Archive by Author | paxus

The Thursday Problem – why we can’t slow down

There has been a bunch of good news in the campaign to block unqualified candidates like Herschel Walker. Our effort has been acknowledged and appreciated as well, so here is the report.

Good News

As of Dec 1, these are the betting pools on the Georgia Senate Runoff election as forecasted by PredictIt with over 1 million bets placed for this race so far.  Warnock is leading (85%/15%)

Please note that before the midterm election, Walker’s chance of winning was 65%/35%, then it dramatically flipped after the election.  My read is there were several factors in this dramatic reversal

  • Walker numerically lost the midterm election to Warnock
  • Republican Governor Kemp was not on the ticket to bring out voters
  • Walker received 210,000 fewer votes than Kemp in the November election 
  • Since the senate is not in play, those who were voting for Walker for GOP control (but were not excited about the candidate) now had to say they wanted just him

This is good news, but it doesn’t mean we can assume the election is already won. We’ll keep flyering and canvassing and more, because none of us want to see 2016 happen again- win or lose, we’ll know we did everything we could to help re-elect Reverend Warnock. And just like this prediction poll was wrong about Walker winning the midterm, or that there was an 85% chance Hillary Clinton would win, it could be wrong. 15% chance is about the chance of a day being Thursday.  Thursdays happen all the time.

Black turnout outpacing Midterms

6 days into early voting, over 16% of the registered population has turned out to vote and 29% of the people who voted in the recent midterms, these numbers are encouragingly high.  But what is especially important when comparing the racial identification of the voters, Whites are way down and Blacks are up 10% in turnout so far in the runoff.  This alone (if the trend continues) would doom Walker.  Blacks voted 89% for Warnock in the recent midterms, Whites voted 67% for Walker.

There is a reason for some of this racial disparity.  The big primarily Democratic Atlanta metro counties (where half the state’s population resides) had early voting on Saturday. Many smaller, poorer, redder counties chose not to because of the expense (or because they assumed the Republicans would win the court case block voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving).  So Democrat heavy areas got a head start, but as the days of early voting have progressed, this 10% higher Black voter turnout than ???White??? during the midterms seems to persist.  

For those of us in the field this is quite inspiring information which is never available in most states because they dont track it and rarely available this quickly.  I wish there were more we could thank the Georgia Secretary of State for.

It also does not help that Walker is running a terrible campaign, independent of the many scandals and seriously foolish statements (“I have always lived in Georgia” and I want to be a werewolf”). Walker decided to take 5 days of the runoff period off, for Thanksgiving.  That is a big piece of a 27 day campaign. And let’s not forget that Walker “described himself as living in Texas during (a) 2022 campaign speech,” and in fact still registers his $3 million Texas home as his primary residence- for the tax break.  

The Warnock campaign alternatively is energized, outspending Walker in ads, working with churches, college  groups, unions, LatinX and other immigrant communities.  Obama comes today and speaks, Michelle has recorded some robo calls.

The Walker campaign has asked Trump not to come to Georgia. 

Nice Words

We have been working with all 4 of the free ride services for the campaign.  Each has it’s own advantages, territories and strengths.  Especially, those with limited “ground game” are excited about working with us to compliment their virtual promotion approach.  The largest free ride service in Georgia for the runoff is Plus1 Vote.  They described us nicely in their pitch deck

Page 19 of the Plus1.vote Pitch Deck

And while this is uplifting good news, it is important for us to keep going full speed, to avoid the Thursday problem.  Walker is down but definitely not out and we can not risk a long shot win in 2022 which mimics Trump’s surprise win in 2016.  

So if things look good, why are we working so hard?

It is critically important to remember these election laws have been designed for Republicans to win, and that 2020’s runoffs were a statistical outlier- Republicans generally win runoffs in Georgia. 2020/21 was an exception because of the tremendous effort that went into that campaign.  The Georgia runoff system was created by (mainly) white politicians to dis-empower the “Negro bloc voting” (direct quote). How do we know this? Because Denmark Groover, who proposed the runoff system admitted decades later that “I was a segregationist. I was a county unit man. But if you want to establish if I was racially prejudiced, I was. If you want to establish that some of my political activity was racially motivated, it was.”  The runoff time has been cut in half.  

Greg Palast (perhaps the best reporter on election fraud in the US) also warns that the 2020 voter suppression law was designed to basically eliminate mail-in ballots which were 2:1 in Warnocks favor.  Those long lines and wait times you are reading about, that is significantly Warnock voters who are discouraged from voting.

If you can help our efforts please do support us in these last critical days.

Join the Air Team for Georgia

It is cliché to say “the internet has changed everything”, yet it is foolish to not examine how these changes should translate into changes in our behavior.  For the Georgia Senate Runoff campaign, thinking about how folks far from us might use the internet to help is a daily occurrence.  Here are our current ideas:

  1. Basic social media support.    The easiest and cheapest way you can support us is to post things on social media.  We would love for you to post our fundraiser but if you have any connection to Georgia at all, what would be really great would be for you to post the link to info about Free Rides to the Polls, printable flyers, resources for voters, and other voter support information.
  2. Help us find volunteers.  We are working with a growing group of in state volunteers to distribute information about free rides to the polls.  These volunteers fall generally into two groups. Partisans who want to be publicizing ways to get Warnock to win and non-partisans (often affiliated with churches) who want to just provide public information encouraging folks to get to the polls and how to get there for free. We provide both pro-Warnock and non-partisan resources when publicizing free rides
  3. Share our materials with people in Georgia. We can organize volunteers to put up flyers, hand out info for free rides, and remind people to vote- but you’re welcome to do so independently as well. We provide print-ready files for posters, flyers, and business cards on our website here. Currently those materials are available in English and Spanish, and we’ll be adding other languages as they become available. Speaking of translations…
The Flip Project developed, promoted and/or translated these posters
  1. Translations– In 2020 we translated runoff voting materials into more than a dozen languages. While we likely won’t surpass that number this year, we’d certainly like to try! And if you have good contacts with language groups in Georgia, we would love your help with distributing translations via social media. If you’re interested in translating then something either comment on this blog post or get in touch with me at paxus@twinoaks.org
  2. Become a dispatcher.  Some of the rideshare groups we are working with don’t use Uber or Lyft, but instead dispatch volunteer drivers to get people to the polls.  This means calling and checking people are ready for their rides and making sure drivers can keep their connections or get usefully re-assigned.  
  3. Hustle money for us.  I know it is uber boring, but we still find that every dollar which comes in helps us do more things to get people the polls*.  And our team is still expanding (with Zi arriving yesterday).  Here is the GoFundMe link which you should send to that rich relative of yours who always talks about how people should do something to stop the Trump madness, well now would be a great time them to do something.  Please post GFM link on your own social media, you would might be surprised how generous and engaged your friends are.

* And for our donors who are reading this as part of an update, we are especially grateful for your support. We launch these efforts unsure we can pull the money together to cover all our costs and we have been very happy with the response. Thanks for taking a chance with us, it looks like it is going to pay off. Record early voting, record young people turn out, tremendous enthusiasm for the campaign.

The price of independence

Professional political campaigns at the US Senatorial level must protect themselves from the many “helpful” constituents who want to waste their precious time with their under formulated notions of how to win their race. For a quasi-independent political group like our Flip Project it is quite hard to convince the official campaign to give us any time. The lovely out-of-state volunteer campaign coordinator is happy to put all people on their door to door canvass. But if we want to do something other than that, their hands are tied. For us, the price of our independence is we need to out perform door to door canvasses.

This year, with a very short campaign duration (thank you Georgia’s new “election integrity”/ voter suppression laws), we have chosen to promote free rides to the polls as what we think our volunteers can deliver that will be the most effective way to get out votes. We are producing assets, like the Spanish language poster below, with a QR code that lands or our splash page, which gives out information on free rides (with ride services or friendly volunteers), polling locations and election protection practices.

We are scrambling to get these assets translated into almost every language, except Vietnamese which broke for Trump in the most recent presidential election. We support everyone’s right to vote, and especially we want to promote voting among non-English speaking citizens, and we promote the languages we are especially excited about. At this point, we only have enough enough money to do poster and other physical promotional materials in English and Spanish. The other languages likely to see translated assets for this election are Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, Bangladeshi and possibly Pakistani, these will be promoted over social media by our air team. In the 2020 Georgia runoff, we did translations of election materials into 13 languages.

2020 Presidential results national results by ethnic group.

Turns out there are a bunch of studies showing the correlation between access to a car and voting. The above graph shows the somewhat shocking thing which happens in the US, and even though we might not like the behavior, we can not deny the behavior. People who don’t own cars are on the order of 30% less likely to vote than people who do have a car in their household. [What i found interesting in this, is that the absentee ballot use is basically unchanged, where i had thought people without access to cars would significantly increase their use of absentee ballots – but they don’t and instead they often simply do not vote.]

Our high tech partner in free ride share is plus1.vote and their findings shocked us a bit. They found that social media campaigns for their services were far less effective than their other techniques. One of their techniques is to use geographic and demographic data to locate prospective free ride candidates and then push the free ride directly into their Uber wallet. Then they don’t even have to mess with a promo code, they can simply push a button and they will get a free ride to the correct polling station for their pick up.

Looking for high Democrat voting with low auto ownership

We are also digging into the data to find the best places to promote free rides. There is very granular census data we have gotten for free, which combined with political data gives us the ability to look at locations in metro Atlanta which have high Democratic voter preferences and also low car ownership – the sweet spots for free ride to the polls services.

Flip Project Ground Team L to R – Paxus, Jacqueline, Vicky, Spiderman (aka Mark)

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner of the project staff in Georgia now (several more folks are coming up). In a beautiful coincidence, the Indian restaurant we went to dinner at overlooked the Hosia Williams Mural (seen in the background of the above picture). In 2020, we help revitalize this mural, we had a GOTV artwork competition near here and several of the current staff met for the first time in this location. For this all out-of-town group of activists, this spot feels like coming home.

There is still time to support this campaign and a significant need. I am also humbled and thankful for the many friends and family who have donated and insured that we can keep this project going. This is a very close race and perhaps our effort will be the piece that pushes us to a win, as we helped in 2020 Georgia senate runoff.

Georgia Senate Runoff Election 2022

Schedule your Free Ride to the Polls

Voter Information

Volunteer

This information is provided by The Flip Project 

The English Free Ride QR code comes here

—————————————————————

Eleccion Segunda Vuelta al Senado 2022 de Georgia

Ordena tu Transporte Gratis a las Urnas

Informacion al Votante:

Alistarse como voluntario:

Esta informacion es proporcionada por The Flip Project 

The English Free Ride QR code comes here

—————————————————————

Canvassing for Warnock

Canvassing with Warnock 

As a door to door canvasser, your better days are the ones when you get to tell someone at the door something that they might really be able to use.  I canvassed with Warnock last week, and it was definitely a better day.  I had two pieces of useful information.

The first is that I distributed a little calendar of the upcoming runoff special election.  It showed the dates for early voting and gave QR codes for the closest polling place.  I was happy to give out this card, and a handful of people, in the 42 houses I knocked on doors in East Atlanta, were happy to get the information.

But the thing which got the most response was when I told them that if they voted early, their names would drop out of the call-back rosters and that they would get few phone calls and emails!  This seemed to ramp up the enthusiasm for a shortened early voting period.  [As part of the wave of “election integrity” legislation passed by Republicans, the runoff campaign is half as long in its total length, it has fewer days of early voting, fewer drop boxes and has more restrictions on in-person and absentee voting.]

As an enthusiastic canvasser, you have to think about your audience.  If your prospective voter is over 60, it is more likely they want the physical address written down, of which there is a place for on this form.  But most of my younger voters were happy to be directed by the scan code. Thus, I could save the literature, which had the polling places and addresses on it, for the people I spoke with who wanted just that.

The first house I canvassed was one of the fanciest.

We encourage everyone who works for the Flip Project to spend time canvassing, because we want them to know what outreach methods they are outperforming.  Our work on promoting free ride-shares, especially in non-English languages where we have good translators and existing assets will get more people voting than the half dozen Georgia residents I talked with on that brisk morning.

Why Georgia

In 2020, it was obvious. We had just finished campaigning in Maine to unseat nationally unpopular Susan Collins. Our team was exhausted, but we knew control of the Senate would rest on the results of the 2 Georgia runoffs. We decided to bring part of our Maine team (and a few new friends as well) to Georgia, where we won, twice. Our calculated gamble saved us from two more years of Moscow Mitch McConnell’s gridlock.  

In 2022, it is less obvious. As the smoke clears on the midterms, we know several things: 

1) The polls were wrong and there was no red wave.  

2) The Democrats maintained control of the US Senate. 

3) It still makes sense nationally to return for this year’s Georgia runoff to get that 51st seat.

“But if we have the Senate, and the Republicans hold the House,” you might ask, “Aren’t we just looking at two years of legislative gridlock? Why bother?” 

There are three main reasons. 

  1. First off, judicial appointments are determined by the Senate, and do not require a House vote. Unlike the 50 seat situation where the VP must constantly break ties, 51 is a real majority that is harder for the endlessly obstructionist Republicans to slow down.  As we know from a collection of recent judicial decisions from the reversal of Roe v Wade to letting Trump off the hook for his crimes, judges matter.  Experts tell us that the 51 seat majority will significantly increase the number of federal judges who get appointed. Currently, with both parties having equal numbers on every committee, every judicial vote has to go to the full Senate where VP Harris breaks ties. With 51 seats, majority control of all committees goes to the Democrats.
  1. With 51 votes, we don’t have Joe Manchin as de facto president. Currently, the even 50/50 split means big legislation (like Biden’s Build Back Better bill) can be held hostage by a single Senator. This happened with Biden’s infrastructure bill, Manchin killed it and delayed passage of the much smaller package by almost a year.

Manchin protects Oil Companies profits over his constituents 

  1. Truthfully, a bunch of these senators are quite old and one may well die during their term (and/or retire due to illness or scandal). This would spark a snap election in some states which will again determine control of the chamber, while in others the governor may appoint an interim replacement to fill the seat until the next regularly scheduled statewide general election. Some states require that the interim senator is the political party as the senator leaving office, but not all of them. The 51st seat is vital insurance that we won’t be in this bad situation yet again in a few months – or still worse. 

Soooo…. We’re coming back to Georgia in force. 

We’ll be drawing from a number of successful techniques learned in 2020. We aim to do things that are more effective than door to door canvassing, and reach people who might not open their door to a stranger/canvasser. How impactful? In 2020, along with our partner Block Power, our ATL VoteTree activation helped deliver 24K votes. With a 93K vote margin in the Warnock race, our collective effort represented 23% of the vote.

Like last time, our nimble boots-on-the-ground team will be guided by the Warnock campaign, nonprofit strategists, and will be well-positioned to capitalize on opportunities as they arise. We aim to deliver sticky art/music activations and blaze a path to the polls by empowering free rides to the polls in multiple languages. It’s the kind of bold, creative stuff that creates big buzz and big impact.

In the face of a cacophony of noise and profound voter fatigue, the days of knock-and-drop canvassing are over. We’re returning to Georgia to help take the Warnock campaign to the finish line.
And We. Will. Win.

We’re grateful for introductions, energy, and of course, your financial support– and for the next few days, an anonymous donor will match your contribution. Thank you!

If you want to volunteer your time please write quickly to paxus@twinoaks.org or better 541-505-0803

We’re currently looking for new people to help with:

Remote (air team support from your home)

  • Fundraising
  • Demographic and voter data analysis
  • Social media campaign

Ground Team in Atlanta

  • Street theater and public events
  • Door knock with the Warnock campaign
  • Distribute posters, flyers, signs, and business cards reminding people to vote, and how they can get a free ride to (and from) the polls, especially in non-English speaking parts of the city

Like your life depends on it

Shal asked ne to use this platform to encourage people to vote and i wish i had done it earier.

I choose this image because this election, more than any in my life is about privilege. If the Republicans win, it will mean everyone who is not a straight white male is going to lose rights. It means Trump will have won in bringing the country to a post truth age, where the bigger your lie and the larger your platform (i’m looking at you Fox News) the greater the deception you can perpetrate and the more crimes you can get away for unpublished.

So my ask is that you increase your game. If you have voted, please do some phone banking. If you are already phone banking, call your old friend who used to warn about creeping authoritarianism and ask them to do some as well. And of course, if you have not managed to get out and vote, please do at least that, otherwise you are likely to deeply regret it.

There are lots of close election, there are lots of places to work.

QuinkFair Program

Running Program QuinkFair 2022

(not all confirmed*, times in flux)  

* All of these presenters have indicated that they want to do a workshop.  Some have specified these things, others are just known for these things and we are guessing.

Friday Sept 23, 2022

Schedule 

  • 10am – Gates officially open / Orientation
  • 12pm – Lunch
  • 1pm to 5pm – Afternoon Workshops
  • 5pm – Welcome and opening ceremony
  • 6pm – Dinner
  • 8pm – Talent Show – Jade as MC
  • After the Talent Show – Dancing with DJ Arrow Chrome
  • * * Temple of Oracles open into the wee hours of the morning

Afternoon Workshops 1pm – 5pm

Saturday Sept 24, 2022

Schedule

  • Morning- yoga with Sarah Haley 
  • 8am Breakfast
  • 10 am Meet the Communities 
  • 12pm- Lunch
  • Temple of Oracles open all afternoon
  • 6pm- Dinner
  • 8pm – Effigy Burn fire spinners and dancing with Rio as MC
  • After Burn – Conscious Cuddle Party hosted by  Wolf
  • ** Temple of Oracles open into the wee hours of the morning

Workshops start at 1pm

Sunday Sept 25, 2022

Schedule

  • Morning Yoga with Coach Jade
  • 8am – Breakfast
  • 9am to 12pm – Sunday Morning Workshops
  • 12pm- Lunch
  • 1pm QuinkFair closing celebration, ritual and farewell
  • 2pm – 5pm Open Space Workshops and other possible events
  • 6pm- Dinner
  • Temple Burn

Morning Workshops – 9am to 12pm

Afternoon – Open Space Technology by you (you can present your own workshop)

Monday Sept 26, 2022

  • Morning – Tours of local communities
  • 12pm – Lunch 
  • 2pm- General attendees depart, some volunteers stay to help clean up

If this is compelling to you there is still time to buy tickets, until Thursday morning. We also have

discount and scholarship tickets available, call 541-505-0803 for more information.

QuinkFair DC Dumpster Dive 9/19/22

My stock advice to activists on what campaigns they should pursue is “join the one where the people working on the issue inspire you”. Next week i get to follow my own advice. There are lots of different approaches to dumpster diving. My favorite is risking getting quite filthy combined with making it a fun adventure. This is where Peaches shines.

Peaches is always happy to lead people new to dumpster diving into the art. They have reliable places they know in the DC metro area, but there are always shifts, old sites converting to compactors and new ventures opening up that are often more wasteful than their established counter parts. On our last dive Peaches took us to pop up convenience stores which throw out all manner of products, we scored 30 boxes of 10 vape pens, with a retail value about $3K.

Peaches = Good divers are light on their feet

If you are not comfortable jumping into a dumpster, there is still a way for you to help out. Specifically, when the dive is finished at 3 or 4 AM you can be part of the crew which processes the treasure we have hauled in. This includes sorting, cleaning, compost handling and in some cases cooking.

All of this is being staged out of Casa Peaches in NW Washington DC quite late Monday Sept 19th and very early in the morning on Tuesday Sept 20th. Here is the Facebook event, and if you are not on Facebook, but want to come (especially if you need a ride) contact paxus@twinoaks.org

Box, gloves, head lamp, poker stick – a well-equipped diver

If you are still trying to decide if you want to come to QuinkFair (Sept 23 thru 26), here is the draft program.

Riddle Garden

“How is a raven like a writing desk?” It sounds familiar, it’s a riddle you have heard before, but you can’t remember the answer. It won’t help you when i tell you it was written by Lewis Carroll.

It is not a complicated dream, but i have not been able to manifest it. I want to build a riddle garden.

Many of the places i live are wooded. Forests are the right venue for this type of chaotic, temporary micro gallery. And the plan is to pepper trees with posted riddles and then you can lift up the riddle to reveal the answer (or possibly an explanation or history in place of an answer).

Clouds

When i lived at Cambia, one of the gentle challenges was for members to build sustainability exhibitions. And while i did not have a conventional sustainability exhibit, it made me think what i was actually excited about was creating a display of different riddles and types of riddles.

What makes this year different from all the times i have failed at this in the past? Well, this time there are conference and festival interns. Ogtar, Orion, Dash (formerly Bee) have all been helping make different events happening in Louisa this summer and fall possible. And they are excited about making the riddle garden happen.

We are looking at four classes of riddles: historic, logical, nonsense and literary. It is unclear if they will be separated by zone in the garden and we are still gathering materials. If you want to help, you can email me or drop your riddles into the comment section below.

But why is a raven like a writing desk? It turns out that when Carroll crafted this riddle, the plan was for it to be a riddle without an answer. But Carroll’s fans were quite dissatisfied with this non answer.

Lewis Carroll himself got bugged about this so much that he was moved to write the following in the preface to the 1896 edition of his book:

Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter’s Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz: ‘Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!’ This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle, as originally invented, had no answer at all.

Here Carroll is intentional misspelling of “never” as “nevar” which is raven spelled backwards.