When Maddy Brennan, 14, attended a postcarding party with her parents in her hometown of San Francisco, she wasn’t sure what to expect. The group sat around a table, hand-writing postcards to help get out the vote for Conor Lamb, a Democrat running for Congress in a Pennsylvania special election. The experience — and Lamb’s subsequent victory — was inspiring.
“I love that a group of people who want changes in Congress or any public office seat can go out there and hand-make postcards to send to potential voters,” Maddy tells Teen Vogue. “I want people to vote.”
The party Maddy went to was inspired by Postcards to Voters, an effort started by Georgia resident Tony McMullin, aka “Tony the Democrat.” Tony, who works in banking and heads up Postcards to Voters on the side, started the group in March 2017 to get the word out about local elections via snail mail to registered voters. He shared five addresses apiece with five volunteers on Facebook, who then wrote and mailed postcards to potential voters in Jon Ossoff’s Georgia congressional race. Word of his efforts quickly spread, and one month later, Tony had 1,200-plus volunteers nationwide.
Today, Postcards to Voters counts more than 20,000 volunteers, spanning every state (including Alaska and Hawaii), who have written more than half a million postcards to voters in dozens of key, close elections. Tony uses publicly available lists of registered Democrats in districts that have elections coming up and shares those addresses — plus guideline scripts highlighting the date of the election, the Democratic candidate’s name, and a few key facts — with volunteers like Maddy and her group. These local and special elections are often on random Tuesdays, and most voters don't even know they're happening — unless they get a nice, handwritten reminder.
Not only is the initiative valuable to potential voters, but it’s also an impactful way for the under-18 set to get involved in supporting candidates they admire, from anywhere. “Writing postcards is something even the youngest among us can immediately do,” Tony tells Teen Vogue. “They have more time and, some might say, more creativity for this craftivism.”
And just as it did early on, word about Postcards to Voters continues to reach many of those young volunteers in various ways. Spring Hill, Tennessee, resident Maggie McLane,18, found out about Postcards to Voters from the Strong Women Action Network (SWAN), a civic and social action group she’s been involved with since Donald Trump’s election. Jane Laurence, 11, a sixth grader in Clemson, South Carolina, tells Teen Vogue her mom introduced her to the effort. Ally Barrett, 17, from Norwell, Massachusetts, heard about it from a friend; while 14-year-old San Franciscan Piya Rao learned of Tony’s group via her aunt.
From writing parties with snacks and art supplies, like the ones Maggie and Ally host with friends, to Jane’s solo postcarding sessions in front of Stranger Things, these girls are flexing their political muscles with every 35-cent stamp they affix. And while they follow scripts provided by Postcards to Voters, they also add personal touches. “If the person I’m campaigning for has a website or a hashtag, I’ll write that on the front,” Jane tells Teen Vogue. “I also like to sign them with ‘Thanks, Jane from S.C.’ to prove that an actual person wrote it.”
Maggie gets creative with the design. “I like to draw on mine and put words of encouragement like, ‘Every vote counts!’” she says. “I feel like my efforts can help get more people to the polls for candidates I believe in.”
Piya, who likes Women in Science post cards and uses colored sharpies and star stickers, has written messages like, “It’s time for new energy and honest leadership,” and “Be a voter!” on her cards.
While their personal styles may vary, all of these young women tell Teen Vogue that writing postcards is a tangible way for them to make a difference. “After the election of 2016, I felt so helpless and like I didn't matter,” Ally says. “It wasn't until I got involved with Postcards to Voters that I really felt important again.”
Piya agrees. “I can’t vote, so this is a way for me to have an impact,” she says. “I’ll initiate change and not just wait for it.”
Tony says those instincts are right: Postcards to Voters (which now assigns an average of 1,700 voter addresses daily) is making a difference. “Our fourth campaign was our first victory,” he says. “We wrote to every Democratic voter in Karen Gaddis’s Oklahoma State House district — twice. We mailed over 12,000 postcards. She won by 95 votes.” In other races, Kari Lerner won a New Hampshire House of Representatives seat by 39 votes and Mike Revis won in the Missouri House by 108. During both state legislature campaigns, Postcards to Voters volunteers wrote thousands of reminder cards.
And Tony tells Teen Vogue that volunteers — including Maddy’s original group — mailed 188,021 election reminders to Democratic households in support of Conor Lamb. The newly elected Pennsylvania congressman won by fewer than 700 votes.
Want to get involved in the movement? Visit Postcards to Voters to get started. Once you have addresses and a script, invite friends to a postcard party. “Another idea is to bring some blank postcards and supplies with you to school and just show friends in a few minutes how easy and fun it is,” Tony says. “I’ve even seen people record short video tutorials and put them on YouTube. Sharing that link with friends is another creative way to help them get on board.”
For those on the fence about joining the effort, Jane has a message: “Writing postcards is an easy, productive, and successful way to help make a difference.” And she has answers for the questions friends have raised, too. “Messy handwriting? Just proves to the receiver that the card was written by a real, unpaid person,” she says. “Bad speller? Templates tell you just what to say. The postcard effort connects people around the country together, all with a common goal — to get out the vote. I urge you, join the revolution! Get writing!”
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Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/smart-living/teenagers-are-helping-flip-seats-in-2018-elections-with-postcards-to-voters/ar-AAxlOWI1174