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Friday, June 22, 2007

Steve Schale on Absentee Voting

Steve Schale is the Political Director for Florida House Victory, the arm of the FDP dedicated to electing Democrats to the Florida House of Representatives. Steve was instrumental in Darren Soto's win in the special election in HD-49 earlier this year.

Successful absentee ballot programs require real resources. The Republicans
spend literally tens of millions each cycle on their program and have it
greased into a science. HD 49 was the first time we really invested a
substantial amount into a race like this for absentee ballots, and proved we
can go toe-to-toe when the resource ratio is closer to even.

In 2006, the FDP and the legislative caucuses also worked together on a
smaller program, which made a substantial difference in several races. It
is not like we haven't wanted to in the past, for example in HD 3, we did
not have the resources to run a comprehensive program, largely because we
made the decision in October 2006 that we needed to take advantage of our
chance to win now. Elections become about making the best decisions with
the resources you have available.

Volunteers can play an important role in absentee programs, but work much
better when added to the formula of paid phones, mail and staff. It is like
the old saying: Do not bring a knife to a gun battle--If we are going to
compete with them in the absentees, we have to do it all out.

Unfortunately, these days financially we cannot match them everywhere all
the time, which is why it is important to pick our spots, so where we do
play, we can do it right.

It will take time to train our supporters to vote by mail, but you are right
that it is important to start early. In addition, the new absentee rules
give local parties an excellent reason to begin canvassing voters,
especially in communities with lower voter turnout rates. This is where
your volunteer programs can make the biggest difference, because there is
the time to fully develop and execute a program.

One last thing on absentees, not even Katherine Harris could have stolen the
2000 elections if Al Gore had not substantially lost the absentee vote.
That may be the most important lesson to remember.


Eddie said...

It must be a delicate balancing act, trying to engage in the 50-state (67 county) strategy while also trying to focus resources on the races where they'll make the most difference.

Ray, congratulations on having such a high-impact blog!

Jennifer said...

I notice on ActBlue, you can donate to the Florida Democratic State Committee Federal Account, which I assume is for Congressional seats, but there isn't yet an general account set up specifically for folks to donate for state offices - although you can pick a candidate individually. Are there any plans to set something like that up?

Eddie said...

At the Blogger Luncheon, I believe Phillip Perry said ActBlue would "activate" state races in Florida before the 2008 elections.

Ray Seaman said...

Also, in states where ActBlue is activated, county parties have now been given the same options as candidates. That rocks! Now we actually have to get ActBlue to Florida...

Jennifer said...

Individual state races are already active on Actblue for Florida, I'm wondering if there are plans to creat a general fund account for all state races. There appears to be a catch all account for federal races in Florida.

Eddie said...

Jennifer, are you sure that Actblue is actually fundraising for state races? I know they are listed, but I don't think they're collecting money.

Jennifer said...

Actblue has set up pages for individual state legislative races - so clearly there are plans to collect money for them. Whether they actually are right now or not is a secondary issue. What I'm asking is if there are plans to create a page where we can donate to a State Account like we already have for the Federal Account.

Ray Seaman said...

Jennifer - ActBlue provides links to contribution pages, but doesn't really process contributions for state level candidates. This means the Netroots couldn't do a fundraising drive for a candidate and track progress. We need ActBlue in Florida to have a nice fundraising arm for the Florida Netroots.

Ray Seaman said...

As to your original question, Jennifer, I don't think ActBlue has plans to what you're referring to - a big state-level pot.

Jennifer said...

I know they aren't currently processing donations at the state level - all I said was that they had pages set up for individual races and it looked like there were plans to raise money. It must have been my use of the word "active" in one of the posts that lead to this misunderstanding.

A representative from ActBlue posted on FLA Politics awhile back that they were working with Florida to try to get set up to process contributions for state level races.

As to my question, I'm assuming that there's some actual interaction between Actblue and the the Party or candidate when donation pages are set up for them. So my question was in regards to whether Party leaders, like Steve Schale, had any plans to get such an account set up on the site.

alonewolf said...

Glad to hear that we are finally moving on this issue. I've been bending the ear of every Democrat I know (and some I didn't) for many years about this. Absentee ballot applications work on several levels and BTW we should stop calling it Absentee Voting - it's Vote by Mail from the comfort of your home.

One, it gives working people an opportunity to vote without missing work and eliminates other GOTV worries.

Two, because people who are given a ballot application are more likely to vote, either by mail or at the polls. Why, because it eliminates any excuse for not voting.

Three, it gives people more time to consider their vote and do research if necessary.

I'll stop now...

Kenneth said...

I think one place we can start to have an impact on this is amongst ourselves. How many of us vote by mail? I always do early voting, but I've never done it by mail. Maybe we should start by reminding the Netroots groups to be active in doing this.