We REALLY did it! IEB and the Blue Wave

We did it!

That was the cry — half delight, half relief — that all progressives expressed on Election Day 2018 … when it became clear that the Democrats would retake control of the House of Representatives.

But those of us in Indivisible East Bay could have more accurately exclaimed: “We really did it!” That’s because, over the final months of the campaign season, we engaged in a major push of canvassing, phone-banking and text-banking, all with the goal of flipping several key Republican positions. When the dust settled (which took almost two weeks to do, with one race still undecided), the results proved how spectacularly effective we had been.

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona & Ted canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox – that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona!

To see for yourself, take a look at what happened in five important races where IEB put muscle into flipping seats from red to blue (note: races listed with CA- followed by a number were for the US House of Representatives; the number is the Congressional district):

  • Josh Harder, CA-10. We worked hard for this Congressional seat in CA-10, the flippable district geographically closest to the Bay Area. IEB members phone and text banked, and some traveled to the district to canvass. Initial results had Republican Jeff Denham, the incumbent for the past two election cycles, in the lead — and pundits were already giving up on Harder. But the race remained officially “too close to call.” Then on the Friday after Election Day, with mail-in and provisional ballots skewing Democratic, Harder pulled ahead and stayed there — resulting in a huge upset victory. The margin was narrow (50.9% to 49.1%) but we won!
  • TJ Cox, CA-21. If the current vote margins don’t change, this nailbiter may be a heartbreaker. Spurred on by Team Blue Wave Contra Costa organizer Kook Huber, IEB strongly committed to getting TJ Cox elected as CA-21’s representative to Congress, a rural heavily-Latino Central California district where Republican David Valadao is the incumbent. We canvassed in this district as much as or more than anywhere else. The race was unofficially called for Valadao on election night, but ballots still continue to be counted and the lead narrowed and keeps narrowing. While still considered a long shot, there is a real chance for Cox to pull out a victory. Currently, Cox is less than 1,000 votes behind Valadao, with around 22,000 votes still to be counted. Whatever the final outcome, there is reason to feel good about this race. In 2016, Valadao bested his Democratic opponent by 13 percentage points; this time around, the difference should be razor thin, perhaps within 100 votes! We’re headed in the right direction.
  • Harley Rouda, CA-48. This was perhaps the biggest shocker — and most welcome — of all the California races. Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher has represented this deeply red Southern California district for three decades! Known for his pro-Russia views and solid support for Trump, he was at the top of the list of Representatives we most wanted to oust. IEB sent postcards, text-banked and phone banked on behalf of challenger Democrat Harley Rouda. It worked! In the end, Rouda bested Rohrabacher by more than 5 percentage points. Postscript: With victory now declared for Gil Cisneros, the Democrats have swept all seven Orange County House seats!
  • Jacky Rosen, Senate, Nevada. IEB was approached by our sister Indivisible, Indivisible Northern Nevada, which asked us to join their highly organized Issue Voters Project focusing on Washoe County, which encompasses Reno. Led by IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni Henle, we made a huge push via phone-banking and especially with canvassing, including knocking on doors in Reno for the final weekend before the election. The result was incredible: Washoe County, formerly solid red, turned blue and went for Rosen over incumbent Dean Heller by 4 percentage points! It was the key result that led to Rosen’s ultimate state-wide victory. Making the win even sweeter, this was a race where Trump got personally involved, derisively referring to Rosen as “Wacky Jacky.”
  • Kyrsten Sinema, Senate, Arizona. A Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have scripted a more thrilling ending to this race. In Arizona, a traditionally red but increasingly purple state, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was challenging GOP candidate Martha McSally for the Senate seat currently held by the retiring Jeff Flake. Democrats believed they had a real shot to win this. But on the first days after the election, the situation looked grim as McSally built a seemingly insurmountable lead of more than 20,000 votes. Then came the surprise. By Monday November 13, after mail-in votes were tallied, a stunning reversal occurred. With a turn-around lead of more than 38,000 votes, Sinema was declared the victor — despite Trump’s and the GOP’s attempts to muddy the waters with baseless claims of voter fraud. This is huge! Sinema will become the first Democratic Senator from Arizona since the 1980’s. Once again, IEB contributed to this success via several phone-banking events.
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema
Phone banking for Kyrsten Sinema

The bottom-line message couldn’t be more clear: what we do can make a difference. It definitely did make a difference in 2018. But there remains much work to be done. There’s still time to help Mike Espy win the Senate seat in the Mississippi special runoff election on November 27. And it’s not too early to start building the Blue Wave that will take out Trump in 2020.

Text Out the Vote

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

We gave you the lowdown on canvassing and phone banking, the most effective Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tools. Next up, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district or make phone calls: peer-to-peer text banking!

Texting voters is effective, fast, and flexible. You can do it on your phone, computer, or tablet. And best of all, you can fit it into your busy schedule — during breaks at work, riding on BART, any time you’ve got a few free minutes. 

There are different texting platforms, but the basics are similar: sign up, read the instructions, join the platform’s Slack channel (a chat room where you interact with team managers and fellow texters), and log into the platform. Finally, follow directions to choose a workflow and request to be added.

For most platforms you can text from your phone using an app, or from your computer by logging into a website. Both have initial messages you’ll send out; after that you’ll reply to people who respond, using canned answers tailored for each workflow. You’ll also apply certain tags to help the organizers know how to proceed with each person texted. 

Here are some great choices to dive in and start texting for The Blue Wave!

IndivisiText

Indivisible National’s texting team, IndivisiText, uses the common texting app and website Hustle, which works either on a phone or computer. To get started:

  • Read the texting training guide
  • Take this quiz, then follow the instructions to join Hustle and IndivisiText’s Slack
  • Check the IndivisiText Hustle campaign tracker to see what’s available each day (9 AM to 9 PM local time where you’re texting), join one of the open channels, and post that you completed the quiz
  • Post in the campaign Slack channel you choose from the tracker, and tag a moderator to say you completed the quiz
  • Open the Hustle app or website and start texting! Post questions on Slack, where the moderators are great about responding
  • IndivisiText automatically reassigns to another texter to conversations that are inactive for about 20 minutes, so along with replying to the people you texted, you’ll also help out by following up for others.

Resistance Labs

Resistance Labs (RL) also uses the Hustle texting interface and communicates via Slack and a private facebook group

  • Sign up here and follow the directions at RL’s New Volunteer Training
  • See the Workflow Instructions, and once you’re set up, for new workflows fill out the Shift Sign-Up form
  • See the RL Texter Help Center here
  • Note that on RL only you can reply to responses from the people you’ve texted, so make sure to check frequently. 

MoveOn 

Moveon.org’s texting team uses Spoke rather than Hustle, and also has its own Slack chat room to organize requests for workflows and support. You can learn more and join the team here.

VoteWithMe app

Finally, want to personalize your texting along with reaching out to strangers? The VoteWithMe app uses public records and your own network to pinpoint the highest impact potential voters whom you already know. You choose who to text, and you can personalize a suggested reminder to make sure they vote. Read more about using this very effective app to motivate your friends to vote in our article.

 

The Bottom Line:

Don’t want to wake up on November 7, 2018 and feel like you did on November 9, 2016? If you haven’t done any canvassing, phone banking or text banking yet, the time is NOW. If you have, it’s time to DO MORE!

Scary times at IEB’s October All Members Meeting

Halloween arrived early at the Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting on October 28, with many of us showing up in costume. Even the infamous Trump Chicken joined the festivities.

Unfortunately, the real scares are coming from recent news. From the deadly violence at the Synagogue in Pittsburgh to Trump’s avalanche of incendiary rhetoric — the stakes for the November 6 midterms are higher now, if that’s possible, than they’ve ever been.

Before we got down to national politics, Jodi Reid, Executive Director of CARA, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, led an informative discussion about some of the statewide propositions on the ballot. CARA has posted recommendations on all eleven props, including fact sheets for Props 1, 2, 8, and 10. Jodi walked us through the list and took our questions. In brief:

  • Yes on Prop 1. Passing Prop 1 would authorize $4 billion in bonds for housing related programs for low income residents, veterans, and other specialized populations. California has not had funds for housing in some time and local communities don’t have the resources to build housing themselves.
  • Yes on Prop 2. This would allow funding from Prop 63 to be utilized for mental health services in concert with homeless assistance. The two are needed in order for housing to succeed for the homeless. A “yes” on Prop 2 would  authorize funding already allocated to be used in this context and would not require new funding.
  • Yes on Prop 8. Authorizes state regulation of kidney dialysis clinics and limits charges for patient care. As of now, CARA stated that two major corporations provide all the kidney dialysis services, overcharging $150K more per patient than needed without the funds going to patient care. The proposition would set profits to a 115% cap above revenue.
  • Yes on Prop 10. This would allow local cities to adopt rent control and repeal the Costa-Hawkins rental housing act (1995). CARA points out that tens of thousands of housing units have been created since ’95 that have not fallen under rent control. In response to a question, Jodi noted that passage of Prop 10 would not establish vacancy control.
  • Several of the ballot proposals are controversial even among progressive groups that are usually allies. For example, CARA supports Prop 3, which authorizes almost $9 billion in bonds to fund various water and environmental projects, citing the need for safe drinking water to all areas of the state. However, the Sierra Club opposes the measure on the ground that it will mean building more dams, harming the environment; they also have concerns about the (lack of) oversight for how the funds are spent. At the Propositions breakout session (see more below), Governance Committee (GC) member Ted noted that Prop 3 affects only state-regulated water systems, and said that it won’t directly affect the East Bay’s water supply because we get our water from EBMUD.
  • Finally, check out calmatters.org to see their one-minute videos summarizing the pros and cons of each Proposition. There’s no faster way to get up to speed.

Next up, GC member and senator teams co-lead Linh highlighted the critical importance of a “boring” (her word) topic: rules changes for federal agencies. In particular, “any executive agency seeking to change any existing regulation has to invite and review public comments.” Public means YOU! Making comments may be our only chance to prevent or slow down the administration’s attempts to roll back decades of environmental, workplace and safety protections. Linh urged members to take advantage of this opportunity. Some proposed changes are anything but boring: for example, one such proposal would allow for indefinite detention of immigrant families with children! You have until November 6 to voice your opposition to this change, so speak up!

GC member and outreach team co-lead Nick reminded us that the 2018 Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort will likely not end on November 6, since that’s a primary day for one of the U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi. If no candidate receives a majority, which seems likely, a runoff will be held on November 27. Nick is lining up postcard events for the possible run-off.

Lastly, GC member Charlotte urged everyone to participate in one or more of the remaining GOTV events between now and next week’s midterms. The biggest is our  two-day all-day (9 AM to 9 PM) “The Last Weekend” Phone/Text Bank Extravaganza in Oakland. Whether you’ve already done tons of phone banking or have been quietly sitting on the sidelines, this is a must-do! Sign up here.

With the formal part of the meeting over, we enjoyed pizza courtesy of a generous donation from IEB member Nancy Olson. Three breakout sessions followed: Charlotte led people in writing postcards and also letters to voters through Vote Forward, GC members Ted and Toni engaged people in a more in-depth discussion about some of the state propositions, and GC member and volunteer team lead Andrea welcomed new members who wanted to know more about IEB and learn how to get involved.

Andrea with new members
Andrea at the new members breakout

Several of us came in costume! The clear Adorable & Clever winners:

NASA Space Force astronaut and assistant. Photo by Toby St John
NASA Kid & Dr. Horrible team up to save America! Photo by Toby St. John

Governance Committee members Ted and Ann (aka “Blue Wave”):

Ted and Ann aka Blue Wave

Henry the Indivisi-bulldog brought his family, IEB team co-leads Kristen and Tom!

Henry, Kristen and Tom

Scariest Costume winner was IEB and CA-11 team member George, who said: “Nnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnn”, which we translated as meaning: “Just because I’m a person of the undead persuasion doesn’t mean the electoral outcome isn’t important to me. A Blue vote is a smart vote. And smart brains taste better! Be a ZombiVoter! Vote Blue!”

Be a ZombiVoter! Vote Blue!

And finally: Blue Wave beats up Trump Chicken!

 

Andrea Lum contributed to this article.

 

GOTV with VoteWithMe app

Text banking is a popular way to help Get Out the Vote (GOTV). People like it because it’s quick, easy and you can do it from anywhere. But maybe you’re not comfortable sending messages to a bunch of strangers, or not convinced it has much effect. Enter VoteWithMe, a free phone app that automates the process of text banking to people you know — the friends and colleagues in your address book. The rationale, according to the app’s developers, is that “people are more likely to vote if a friend asks them to.”

Here’s how the app works. With your permission, VoteWithMe imports all the people in your contacts list. You can click on any name and get the person’s publicly available voting data. For example, you can see if the person is a registered Democrat or if they voted in the last few elections. You may find a few surprises — such as discovering that your next-door neighbor is a life-long Republican. I know of no other way to so easily access such data. It may feel a bit like snooping, but it’s all public info, completely legal — and kind of fun! 

VoteWithMe also provides key information — who’s running and who’s predicted to win — for the major elections (House, Senate, Governor) for each of your contacts, no matter where they live.

Via filters, you can limit the list of displayed contacts — such as showing only people who are Democrats and live in locations where there are currently “tight” races. You can use this to zero in on the people you believe are most critical to contact. VoteWithMe uses the non-partisan Cook Report to assess what seats are conceivably flippable.

Once you’re ready, VoteWithMe provides the text message itself, which you can personalize if you want, either reminding your friend to vote or (if they have a strong record of previously voting) asking them to download VoteWithMe and use it to remind others to vote. As to privacy concerns, VoteWithMe will never access anyone on your list independently of when you choose to do so.

Bottom line: You might be interested in VoteWithMe for the election information it provides. That’s fine. However, that’s not its purpose. VoteWithMe is primarily intended for sending GOTV text messages to the progressives in your contact list. The election is only days away — but it’s not too late for this app to help build the blue wave!

VoteWithMe app
VoteWithMe provides voting data and election information — to assist in sending text messages to your contacts.

Is this the voter to whom I am speaking?

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

What do we want? To Get Out The Vote! When do we want it? Now through November 6! How are we gonna do it? By knocking on doors, making phone calls, and texting!

Our recent article went in-depth on the primo Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tool: canvassing. Next most effective, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district: phone banking. We hear ya, maybe you’re not clinically phone-phobic, but you’ve avoided phone banking like many Indivisible East Bay members because:

I don’t like talking on the phone I’m too busy I’m afraid I won’t know what to say what if the person has a question I can’t answer I was uncomfortable making unwelcome & intrusive phone calls it reminds me of canvassing and how horrible some people were ….

The heroes who told us about these fears and obstacles are now confirmed phone bankers, dialing daily to save our democracy. How did they conquer those anxieties? A combo of using coping methods (snacks, bring a friend, pet a cat); finding out that IEB phone banks are run to address their concerns; and finally – the strongest motivation imaginable (remember how you felt on 11/9/16? this’ll be worse if we don’t do all we can).

I’ll let them tell you in their own words how and why they overcame their hesitations:

I’m so busy I can’t carve out two hours for the phone banks I saw listed, but I contacted the organizer for one near me and she was glad to have me come for however long I could. She also trained me so I now do phone calls on my own throughout the day.

I was scared I wouldn’t know what to say, but the training and the way the system is set up addressed that! The script is right there on the screen, and there are drop down options and prompts. The trainer also reassured us we didn’t have to know everything, we could refer people to the relevant website.

Phone banking makes me anxious, but knowing what to expect and how best to react is really important, and hearing positive stories of other people’s phone banking experiences.

Doing it in a group, and with the friend that I brought along, was so great. It’s stressful, but we took breaks for snacks and to swap stories about our best (and worst) calls.

I used to avoid phone-banking, but now I’m phone-banking a couple of times a week. I realized that if the GOP winds up retaining both houses of Congress I didn’t want to feel I had given less than a 100% effort to prevent it. I still get a queasy feeling before the first call each session but soon I’m rolling and even find myself enjoying the occasional conversations. The best part is I know how much better I’ll feel on Election Day.

So no more excuses, the stakes are too high. We truly need everyone to step up as we’re down to less than two weeks away from the election. One vote can make the difference in an election, YOUR CALL could tip a race.

  • Join us and bring everyone you know to The Last Weekend GOTMFV Palooza!! Saturday and Sunday November 3-4 from 9 AM to 9 PM: full service GOTV MACHINE – with phone banking and texting into multiple critical races, training and technical assistance, handouts, friendly competition, FOOD, and the best part: SAVING DEMOCRACY WITH ALL YOUR FELLOW WARRIORS!!
  • We list dozens of upcoming opportunities to phone bank and canvass on our calendar, and they all include mini-training sessions with experienced members to help you. Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar, also easily accessible on our home page
  • Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
  • Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with:
  • Join Indivisible Berkeley in canvassing, phone or text banking, and more! Check out IB events here.
  • See the East Bay for TJ Cox events calendar to support the CA-21 congressional candidate.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up here.
  • Knock on doors to help flip CA-10 for Josh Harder. Info & sign up here.
  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.

Finally, as a bonus for reading to the end of this article: phone banking can be fun — don’t take our word for it, Pod Save America says so. And read our article about our phone banks at Cat Town in Oakland!

Phone bank as if your future depends on it. Because it does.

The End of the Election Season is Nigh

By Nancy Latham

You already know what’s at stake in the November election – we all know. The naked power grabs. The in-your-face voter suppression. The weakening of democracy so that a small group of plutocrats can use the state as a tool to advance their interests while hacking away at the public good. The tax cut giveaways to the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else, so that hundreds of millions keep flowing into Republican campaign coffers, allowing them to further entrench their power. And cynically using the tax cut so that they can (surprise!) turn back into deficit hawks – spouting fake concern for the economy – and come for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The rejection of science so that they can condemn the globe to the point of no return on climate change – all in the name of corporate profit.

And we all know that as bad as it is now, it will get much, MUCH worse if we don’t win back the House. Republicans will scream: “mandate!” and then further consolidate power and undermine our democracy. With all three branches of government in their control, there will be no check on trumpism.

It would all sound like a doomsday scenario, if we hadn’t been living through the past couple of years …

So NOW is the time to be Democracy Warriors! We will leave NOTHING on the field as we come to the defense of rights, people, communities, and planet. We know you are out there – calling people, knocking on doors, getting your fellow citizens to the polls – we see you and you ROCK! Go here to find every opportunity to get in the game between now and election day! And KEEP IT UP on The Last Weekend! The last few days before an election are all about Get Out The Vote (GOTV), so join us and bring everyone you know to The Last Weekend GOTMFV Palooza!! (we’ll let you figure out that slightly longer acronym…) 9 AM to 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday November 3rd and 4th we will welcome you to a full service GOTV MACHINE – with phone-banking and texting into multiple critical races, training and technical assistance, handouts, friendly competition, FOOD, and the best part: SAVING DEMOCRACY WITH ALL YOUR FELLOW WARRIORS!!

This is too important to sit out. RSVP here.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governing Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.

 

 

GOTV workshop offers basic training for recruits

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

Our simple goal: encourage and train more people to get involved in phone banking and canvassing — especially critical as we shift to the final GOTV (Get Out The Vote) phase for the less-than-a-month-away midterm elections.

The problem? Many people are reluctant to volunteer for fear they don’t have the needed skills or knowledge.

The solution: offer a GOTV workshop to provide skills, practice, and motivation. So that’s exactly what Indivisible East Bay did — with generous assistance (and a free lunch and amazing snacks!) from Indivisible National — on October 14 at the El Cerrito Community Center. Without much time to plan and promote we were a tad nervous, but the well-oiled IEB machine went into high gear, the stars aligned and, other than the usual tech hiccups, by the time the event began all was well and the more than 50 attendees were ready for action!

Roll call

As we took our seats after lunch, Indivisible’s California State Director Zacharie Boisvert (the day’s moderator) got the ball rolling with an ice-breaker. At each table we all took a few minutes to say why the upcoming election was important to us. One person from every table later repeated their answer to the group, which effectively summarized how high the stakes are for the midterms, and got us all motivated to take to the streets … and phones.

Zacharie & Bobby (Indivisible National) and Nancy (IEB). Photo by Ted Landau
Zacharie & Bobby (Indivisible National) and Nancy (IEB). Photo by Ted Landau

Next up, Indivisible’s National Organizing Director Susannah Hook-Rodgers asked: “Let’s assume we win at least one house of Congress in November; what do we do next? What should be our highest priorities?” We had no trouble shouting out a long list of answers. At the top was protecting voting rights since everything else we hope to accomplish is in danger unless we ensure that all eligible citizens can exercise their right to vote. Other priorities: climate change, racial and economic inequality, preventing GOP efforts to dismantle government agencies, and campaign reform to limit dark money. We also agreed that we need to make Indivisible more inclusive — and National has to take the lead here by continuing to build ties with major groups around common interests.

All hands to battle stations

Which got us revved up for the main event: GOTV actions.

It’s called GOTV because during these final weeks before the election we pivot from trying to persuade undecided voters to making sure that likely supporters get out and vote! As for how best to accomplish this, the presentation showed that one-on-one interactions, canvassing and phone-banking, are much more effective than other voter contacts.

Zacharie and Indivisible National co-presenter Bobby Michaels went over a typical phone-banking script and explained how the precise language helps elicit a positive response. In fielding our questions about potential problems, the duo addressed many of our common concerns. For example, in response to the question “What if a respondent wants to know about a candidate’s positions and I’m not sure what they are,” Zacharie emphasized that we didn’t have to know everything and could refer people to a candidate’s website. He also reminded us that GOTV is focused on getting people to vote rather than discussing the issues. IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni, who has been organizing phone banks into Nevada, noted that she always checks online for specifics about a candidate or district before making calls.

Finally, time for hands-on action! As a dry run we role-played phone calls in pairs — and then the real thing: an hour of live phone-banking to voters in CA-10. As usual with phone banks we ran into a lot of no-answers and disconnected phone numbers, the latter helps clean up the list. Most of us had a few great conversations with voters, and that’s what keeps us going!

gotv training 001 20181014_154956b 640

Next, Kook Huber of Team Blue Wave Contra Costa made a convincing plea for volunteers to canvass in the “very flippable” CA-21. Her inspiring presentation segued into our final request for everyone to sign up for canvassing and phone-banking opportunities in the (now only three) weeks ahead. Attendees left charged up and inspired about the critical importance of canvassing and phone banking, and about their own ability to join in — we were all ready to GOTV!

What to do if you missed the workshop

Couldn’t join us for the training? Don’t fret – you still can (and must!) join the GOTV effort. We list dozens of upcoming opportunities to canvass and phone bank on our calendar, and they all include mini-training sessions with experienced members who are ready to help you.

Canvassing with Indivisible Northern Nevada

At the Indivisible East Bay July All Member Meeting, two of our colleagues from Indivisible Northern Nevada gave a presentation about their efforts identifying issues that matter to voters in the Reno area as part of the campaign to get out the vote to unseat Senator Dean Heller, identified as one of the most vulnerable Republican Senators. They were so inspiring that in early August, 2018, a group of IEB members traveled to Reno to attend the 2018 Lake Tahoe Summit and to canvass and register voters in northern Nevada with our Indivisible colleagues. 

Our Indivisible Northern Nevada hosts, all women, greeted us at the picnic tables at Reno’s Idlewild Park with coffee, orange juice, and three kinds of pastries all laid out on a floral tablecloth. After an enthusiastic welcome, some wrangling of the MiniVan app, and a little roleplaying, we were ready to talk to some voters. The goal was to identify issues the voters cared about and decide what, if any, further contact to plan with them. We split into pairs; my partner Ruth happened to live nearby so we decided to start in her neighborhood, which made it very easy to find the addresses that popped up on my phone. 

The first person we talked to was a stocky man with a sunburn who came out around the side of his house smoking a cigar. As planned, we asked him what issues he was thinking about in the upcoming election. He said he was pretty happy with how things were going for him, and would stay happy as long as his taxes were low. We probably could have said “thank you for your time” right then and there and taken him off the list. But he was polite and reasonably friendly, if a little smug, so we pressed a little further, asking what he thought of the state of Reno’s infrastructure and about recent changes to the federal tax code. He said he got a $10K tax cut and that if Reno outgrew its infrastructure he’d just move somewhere else. Then his wife came out to tell him his mom was on the phone and we were able to make a graceful exit.

Our next experience was happier. We talked to a young woman just out of nursing school who came to the door in a bathrobe with a towel on her head, yet was happy to chat with the strangers at the door about her top issues: student debt and cost of living. With her busy life, she didn’t know anything about the candidates for Senate or other upcoming elections, but she promised to educate herself by November, and to vote. After consulting in the car, we decided that we didn’t need to send anyone back to talk to her more about the issues and we marked her “GOTV” so that someone would call or visit to remind her to vote.

After a few unanswered knocks, we came to a house that seemed to have no door. The front of the house was a row of garages and at closer inspection there was a door at the back of one of them. We ventured inside to knock, and retreated back to the driveway. Just when we were giving up and turning to leave, a white-haired woman who looked to be in her seventies opened the door. She said she hadn’t really thought about the issues or which ones were most important to her. When we suggested some common answers like health care, jobs and the economy, or the environment, she said that “all those things must be important to anyone who’s alive” but didn’t really offer anything further.  She talked about a need for balance and cooperation in government and seemed mildly enthusiastic about the fact that so many women are getting involved and running for office right now. Back in the car, we decided that she probably could use another conversation to make her feel that her vote mattered and to be sure she knew which candidates agreed with her on the issues and would bring balance to Washington: we marked her “MAYBE.”

Even our Trumpiest door knock was calm and cordial, probably in part because we identified ourselves as non-partisan and asked for information rather than giving it. A middle-aged woman on crutches told us that she thought things were “finally on the right track” now that Trump was in office. We felt sad for her, suspecting that she is one of those supporters who is actually hurt by the president’s policies, but got a certain amount of satisfaction out of emphatically taking her off our list for future visits.

At our next stop, we met a man whose top issue was immigration. He said straight off that we definitely need “some” immigration to get people to do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do. He also said that people who enter the country without permission are “breaking the law” and should face consequences, and should need to prove that they haven’t come to do harm. But he was kind of wavering on whether it was okay to lock them all up in detention for fleeing violence or seeking a better life for their families. We marked him down as a strong MAYBE, almost envying the interesting conversation in store for the volunteer who comes back to engage him further about the facts around immigration and how to vote in alignment with his beliefs.

Our last conversation of the day was with a young father whose front yard was full of children’s toys, and who was the only non-white person we came across in that neighborhood. It was a short visit both because he was obviously busy and because it was pretty clear right away that he was a strong progressive informed on the issues and in favor of Medicare for all. We marked him “GOTV” and both sort of regretted that we didn’t at least ask if he wanted to volunteer; but it hadn’t occurred to us until after the moment had passed.

The group reconvened back at the park to discuss our experiences and talk about what we want to do better next time. The canvassers were energized, feeling good about people’s responses to getting questions about their opinions and priorities rather than being asked to support a candidate or fed a party line. Some also expressed a sense that out of all these voters who had registered as non-partisan, more were leaning leftward than rightward on the issues.

As for our goals to do better next time, we all thought we needed some more strategies to draw out relatively uninformed people in naming their top issues. And we noted our inclination to spend perhaps too many of our valuable canvasing minutes having long conversations with enthusiastic progressives, but decided there was value in that too both for our own morale and theirs.

Certainly my own morale was lifted by the trip, especially meeting the Indivisible Nevadans who fed us, opened their guestrooms to us, and taught us how to make connections with their neighbors and community.

If you’d like to join next time please fill out this form.

Indivisible We Wrote!

By Charlotte McGoldrick

Indivisible East Bay’ers and friends packed our August 2018 postcard party, companionably writing 433 postcards and 14 letters, and all in time for lunch!

  • 240 postcards are headed to CA-1 voters in support of Audrey Denney, an agriculturalist and educator running for Congress against Republican incumbent Doug LaMalfa
  • 158 postcards are going to CA-21 voters in support of TJ Cox, an engineer and Central Valley small businessman running for Congress against Republican incumbent David Valadao
  • 25 postcards went to Senators Feinstein and Harris to ask them to keep fighting against Trump’s horrible, no-good presidential power-loving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
  • 10 postcards went to voters for Julie Goldberg, an educator running for a New York state senate seat, through Postcards to Voters
  • We also sent 14 letters to Democratic voters in Georgia through Vote Forward, another great organization that specifically targets voters who are unlikely to vote, with the goal of boosting voter turnout through the power of the pen. 

We loved seeing lots of new faces this weekend (including several under one-year old – children are always welcome)! Thank you to everyone who turned out to flip Congress blue. Couldn’t make this one? Itching to write to more voters? Great, let’s keep this going. Stay tuned for announcements about our upcoming postcard parties, always listed in our newsletter, on our Facebook page, and on our upcoming events webpage.

Postcard party August

And Mary McFarland of East Bay for TJ Cox is hosting a post-carding party on Friday, August 17, from 4:00-6:00 pm in Alameda. If you’d like to attend, please email Mary. Can’t make it? Check out other events here.

200+ postcards in support of Audrey Denney in CA-1
This is what 240 postcards in support of Audrey Denney in CA-1 looks like!

Learn more about activist postcard-ing at our article The Pen (plus .35 stamp) Is Mightier Than Yelling At Your TV. Have other questions? Want to let us know about your own postcarding events? Email us or contact @heidirand on Slack.  

Photos by Heidi Rand

Kicking off August ’18 with local political events

With midterm election day barreling toward us, local political groups (including Indivisible East Bay, of course) and elected officials are stepping up their efforts to make sure we cross the November 6 finish line as victors. The first weekend in August – we’ve hit the less-than 100 days out, folks – saw many IEBers participating in a wide variety of events. Didn’t make any of them? Here’s a quick roundup. Oh, and don’t miss any more, check out the upcoming events listings in our weekly newsletter and our Midterm Election Work webpage!

Paint Congress Blue, Art + Action Festival

On Sunday August 5, crowds of people from the Bay Area and beyond met in Oakland to Paint Congress Blue. The free block party featured art, activism and a visit from an infamous barnyard fowl. 

IEB, together with Indivisible Berkeley, Sister District, Swing Left, Working America, and more, helped organize the event. Each group had a table to provide opportunities for the public to get educated and get involved. IEB’s table had supplies for writing GOTV (Get Out The Vote) postcards to voters in swing districts. By the end of the evening, IEB volunteers and members of the public had written over 170 postcards to voters in California Congressional Districts 1 and 21!

Don’t miss these upcoming IEB postcarding and social events:

  • August 12, 10 AM-noon: Indivisible We Write! IEB August postcard party, Sports Basement, Berkeley. Info & RSVP.
  • August 25, 2-4 PM: IEB Ale & Mail! No-host mingle & postcarding at Hop Yard Alehouse in Pleasanton. Info & RSVP.
Paint Congress Blue, photo by Wesley Chang
IEB table at Paint Congress Blue, photo by Wesley Chang

At the main stage, speakers from each organization described their methodology and goals. Kristen Law (co-lead of the IEB CA-11 Team) spoke about the work of Indivisible East Bay, highlighting the successes of our Judiciary Team and efforts to hold our members of Congress accountable.

Kristen Law speaking at Paint Congress Blue, photo by Wesley Chang
IEB member Kristen Law speaking at Paint Congress Blue, photo by Wesley Chang

Between speeches local musical groups entertained the crowd, and Project Bandaloop, an aerial dance team, also performed. A number of art galleries in the district were open for tours.

The Trump Chicken overseeing the festivities.
Trump Chicken oversaw Paint Congress Blue festivities

Lest we forget, the guest of honor was the Trump Chicken, a 13-foot tall inflatable chicken that bears a striking resemblance to, well, you-know-who! Attendees could have their photos taken while giving the Chicken a piece of their mind. By any measure, Paint Congress Blue was a huge success, and a good time was had by all; well, except for maybe the Chicken.

Phone Banking for Northern Nevada

Want to help GOTV (Get Out the Vote) beyond our deep blue Bay Area? Here’s one way: Northern Nevada. That was the message delivered by two members of Issue Voters of Northern Nevada at IEB’s July All Members Meeting. The group is focused on contacting unaffiliated voters in Washoe County to ask what issues matter most to them. The number of these voters has grown dramatically in recent years — to the point that they will likely be the deciding factor in the November election.

Five IEB members who were fired up by this appeal packed their mobile phones and laptops — and headed off to Oakland for an afternoon of phone banking. They spent three hours calling voters, using national Indivisible’s virtual phone bank system. As is common with phone banking, most calls wound up with no one picking up, but the good news is that those who did answer were usually willing to talk and share their thoughts.

According to Toni Henle, one of the “IEB five,” the group made about 200 calls and “each of us had four or five good conversations (and a couple of not-so-good ones); we found it helps that others are around to share the good and bad!”

Can you help turn out the Nevada vote? We’ve scheduled two phone banks on Sundays August 19 & 26 from 3-6 PM at our hostess’ house in north Oakland. To join us, email vivian@mendezleal.com. And there are several other phone- and text-banking opportunities listed in our newsletter and this webpage.

Phone banking to Nevada
Phone banking to Nevada

Starting in September, there’ll also be opportunities to drive to Reno to canvass voters identified as “persuadable” for Democratic Senate candidate Jacky Rosen,  running against Dean Heller, one of the Senate’s most vulnerable Republicans.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: Immigration town hall

Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) has been to our southern border, witnessing first-hand what Trump’s Zero Tolerance immigration policy means. DeSaulnier’s message to constituents attending his immigration town hall in Concord on August 4, was that the policy is something we, as Americans, should have zero tolerance for.

In a slide-show presentation that focused on immigration, DeSaulnier walked through the damage being done — including the fact that at least 500 children may now be permanently orphaned because they were separated from parents who were subsequently deported. 

DeSaulnier described his trip to the border crossing at Brownsville Texas. Upon arrival, he met with a federal judge who confided that the immigrants here were not “bad people.” In most cases, they were legally seeking asylum. DeSaulnier attended the adjudication of 70 individuals, the majority of whom came from Central America, immigrants who had traveled thousands of miles and paid as much as $20,000 to “coyotes” to gain transport to the border.

DeSaulnier also met with several families who had recently been re-united. A young boy told him how, after being separated from his family, an immigration official had told him: “Your parents don’t ever want to see you again.”

Finally, DeSaulnier was able to tour a facility for new arrivals, the place where immigrants are housed in fence-enclosed “cages” (as you may have seen in television reports). Several immigration officials related how uncomfortable this all made them. One lamented that he had sought the job after 9-11, to be one of the “good guys” helping his country; he now felt he had become one of the “bad guys.”

An obviously emotional DeSaulnier stressed to the town hall audience that “this has to stop. It is not acceptable.” What the Trump administration is doing at the border is not only ethically wrong, it is illegal!  He described efforts to get legislation passed that addresses the issue. The frustrating problem is that GOP Speaker of the House has absolute control over which bills can be brought to the floor for a vote. Even though DeSaulnier is supporting at least two bills that would pass if voted on, Speaker Ryan has refused to let them reach the floor.

The meeting concluded with a Q&A where members largely voiced support for the work DeSaulnier is doing. At one point, he gave a shout-out to Indivisible — complimenting us for pressuring him to “tell us what you are doing about it.” Watch the recorded Town Hall here.

Rep. Eric Swalwell: baseball and town hall

For Eric Swalwell, Representative for the CA-15 Congressional district, last weekend was a combination of fun and business.

Fun was an Oakland A’s pre-game tailgate party at the Coliseum, which he hosted. After wrapping that up, it was on to the game itself, where Rep. Swalwell threw out the ceremonial first pitch!

The business part was a town hall meeting at Hayward High School on Saturday August 4. Swalwell answered questions on a wide range of issues, including health care, immigration, climate change, the rights of veterans and, of course, the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. His final words touched on FDR’s four freedoms: the freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — with a new freedom added by Swalwell to provide hope in today’s troubled times: the freedom to dream.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, photo by Josh Richmond
Rep. Eric Swalwell, photo by Josh Richmond

Many constituents were interested in getting involved in the efforts to counter the Trump administration’s actions. That’s when IEB’s CA-15 team co-leads Ward and LeAnn Kanowsky stepped up to the plate. They and other members passed out flyers recommending IEB as a great resource for those wanting to be more involved.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, photo by Josh Richmond
Rep. Eric Swalwell and IEB CA-15 team co-lead Ward Kanowsky, photo by Josh Richmond

And IEB activism elsewhere too!

Several other intrepid IEB members took their activism on the road over the weekend as well! IEB superstars Amelia Cass and Linh Nguyen attended the Tahoe Summit, delivering a letter to keynote speaker Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski from 29 of her constituents asking her to vote NO on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And Nancy Latham traveled to New Orleans to join with thousands of other activists at the Netroots Nation conference. Read her inspiring first-hand account.

Paint Congress Blue photographs by Wesley Chang, see more of Wesley’s PCB photos here.

Ted Landau, Alice Towey, Toni Henle and Ward Kanowsky contributed to this report.