42 Days to Go!
Sep. 23, 2020.
By UUCF’s UU the VOTE Committee Co-chair Marcia Tugendhat.
Phone banking. Calling a stranger at dinnertime or during their favorite evening TV show. As an introvert, and someone with a lifelong phone phobia, a month ago I publicly stated I would never phone bank, but sign me up for everything else.
A week ago, I participated in a phone bank, spoke with strangers, helped a few people figure out what approach to voting makes sense for them this year and how to access it, left some voicemail messages, got hung up on once or twice, had a lovely conversation with an elderly woman that was a wrong number but wanted to know what I was calling about anyway, all with voters in a rural North Carolina county. And I felt great about it! Tired but great! And ready to do it again!
What I have learned that has allowed me to get out of my own way is that phone banking is offering a service, offering information, in large part to people who are left out of the mainstream of civic life. Data shows that even voicemail messages increase voter turnout.
UUCF UU the Vote is collaborating with Reclaim Our Vote, the voter engagement arm of the NAACP, in phone banking every Thursday from 6-8 p.m. We join together with UUs and friends from around the country, which I find particularly moving. You are trained on how to make calls and how to record your results. You have access to support through the entire phone bank. And you have a chance to hear about some highs callers experienced, and of course some lows, during the wrap-up in the last few minutes. You may find, as I did, that you cannot make calls for the entire time – that you need to build your “phone-calling muscle” – but there is no shame in that. However many voters you speak with or leave messages for, you are moving our democracy forward by some amount of additional drops in the bucket.
At this stage in the election process, phone calls are more pivotal than letters and postcards because they allow for real-time information. Some callers have had difficult conversations, some with Native American voters who wanted to talk about their feelings of betrayal by the government. I can imagine how challenging those conversations were on both sides.
Over many months, we have been talking as a congregation about being open to discomfort and the need to have difficult conversations to move toward Beloved Community. Thinking about this has decreased my fear about calling someone who is angry or feeling a great deal of hurt.
There are many ways to live our values during this crucial pre-election time.
- For a Thursday call to North Carolina BIPOC (Black, Indigineous and People of Color) voters, register here.
- For a Wednesday call to Wisconsin voters, register here.
- Follow this link for UU the VOTE’s list of national phone banks.
If you have any questions, would like to see a phone banking for introverts training video, or would like to explore additional ways to get involved, please contact Social Justice Coordinator Andrew Batcher and/or fill out this interest form.