Host A Virtual Letter Writing Party
WRITING LETTERS TO VOTERS—TOGETHER
Vote Forward letters encouraging the recipient to vote have been proven, through repeated scientific testing, to increase the likelihood that a voter will turn out in an election. They are more effective at turning out voters than handwritten postcards.
Letter writing is also an easy first action for new volunteers to take and a great way to make an impact no matter where you are. So, we're recommending an innovative combination of tactics that uses volunteer power to get voters to the polls en masse. It involves us writing personal letters—lots of letters—to get people to the polls even if you are thousands of miles away. This is the power of a grassroots activist movement, and what we can do when we work together.
The good news is that we can help turn out voters from home by writing letters, and we don’t have to do it alone! As we all know, physical distancing is an important tool to keep us all healthy now. We encourage you to practice physical distancing and avoid holding large in-person events. This toolkit will help you run virtual letter writing parties so we can continue to connect, build grassroots communities, write letters and make a difference!
How Does Get Out The Vote By Mail Work?
Swing Left is working with Vote Forward to help volunteers write letters from home or host Virtual Letter Writing Parties. Our Swing Left groups and volunteers have pioneered in-person letter writing parties that have resulted in millions of letters, and now they will lead us in hosting virtual parties, too.
Volunteers will be writing letters, usually to turn out voters for an upcoming election and “banking” these letters to send shortly before voters go to the polls. From time to time, we’ll also be writing letters for special elections and participating in smaller Vote Forward tests that will help them learn the most effective ways to turnout and register voters by mail.
Virtual letter writing parties are similar to in-person letter writing parties, except for two differences:
- Sign up for a Vote Forward account as soon as possible. It may take several days for approval.
- Create an event listing for your virtual party here to allow folks to RSVP. Please create a virtual letter writing party on Mobilize each time you host a party so we can prepare to have enough names for you and your volunteers.
- Use our host guide to plan your virtual event. This guide walks through a virtual letter writing party step-by-step, including how to choose and prepare for hosting your party on an audio or video conferencing tool. There are even some video conference resources that Swing Left offer you for free on a first-come, first serve basis. You can also review a virtual letter writing party host training recording.
- Print the letters you plan to write during the party and learn the letter writing process. You can walk through how to write letters at Swing Left’s Write Letters from Home.
- Begin recruiting your friends and your network to join you.
- Let volunteers know how to prepare to participate in your virtual event.They will need to know how to sign up for Vote Forward, print letters and join your event using your chosen audio/video conferencing tool. The host guide walks through how to make sure your volunteers are ready to go on party day!
- Follow the instructions in the agenda in the host guide to lead your event.
- Thank everyone and remind them what they should do with the letters after the call. Ask volunteers to host their own virtual party!
- Follow-up with your volunteers by email as described in the host guide.
- Store your letters in a safe place and update your Vote Forward account by clicking the buttons on the website to indicate that you have “prepared” the letters. You may be writing letters to send in October so make sure you have a safe place to store them and put a reminder in your calendar! Check out our host guide for suggestions on how to keep track of letters in the meantime. (Didn't get through all your letters? Drop Vote Forward a line and we'll put them back in the queue.)
- Remind your party volunteers a day before the Vote Forward mail-on date to send their letters and update Vote Forward. Check out the Mobilize guide to learn how to email and/or download the list of party attendees.
- Mail your letters on the date Vote Forward assigns for this campaign!
- Pat yourself on the back—you're awesome!
- Rinse...and repeat!
- If volunteers are writing for one of the experimental voter registration by mail (VRBM) tests, there are some specific VRBM resources for these more complex letters.
- Watch out for the most common errors that volunteers make: addressing the letters to the wrong voter (the voter’s information is at the bottom of each page), using their own return address as opposed to the one listed on the bottom of each letter, and stuffing the envelope with the wrong letter. Volunteers can review each letter after they write a full batch to ensure all the letters are correct.
- Volunteers should plan to mail your completed letters on the date provided by Vote Forward for the campaign. Remind volunteers multiple times where to find this date and make sure they understand they shouldn’t send the letters on another day.
What will each attendee need for your virtual party?