Calling for Democracy; Your Guide to Talking to Friends and Family About Voting Trump Out in 2020, Part Two: Asking Friends and Family About Voting in 2020

Calling for Democracy; Your Guide to Talking to Friends and Family About Voting Trump Out in 2020, Part Two: Asking Friends and Family About Voting in 2020.

We at OTYCD released the full Calling for Democracy post yesterday. We promised to break it into more manageable chunks. This is one of several.

Successful calling for democracy involves several steps, and might involve more than one follow-up to ensure that your friends and family carry through and vote for Joe Biden and the Democrats.

You’ll want to have the following tools at hand:

The website for I Will Vote:


FiveThirtyEight’s guide to How to Vote in the 2020 Election:


The phone number for I Will Vote’s hotline:


…and a document of some sort–maybe it’s digital, maybe it’s paper–you’ll use to track your efforts. It should include columns that clearly label:

Who you contacted;

When you contacted them (the day, date, and maybe the time);

The results of the call;

Whether and if you need to call them again after finding an answer to a question or solving a problem they have.

This document should reflect the fact that you need to check in with everyone again in late October, on Election Day Eve, and maybe Election Day itself to make sure they followed through with their voting plans and haven’t hit any obstacles.

Let us stress this fact: If the person has a question you can’t answer, or some other issue arises that you’re not sure how to resolve, STOP and call the I Will Vote hotline for help (833.336.8683). Do! Not! Guess! If you’re not completely sure about how to proceed, CALL AND CHECK.

Here’s a sample script you can use, but please tailor it to your own personality and to that of the person you’re trying to reach. <Instructions in brackets are for you; act upon them, but don’t read them out loud>:

“Hi, <Name.> I realize this is a little odd, because I don’t normally/never do this sort of thing, but I’m concerned about the 2020 election, and I’m talking to all my friends and family about voting. Do you have a minute?”

If now is bad, ask when would be a good time for you to try again.

If they’re noncommittal, make a note on your tracking document to try again after three days.

If now is good, say something like:

“I’ve seen what Trump has done to democracy in this country, and I’m going to vote for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates so we can fix that damage. Are you voting for Biden for president, and for other down-ballot Democrats?”

If they seem offended that you asked, change the subject or end the conversation.

Think about whether you should wait three days or longer before trying that person again, or whether you should cross their name off your tracking document. Act accordingly.

If they say something like “I’m not sure,” or “I don’t know if I even want to vote,” or “I haven’t made up my mind,” ask them “Why? What concerns do you have?” and LISTEN TO THEIR ANSWER. Use the notebook or scrap paper to write down key points they make.

If they say they’re worried that their vote won’t count, say something like:

“I understand how you feel. I feel like that sometimes. But I figure that if my vote didn’t matter, Trump and the Republicans wouldn’t be trying so hard to stop me from casting a ballot for Biden and other Democratic candidates.”

If they ask you to back your claim, cite this FiveThirtyEight story link on Five Ways Trump and GOP Officials are Undermining the Election Process.

If they say they’re worried about going to the polls during the COVID-19 panic, say something like:

“You can vote without going to the polls on the day. I can walk you through your options for <name the state or territory where the person lives>. The first step is getting you registered to vote. Are you registered? Have you checked your registration lately?” <Scroll down to find the section on registering to vote and go from there.>

If they say they’re worried that Trump is sabotaging the flow of mail through the United States Postal Service (USPS), and their ballot might arrive too late to be counted, say something like:

“That’s a legitimate concern. Trump’s chosen postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, has implemented policies that have had the effect of slowing the mail.”

“You can still cast a ballot without putting it in the mail or going to the polls. I can tell you how to do that.” <Then scroll down to the sections on voting early, using a dropbox, and hand-delivering a completed ballot to the relevant government office near them.>

If they say that they’re worried Trump will cheat or send cops to the polls or somehow stop them from voting, say something like:

Making people feel mad or anxious or depressed about voting is itself a voter suppression tactic. They are trying to keep you from the polls however they can.”

“Trump doesn’t want you to vote unless you’re voting for him. He’ll say whatever he thinks he needs to say to scare away people who won’t vote for him.”

“The only way to fight back is to spite him and vote for Biden and other Democratic candidates, regardless of whatever crazy stunt Trump pulls. I’m urging you to stay firm and make your voice heard.”

You can also draw on these paragraphs from Barack Obama’s speech at the August 2020 Democratic National Convention:

“Well, here’s the point: this president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism. They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter. That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.

We can’t let that happen. Do not let them take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy. Make a plan right now for how you’re going to get involved and vote. Do it as early as you can and tell your family and friends how they can vote too. Do what Americans have done for over two centuries when faced with even tougher times than this — all those quiet heroes who found the courage to keep marching, keep pushing in the face of hardship and injustice.”

The New York Times provided a full transcript of the Obama speech, with commentary:

If they say they don’t know how to vote, or it’s been so long since they voted, or they’re scared off by the whole idea of voting, say something like:

“That’s why I got in touch. I’m willing to do some work for you, whatever you need, so you can cast a ballot successfully in 2020. I’ll look up stuff, I’ll make calls, I’ll send emails, I’ll get you the answers you need so you can vote for Biden and other Democrats safely in the election–whatever you need, I’ll do it, or I’ll do as much of it as I reasonably can.”

<Don’t pause here. Roll straight into:>

“Let me start by asking if you’re registered to vote. Are you registered to vote?”

<That segment will comprise tomorrow’s post.>

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I Will Vote and its hotline are provided by the Democratic National Committee. The hotline is staffed by volunteers.

There’s no direct way to earmark funds for the I Will Vote service, but you can put I Will Vote in the memo line of a personal check.

Checks should be made out to the Democratic National Committee and mailed to:

Democratic National Committee

PO Box 96585

Washington DC 20077-7242

The DNC also accepts donations via ActBlue:


FiveThirtyEight is the brainchild of Nate Silver.