake, this is Trump’s attempt to get an undercount in key areas – and thus under-representation – to advantage Republicans for the next ten years.  Here’s what you can do – 


1.  Fill out your own Census form in case you haven’t yet.  Tell everyone you know!

If you have any questions you can go to www.census.gov or call 844-330-2020.

2.  Make sure you, your neighbors, and your family are counted!

3.  Post it on your social media –- click here to download. – from the Philly Counts folks to remind your networks to complete the 2020 Census TODAYClick here to download. it and then post it. The image is below. 




POSTCARDS!

Here are some stats for our VBM postcard project at the halfway mark.

Check out all the details, including cool maps, in our newsletter to our postcard writers at this link.

62 – The number of Philly wards we’ve sent addresses for.

550+ – The number of our volunteers writing postcards.

80,000 – The number of postcard addresses we’ve sent to our volunteers so far.

50,000 – The number of addresses we’ve sent as part of our project to a group of artists in Ithaca, NY.

That’s a total of over 130,000 postcards – and counting…

Click this link to join our awesome team!

Read about our beautiful artist-created postcards here.


Here’s how it works:

1.  We supply you with our fabulous original art postcards for free. You'll need to only purchase 35-cent postcard stamps at this link.  

2.  The script includes two pre-printed labels and we will deliver those to you with the postcards.

3.  We'll email you the instructions for writing the cards and the script.

4.  You’ll write the postcards and mail them as you complete them.

5.  Join a Zoom postcard party or write cards at home on your own. It all helps! You can also come to our Zoom office hours to say hi or ask questions. See below.


Virtual Postcard Events

The zoom info will be in your confirmation email.

For easy access, all of our events are at this link.


Every Wednesday Virtual Cards & Coffee – See you tomorrow!

Sign up for any Wednesday – Pick the date when you sign up, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm (stay for as long as you want). Sign up here.


Every Thursday Virtual Cards & Cocktails

Sign up for any Thursday – Pick the date when you sign up, 6-8 pm (stay for as long as you want). Sign up here.


Every Sunday Brunch Office Hours – Sunday 12:00 to 2:00 PM. Sign up here for any Sunday.

We meet on Zoom to chat at our “Office Hours.  You can drop in just to say hi, you can write postcards, ask some questions you might have, shoot the breeze, or have brunch with us, whatever.  And if you haven’t signed up yet you can stop by and ask what it’s all about.  We’ll be there!  


Check out these amazing postcard photos!

Thank you to Lisa, Marcia, and Jamison for your beautiful cards, and to all our fabulous writers, who are doing one heck of an amazing job!



Stay safe.  Stay inside. Wear a mask. Be kind.