I want to participate, but I’m not sure how to get started. Do I use the email that is listed?
How do I obtain addresses?
Once you are a verified writer, you can obtain addresses for active campaigns by:
- Texting ABBY The Address Bot at 1-484-ASK-ABBY (which is 1-484-275-2229)
- Via Slack Abby https://postcardstovoters.slack.com/join/shared_invite/zt-hfjj46y9-1wrbVWxihVH5zwPol~6grw#/
- Send an email to postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org , please include the number of addresses you’d like
- Clicking here
How do I become a “Verified” writer?
A new volunteer writer becomes a “Verified” writer, once the photo of their sample card has been received via email, reviewed, and accepted by the Rapid Response Email Team.
How do I send you a picture?
Sending a picture is easy! If you have a smartphone, the easiest way is to take a photo of the card, and email it to us at postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org. Or you can scan it and email it to us.
HELP! I asked for too many addresses. Can I return them?
YES, just email us back the addresses you did not write to as soon as possible so that we may re-assign them to other volunteers.
Where may we order postcards?
Many volunteers ask us where they may find postcards. Others want to print their own. The resources compiled here and the accompanying links were submitted by volunteers and researched by our own team. Please report links which may be out of date. Share any new resources we may not have included. Thanks for building a community with helpful tips like these!
- Postcards To Voters Etsy Shop – 100 Postcards for $15.00 (Multiple Designs to choose from)
- Mix and Match 16+ Designs – Free shipping + support our operating costs
- 35-cent Postage Stamps – order from the USPS and save a trip to the Post Office
- You can also order the postcards with stamps directly from USPS online
Where can I download templates to print my own?
- From Us: Click Here
- Postcards from the People is a terrific resource hosting dozens of free, downloadable postcard templates
- Postcards for the Resistance has templates which *may* lend themselves more towards resistance messages to members of Congress than voters. But, they have a nice blank template with instructions on how to add any suitable, voter-friendly image you might have to print a nice 2-up or 4-up set of postcards
- Progressive Postcards offers free downloads, but their designs may not be benign enough for friendly election reminders to voters. Please choose wisely
- Woke Giant provided a dozen or so designs for folks to use with The Ides of Trump action in early 2017. So, nearly all of these designs are going to be too edgy for friendly election reminders to voters. But, if you have a Member of Congress to write, you may find something suitable here
- Volunteer Laura D. sells postcard templates on her Etsy store with all profits used toward postcard campaign costs – 5 templates for $10
How can I print my own postcards?
- Option 1: Use one of our shared templates. They generally print 4 to a 8.5×11 page. Then cut.
- Option 2: Download one of our templates and upload/take it to a print shop (Vistaprint, Staples, The UPS Store, FedEx Office, etc.) Check out this Google Search for “Postcard Printing”. Many of these services do other sizes besides 4 to a page.
Where can I find postcard stamps or plain postcards with stamps printed on them?
- Check out one of our own volunteer writers’ Etsy shop (Anna Z. Etsy Store: Vintage Postage Stamps and More) where Anna Z. offers bundles of vintage, mint, unused U.S. postage stamps at a 20% discount.
- You can also email Manny Z. (firstname.lastname@example.org), his Ebay store specializes in vintage stamps. However, he offers a 25% discount of 200 $.35 cent combos if you order via email. When you contact him, tell him you were referred by Giliani @ Postcards To Voters.
- You can order online from USPS (Pre-Stamped Postcards or Postcard Stamps)
Do we have a resource list for purchasing creative postcards?
YES. Click here
What are the USPS size and thickness parameters for postcards?
For details, see the USPS website.
To qualify for mailing at the First-Class Mail postcard price, it must be: Rectangular, At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick, and no more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick. As a guide, most index cards are thick enough. Make sure your mailpiece meets the minimum thickness requirement. Thin, flimsy pieces tend to get caught in mail processing equipment. If your mailpiece gets damaged in the equipment, then your message doesn’t reach your voters.
For standard postcards: Must be rectangular. Maximum size: 6 inches long by 4-1/4 inches high by .016 inch thick. These cost $0.35 to mail (postcard stamp)
For large postcards: Maximum size: 11-1/2 inches long by 6-1/8 inches high by 1/4 inch thick. These cost $0.55 to mail (regular first class mail)
You can mail odd-shaped cards, but we suggest you confirm postage requirements with the post office before investing a lot of time in creating and addressing these.
What are the postal restrictions for decorations? Stickers? Glitter? Fabric?
Anything that makes the card not “flat,” makes it harder for the post office processing. Flat stickers should be fine.
What do I write on a postcard? Are there standard talking points and/or Election Day info given along with the address assignments? Or are talking points based on our own research/point of view?
When you request addresses from Postcards to Voters, we will provide talking points and addresses. The talking points are the ones that the campaign has requested. You are welcome to make the wording feel more your style, but we do need you to stick with the talking points provided.
I see a lot of postcards that deviate from the talking points to a greater or lesser degree. What is permissible and what isn’t?
We ask all writers to please stick to the talking points. You can paraphrase, make it your own, but don’t change the meaning or the facts. In addition, please don’t embellish with information that is not in the talking points.
Do I sign my name?
Only sign your first name or initials. Never include return address, your own email address, your last name, or your social media handle or account name. Signing your full name is a security risk, and we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.
To whom do I address the card?
Since we do not write the voters’ names, pick one of these or something similarly neutral:
- Important Voter
- VIP Voter
- Best Voter Ever
- Valued Voter
- Essential Voter
- Esteemed Voter
Is it good to say “Hello from Cincinnati” or wherever you’re writing from, or is this more likely to make them bristle and perceive it as outsiders trying to influence their election?
Yes, your greeting can be whatever you’d like it to be. Feedback from voters who’ve received our postcards shows they appreciate the effort by others who care about their election. After all, we are ALL Americans.
I’m not very artistic. Is it worth it for me to just write boring (but informative) postcards?
Yes! You can be as creative or as boring as you want, as long as the required information is there.
Can I pre-write postcards to save time?
Your supplies, postage and time are valuable to our cause, and we don’t want them to go to waste. We ask that you do not write postcards in advance without the voter addresses already having been assigned to you, as we may run out of addresses by the time you request more.
How do we let you know when we have successfully completed and mailed our list?
Once you become a “verified” writer, we do not require you to let us know when you’ve completed and mailed the list. All we ask is that you mail your postcards within 3 days of receiving the addresses.
What are some tips on hosting a postcard party?
The biggest objective of hosting a postcard party is to write a lot of postcards. Anything you can do to make it easy for people will help.
- Please request your addresses 2 days prior to the scheduled party date, by either emailing us at postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org or by Clicking Here
- Urge your party writers to become approved writers themselves, by emailing us a photo of one of their postcards from the party to postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org
We suggest you select a location with plenty of room for people to write (either at home or out in public is fine). If you’re arranging an event in a restaurant, we suggest you check with the manager first to make sure they don’t mind that you bring a group.
- Provide as many of the tools to make actually writing the cards easy: postcards, pens (lots of colors makes it extra fun!), stamps (it’s totally reasonable to ask people to contribute to the cost of the stamps), addresses, talking points, etc. Extra copies really help, so there are plenty to go around. You can divide addresses onto separate pages so everyone can get their own page (just remember to have them mark off the ones they’ve written to avoid duplicates).
- Snacks and drinks really help. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but postcard writing can be hard work. A bowl of mini chocolate bars or cookies, and even water somehow help reduce the stress level. If you’re meeting at a restaurant, ask people to buy something to support the business.
- Wine, or other adult beverages may help as well, in moderation of course. You don’t want your hard work to look like your drunk fraternity sister wrote it.
- Be sure to review the cards the people write to make sure they follow the rules.
- And then don’t forget to mail the cards promptly!
Volunteer Sharon J. gave us some useful tips on how to organize postcard parties and created address sheets for her party writers. Please click below for the .doc files Sharon created
Who are we writing to?
We only write to Democratic voters.
Why do you mail the postcards so early? In our modern, hectic world aren’t you afraid people will forget?
The postcards arriving create buzz. They are conversation starters. This “guerrilla marketing” works and the more time people have to talk to each other and share their postcards, the more ripples are created.
One of the strengths our postcarding model provides is the simplicity of writing and mailing immediately instead of different timings for different candidates. It can become confusing to the thousands of different people writing and extended groups from postcard parties if each candidate might have different mailing instructions. We will always operate on the write and mail within 3 days of assignment model. Managing such a large network of distributed volunteers, you come to appreciate how fragile the whole thing is if you tinker with the wrong elements. Like a real-life 20-story tall Jenga tower.
Any volunteer who wishes to mail their cards closer to an election date can delay their request for addresses. However, there is always a chance we might run out of addresses for a particular candidate. But, we appreciate everyone following the tried and true practice we’ve exercised for over 199 campaigns since March 2017.
How are candidates chosen that postcards are written for?
Well, there’s quite a bit more that goes into our candidate choices than random selection. But, even through 199+ announced postcard campaigns, there is still a lot of variability that goes into it.
Timing matters. If we are not otherwise committed, it can be a matter of chance. A “small” local campaign with a deserving progressive can (and has) lucked their way into our program because of good timing.
Adding up the pros and cons. When faced with two or more great choices, Tony has to fairly weigh multiple factors. Can we write the number of cards needed to reasonably influence the election across a tipping point? Since postcards are just one component of the whole GOTV program, how capable do they seem of executing a strong ground game? Are there any restrictions or demands being made that could impact volunteer interest? These are just a few considerations to stack up.
Each candidate represents a different opportunity. Their background, qualifications, what they bring to the campaign, special communities and constituencies they represent, the office being sought, the state they’re in, and so on. It’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all formula. With 25+ years of campaign involvement and activism, grassroots organizing and business process management, Tony tries to make the right choices. He also takes the responsibility seriously to engage the most deserving and meaningful campaigns for you when we have available capacity.
How do you get lists of addresses?
It depends on the contest, the campaign, and the circumstances. Voter registration data is available upon request from every U.S. state elections authority as well as from every U.S. county that administers elections. This data is what Democratic state and county parties use to cultivate their databases. These databases are then made available to Democratic campaigns.
Postcards to Voters uses voter registration data that is originally created, maintained, updated, and furnished by the state and county elections authorities. Sometimes, the data comes directly from them. Sometimes, it comes from a state or county Democratic party or a campaign committee. But, in most every case with fewer than a handful of exceptions, it comes directly from the campaign.
Is there any evidence to indicate that mail-based campaigns make a real difference at the ballot box?
Yes! Political scientists have conducted dozens of experiments on the effect of direct mail and find that, on average, mailers increase turnout when they use “messages that emphasize civic duty or the importance of making one’s voice heard” (Gerber and Green 2015, pg. 58). Additional evidence also shows that making the interaction feel personalized, rather than just a blanket message from an organization, is key to increasing the effectiveness of voter outreach.
Will we be writing for candidate So-and-So?
We no longer announce our campaign line-up in advance. It’s a distraction that can adversely impact postcard-writing production for other candidates earlier on the calendar. It’s a competitive disadvantage for the campaign to let the opposition know so early about such a specific GOTV plan. Conditions change frequently with campaigns meaning a “no” one week can turn into a “yes” another week and vice versa. If we are finding “obscure” city council and school board elections, we most certainly know about the campaigns that are on the national radar.
It does not help our relationship with a campaign where we might be hoping they will eventually consider working with us to tell volunteers that the campaign has said “no” to us. From past experience, setting loose a bunch of angry, upset, confused, and/or pleading volunteers onto a campaign more concerned with conventional GOTV tactics is not a good way to make friends for Postcards To Voters. These campaign staffers move on to other campaigns in the future. If they have a bad experience with us just during the pitch and consideration phase, we will likely have lost them forever.
So, we don’t confirm or deny any future candidate/campaign lineups. We ask for your patient understanding for all the reasons explained. And we hope we have earned your trust in our process and candidate selection. Rule of thumb: If you heard about the candidate on MSNBC, we have already heard about it and have approached the campaign with a proposal.
What is a bot?
A bot (short for robot) is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet
What, or who, is Abby?
Abby is an application that responds to SMS text messages sent to a particular number. She is a combination of services from Amazon Web Services and Twilio, our SMS texting provider.
How do I use Abby?
Text the word Hello to 1-484-ASK-ABBY which is 1-484-275-2229. Abby will respond accordingly. If you have never interacted with Abby before, she will ask you for basic contact information like name, email address and zip code. Once you have completed registration with Abby, you will be asked to email the team at email@example.com. Once you have been approved by the administrators, your interactions with Abby will be streamlined to get you addresses for the campaign of your choice.
Can you use a flip phone to text Abby?
No, you must have a smartphone to text with Abby.
What is a .txt file? And, how do I open it?
A .txt file is a text file that can usually be opened by all smart phones and computers by clicking on the link. Abby uses text files for the instructions and addresses because the message is so long.
Will Abby also email me the addresses?
Yes, Abby will automatically send you a courtesy copy via E-Mail to the address you provided to her when you first texted HELLO. If you don’t see it in your Inbox, check your Spam or Promotions folders or tabs. Please alert us to any funny business.
Why is Abby taking so long to send me addresses?
Over 99% of the time, Abby will respond to you in less than one second. There have been times in the past when Abby was undergoing a change or had a bad section of code. We are working to minimize these so that the user experience is top notch.
HELP! I need to change my email address with Abby?
To change your email address with Abby, text RESET to Abby at 484-275-2229, then reply Y to confirm.
After the reset, text HELLO to her and start anew by answering the intro questions. When she asks for your email address, enter the email address you’d like to change to.
I keep getting the message “Abby sent me” when I try to register. What do I do?
This often happens with users who have multiple email addresses and they have registered on Abby with one address and a different one with the support team. Our crack support team can get this straightened out for you in no time at all. Simply email us at postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org and we’ll be happy to help.
Having never used Abby before, if I get a free cell number, where will Abby send the addresses? To my email? To the Slack app? Or to the free phone number that doesn’t have a phone attached to it?
Whether you ask for addresses by text or via Slack, Abby automatically sends a courtesy copy via email.
I’m going to an event and would like to set-up a booth for Postcards to Voters. What supplies do I need and what do I do?
Volunteer Geri W. created this nifty little guide for event booth planning =)
Why does Abby sometimes take so long to respond via text?
The commercial, interactive texting service Abby uses to help you is used by many large companies. There are sometimes temporary lags which don’t often have immediate explanations. Sometimes the lags go away before we can be alerted to them. We have set up an automated notification alert for us to be informed when lagging gets bad. But, our experience is that the lagging issue resolves in a few minutes before we can look into it with the service provider.
Why don’t I hear from you all as much via email?
Email was a wonderful way to reach out in our early days. But, the open rate of our emails began declining to where only 1 out of 5 of you were ever actually opening the emails. Given the amount of time it takes to format the email messages to look nice and to test the links and proofread the copy, it seemed to be an inefficient way of getting the word out. We have a growing Facebook and Twitter following. Automatic text alerts are now available. And we even have a free app that can notify you when we have a new campaign (when I remember to update it ouch). We can resume email as an experiment. But, it would be great if everyone could find the last email from us and add us to your Safe Senders list and to your address book so that your email service provider doesn’t mark our emails as spam.
What do I do if I am unable to write a list from Abby?
Select the “Report a snafu” menu option and Abby will pass along your message. Just let us know you need to return the list. No worries at all.
Do you have a way to locate nearby postcard parties or groups?
No, not yet. But, it is on our list for future website enhancements.
I know a local campaign. How do they get in touch with you?
We have a simple interest form on our website to complete: www.PostcardsToVoters.org/Campaigns
I don’t see the candidate name I’m looking for on Abby’s menu. Why not?
If Abby no longer lists a particular campaign, that means we have assigned the very last address for it.
How do I get voter addresses from you for a specific campaign you’re not doing?
Unfortunately, if it’s not a campaign we are doing, we will be unable to give you voter addresses for it.
Do you plan to stockpile pre-written postcards in preparation for the mid-terms?
No. Our program has been successful in part because of the “just in time” writing and mailing approach for 5 and 10 or so postcards per volunteer. With nearly 75,000 volunteers (and growing), we are uniquely positioned to write tens of thousands of cards quickly without complicating logistics required were we to stockpile.
Abby just gave me addresses for a deadline 3 days from now. Can you give me a campaign with more time to write?
Our writing and mailing deadline is always 3 days from the day you make the request. We ask you to only ask for as many addresses as you have time and supplies to write and mail within 3 days. If you don’t have time or supplies to write within 3 days, please wait to request addresses until you do. Or, reduce the number of addresses to as few as 4 that you know you can write and mail within 3 days.
Did you see that ____________ won their primary last night?! Wow!! Will we be writing postcards for them?
Thanks for sharing that news and for your question.
We don’t announce campaigns in advance to maintain a competitive advantage and prevent the opposition from having time to plan countermeasures.
As soon as a campaign is ready for our cards to begin to be mailed, that is when we launch and announce at the same time. Not a month earlier or a week earlier or even a day earlier.
Thanks for sharing the enthusiasm of __________’s big win and for your patient understanding.
In the meantime, feel free to give campaigns a gentle nudge if you think they may not have heard about us.
We have a simple interest form on our website to complete: www.PostcardsToVoters.org/Campaigns
Look at this article about ____. Will we be writing for them? OR I really like ____ and want to know if we can write for them?
Postcards to Voters does not comment on our future campaign lineup in order to afford our supported candidates a competitive advantage over their opponents for as long as possible.
I work/volunteer for ___ and would like you to add them to your list of supported campaigns.
If you have a campaign you’d like us to consider, we have a simple interest form on our website to complete: www.PostcardsToVoters.org/Campaigns
I signed up with you to write and never heard back – OR – I emailed you my sample postcard and you haven’t approved me
Did you check your spam folder?
Also, if you use Google Gmail, they often “helpfully” organize our emails into the Promotions tab instead of into the Inbox tab. Please check there. If you still cannot find it, email us directly at Postcards@TonyTheDemocrat.org
Please send me addresses for voters where I live – OR – I have 10 postcards that I want to write for ____ in ____.
Postcards to Voters works when all of our thousands of volunteers write to Democratic voters in one election at a time. By pooling all of our writing power to send fun, friendly election reminders to every single Democratic voter, we have been able to move the needle and boost winning turnout again and again.
Postcards to Voters is not able to fulfill individualized, custom address requests for campaigns that are not currently active ones for us.
Abby still doesn’t recognize me even though I am an approved writer
The most common reason for this is that you emailed us from one email address and when you first texted Abby, you gave her a different email address.
To fix that, text RESET to Abby at 484-275-2229, then reply Y to confirm.
After the reset, text HELLO to her and start anew by answering the intro questions. This time, give her the exact same email address as you used when you emailed us.
Can I use your Be a Voter postcards for other campaigns?
Of course you can!
Once you buy them, you can use them however you wish. Thanks for supporting Postcards to Voters!
I want addresses for ____, but Abby doesn’t have that option listed anymore
Thanks to wonderful volunteers like you, we have assigned all of the voter addresses for that campaign.
I already wrote ___ postcards for ____. Can’t you send me some addresses so I don’t have to throw away these cards?
Yes, we can. But, since all of the addresses were assigned, these voters would be getting your cards as their second ones. If that’s still okay with you, let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org