November 26, 2019

Writing Postcards to Voters in the US

What is it?  

Postcards to Voters are friendly, handwritten reminders – on postcards, like the name says - sent from volunteers everywhere, to voters in the United States with a message to vote for the Democratic candidate in key races from coast to coast. 

It’s an all-volunteer project, run by Tony the Democrat from Atlanta, Georgia. Tony was a founding member of a grassroots group in Texas that turned a red House District blue, and has served as both a Precinct Chair and House District Coordinator responsible for recruiting, training, and mentoring Precinct Captains. When he moved to Georgia, he began Postcards to Voters (with a handful of Facebook folk). 

Since 2017, Postcards to Voters has attracted over 61,000 volunteers in every state (and overseas!) who have written close to 4 million postcards to voters in over 162 close elections.

Postcards to Voters is not the only option today for postcard campaigns. I’ve looked into some of the other options. So far, Postcards to Voters is the only campaign that I work with. Here’s why:

  • Postcards to Voters invites campaigns to work with them. Any campaign for any candidate that would like to have support from Postcards to Voters can apply. Why is this important? Because the lists of Democratic voters are provided by the campaign coordinators.
  • The Postcards to Voters team vets each request and determines with the campaign what messaging to use. When you get addresses from Postcards to Voters, you also get a set of instructions that includes: information about the candidate, three “must include” sentences, and a number of optional tidbits you can include on your cards – if there’s room.
  • Lastly, Postcards to Voters vet the postcard writers. There’s a short, easy application process to insure that the people who ask for addresses will follow through. 

See below for How To Participate.

Does it work? 

Research results show:

“Postcards to Voters is…designed to GOTV as powerfully as possible, to reach as many voters as possible, and to engage as many people as possible in the creation process. It’s true that it hasn’t been scientifically validated [yet], but it does rest on a foundation of research that shows that GOTV efforts can be effective.” – Rose Hendricks, Researcher at FrameWorks Institute

“Research conducted by the Analyst Institute in early 2018 for Postcards4VA and the Women Effect Action Fund measured the electoral impact of handwritten mail. According to a June 22 post in Blue Virginia, that research found ‘an increase in voter turnout among those infrequent voters receiving a handwritten note…similar to the bump in turnout generated by a typical Get-Out-The-Vote door to door canvass.’ Postcards has an as good or better effect on voter turnout than the tactic most commonly used by political campaigns.’”  Marcy Miroff Rothenberg, journalist and author, Demcast 

People who have or received and written postcards say:

“I cannot tell you how much the postcards meant to us all!... Your postcards helped us feel the energy of the entire Democratic family in the effort, AND WE WON. Because in our household all of us are Democrats, we got several cards, and as Staging Location Director for our county, folks brought in their cards and I taped together in our headquarters' windows. We loved them!” - a Democrat in Jefferson County, Iowa where Phil Miller won his State Representative Special Election

“I want to add my testimonial about the satisfaction I particularly derive from writing for the local races. These new local Dem leaders have great energy, will work to effect positive change in their communities, get experience so they can rise to state & federal positions & keep the values & policy debate alive in their areas. When I see the candidates’ shock (& delight) at their win & hear that community members have asked the candidate when they would receive their handwritten postcard, I know we make a difference getting out the vote. Frankly, even when our candidates don’t win, I feel good that we have supported a candidate who will have improved name & issue recognition should they run again & we have reinforced our GOTV message. ” - Elizabeth Reingold

How to participate from abroad

Writers from outside the U.S. have two options to sign up:

Please note: If you go to their website or follow them on social media, you’ll see “text this number” and “use Abby the Address bot” options. Neither of these options work outside of the U.S.

After you’ve emailed or filled in the on-line form, you’ll get an email response with five (5) addresses and a set of instructions, including a request to take a photo of your completed cards and to send it to Tony the Democrat. Once you do that, voilà! You are officially a Verified Writer and can request as many addresses as you like. The Postcards to Voters team will send them to you with their thanks.

A few helpful things to know:

  • ONLY American citizens should write postcards to voters, so we are sure not to violate any election rules and regulations.
    • On each postcard you should include something like “from a fellow American who votes from abroad.”
  • Stamp your cards with the correct amount of postage for delivery to the United States from wherever you are. 
  • As postcards can take up to a month to be delivered, write only for campaigns that allow enough time to make it to the voter’s mailbox before election day! In other words, we aren’t able to support last-minute campaigns from abroad.
  • You can buy tourist postcards with fun and pretty pictures or you can make your own. 
    • Postcards To Voters has cards designed by volunteers that you can buy, but they don’t ship overseas. We have plenty in stock! Contact us if you’d like to buy some.

Writing Postcards to Voters is a fun activity to do with a group! Get together with like-minded Americans - friends, Democrats Abroad members, Americans who you met at a march, rally, or vigil -  ask Tony for 10, 20, or more addresses and host a Postcard Party. Bring postcards and stamps, or ask participants to bring their own, and get your new volunteers started writing. Then you, the Postcard Pro, can show the group how to join Postcards to Voters so they can write more cards on their own. 

What does it cost?

  • Postcards
  • International postage (i.e., of the country you are mailing the postcards from)

So, now you know! To see what it is all about and to join the community, check out Postcards to Voters on their website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. (Links below.)

Have you written Postcards to Voters? What was your experience like? We are interested in your suggestions, other information, and advice. Let us know!

Links to resources


Author - Mickey Farrance, Democrats Abroad France GOTV coordinator

Intro meme by Helen Stickler