Monday night was awesome. About 20 volunteers met at the Seattle campaign headquarters to phone bank for the Approve Referendum 71 campaign. The phones they used were already warm from a productive afternoon shift staffed by 10 other volunteers.
With ballots hitting our mail boxes in just 3 weeks, there has never been a more important time to identify and mobilize our voters. Phone banks are operating from 6 – 9 p.m. daily in Seattle. The Tacoma and Olympia phone banks come online this week. Please sign up!. You can even make calls from home!
What got these volunteers through the door and what did they think of phone banking? Meet a few of your volunteers, and find out. Then join them on the next phone bank!
Rizal has always been politically-minded, but hadn’t been as active as he wanted to be. When the challenge to Washington domestic partnerships got on the ballot, he knew this was the time to act, especially this being an off-year election.
This was Rizal’s first time phone banking. He loves the phone bank because he doesn’t have much time, and the PB provides a structured way to make a big difference in a short time frame. Besides, he says, his friends were getting tired of hearing him talk about R-71. He found the experience interesting and got great satisfaction out of providing voters with needed information.
Best call of the night: The 81 year old woman who will vote to approve R-71, telling him “I don’t want anyone telling anyone else what to do.”
Rizal to you: “Let’s pull together and make sure this gets done.”
An activist at heart, Danica is a straight ally who is volunteering for the Approve Referendum 71 campaign because she believes that it is wrong to put civil rights up for a vote, and it’s wrong to subjugate a minority population based on religious views. Danica is herself of mixed race, and knows that her parents faced a lot of prejudice. She says “This hits home for me.” She sees LGBT equality as the new civil rights movement.
Drew was inspired by his gay brother, who worked on the No on Prop 8 campaign in California. When a group of WAFST outreach volunteers were met with silence by the gay colleagues Drew was with, it really pissed him off. That experience, combined with the fact of the recent bombing of the gay youth center in Tel Aviv, really tipped the balance for Drew, who says “I’m not going to be a lazy gay!”
Drew found cold calling interesting. He was nervous the first few calls, but found his comfort zone fast. It helped knowing, he said, that he was calling a list of voters likely to be supporters or at least willing to listen.
David feels strongly that the referendum needs to be approved because too many couples and families can’t get the legal protections and benefits they need by other means. David feels that this vote is winnable because Washingtonians overwhelmingly support domestic partnerships, but he’s phone banking because this is an off-year election and the historically low levels of voter participation in such years concern him.
David says that phone banking sometimes makes him a bit nervous, but “I’m here because I need to be here.” He found the “no” respondents to be no problem, and the experience of speaking with “yes” voters to be wonderful.
Best call of the night: A heterosexual senior citizen who got a domestic partnership with her beloved. She said she and her man don’t want a marriage if same-sex couples can’t get one too.
A friend got Abbie interested in volunteering for the phone bank. Abbie states quite simply that “I’m a lesbian and I want these rights when I find a partner.”
She found phone banking so much easier than she imagined, and assures others mulling over helping out that “nobody has to stress about it’s, it’s really ok. Even the “no” people are being polite.”
Yessica identifies as queer, but says that it shouldn’t matter, that everyone should have equal rights. She wants to get married herself some day and has lots of LGBT friends, so she wants to do whatever she can to support the campaign. But Yessica is an international student and so can’t vote. So she put aside her innate shyness and came in to phone bank! She said she was nervous at first and it took her a few minutes to get the courage to pick up the phone, but she definitely felt more comfortable with time. Answering machines are a frequent occurrence in phone banking, and Yessica found it helpful practice to leave messages.
“I had fun today. I’ll definitely be coming back.”
Trina is a straight ally who doesn’t like the idea of people’s rights being taken away. She’s been phone banking since 2005 and always finds the first few calls a bit unnerving. But she’s learned that if she speaks with a voice that assumes the voter she’s calling will naturally be on her side, all goes pretty well. She takes the occasional negative responses she gets as a reminder of why it’s so important to be doing this volunteer work.