15/06/2018

Teenagers Are Helping Flip Seats in 2018 Elections With Postcards to Voters

“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.”

Read more at:teenVOGUE

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