Cure Votes in Georgia, Today

Vote curing is the lowest hanging and tastiest fruit if you want to do something to help end Republican control of the Senate. Winning the Jan 5 runoffs in Georgia is the only way we will be able to start to undo Trump’s savaging of our democracy, and the voter suppression which will continue to distort our government until there is a new Voting Rights Act.  

In the November general election, vote curing in Georgia saved an estimated 20,000 votes that would otherwise have been discarded Thousands of paper provisional ballots were cured, along with thousands of absentee and mail in ballots. 

Biden won Georgia by just 12,000 votes.  

Curing literally delivered Georgia in that very tight race. You could be vote curing today from anywhere over the telephone.  

What is vote curing? Already in Georgia, hundreds of thousands of absentee and mail in ballots have arrived at the supervisor of elections offices.  Many thousands of these will have technical problems which prevent them from being counted- usually due to a signature issue, incorrectly dating the ballot, or other fairly boring but easy mistakes to make.  The state produces a list of voters who need to cure their vote, but often (for both good and bad reasons) is unable to reach the voter.  

Your job is to call up the voter, explain what is wrong with the ballot, and tell them how they can fix it. Generally speaking people are very happy to get this call.

On or after election day, vote curing also involves provisional ballots.  Provisional ballots are paper ballots issued on election day when there’s a lack of clarity regarding the person’s ability to legally vote in Georgia, when the electronic ballot machines are down, or the polls stay open later than expected.  Some provisional paper ballots, are cured automatically by the state. 

But other provisional ballots must be cured by the voter.  Voters have until 5pm on the Friday following the election – Jan 8 – to cure their ballots.  Some people who voted on a paper provisional ballot, especially younger voters or people who are less fluent in English, may not realize this.  Vote curing involves contacting these voters and helping them get their ballot counted. 

Why is vote curing so much more fun than phone banking? I phone bank a fair bit, it keeps you engaged with the electorate and it keeps you humble because you fail repeatedly.  But your feedback is only occasionally positive – and many people are annoyed to get your call by virtue of apathy or oppressive campaign pestering.  

Vote curing is different.  You are contacting people who want to vote including many who made a real effort to jump through all the hoops do so in advance.  You are calling someone and basically saying “Your ballot is a little messed up and has been set aside, but I can help you with the simple things you can do so it can be fixed and counted.” This is a message people very much want to hear.  

I had a long conversation with Joe yesterday who thinks the race is crazy important, had gone to some trouble to vote, and very definitely did not know he had put the date he signed the absentee ballot in the date field instead of the date for the election. Joe’s a smart guy, but this is an easy mistake to make.  Without that call Joe’s vote would have been discarded, and he might never have known.  We spoke a little about our work on the election in Georgia, and after the election he wants to meet and take me to a socially distanced coffee at this place he knows in Atlanta.

You should not do vote curing because you think you are going to get a free coffee out of it. You should do vote curing because the margins on this election are razor thin.  Curing 1 or 10 or 100 ballots can be the difference between a democrat controlled Senate for the next two years and a Senate controlled by Moscow Mitch.  

To be clear, especially if you have done conventional phone banking, vote curing is more complex.  The training is longer and the decision tree is “bushier”.  This means the training is longer than conventional phone banking, typically 40 minutes.  And you will not get thru to many of the people you call, but when you do get through your chances of a much more positive response is much higher.

Find this exciting? Want to do more to save democracy and the Senate – but only have a couple hours a day far from Georgia? You are in luck. The Flip Georgia Air Team is looking for more help. You can do curing, you can do research or clerical work, tik tok sleuthing, if you know (language list – Korean, Japanese, Spanish, xx) or meeting facilitation. If you have skills it is easy to work with and available right now.

Or maybe you’re short on time but can donate cash?  If so, you can contribute to the Flip Georgia project to help us with our ballot curing efforts, keep the Vote Truck gassed up, and more. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project so far, now let’s make the last week count!

Trees, Trucks, Murals, and Billboards, Oh my!

This project has been occasionally described as a controlled crash.  We knew precious little when we arrived, we know a lot now, and a bit like an octopus we are tangled in a bunch of things.  We’re working with both the Ossoff and Warnock Senate campaigns as well as several independent groups,  some of whom are showcased below.   And so much more is in the works!  

Bill board on I-75: I don’t think I have ever had a project which has ever quite fallen in my lap, and into place, the way this one did.  Allison asked if we could help these friends who were trying to get a Billboard up outside of the Atlanta metro area, which has been the target of a huge media blitz over these campaigns, in order to reach more rural voters.  Within 2 days Angie launched yet another GoFundMe within and good to their word, Caroyln and Nancy brought in donors who we had never seen before and we quickly raised over $2K.  The billboard was funded, designed, and installed less than 2 weeks from the date we started on this effort!

Billboard at exit 71 of I-75 South

Hosea Williams Mural:  Hosea Williams was an American icon: civil rights activist, scientist, inventor, politician, philanthropist, charity founder, political organizer, and MLK’s right hand. His 95th birthday would have been January 5, the day of the Georgia runoff, an election that will determine the fate of the country and our world. Atlanta artist Fabian Williams (no relation) completed his Hosea mural in 2017, however the sun deteriorated the fluorescent paint. We are supporting Fabian’s restoration of the mural to its original glory so that it can become a lasting beacon for decades to come. Donate to this epic mural project here

Fabian Williams working on the Hosea Williams mural in the background with the VoteTruck in the foreground

VoteTree is Jacqueline’s non-partisan art exhibition, mixing fabric woven trees with local artistic networking and digital features. Jacqueline draws her experience with interactive political art exhibitions from her work on opposing gun violence and supporting the LGBTQ community.  She is a gifted networker who connected us to the Block Power project that recruits voting ambassadors, especially Black voters, to use social relations to bring people to the polls.  Jacqueline has been our bridge to local artists, grassroots organizations, and the construction company which is interested in murals.  She came thinking she was going back to Chicago after installing the VoteTree installation.  We asked her to stay and fortunately she agreed; everyone is convinced this was the right move.

VoteTruck:  Rachel Lomas started her artistic political activism with midterms matter in Texas and got the truck from Texas to Atlanta to support the runoff elections. The truck has two neon mounted art pieces on it.  One side encourages folks to vote, and the other is a smiling image of local hero Stacey Abrams.   Rachel had to return to Texas, but wanted the Truck to be kept busy in Georgia.  We have been keeping it VERY busy supporting actions (including visiting the Math Movement folks who are working with Andrew Yang at their canvass office in Columbus Georgia.)  

Side A of the VoteTruck

We use the truck for photo ops, to draw attention at rallies, and when doing public outreach. (We had the nicest throw out ever from a security driver who told us she is volunteering for the campaign, but we have to move our giant neon truck out of her parking lot).  The truck is a great attention grabber and conversation starter, plus it’s gotten media attention from the New York Times, NBC News, NBC Latino.

We also have a few other projects in the works (more info on those soon), and are continuing our canvassing and art installations on the Beltline. Please help us continue our work in Georgia by contributing to our GoFundMe supporting these efforts.

The same old voter suppression song, and new remix

It took a tremendous political effort to remove Trump as president.  And while it is comforting to think Trumpism will pass with the residence change on January 20th, there are many signs that some of the most dangerous ideas will linger on.

This is a trivial part of the voter suppression effort which is going on in Georgia right now.  Trivial, because the Democrats were trying to make voting more accessible by expanding hours and locations and the Republicans shot it down, not really so terrible.  But the wording here is important- “not allow opportunities for more fraud”.  The notion is that simply giving more access increases the chances of fraud, despite the Republicans in the state repeatedly certifying the recent election results are fraud free.  This is the lingering effect of the current president; any election result or dynamic (in this case more voters) that is undesirable to the Republican Party is “fraud”.

More disconcerting, Georgia is closing nearly half of the early voting polling stations in the third most populous county (when they closed very few others), a county which went to Biden in the general election.  

Georgia has a long history of voter suppression. Stacey Abrams did not concede her loss as Governor of Georgia in 2018 because hundreds of thousands of people were purged from the voter rolls by her opponent Jack Kemp.  Kemp was the Georgia secretary of state at the time and thus running the election which he was a candidate in.  The Voting Rights act specifically prohibited these types of removals from voting rolls.  Kemp purged 668,000 voters in the year before the election, because the US supreme court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights which are designed to stop voter suppression, especially of poor and POC voters, before it happened.  

Do you want to have a king?

Earlier this week, 18 States challenged 4 swing states in an unprecedented legal challenge in an effort to overturn the certified election results, with 106 Republican members of the House of Representatives piling on.  It is hard to overstate how damaging this is to our democratic culture and institutions.  This is a last desperate effort to get these conclusive election results in front of the Supreme Court, in hopes that they will be loyal rather than legal.

Legal scholars agree and even many Republican elected officials agree that there is no legal basis for states to sue other states over their voting practices. In parallel with this, recently pardoned former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is demanding new elections be held overseen by the recently reorganized military.  What could go wrong?

Happily for us all, this clumsy coup attempt failed. Even the heavily conservative Supreme Court (with 3 Trump appointees) recognized that this was a reach, and rejected it. “The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”  It’s a sign of how far from normalcy the US election has gone that while this is the only legally sound decision that could have been made, it was still not a sure thing.  

There is still work to do.  The Georgia special election is only 24 days away.  Voter suppression existed before Trump and will continue after he leaves office, but the work being done on the ground in Georgia to fight back will also continue.  It’s been a long 4 years, but we need to keep fighting. To help, you can join our Georgia Air Team contact us at Flip2020Project@gmail.com, or financially support the efforts of our on the ground Georgia team via GoFundMe.

Madness is not a unifying strategy

The Trump administration, which continues to assert that Mexico will pay for the border wall, may be finding the limitations of madness as a political strategy. 

Trump spoke to a good-sized crowd at a tiny airport in Georgia near the Florida border.  The purpose of the rally was to support the two Republican senators running to save their seats in the January 5th run-off election.  

Valdosta, GA airport with an estimated 10K person crowd

Trump spoke for almost 2 hours.  He let the candidate speak for 2 minutes, during which the crowd shouted “Fight for Trump” in the same cadence as their previous favorite “Lock her up.”

Trump spent much of his speech complaining about how the election had been stolen from him and how Governor Kemp had refused to overturn the election in Georgia for him. He played OANN tapes of detailed “vote stealing” activities in various states including Georgia.   He notably did not condemn the Republican operatives who were encouraging people not to vote in the runoff, calling them “his friends.”

“You know, you’re angry because so many votes were stolen. It was taken away. And you say, ‘Well, we’re not going to do it.’ We can’t do that. We have to actually do just the opposite,” Trump said. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines Orwells term Doublethink as “the acceptance of or mental capacity to accept contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time, especially as a result of political indoctrination.”

If you attended this rally, you left with two messages.  The senators are not doing enough for Trump.  These senators deserve your vote.

Some Trump followers who believe these claims of massive voter fraud are advocating for boycotting the Georgia Senate runoffs.   Because this race is within just a couple of points – without Trump actively unifying his base, even a tiny boycott could sink the GOPs chances to hold either seat.

This is a photo of the Sidney Powell and Lin Wood “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia where Republican participants were encouraged to boycott the upcoming runoff elections, unless they overturn the states electoral votes going to Biden.  The message from Trump’s friends is unequivocal: “Don’t vote”. From the size of the crowd, if I were a GOP operative working in Georgia I would be worried.  And in case you have not seen the clips you should know this was an enthusiastic crowd.

This rally creates an impossible situation for Loeffler and Perdue.  If they demand the election results be overturned they spark a civil war inside the party where “conventional” Republicans like the Secretary of State Raffensperger and voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling (who famously demanded Trump control the threats of his supporters) are disenfranchised.  Or they stop short of these demands and the enraged Trump supporters follow the advice of Wood and Powell and boycott the election because they have not earned their vote.  Either way, because of the razor tight margins these incumbents are more likely to lose.  Trump held this rally not to support these candidates, but to threaten them to do more for him or risk losing his full support.  For in the end this narcissist in chief cares only about his own king making capacity and not about who controls the Senate or anything else.

Atlanta Canvass

Jerod and I are at the unassuming parking lot of a root canal dentistry service. There are half a dozen canvassers on a glorious Atlanta morning- every one of us has done some canvassing before. Nick, who works for the Jon Ossoff campaign and is our canvass lead, gives us our scripts.  Like any good canvass director he tells us to not feel bound by it and do what feels natural at the door. He stresses the dates for early voting and registration of new voters, but because the crew is experienced he doesn’t worry too much about our training.

Ideally the Flip Georgia Project (the new name for the Flip 2020 Project, now that our work in Maine is done) would do very little canvassing, not because we don’t think it’s effective — quite the contrary. We continue to believe that the reason so many polls were wrong in the general election, and that the Republicans were able to hold most of their vulnerable Senate seats, is the Democrats mostly did not canvass while the Republicans claim to have done a million doors per week.

But the reason we want to do little canvassing is we believe we can do things in Georgia that are more effective, as illustrated by the work we did later in the day.

The critical Atlanta suburbs

I already had the MiniVan app on my phone from canvassing in Maine. I dropped in the new codes and was off to nearby houses within half an hour of meeting Nick. The houses were large, the neighborhoods affluent, and most of the people I spoke with were well aware of the elections; several had already voted. Still, I had a couple of good conversations, dropped off the informative literature at houses where there was no response to my knocking, and was quick enough that I got Nick to give me a second territory and completed that as well.

Georgia canvass literature 

While my morning of canvassing was fairly bland, Jerod got some disturbing information at one door. A family who had just arrived home mentioned they thought he was Republican because they’d already talked to multiple Republican canvassers. This was rattling because the MiniVan system does not send you to every door — that would be a waste of your time — it sends you only to doors of people who either are registered Democrats or who might vote for your candidates (Independents, Green party folks, people who have made contributions to the campaign). What is disturbing is that the general election that triggered these critical Georgia runoffs was less than a month ago. It means the Republicans have large canvass crews and are already doubling back and hitting the same houses twice, while the Democrats are just getting started.

Which brings me to the latter part of the day, where I feel the Flip Georgia effort out-performed both conventional canvassing and the big Democratic groups operating in the state.

After canvassing, I went to meet up with Jacqueline and her tribe of artists. Most days Jacqueline works as a non-profit Director of Digital Strategist, but this was not most days. Jacqueline is working with local artists and activists on the VoteTree project in Atlanta, which fuses public art with non-partisan political content to raise awareness about these critical runoff elections. 

I have to admit I was skeptical when Jacqueline first proposed a “fabric bridge”: strips of red, white, and blue fabric hung from a long ribbon suspended a few feet above the ground along the side of the Beltline park, which circles Atlanta. I imagined it might be ignored, or that the police would force its removal. But Jacqueline was determined and I knew enough to stay out of her way. And she was completely right. Passersby loved the installation, our most minimal invitation got people, especially families, engaged and putting up ribbons. These flag like ribbons were popular with passers by who were happy to help build this patriotic art project encouraging and enabling people to vote.

Jacqueline and a local family helping craft the fabric fence

And as is sort of the Flip Georgia approach, while some people were doing the activity other people were working the crowd to get them to register or apply for an absentee ballot. Jacqueline’s team had created these handy business cards with QR codes on them that made it dead easy to get your ballot mailed to you. You can scan it on your phone, which takes you to the Secretary of State’s website, and there you can immediately register and/or request a mail-in ballot.

QR codes are fast.

On the other side of the busy Beltline park, Allison took pictures of people with her sign that had election information on it. She would simply ask people who were walking down the Beltline if they would be willing to hold her sign so she could take their picture and post it on social media. Almost everyone said yes (who can resist a selfie that shows off your civic duty?). Right after she took their picture she would ask, “May I take a picture with your phone so you can put it up on social media?” Almost everyone said yes!

By comparison one of the prominent Georgia political groups was tabling at the Beltline just a couple hundred meters from us. Their instructions were to not be intrusive. If someone had a question or wanted information they were of course there to help. But they were not to “bark” at passersby to attempt to get them to engage. We were “barking softly” if you will — you could get your picture taken, you could tie on a ribbon with your kids if you wanted to… and take one of our business cards.

I asked the folks at this table how many people had spoken with the major group’s paid tablers in the course of their three-hour shift. The number was three. I checked with Jacqueline how many people had used the QR coded cards we had given out — there were over fifty during that same afternoon. We had talked with and engaged dozens of people and given out many cards.

It seems to be the right time for barking.

Jon Ossoff with a barker

You can support Flip Georgia by contributing to via GoFundMe or by sending a PayPal contribution to FlipGeorgia2020@gmail.com.

Georgia Air Team – How you can help from home

You have likely seen people from across the country asking on social media what they can do to help the Georgia senate runoff elections.  The most frequent answer is “Phone Bank and Donate!”

The Flip 2020 project is dedicated to a more varied (and we believe more effective) set of responses to this question.  Specifically, we want you to join our Air Team.

The Air Team is currently supporting the clerical work, outreach, and analysis of the Georgia race.  

We need support with voter registration efforts, especially of high school and college students- One current push is to reach eligible student voters. We have created two graphics- one to reach people who will be turning 18 before election day, and one to reach Georgia college students who may still be registered out of state but live in Georgia and can change their voter registration to GA. Both groups must be reached before the fast-approaching registration deadline of Dec. 7th! 

Which schools will be in session in person after the Thanksgiving break? If they are not coming back, then putting up a physical poster is useless and then the question shifts to “which student group will distribute this to their members by email or social media?”  Who from those groups will help us?  There is research of social media trying to find influencers who might help promote these messages.

Much of the outreach for this is remote, and you could help in many ways including  finding contact info for high school administrators in dem-friendly towns and counties, finding contact info for aligned college groups like the Sunrise Movement, or writing op-eds for local Georgia newspapers. Check out our full list of possible air game tasks on our website at Flip2020.org/Georgia-Air-Game.

Air Team folks would also write back to locals who are writing us with questions and requests for posters.  This is the help we need today.

We need help navigating the social media landscape.  Are you a Tik Tokker or social media guru?  How do we build teams of people with similar interests on these giant facebook groups? How do we promote our art resources page on Facebook?  Are there outdoor venues where we can covid-compliantly reach out to people, public events or public spaces? Do you know how to do research on who is accessible as an influencer on a social media platform?

We are also keeping track of canvasses which are opening up in Georgia.  After several initial messages discouraging folks from out of state to come to Georgia, now both Democratic candidates and the voter registration and counter suppression group Fair Fight have decided that they want out of state folks to at least do a door to door canvass in Georgia.  

This is just the beginning of the things that an Air Team can do, as well as translating posters and other materials into Chinese, Vietnamese, and other languages (we have Spanish, Korean, and Japanese already).  If you want to help us flip the Senate here in Georgia and need to stay in your home state, send a message to flip2020project@gmail.com, leave a comment below, or through our website’s Contact Us form


Thank you

We lost.  That’s the thing hanging heavy on our hearts today- Susan Collins won and will shortly begin her 5th term in the Senate, and we’re further from flipping the senate to democratic control than we’d hoped or even imagined.  

We’re tired.  None of the flip crew have gotten much rest over the past few weeks- an action a day gets tiring after the first 10 days or so and we held that pace for over 40.  We’ve driven thousands of miles and canvassed by car, foot, bike, and kayak.  

But we don’t regret doing this work.  We are grateful to everyone who supported this project.  The progressive, independent, and radical Mainers we connected with this autumn reminds us that even in this mostly rural state (also the whitest in the nation) there are folks who support medicare for all, believe black lives matter, and who will fight for progressive values.

Over 100 people made monetary donations to the project, with contributions ranging from $10 to over $10,000.  Others offered housing, food, video editing, grocery store cards, and so many other skills and gifts.  Thank you to everyone who helped keep our canvassers fed, housed, and fairly compensated for their work.  

Dozens of volunteers contributed their time to Flip 2020, from analyzing data to decide where to canvass, to fundraising, to knocking on doors, to cooking dinner, to tabling at farmers markets, to balancing the budget.  Thank you to everyone who gave of their time and skills to support this project.  

The project can point to a number of successes. When we first started working on this campaign Lisa Savage was polling at 2%, by election day she was at 5% and came within a few thousand votes or her 2nd place votes determining the race.  The whole team became fierce advocates of ranked choice voting, something many of us knew little about before our arrival.  The package of policies (a demilitarized Green New Deal, Medicare for all, defunding the police, ending the drug war, free tuition) are becoming the new populism and we found they had great traction with voters – this part of the movement is ramping up.  We built bonds with locals and each other that will last well beyond the election dust settling.

We have done our final heart circle, spent quite some time listening to the appreciations we had for each other and some pointed regrets as well.  Some of us will head to Georgia to work on the runoff senate race.  Others will return to the intentional communities movement.  Still others head back to school, to work, to organize groups in our communities.  Some of us have gotten more connected to BLM organizers, indigenous led activist crews, femme lead political agitating, and more.  While losing sucks, none of us regrets coming on this adventure and our efforts to make things be better. Thank you to everyone who made the Flip 2020 project happen.

6 weeks down, 5 days left to Flip the Senate

In the six weeks since the Flip 2020 team arrived in Maine we’ve done at least one action every day, and it’s been a while since our last update post on those actions.  Street performers, political activists and musicians have teamed up to do dozens of different types of actions, from the mundane to the extraordinary.

In the last 5 days before the election, we’re exhausted but energized.  Canvassing is tiring but important work, so check out the testimonials from our team on why they’re doing it.  If you’d like to support our work, you can contribute to our GoFundMe Campaign or via our PayPal Donate link.

What we’ve accomplished so far

Events everywhere

We have tabled or performed at dozens of public events, including farmers markets, environmental events, BLM protests, and more. We’ve been to Portland, Lewiston, Augusta, Waterville, Orono, Bangor, Belfast, Old Orchard Beach and many other smaller towns.

Interviews with the independent candidate

The national media fails at covering independent candidates. We hosted an interview with independent, green candidate Lisa Savage to further amplify her voice. You can watch our interview with Lisa Savage here.

The Ranked Choice Voting Song

We’ve taken part in voter education efforts around Ranked Choice Voting and even written a song about it!  Check out the music video for the Ranked Choice Voting Song.

Hosting our own events

We organized a Progressive Action Summit in Portland on 10/10—over 100 people attended and heard from Maine leaders speak up on issues facing the state.

Bread & Puppet Street Theater

We took a trip to Vermont to train with the famous political street theater troupe Bread & Puppet.  Check out our video featuring our Bread & Puppet training.

Discussions with over 1,000 Maine voters

We’ve had discussions with over a thousand Maine voters face to face about defeating Susan Collins this election, a similar number via text and phone banking, and with hundreds more speaking to groups at public events.

We’ve traveled 10,000 miles on foot, bike, car, and kayak

We’ve driven more that 10,000 miles since our arrival in Maine, connecting with voters in nearly every county of this physically large state.  We’ve also canvassed on foot, on bike trailers, and even in kayaks!

Original artwork in honor of RBG

We attended a vigil in honor of RBG and created artwork for memory cards at that event. Check out our short film Don’t Mourn, Organize featuring  from footage and speakers at the RBG vigil.

We have also registered nearly 100 Mainers to vote (where they filled out the card and gave it to us) and given out over 100 voter registration cards (which they took with them).  We also assisted voters in accessing mail in ballots.

To see more of the Flip 2020 crew in action, check out our slideshow.

Why Maine? Part 2: Ranked Choice Voting

This post is part 2 answering the question, Why Maine? Why did Flip2020 select Maine out of all the senate swing states? In part 1, we look at Why Maine (Read part 1 here). In this post, we explore the second half of that answer: ranked choice voting.

The Flip 2020 project team has unanimously voted to endorse Independent Green Lisa Savage for U.S. Senate.  We believe in her progressive platform, her proven dedication, and refusal to accept corporate campaign donations.  The majority of our team also supports Democrat Sara Gideon for U.S. Senate.  If Lisa Savage is knocked out of the race during the instant runoff process, we believe Sara Gideon is the best other option.  It’s unusual for one organization to support two candidates in the same race but Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting makes this, and many other things, possible.

What is Ranked Choice Voting?

First, let’s start with an explanation in the form of an original song written by Katie Sontag from our crew:

In an RCV election, “Voters pick a first-choice candidate and have the option to rank backup candidates in order of their choice: second, third, and so on. If a candidate receives more than half of the first choices, that candidate wins, just like in any other election. However, if there is no majority winner after counting first choices, the race is decided by an “instant runoff.” The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate as ‘number 1’ will have their votes count for their next choice. This process continues until a candidate wins with more than half of the votes.” (Thanks to FairVote for this description of RCV).  Or to put it more simply- ranked choice voting means ranking a third party candidate #1 on your ballot and the democratic candidate #2 does not make it more likely that the republican candidate will win.  

Why We Like Ranked Choice Voting

Maine’s RCV is an especially positive thing for the Flip 2020 Project.  Many of our canvassers align more closely with the Green Party and progressive candidates than with mainstream Democrats.  We’re delighted that because of Maine’s ranked choice voting we can support both Lisa Savage and Sarah Gideon in their Senate races.  Our goal is to Flip the Senate by beating Susan Collins, electing either Savage and Gideon would accomplish that goal.  We’re also realists who recognize that Sara Gideon (with her huge campaign budget) is the person most likely to beat Susan Collins this November.  We’ll be encouraging progressive voters to “Rank Lisa First, Blue Number 2” and actively supporting both candidates.  

Progressive and independent voters often have a difficult decision to make at election time—do we vote for a candidate who has values that match ours, or the candidate who is more likely to get enough votes to win? In a close race when every vote counts, we have to make a difficult choice between voting for a progressive or against the Republican (which generally means voting for a Democrat).  In the face of this choice, and with our preferred candidates unlikely to win, some third party voters (progressives, greens, independents, and others) stay home.  It’s a serious issue in American politics.

Motivating independent and progressive voters is especially pertinent in Maine, where more voters are registered independent than either Democratic or Republican.

Motivating independent and progressive voters is especially pertinent in Maine, where more voters are registered independent than either Democratic or Republican.  Maine’s current senators also show that the state shows strong support for independent candidates, because the Republican incumbent Susan Collins is the least popular senator in the states, but the Independent incumbent Angus King is the most popular senator in the states.  Finally, for independent voters frustrated with the centrist rhetoric of the Democratic Party, ranking “Lisa First, Blue Number 2” makes their desire for Medicare for All and a demilitarized Green New Deal clear, yet doesn’t risk losing the seat.

How Trump Might Win and Why the Polls are Wrong

The polls look good for the Biden/Harris ticket right now. The president’s poor handling of the pandemic, the resulting economic collapse and his poor performance of the first debate have resulted in a number of declines in key battleground states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden has been very consistent in his widening lead over the Commander in Chief and has more support than Clinton ever had.

The above graphic comes from world class polster Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com project. [From Oct 14]

But this forecast could be wrong for two reasons. The first is various voter suppression and integrity damaging techniques being deployed by the White House. The second is because of a completely legal thing the Republican campaign is doing that will almost certainly have a significant impact on the results, which hardly anyone is talking about and the mainstream media is all but ignoring.  And if my logic is correct, this legal tactic is invisible to the polls.

Voter suppression and integrity damaging techniques

We have to give 45 credit for trying novel approaches to voter suppression and election disruption.  You have likely heard about the post office being hobbled by a presidential crone DeJoy, most recently with the removal of mail sorting machines.  You have perhaps heard of the hundreds of lawsuits prepared to contest changes in voting laws in the battlegrounds of Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  The initial budget estimate for these lawsuits was $20 million.

What you may not have heard of is the 1982 federal consent decree agreed to by Republicans and Democrats.  This agreement blocked armed guards (generally off-duty law enforcement officers hired by Republicans) who harassed and blocked voters at the polls, often voters of color.  It was overturned by a recently appointed Federal judge in 2018.  The Republicans have hired 50,000 “poll observers” who will certainly harass voters in Democratic areas.

The completely legal reason why Republicans may vote in greater numbers than Democrats this election

When we started the Flip 2020 project, which is designed to help switch control of the US Senate to the Democrats, we thought we would embrace the formula we used in Florida in 2018.  We would bring out-of-state activists to a key election state, train them how to canvass, and house and feed them in the run-up to the election.  

Team Tampa 2018 joined the Hard Knocks/SEIU Canvass team

A key piece of this successful strategy was finding an existing canvass operation which would pay our folks and provide critical canvass infrastructure like political materials, well-designed canvassing turf (so we did not waste time going to places where they were not going to consider our candidates and referendum) and access to the all important MiniVAN system which provides information on voters for canvassers so we arrive at the door informed and knowing who we are looking for.

Soon after we started searching for the right canvass group to work with, several canvassers working with the Progressive Turnout Project (PTP – a progressive canvassing organization) were infected with the novel coronavirus.  This kicked off a discussion in democratic canvassing groups about whether or not door-to-door canvassing was safe, not just for the folks at home but those working in the field.  As a result, all of the Democrat-leaning national canvasses shuttered their door-to-door efforts.  This included Working America (AFL), the largest service workers union (SEIU), the Progressive Turnout Project, as well as the Biden Campaign itself.

The president’s reelection campaign continued to canvass door-to-door, and knocks on a million doors each week.  It’s why the president might still get re-elected.

Many canvass campaigns target “lazy voters”, those who are known to be registered to your party but do not reliably vote.  Canvassers can explain how they can qualify for absentee ballots (oh yes, despite the president’s protests, his field staff is absolutely encouraging people to vote by mail if they don’t want to go to the polls), get voters rides to the polls if they want, and remind them how important the election is.

Face to face delivers votes

What PTPs research shows is that voters who have face-to-face contact with a canvasser are 10.4% more likely to actually vote.  The most optimistic numbers for social media, texting, and phone banked voters is a 3% increase in voting, several studies show these “air game” techniques are markedly less effective than that.  In a close race, increasing turnout by 10% on your side means winning instead of losing.  

The canvasser coming to your door is not changing your mind, they are increasing the chances you will vote.

What is especially insidious about this situation is it will be largely invisible in polling.  The canvasser coming to your door is not changing your mind, they are increasing the chances you will vote.  So when the pollster calls, they likely get the same answer they would have got before the canvasser’s influence, but what they don’t know is the canvasser has worked with the voter to get their absentee ballot, has worked with the voter to insure they know where their polling place is, has helped the voter organize transportation to the polling place and has reminded the voter to vote early so that their vote is counted.  What the pollster does not know is the canvasser has made the voter more effective and more likely to actually vote.  If you review the criteria for pollsters making the determination that someone is a “likely voter,” most of these are canvass effects invisible.

So let’s recap

  • The postal system has been and continues to be crippled
  • 50,000 poll watchers will depress the POC and/or democratic vote
  • Over $20 million has been budgeted just to start lawsuits across the country
  • Over 10 million people in the most critical states will be canvassed and perhaps 1 million votes will come out of this

What can you do?  Well, the Flip 2020 project is doing a tiny amount of door to door, and instead we are focusing on key Senate battleground states and doing covid compliant street theater, tabling, literature drops, and political actions to get the word out and bring the progressive vote in.  You can volunteer to help us and/or generously donate at www.flip2020.org or at our GoFundMe.