The Raising Our Voices Today activist initiative, which launched in June to protest families forcibly separated by U.S. immigration policy enforcement, is back with a new effort, this time encouraging Americans to vote in the fast-approaching midterm elections. The Dear Neighbor, Please Vote campaign features a series of postcards created by such artists and illustrators as Peter Reynolds, Judy Schachner, and Ross MacDonald and containing the simple message “Dear Neighbor, Please vote on November 6.” The cards are intended for children to share with their neighbors in hopes that this type of personal, friendly, and nonpartisan outreach will spur voter engagement in communities nationwide. This new movement provides those who are too young to vote with an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the democratic process and build a true sense of community in their neighborhood.
Part of the inspiration for this postcard push comes from a recent study conducted by the Sister District Action Network (SDAN), a group that organizes grassroots volunteers to help get Democrats elected at the state level, and the Voter Participation Center which revealed that “handwritten postcards sent after the receipt of voter registration materials had a significant positive impact on the odds that a person would return their materials.” And SDAN is planning additional experiments to see if postcards can positively affect voter turnout as well.
Author and audio producer Julie Burstein and Pippin Properties creative director Holly McGhee co-founded Raising Our Voices Today and have been heartened in recent months as people from around the world have downloaded more than 1000 posters, signs, and banners created by noted illustrators and carried them at various Families Belong Together rallies around the world. That positive response buoys the partners as they dive into the next phase of their initiative’s mission. “There is so much love and hope and so much desire to do something,” Burstein said in a statement. “The Dear Neighbor Please Vote postcards give us all an opportunity to encourage our neighbors to participate in the essential democratic action of voting, raising our voices at the ballot box.”
Burstein and McGhee note that the generous participation they’ve received from artists has been equally impressive. “I strongly believe that each of us has a gift to share to make the world a better place, and I believe in resistance through the arts,” McGhee wrote in a statement explaining her motivation for seeing Raising Our Voices Today come to fruition. “When Julie asked me to partner with her on this project, I said yes immediately, knowing that the artists in my circles would be grateful to have an outlet for their feelings of powerlessness and outrage. Each time I’ve sent out a call for new art from illustrators in my industry, it comes in fast and gorgeous and loud, infused with hope for better times to come.”
Downloads of three sets (4 cards each) of Dear Neighbor postcards are available to anyone, free of charge. And seven of the nonpartisan postcard images are suitable to print as lawn signs, too. Detailed directions for both projects appear on the site.
To give the postcard campaign an official kick-off, the Maplewood Memorial Library—in Maplewood, N.J., where both Burstein and McGhee live—will hold a Dear Neighbor Please Vote on November 6 event for children and their caregivers on Wednesday, September 26 at 4 p.m. And in the meantime, these efforts will also be publicized via social media using the hashtags: #raisingourvoices #votenov6 and #dearneighborpleasevote. See a selection of the signs designed by illustrators, below.