There are no magic bullets in the fight to get Democrats elected. That’s the first thing every responsible political activist acknowledges when discussing a possible new approach. However, if there were a magic bullet, it might be something like the grassroots, vote-by-mail (VBM) campaign program presented to all of the statewide Democratic Women’s clubs by the state DWC (DWCF) at a virtual town hall meeting on April 5, 2020. Barbara Murphy, club president, attended and brought it to our Board of Directors, who unanimously agreed to present the idea to the club through a virtual meeting on April 25, 2020. Mary Lou Woods and Marie Garnes from the DWCF Grassroots Campaign Committee, worked with the Board of Directors to customize the program for Flagler County. The DWC Flagler is proud to be the first club in the state to adopt the program.
Using a “two phase” approach, the program targets women who registered in Florida as Democrats after October, 2018 but have not yet voted in an election as a Democrat. Phase One, to be completed by May 15, consists of reaching out to new Democratic women by mail. A hand-addressed envelope containing a letter explaining the importance and safety of VBM, a stamped VBM registration postcard, and a “myths and facts” VBM information sheet was mailed to 997 new Democratic women. Each VBM postcard is coded, and the Supervisor of Elections has agreed to track their receipt and provide us with a monthly report. The recipient’s only task is to fill in the information on the postcard and drop it in the mail.
Phase Two will be a follow-up phone call or text to the 394 women for whom we have phone numbers. A script, which will stress the importance of VBM and encourage membership in the DWC, will be provided to those volunteering for this phase. Since VBM ballots are mailed approximately 40 days prior to the August 18th Primary, Phase Two completion date will be June 30, 2020.
Vote-by-Mail is a powerful tool that increases voter turnout even if there are inconsistencies among Supervisors of Elections regarding the processing of mail-in ballots. The data shows that people who register to vote by mail are more likely to vote. Statewide, 87.6% of Democrats with VBM voted in the 2018 general election, but only 55% of Democrats without VBM voted. We know that in Flagler County, Republicans not only outnumber Democrats, but they outvote us, as well.
Vote-by-Mail appears to be the solution to the voter turnout problem, and that is as close to a magic bullet as one can get in an election year. Imagine being able to convert a 55% voter turnout to an 88% turnout! That is what the DWC Flagler intends to do in the 2020 election!