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EDGECAST: Berkshire activists sign up new voters at Pride Day, Portland ME

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By Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019 Edgecasts

Holly Morse of New Marlborough sent in the following dispatch to accompany Ben Hillman’s video report:

On, June 15th, 30 or so volunteers went to Portland, Maine, to register voters at the Pride Day. The Berkshires’ progressive group Left Field sent their own contingent. It’s part of an effort to defeat Republican Senator Susan Collins and take back the Senate. The registration was a big success – 250 new voters registered.

Left Field is a collection of local creatives and activists who believe progressives succeed when they unite a field of diverse players. They engage people, voter to voter, with canvassing, phone banking and voter registration to participate in our Democracy. Left Field plans on mounting a media campaign as well. Aligned with the national grassroots organization Swing Left, Left Field has adopted their plan to zero in on strategic races in Swing Districts and what has been identified by Swing Left as “Super” States—those districts and states where the important races in 2020 will play out. In particular, where the battle to take back the Senate will happen.

Which brought Left Field to Maine. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who cast a deciding vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, is vulnerable. No Democrat has yet declared to run against her but Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, will be a strong contender. She will announce later this month.

Through Susan Labandibar, an energetic regional coordinator for Swing Left and organizer for Swing Left of Greater Boston, Left Field was put in touch with Jason Berlin of Field Team 6, a West Coast voter registration guru. Jason’s method for registering new Democrats is overwhelmingly positive and participatory. Instead of sitting behind a table covered with daunting paperwork, we would go up to folks on the street, with clipboards and hats that made plain we were Democrats, and say something like, “I’m here today to help people register to vote so that we can get rid of Donald Trump” or “Donald Trump doesn’t want you to vote because you can fix this.” The message resonated.

We registered the very young – in Maine you can pre-register at 17 years old if you will be 18 in time for the election – and some like a shy Latina, 65, who was a citizen but had never felt empowered to vote. Even when it was just a conversation, it was always interesting. A young man in rainbow wings and bleached hair was happy to share that he had just finished a degree in cyber security. He said that what he is seeing now on those channels parallels exactly what was happening in 2016. The only difference is the target. Right now, it’s Biden. We signed him up to volunteer for Swing Left Maine.

Left Field was able to meet activists across states all pulling together. This is the beginning of the long game to defend the House, deliver the Senate, and win the White House in 2020. It’s a haul to Maine but it is the closest competitive Senate race. The lobster there is good, too.


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