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Turning Out the Absentee Vote
The Human Rights Campaign is wrapping up its Pride Week of Action this weekend with phone banks to contact all potential equality voters in Michigan. The banks, going on through Friday and Saturday will ensure that all equality voters are requesting their absentee ballots and that they understand the process of voting from home. HRC Michigan state political director Amritha Venkataraman said that LGBTQ voters are going to make the difference in this election.
“We’ve got over a million equality voters in the state — and 40,000 HRC members and supporters alone — and it’s really important that groups like HRC who have relationships with folks are getting the word out about how easy it is to vote from home and what the process looks like,” Venkataraman said. “And helping demystify that for people is something we are really leaning into this cycle.”
In these times when like-minded people can’t congregate together at a campaign office or community center, phone banking works a little differently, Venkataraman explained. Once an individual registers online, they are sent a link to join the Zoom meeting, much like a community center. There, they are trained in the process of how to talk to people, who those people will be and in all other details about the process. Then the lists of phone contacts are distributed digitally.
Venkataraman explained it’s designed to make the phone bank feel more like the community effort that it is.
“Folks can stay in the Zoom room when they’re making calls, mute themselves, and it creates a little bit of that in-person feel so that you realize there are lots of people out there making calls with you even if you are doing it from your house,” she said.
The phone banks Friday and Saturday are just two of many events HRC is doing in partnership with the Michigan Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign, known as the One Campaign.
“We’re excited to work with them like we worked with them in 2018 to make sure we are turning out the progressive vote,” Venkataraman said.
It’s not just the set up for phone banking that’s different these days, the nature of the calls is somewhat different, too.
“It’s a really interesting time to be talking to voters,” Venkataraman said. “Right now, when we call folks the first thing we do is check in on them. So, they’re community support calls to talk to folks about how they’re doing, how they’re handling all of the chaos that’s caused by the pandemic, how they’re emotionally handling the conversation our country is currently having around race and justice issues.”
In the end, though, the phone banking that HRC does is intended to encourage equality voters to vote, from home, when possible.
“It’s really talking to folks about voting from home and requesting their absentee ballots,” Venkataraman said. “I’ve run into so, so many people who haven’t considered it, and say to me after talking about it a little bit, ‘Well, if that’s definitely the easiest way for me to vote, I’m gonna do it.’ But they just needed that nudge from a community member.”
To sign up for the Friday evening and Saturday phone banks click here: