This fall, there are many different choices for union members who want to help beat Bush. Voter registration, house parties, phone banks and public protests are all part of the mix.
Many New York groups are emphasizing outreach to “swing states” like Pennsylvania or New Hampshire — and you can join their efforts without traveling beyond Manhattan.
While John Kerry is expected to carry New York by a comfortable margin, several neighboring states will be up for grabs right up to Election Day. Since the presidential election is decided by the Electoral College system, these state-by-state results will be decisive. As Al Gore found out in 2000, getting the most popular votes nationwide may give you bragging rights — but it won’t make you president.
Most groups doing “swing state” organizing are organized separately from the Kerry campaign. Some are strictly nonpartisan voter registration efforts, while others have an explicit “anti-Bush” focus and seek to educate voters on the issues.
AMERICA COMING TOGETHER
America Coming Together (ACT) is one such group, chaired by former AFL-CIO Political Director Steve Rosenthal and Ellen Malcolm of the feminist political group Emily’s List. From New York, ACT has organized weekend bus trips to Ohio and day trips to Pennsylvania, for voter registration and for door-to-door canvassing to convince the undecided. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, they are running phone banks to call voters in swing states. To get involved, go to www.acthere.com, or contact Matt Tomey at ACTNewYork@hotmail.com, or call Bonnie Nuzum at (718) 622-6878.
Volunteer2004 is a similar effort, a project of Citizen Action of New York and New Jersey. It is working to get 1,000 volunteers from these two states to make over 350,000 phone calls and knock on 20,000 doors. To sign up for phone banking or a bus trip, go to www.volunteer2004.org, e-mail Jesse Dixon at email@example.com, or call Dixon at (212) 523-0180, ext. 43.
Drivingvotes.org is based on the idea that “registering voters in swing states is the single most effective way to defeat Bush.” Its Web site offers a wealth of materials to help you do just that. The site lists local partner groups in different states, so you can volunteer for their voter registration events. Or you can work on your own, registering voters at a shopping mall or a music festival or anywhere else: www.drivingvotes.org provides everything you’ll need.
In just one afternoon in May, the Web-based political group MoveOn.org organized over 1,000 phone bank parties that made over 300,000 calls to swing state voters. For New Yorkers, the MoveOn Political Action Committee is currently emphasizing fundraising and phone bank efforts; sign up at www.moveonpac.org/pledge.
VOLUNTEER FOR KERRY
If you want to volunteer directly with the John Kerry campaign, sign up online at www.johnkerry.com or call the Kerry campaign in NYC at (212) 764-7104. When you sign up online, you can view a list of campaign events in your area.
MUSICIANS CAN HELP
See the following Web sites:
Peter Hogness is editor of Clarion, newspaper of the Professional Staff Congress, the union that represents CUNY professors.