Like others here I was fuming when the GOP voter-muzzling efforts began rolling in earnest last year. My outrage was tempered only by a sneaking soupcon that the whole operation might maybe, just maybe, blow up in the faces of the GOP by focusing attention on voter registration and simply angering otherwise apathetic people to vote. I had my doubts, but recent updates from fellow organizers are beginning to convince me otherwise. I got a recent Florida-focused memo from an old pal in The Resistance as they've been calling themselves (one of the anti-Tea Partiers that sprang up in 2010) and wanted to share the good news. The massive registration of the growing Puerto-Rican population and the in-your-face defeats of GOP voter suppression practices are especially sweet.
Pathetic, desperate Republican vote-suppression attempts are FAILING even in Florida and Colorado, two of the states these crooks have targeted most aggressively in their neo-Jim Crowism. Our former distaste for the GOP has, in the last four years, turned into a fiery hatred of this band of plutocratic, corrupt, anti-democracy traitors masquerading as a political party- we want to crush the Republicans and smash their spirit, and there's no better way to do that than to get our voters out to the polls. We're happy to report that the Republican strategy is backfiring massively. Our group is mostly based in the West, but in the last few weeks our small contingent in Florida alone has managed to:
- Register thousands of Puerto-Ricans and fire them up to vote in November. The mass Puerto-Rican migration into Florida, both from the island and from New York, has been one of the least-noticed demographic transformations of the past decade. It's ironically a result largely of anti-union and job-wrecking policies in both Puerto Rico and Bloomberg's New York that have been pushing out the Puerto-Rican population, with massive migration not only to hubs like Orlando and Miami but increasingly to Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Gainesville and even Pensacola. GOP anti-Latino and anti-working class policies have angered Puerto Ricans into becoming a very pro-Democratic bloc, and they're American citizens with full voting rights. Still, until 2012, this population has had rather low voter participation. But a mobilized, high-voting Puerto-Rican population is the Florida Republicans' worst nightmare, and we're working hard to make that nightmare come true for them. Rick Scott's voter suppression fail in Florida has been targeted in major part to discourage Puerto-Rican registration and voting, and the focused efforts of our and other grass-roots groups in the state are more than making up for it.
- Aggressively confront GOP lackeys in municipalities who try to put up administrative barriers to voting, or crooked Florida officials or employers who try to interfere with the sacred right to vote on Election Day. Just as in 2000, many employers with large numbers of minorities and young people in their work forces are flouting the law by intimidating their workers against voting, imposing double shifts or otherwise putting up barriers to going out and voting on Election Day. With every single instance that our grapevine has heard, we've notified the appropriate volunteers and legal teams and forced the vote-suppressors to back down. This is one of those areas where being a royal pain-in-the-ass will solve the problem in 90+% of cases. Most of these GOP bootlickers don't believe in their "cause" since the Republican Party doesn't really have a cause anymore outside of encouraging corruption, they're largely dupes or paid-off stooges of the Koch Brothers or other sources. So once they learn that we'll make their lives miserable, they tend to back down. And the rest? Then we sic our nastiest lawyers and rabble-rousers on them and make their lives even more miserable.
- Massively step up vote-count monitoring efforts with our team. Given what happened in 2000 and 2004 as well as the current polarization, if there's even a hint of Republican tampering with the vote count or voting machines, there'll be riots in 2012 that'll make those of the 60's look like a picnic. We've massively boosted our volunteer and staff vote monitoring efforts throughout Florida to demand paper trails, documentation, corroboration and full, redundant transparency of every single vote, no exceptions. We've made it clear that we're watching every move, every tally, every software tweak, every machine and every voting center to ensure an accurate count, and that any attempts to alter the vote count will bring immediate legal attacks and prosecution for a felony, with harsh penalties in the wake.
- Ensure that multilingual ballots are available where pertinent in Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi, Bengali, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Portuguese, French, Hmong, Laotian or other relevant languages, all of which increase voting participation in often marginalized minority communities in Florida. By federal mandates, ballots can be requested in a language with a significant presence in a given community, and with the help of motivated volunteers in our own diverse community, we've been able to help draw up and provide the relevant ballots as well as to provide voter education.
- Couple higher naturalization of immigrant communities with voter registration. In states like Florida in particular, there's a large pool of naturalization-eligible immigrants who haven't yet had a chance to naturalize, or for whom Republican interference has sometimes deliberately contributed to administrative delays. We've been aggressively in touch with the relevant community leaders and authorities to accelerate naturalization, voter registration and GOTV efforts in general. We've been making major gains in the voter rolls not only in Florida and Colorado, but in every state where our teams have been working.
- Provide information and actively boycott companies, casinos and products owned by the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch, the Waltons and other communities trying to use Citizens United to pour in money for GOP Super-Pacs and subvert democracy, while supporting their competitors. The Koch Brothers are repulsive for more reasons than we can name, a pair of silver-spoon-fed heirs to a fortune who've never had to work an honest day since they inherited billions from Daddy, but feel moved to attack the rights and needs of 99% of Americans in service of their filthy fantasy of a US run by a sort of quasi-feudalism. We've come to thoroughly hate these crooks, and we've spread the information (available on many Websites) to boycott their products and have a tangible effect. Since the Koch Brothers especially have oil interests, we've been hurting them (and helping the environment) by carpooling and using public transportation at every opportunity. Also makes it much easier to team up for a good pizza after a hard day's work!
- Confront, humiliate and otherwise discourage Republican hired thugs who try to attack or intimidate voter registration and GOTV volunteers. I know some of you have dealt with this in other states, too, but the Kochs and other jerks have been giving money to losers to go and obstruct voter registration teams out int he field. Initially we paid them little heed, but when they got persistent, we began responding them with the harshest, most degrading, most personally humiliating comments we could, and gradually these have been wearing down even the paid-off idiots. Strong, smart and deservedly malicious insults really can have an effect on these GOP chumps without the need for anything further (though one idiot who got in the personal space of one of our volunteers got an inadvertent elbow to the nose, which made us quite happy to see).
- Team up with local businesses to run voter registration drives in the state. Starbucks is well-known for this, but many local shops from florists to pizza parlors and bars have been joining up. It's great PR for them, and a great opportunity to register voters- with large numbers of youth and minority voters- in the process, and since it's on private property, there's absolutely nothing the GOP voter-suppression losers can do about it.
- Boosting our GOTV with simple, unqualified messages focusing on Republican attempts to sabotage Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yes, it's tapping into people's fears, but that's because the modern GOP is very much a dangerous organization that we should fear, loathe and vigorously fight. No elaboration, no hedging, no hesitation- just hitting the Republicans where it hurts them most.
- Further boosting GOTV with the framing of our pitches. Others have diaried this before, but even subtle shifts in word choice matter tremendously in boosting Dem turnout. Browse this research article (Proc Nat Acad Sciences): http://www.pnas.org/... also discussed at http://www.physorg.com/... and at DKos: http://www.dailykos.com/...
In every pamphlet we send out or call we make, this is crucial: little word changes that personalize the election, provide voters with a distinct identity and linked behavior (the way e.g. social and religious groups do), and also emphasize empowerment and participation in a civic duty (“being a voter” vs. “doing the chore of voting”) dramatically increase turnout. Also as commenters noted, we don’t simply frame the vote as a weak choice (“Will you vote” or “Please vote”), but as a default, necessary action in people’s minds, that itself promotes social and peer-group expectations (“What time/where will you vote in 2012? Here are the ways to do it…”). If any of you work in marketing (or have such friends in your social network), we'd love to hear further suggestions. With voters today so busy and so many issues crowding the day, understanding this kind of subtle psychology is essential to our GOTV efforts.
- Massive increases in voter registration drives and GOTV on college campuses, with student leaders often teaming up and chiming in. This has naturally been a target of GOP voter-suppression efforts in Florida as in other states, and our intensive focus on college campuses has more than counteracted their own corruption. College campuses and even some high schools with recently-turned 18-year-olds continue to be a focus for our voter registration drives.