PARK SLOPE – Every Saturday for the last month and a half, two local women have been meeting at Prospect Park encouraging people to handwrite postcards to mail to voters throughout the country.
Deborah Kaufmann and Loretta Agro are both friends, colleagues, and Park Slope residents. They met a couple of years ago through Persist Brooklyn when Kaufmann was tabling a “crafts table,” for an event. Soon both of them were crafting window signs, holiday ornaments, and New Year’s Eve hats and glasses. Postcarding was a natural extension.
Grassroots organizations like Swing Left and Red to Blue, began sending them through Persist Brooklyn, voter addresses, and pre-written statements to handwrite in postcards to send out to voters for the Democratic candidates they had endorsed. Sure, phone banking and sending emails work, but there’s something special in sending out postcards, Agro and Kaufmann explained. Plus, not everyone has access to a phone.
“We are the low tech branch of Persist Brooklyn,” they laughed over the phone this afternoon. “Postcarding is the easiest way to get started as an activist… To sit down with other people, write postcards, have an opportunity to talk about issues and candidates. It brings people in and they get more interested.”
Since August, Agro and Kaufmann have been heading to Prospect Park with a bunch of postcards, stamps (to stamp the cards that are not already prestamped), and brownies. They load up twelve folding chairs and two tables in their car they call the Democracy Mobile (a 2005 Dodge Neon). They first started with 20 people that came to make postcards. The following week, they had 40. The week after, they had 60. And tomorrow, they expect to have at least 80. They, and their volunteers, also help locals register to vote, request absentee ballots, and have their questions about the upcoming election answered.
“People feel like they can do something. It is accessible, fun, and outdoors,” Kaufmann said. “And people love writing them! We give them one, and they come back for more. Now, we’ve started giving them out in packets of ten. Sometimes people stay for the entire two hours just writing postcards. I think we’ve gotten over 4,000 already.”
For Kaufmann, postcarding is the easiest way to activism.
“It’s my opportunity to connect with one voter and I know when they get this card in the mail, they are going to look at it. I always try to give them information of value. Like what is the date you register by? Where can you find how to request an absentee ballot? These are really important pieces of information. We aren’t just writing to push one candidate; people need to know all this information.”
And for Agro, postcarding is a way to dispel all the lies and misinformation that comes with voting.
“People try to confuse others about voting with misinformation and lies,” she said. “Doing the postcarding, I got good at it and it helped me not to wake up every morning and scream. Everyone has a right to be politically active, not just everyone should.”
Tomorrow, Saturday, October 3 is the second to last day they will be out postcarding for the election (the postcards have to be sent to voters by a certain date, so they can receive it in time before the elections). They will be at Prospect Park inside the 15th Street and PPW Bartel-Pritchard Square entrance from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. with their tables, brownies, and postcards. It’s not hard to miss them. “Just look for two very frazzled ladies,” they laughed. “People line up when we are setting up. We were gobsmacked. That’s why we learned it’s important to organize a lot beforehand.”
For those who cannot make it to write postcards for candidates throughout the country, they can visit Postcards to Voters, where they will be able to request postcards and pre-written statements to work on in their own time.
“Someone called us a postcard machine,” Kaufmann said. “No, we’re a cartel,” Agro laughed.