Wisconsin Dems Best Fundraising Month Yet

Fund Raising Wisconsin

Thanks to Democrats like you, and in response to Republican attacks on democracy in Wisconsin, we just had our best fundraising month of the 2022 cycle.

Here’s a live look at our donation data:

November was our best fundraising month yet

Right now, Republicans in Wisconsin – and nationwide – are waging a multilateral assault on our democracy. From amplifying Trump’s Big Lie to pursuing politically-motivated legal action against our elections commission, the GOP is doing everything they can to rig the rules of our elections.

WisDems’ staff is working overtime to stop them. We’re making massive investments in year-round voter protection programs and fighting to elect Democrats that will protect the sacred American freedom to vote.

I’m humbled by the fact our organization is people-powered. We’re able to fund these programs because we have an army of grassroots Democrats like you on our side, chipping in whatever they can afford out of genuine belief in our mission.

I need you to know that every single donation the Democratic Party of Wisconsin receives – even if it’s just $1 – goes a long way to fund our critical defense of democracy. Because grassroots Democrats stepped up in a huge way last month, we have the support we need to stay grounded in our mission to defend democracy.

So thank you for funding this fight to protect our democracy.

Ben Wikler

 

In Wisconsin, Fight for Fair Voting Maps Continues

Fair Maps Wisconsin

On Oct. 31 the Joint Committee on Government Operations held a 9 hour hearing on the latest gerrymandered maps proposed by the Legislature in SB 621. Over 200 people from across Wisconsin came and 100 testified, many waiting hours. NOBODY testified in favor of the maps except Vos and LeMahieu.  North Shore Fair Maps testified about our work with The Wisconsin Map Assessment Project (WIMAP). WIMAP was formed by a group of citizens from across the state to monitor public map sites and analyze the quality of maps submitted using widely accepted redistricting  criteria, namely proportionality, competitiveness, minority opportunity, compactness, and county splitting.  We found that the Legislature’s Assembly map was the worst of any map submitted in 3 of 5 categories, and it fared worse than the People’s Maps Commission map in every category.  You can view a summary of WIMAP’s findings at https://piercecountygro.org/wimap/#nov-4. A detailed memo was sent to every legislator by their own constituents and WIMAP prior to the votes. These maps deny Wisconsin voters the freedom to cast a ballot that matters.

Despite overwhelming public opposition, the Senate voted to approve the maps on Monday, Nov. 8. The Assembly is expected to do the same on Thursday, Nov. 11. Governor Evers has promised to veto the bill, and it will go to the courts. But our fight goes on. We need to continue to build public awareness and pressure that the courts can’t ignore. And we need to continue to press for a public hearing and vote on SB389/AB395, co-sponsored by Rep. Deb Andraca and Sen. Jeff Smith, to establish an independent nonpartisan process for drawing voting maps in order to permanently fix this problem. See Sunday’s Journal-Sentinel excellent editorial on this issue. https://milwaukeejournalsentinel-wi-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=3c9637d9a

Kirk Bangstad’s Last Email – for the Summer

On January 4, 2021, the Minocqua Brewing Company officially launched the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC in response to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and our Northern Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany voting “no” to the $900 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package that provided long-overdue financial relief to the bars, restaurants, brewpubs, and breweries in Wisconsin.

I had already closed my brewpub in September after it became torturously apparent that Mitch McConnell was using this SAME relief bill passed in JUNE by the democratic-controlled House as a political football–letting restaurants like mine twist in the wind after being on our backs, through no fault of our own, since March.

But this betrayal, on December 22, right before Christmas, made me so angry that I decided to fight back and start a Super PAC. If the Koch brothers could do it, so could I.

Little did I realize that two days later, on January 6, the mission of the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC would become so much more important than a small business taking a stand against jerks willing to let us get screwed.

These same two men that voted to sacrifice the entire service industry of Wisconsin at the altar of their demented ideology had now just assisted an attempted coup to overthrow our government by voting against the results of the presidential election and repeating the Big Lie that incited a mob attack.

Senator Ron Johnson and Congressman Tom Tiffany had just become traitors to our country, and now the Minocqua Brewing Company was going to do our damndest to never let Northern Wisconsin forget it.

This email will be the last one I write for awhile as I take a break from politics for the month of August, but it seems so fitting that my last missive will come after we collectively watched the damning testimony of those Capitol police officers who protected our lawmakers and essentially, our democracy, while being savagely beaten by the Trump Cult.

All the emotions I felt on January 6 came flooding back after watching clips of these officers vividly describe getting bludgeoned by metal objects, fearing for their families while they thought they’d be killed with their own guns, and their disgust for the lawmakers who now claim the violence that happened to them didn’t actually happen.

Blue lives matter?  Apparently not if those blue lives don’t fit into a narrative meant to manipulate Americans into choosing authoritarianism over democracy.

So on this day, in honor of the heroes that protected America who are being sabotaged by the ungrateful Trump Cult in Congress, I’m going to re-dedicate the Minocqua Brewing Company to make traitors Ron Johnson and Tom Tiffany pay dearly at the ballot box in 2022, and to do whatever we can to create a more progressive environment in our neck of the woods to never elect guys like them again.

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC has filed our first report to the FEC, and in that report we will announce that we’ve raised over $221,000 in six months and the average contribution has been $32.

Read that again.  The average contribution that raised over $221K has been $32.  If that doesn’t make you feel good then you might be made out of stone:)

The report will also show that we’ve spent over $130K of your money on billboards, radio ads, phone calls, and podcasts to shine a light on the lies that the Trump Cult are telling voters in Northern Wisconsin, our state, and the rest of the country.

Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but unfortunately our local media in Northern Wisconsin is weak and too many of our neighbors digest a steady stream of Fox News and insane conspiracy theories online.  Until Congress passes an updated Fairness Doctrine to prevent nefarious media companies from spreading misinformation, we need money to broadcast the truth in media deserts like Northern Wisconsin.  And as I’ve said time and time again, making Northern Wisconsin more progressive is key to keeping Wisconsin, one of only 9 swing states in the country that affect the outcome of our presidential elections, blue.

But spending money to counteract terrible local media is not enough.  We need progressives to organize and RUN FOR OFFICE in the Northern Wisconsin counties that have been neglected by progressives for too long.

Because of your contributions this past month, we sent another big check for $20K to Wisconsin Progress as a down payment to hire a Northern Wisconsin organizer to help recruit and train progressives to run for county boards north of Wausau.  This wouldn’t have happened without your donations and without you buying our beer.

We owe them another $20K to complete our commitment to pay a large part of this person’s salary, but this down payment allows them to start the hiring process and start organizing now for county board elections happening next April.

So in this last email of the summer, I’m gonna ask you to dig deep and separate yourselves from a few shekels.  I won’t bug you for a month, but I’d like to put another $10K into the coffers for this future Northwoods community organizer.

Please consider donating to this effort.  We think it’s important and can help move the needle in this neglected part of Wisconsin.

How do you donate?  The easiest way is to simply buy our beer or merchandise.  5% of the profits of everything you buy goes towards our Super PAC, including this effort.

If you want your money to go further, please donate directly to the Super PAC here.

If you hate Super PACs or don’t trust us, please donate directly to Wisconsin Progress here.  The link earmarks all money donated to fund this particular position.

Have a great August, and thanks for believing in our shared mission to “Make Wisconsin Great Again, One Beer At A Time.”

Kirk Bangstad, Owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company and Super PAC

Republished without permission. But it’s probably ok with Kirk.

Let’s Avoid Becoming a Mad Max Movie

Wisconsin Progress
Last week, President Biden called the fight against restrictive voting laws the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War,” and directed furious ire at those continuing to spread the “Big Lie” that Trump won the presidential election with the question– “have you no shame?”

We know the answer to that.  They don’t.

Two of America’s worst “Big Liars” are Wisconsin’s own Senator Ron Johnson and Congressman Tom Tiffany.  They, along with the spineless Republican rubber-stamping automatons in our state legislature, have joined the chorus to suppress our vote because they know conspiracy theories alone can’t manifest electoral victories.

Voting is how we avoid civil war.  Instead of fighting each other in a “Mad Max”-like Hobbesian dystopia, we cast ballots.  Voting is the root of civilized society.  Nothing is more important than fair elections, and they’re trying to take that away.

What do you think will happen if they take voting away from us?  The obvious and terrifying answer is civil war.

So we have to fight against that.  Progressives have to fight, parents have to fight, students have to fight, small businesses have to fight, and yes, breweries have to fight.

We hope our loud voice joining Wisconsin’s Fair Maps Coalition to end the gerrymandering that enabled a lunatic like Tiffany to represent us makes a difference when the new decade-long lines are drawn later this year, but we can’t count on that.

Given the infuriating trepidation of the few Democratic U.S. senators who refuse to kill the filibuster and pass voting protections (Manchin/Sinema), the uncertainty we have of our state and federal courts to rule impartially on gerrymandering after having been unfairly packed with conservatives, and the short-sighted defensive posture our own state Democratic party too-often takes that translates into zero funding for progressives #upnorth, we have to assume we’re on our own.

And that’s why the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC exists. We’ve raised over $200K so far to help fight for oft-forgotten progressives in Northern Wisconsin, and our latest campaign is to raise $40,000 to fund a community organizer to help recruit and train progressives to run in county board elections next Spring.

The best way fight is to build a local progressive bench of county board supervisors throughout Northern Wisconsin who will ultimately be ready to run for state and federal office when the time is right, and we need your help to build that bench.

We’ve partnered with a group called Wisconsin Progress that specializes in candidate training and recruitment and together, we raised a total of $7,000 in last week’s launch email.  Once we hit the $20K mark, Wisconsin Progress will start the candidate search.

Please consider donating to this effort.  We think it’s important and can help move the needle in this neglected part of Wisconsin.

How do you donate?  The easiest way is to simply buy our beer or merchandise.  5% of the profits of everything you buy goes towards our Super PAC, including this effort.

If you want your money to go further, please donate directly to the Super PAC here.

If you hate Super PACs or don’t trust us, please donate directly to Wisconsin Progress here.  The link earmarks all money donated to fund this particular position.

Thanks for believing in our shared mission to “Make Wisconsin Great Again, One Beer At A Time”

Kirk Bangstad, Owner of the Minocqua Brewing Company and Super PAC

Reposted from Minocqua Brewing Company owner and northern Wisconsin activist weekly email

The field of Democrats is taking shape for next year’s race for U.S. Senator in Wisconsin.

On the local election front, we currently have seven contenders for the Democratic nomination for US Senate, a number that is bound to grow. Here’s the Journal Sentinel’s introduction to those who have announced so far. As the year advances, Grassroots North Shore plans to hold at least one and probably more events to introduce candidates and to give each serious contender a chance to highlight his or her campaign message. So keep an eye peeled for those events, starting next year.

Here’s How You Can Support Texas Communities

Texas Mutual Aid Directory

Texas is experiencing a humanitarian crisis. In cities across the state, people are without power, pipes are bursting and folks are struggling to access clean water. Carbon monoxide exposure is on the rise. This kind of neglect by the Texas government, including but not limited to, taking a vacation while your constituents are freezing, is unacceptable.

And though Indivisible will be among the first to call for accountability and look for long-term solutions, we must first look after one another.

If you are looking to support impacted communities in Texas and in other affected states, several partners have put together a directory to get funds straight into the hands that need them. Click here to read the guide and make a donation.

Thank you for banding together with us to support communities in need. The people of Texas deserve immediate relief and assistance, as well as policies and systems that anticipate and respond appropriately during extreme weather events like this.

Lake County Voter and Vote By Mail Information

Vote by Mail Without Using the Post Office

Vote by mailIf you plan to vote by mail in the November election, you may drop off your completed ballot at one of the many postage-free drop boxes that will be set up around Lake County. Election judges will collect ballots daily and bring them to the Lake County Clerk’s office for processing.
Due to COVID-19, the Lake County Clerk’s Office encourages all voters to use the vote by mail option and avoid standing in line during early voting or on Election Day.

To vote by mail, you must complete and submit a request for a ballot.  The Lake County Clerk’s Office will begin mailing ballots to those who have requested them beginning Sept. 24.

How to Track your Mail-In Ballot: Track the clerk’s receipt of your mailed ballot by visiting LakeVoterPower.info or calling 847-377-2406 or 847-377-VOTE.

How to Vote in Person:  Early voting will be available from Sept. 24 to Oct. 16 at the Lake County Clerk’s Office, 18 N. County St., Waukegan during regular business hours Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Early voting in other locations across the county will be available from Oct. 19 to Nov 2.  On Election Day Nov. 3, polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Make Your Vote Count! Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Vote Buttons
  1. How do I arrange to vote by mail?

If you are a registered voter, you can request a ballot by submitting an “application.” You can do that wholly online or by returning a paper application. If you live in Lake County, go to LakeVoterPower.info. If you live in Cook County, go to https://mailvoting.cookcountyclerkil.gov/en/Application/ApplicantInformation.

  1. What if I’m not registered to vote or not sure I’m registered in Illinois?

To find out whether you’re registered to vote in Illinois, go to https://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationLookup.aspx. Or call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683), and a volunteer will check for you.

If you’re not registered in Illinois, and you are a U.S. citizen, will turn 18 years of age by November 3, 2020, will have lived at your address for at least 30 days prior to November 3, and don’t claim the right to vote anywhere else, you may register to vote.

You can register in person with a Deputy Voter Registrar through October 6, 2020. You will need a valid Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois State ID.

Online registration is available through 11:59 pm on October 18, 2020, at https://ova.elections.il.gov/. You must provide a valid Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois State ID number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, the date the license or identification was issued, AND your birth date.

Starting October 19, 2020, you can register to vote at any Early Voting site in your county or, on Election Day, at the polling place assigned to your residential address; however, you must also vote at that time. This process is known as Grace Period Registration or Same Day Registration. You’ll need two pieces of identification, one of which shows your address. Acceptable ID includes a valid Illinois Driver’s License or Illinois State ID and a letter to you at your address from a utility, school, or other official sender. If you have questions about valid forms of id, you can call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683).

  1. I’ve received multiple applications for ballots in the mail. Are they legitimate?

Several Democratic and other civic organizations are mailing ballots to registered voters. You need not worry about the legitimacy of those mailings as long as they call for returning the enclosed application form to your County Clerk’s office (check the address on the return envelope). If you have any questions about an application form you receive in the mail, you can apply online, which you can be sure is official, or call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683) for help.

  1. What is the deadline for submitting an application to request a mail-in ballot?

You can submit the application to request a mail-in ballot any time up until October 29, 2020, but we strongly recommend you do so right away. The earlier you request your ballot, the earlier you can return it, and the more time you’ll have to make sure everything is in order.

  1. How can I make sure my application to request a mail-in ballot was received?

If you live in Lake County, go to LakeVoterPower.info, and after filling in your personal information, click the button, “Track My Mail Ballot.” If you live in Cook County, go to https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/service/your-voter-information, click the button, “What Is My Mail Ballot Status?” and fill in the requested information

  1. When can I expect to receive my mail-in ballot?

Starting on September 24, 2020, County Clerks will mail ballots to all registered voters who previously requested one by submitting an application. If you wait to request your ballot until after October 1, 2020, your County Clerk must mail the ballot to you within two business days of receiving your application. You can use the links in Answer Number 5 to track your application and ballot.

  1. What if I get a mail-in ballot and then decide I want to vote in person?

Just bring your mail-in ballot and certification envelope that came with it (or any parts you can find) to your polling place once in-person voting begins, return them to an election judge, and request a regular ballot to vote then and there. Easy! But having that ballot in hand before the polls are open for in-person voting ensures that if you decide you’d rather not leave home, or if anything else keeps you from the polls, you can still vote.

  1. How do I return my mail-in ballot, and what’s the deadline?

The simplest and safest way to return your mail-in ballot is to place it in a secure drop box. Mail-in ballots must be returned or postmarked no later than Election Day, November 3, 2020, but we encourage you to return yours as soon as possible.

In Lake County, beginning on September 24, 2020, and continuing through Election Day, November 3, 2020, you can return your mail-in ballot by placing it in any of four 24-hour, secure postage-free drop boxes that will be located outside the main entrances of certain branch court buildings. Go to https://www.lakecountyil.gov/DocumentCenter/View/36233/Drop-Box-Locations-all for the exact locations.

The Lake County Clerk also will provide drop boxes at 17 early voting locations throughout Lake County. You can return your mail-in ballot by placing it in any of these drop boxes beginning October 19, 2020, until November 1, 2020, from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

On Monday, November 2, 2020, five of these drop boxes will be available from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. And on Election Day, November 3, 2020, drop boxes for return of mail-in ballots will be available at two Election Day voting sites from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. For the exact locations of these drop boxes, go to https://www.lakecountyil.gov/DocumentCenter/View/36233/Drop-Box-Locations-all

Cook County also will have drop boxes at early voting sites, starting on October 19. These also will be accessible from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. A complete list of those locations is available at https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/SECURE%20DROPBOXES%20FOR%20COOK%20COUNTY%20MAIL%20BALLOTS.pdf

In addition, Cook County will make drop boxes available beginning October 9, 2020, in six locations—one in the Loop and five at Regional Courthouses in suburban Cook County. Go to https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/SECURE%20DROPBOXES%20FOR%20COOK%20COUNTY%20MAIL%20BALLOTS.pdf for a list of these locations.

A ballot placed in the U.S. mail and postmarked by Election Day will be valid as long as it is received within 14 days after Election Day. Lake County’s ballot takes a regular first-class stamp. If you live in Cook County, your ballot will come with a postage-paid return envelope.

If you choose, you can hand-deliver your mail-in ballot to your County Clerk’s office during normal business hours.

  1. What if I don’t understand how to fill out and return my VBM ballot?

Your VBM ballot will come to you with clear instructions, including illustrations. And closer to September 24, we will post our own illustrated instructions. If you still have questions, call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline, 847-432-VOTE (8683), and one of our volunteers will walk you through it.

  1. How can I find out whether my ballot has been received?

If you live in Lake County, go to LakeVoterPower.info, and after filling in your personal information, click the button, “Track My Mail Ballot.” If you live in Cook County, go to https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/service/your-voter-information, click the button, “What Is My Mail Ballot Status?” and fill in the requested information

More questions? Call the Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline at 847-432-VOTE (8683).

The above information has been provided by Tenth Dems

You Want to Win? Join Call Bank and Text Bank Efforts

Sonny pitches call and text banking

30,000+ letters hand written to registered voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio! We’ve done a great job. But that project is ending. If you’re truly committed to winning in November, make the transition to phone banking and text banking. Listen to this pitch:

Phone Banking contact: Kathleen Long  kathleenlong@comcast.net

Text Banking contact: Laura Tanner  laura.tanner2.0@gmail.com

Phone Banking and Text Banking projects are administered by volunteers affiliated with Evanston Indivisible.

Mail Dates for The Big Send

Vote Forward

We’ve received a lot of questions about the Post Office and our plans for sending the letters you have written. Here is a statement from Vote Forward, the organizers of our letter writing initiative:

Summary:

  • We’ve heard your concerns about The Big Send mail date, and we’re doing everything we can to ensure your letters are timed for maximum effect.
  • Many experiments have shown that GOTV messages sent too early are ineffective. Really! Trust us on this. Please send your letters on the official Vote Forward mail date, not earlier.
  • We are preparing to set a new, earlier October mail date for The Big Send. But we only want to change it once, so we will announce the new mail date in late September.

Here is a more comprehensive statement:

When we launched our 2020 GOTV (Get Out The Vote) campaigns in January, we did not anticipate that U.S. mail delivery, a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure, would become a political issue.

We did not anticipate that record numbers of us would want to vote by mail amid a global pandemic.

We also did not anticipate that Vote Forward’s letter writing efforts would emerge as one of the safest and most effective ways to encourage voters to turn out this fall.

And while we may not have planned for these eventualities, we are busy navigating them to ensure that your letters will be delivered in time to do what they are intended to do: to encourage relatively unlikely voters to cast a ballot in the 2020 general election.

To make certain that your letters are as effective as possible at increasing voter turnout, we will be setting an earlier October mail date.

What we’re doing to set a new mail date

Like you, we’re thinking a lot about recent news stories and the near future of USPS. And we’re keeping a close eye on the lawsuits, appeals, legislation, and electoral policy changes in our key states that affect how and when ballots must be received to be counted.

We’re also collecting a sampling of real life, real-time first-class USPS delivery times from states across the U.S. to our key states; this information is being gathered by Vote Forward volunteers participating in our Mailbox-to-Mailbox: Assessing USPS project. And soon, when we have the data from our recent Vote Forward Labs experiment in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, we’ll have more insight into whether sending “please vote” letters much earlier than planned could dampen the impact of your letters on voter turnout.

Why we’re doing all of this research now

Ordinarily, and in all of the experiments we’ve conducted in the past to show that letters increase voter turnout, we’ve sent them as close as possible to the election without missing it because we know that “please vote” messages fade from memory quickly, and because the relatively unlikely voters we’re encouraging tend to make the decision to vote — or not — close to the last minute.

We also know from a great deal of historical evidence in rigorously conducted experiments that “please vote” messages communicated too early have essentially no effect on voter turnout. We cannot make the mistake of setting a mail date that is so early it results in your letters being ineffectual.

And during the 2020 primaries, we learned that the number of requested absentee ballots sometimes exceeded the number of ballots returned by close to 40 percent on the day before the primary election. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but it bolsters our thinking that a Vote Forward letter received days before the ballot return deadline could close this gap.

Why we cannot rush to set a new mail date

We’re writing to voters in 15 different states, with 15 different sets of election rules and deadlines, amid layers of lawsuits to change these rules and deadlines, evolving policy changes by elected and election officials, an uneven postal service, and record vote by mail spikes during a pandemic.

Following all of the above, we can tell you the electoral landscape in our key states continues to change each day. And each day we learn a little more about the status of mail delivery.

What we know about first-class mail and election mail

Some of you have written in, worried about overwhelming USPS by adding 10 million letters to the mailstream on a single day. The USPS Postal Facts for “one day” offers this perspective: USPS processes and delivers 181.9 million pieces of first-class mail each day, and on average, USPS processes 19.7 million mail pieces each hour. Given this consideration, we are planning to stick with a single mail date because staggered mail dates would require system changes, necessitate last moment letter sorting, and introduce unnecessary complexity into our efforts.

Other volunteers have written to say they’re concerned that our letters could delay the delivery of ballots by mail. As things stand, when prepared according to USPS guidance, official election mail, which includes official ballot materials and absentee applications, is given priority over first-class mail. These official election mail pieces feature three digit Service Type Identifiers, which are part of the Intelligent Mail Barcode. They increase the visibility of outbound and return election mail within the automated USPS environment and help with tracking.

We’ve also heard from volunteers who say that October 27th is too late to mail. We agree. This is the ideal mail date in an ordinary election year. We will email you with the new, official October mail date in late September.

Electoral policies are still in flux, but here is a snapshot of where things stand in our key states

A few highlights:

Non-mail ways to return a ballot
Many of our key states use and are adding ballot drop boxes, which offer a no-contact way to return a ballot and eliminate the time it would ordinarily take to return a ballot by mail. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Ohio (one per county), Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (available by municipality) will offer ballot drop boxes for the general election. Maine, with one drop box installed this summer in Bangor, is exploring the addition of ballot drop boxes. And ballots can be returned to local election offices in our key states, either by the voter or by a family member or “authorized designee,” with the exception of Pennsylvania, which limits returns to the voter.

Mailing and tracking ballots
Election officials in Michigan are collaborating with USPS officials to ensure that election mailings are highly visible and prioritized in their system. Arizona has adjusted its guidance on when to return a ballot by mail. And Florida, Wisconsin, and other key states are increasing voter education efforts to communicate the importance of requesting and returning mail-in ballots as early as possible.

Online ballot tracking, which displays if a voter’s ballot was sent and received, is already available in Arizona, Colorado (by municipality), Florida, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Maine voters can call their municipal clerk to track a ballot; and Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are adding technology that will allow voters and elections staff to track ballots as they move through the mailstream.

Voting early, either in-person or by mail
“No excuse” absentee voting is available in all of our key states, except Texas. In Colorado and Nevada, voters will receive general election ballots by mail. And Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are mailing absentee ballot request forms to voters.

Where it is available, early voting or in-person absentee voting is possible through at least October 29th in our key states, and through November 2nd in Ohio, Montana, and Iowa. Only the key states of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire offer no early voting.

Extending ballot receipt deadlines
Lawsuits to extend ballot return deadlines from “received before polls close” on Election Day to “postmarked on” Election Day and received in the days following the election are active in Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other key states. In Arizona, a lawsuit filed to order the acceptance of ballots postmarked on Election Day was settled; ballots must still be received on Election Day, but the Secretary of State is required to increase voter education about the ballot receipt deadline. In Montana, plaintiffs prevailed in a lawsuit to accept ballots postmarked on Election Day and to allow for ballot drop boxes.

Don’t forget: Your letters are key, but they are not the only election communication your voters will receive

Election officials, state parties, and organizations on the ground in our key states are working hard to educate voters and provide the guidance they need to vote safely in the 2020 general election, including recommending they request a mail-in ballot as early as possible. Because we’re not alone in this effort, and given the risk of providing information that may be outdated by the time your letters arrive, we recommend against adding dates or details on voting methods to your letters or envelopes.

We have one favor to ask

Vote Forward is thrilled to be experiencing a surge in new sign-ups and activity, and with that, our Helpdesk is experiencing a high volume of emails. Vote Forward’s Helpdesk is staffed by a dedicated team of Vote Forward volunteers, who are working hard to support their fellow volunteers to keep the templates printing and letter stockpiles growing.

We will email you to inform you of the new, official October mail date in late September. Until then, whenever possible, please hold off on emailing the Helpdesk about the mail date. We hope you know from this lengthy message that we are acutely aware of what is happening on the ground in our key states, and we are doing everything possible to find the most effective mail date for your letters.

Please keep writing letters (so really two favors to ask)

Your “please vote” letters will provide the extra encouragement that will inspire more voices to be heard this fall.

We urge you to leave the mail date research and worries to us, so you can instead focus on what will make a difference this fall: writing more letters, recruiting friends and family to join this effort, becoming a poll worker if you can, buying stamps, and taking good care of yourselves as we work to increase voter turnout for the general election.

Thank you, as always, for all of your efforts.

The Vote Forward team