Handmade ‘Postcards To Voters’ Encourage Election Participation

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

Topics: Elections , Arts

To those who are passionate about casting their vote and letting their voice be heard when election time rolls around, the numbers of registered voters who actually turn out to do their civic duty by casting a ballot can seem frustratingly and mystifyingly low. As November approaches, bringing with it an election which feels historic, a group of local women are applying their enthusiasm and artistic talent to encourage Democrats in crucial counties nationwide to remember to cast votes come November.

Robin Litwin of Harwich first heard about the Postcard to Voters initiative via an email list she subscribed to from Alexandra Sheldon, a Cambridge collage artist. She clicked a link in the email which brought her to postcardstovoters.org, where she learned that the effort began in 2017, when five volunteers shared the addresses of registered Democrats via Facebook to encourage voters in Florida to cast votes in a closely contested local election. Today over 75,000 volunteers in all 50 states have created and mailed over eight million handmade postcards reminding registered Democratic voters to cast their ballots in over 200 key elections.

“Alexandra Sheldon offered two free Zoom classes on how to make collaged postcards for Postcards to Vote,” Litwin said. “Making the postcards is so much fun, and the process is fairly simple. Each postcard has to include specific information including several bullet points, which is time consuming, but it’s for a good cause and the postcard reminders to voters result in a 15 percent efficacy rate.”

In order to participate in Postcards to Voters, volunteers first sign up at postcardstovoters.org. Participants must become approved writers by writing a practice postcard and emailing it to the website’s organizers following their instructions. Once the postcard is approved, Postcards to Voters provides addresses of registered Democrats in areas where contested elections will be held, as well as information on how to obtain additional addresses to get the word out via unique handmade postcard creations. No names are provided; the postcards are addressed simply to “Dear Valued Voter.” Participants can keep up to date with current elections by visiting the website.

Litwin enlisted the help of her sister, Toni Sennott, as well as friends Barbara Black, Paulette Felig and Jan Sidebotham. What started out as a 10-postcard effort has now grown to over 100 handmade postcards created, written and sent by Litwin.
“I’m not a political activist by nature at all, but this election in November is crucial and making these postcards and sending them out mitigates the feeling of powerlessness we sometimes feel watching what is going on in the world,” Litwin said. “Small things matter, and I love to imagine these people I don’t know receiving these handmade postcards in the mail one day, a little piece of art among all the junk mail and the bills, and thinking to themselves, ‘What is this?’”

Litwin said she would like to offer a postcard workshop of her own to share Postcards to Voters with others, and is exploring the possibility of doing so remotely.

“They don’t have to be fancy,” she said. “I do them in sets of 10, which is a manageable number. I’ve done some with a cut out, decoupaged image of a gull on a pier with a little bubble that says ‘vote,’ or I cut out some paper waves in greens and blues and write 'catch the blue wave.' Jan has done some cute little houses, with writing around the border or in a little bubble. One evening I sat with my sister-in-law and we drank some wine and cranked out a batch of postcards together. It’s a lot of fun, for a good cause.”

“This project is an easy way to help when it would otherwise be hard to do,” said Sennott. “Getting the vote out transcends political party and voting from home will help all those who otherwise couldn’t vote, as well as encourage those who might think twice about going to a polling place. I have been doing the addresses and can do so from my air-conditioned house at my convenience. For me it is a no-brainer.”

For more information about Postcards to Voters, visit postcardstovoters.org.