On, June 15th 2019, a group of activists went to Portland, Maine to register voters at Portland’s massive Pride Day celebrations.
The Berkshires’ progressive group Left Field sent their own contingent from Massachusetts, meeting up with Field Team 6 from California, Swing Left Greater Boston and Swing Left Maine. It’s part of an effort to defeat Senator Susan Collins and take back the Senate in 2020. The registration was a big success – 250 new voters in one day.
Through Susan Labandibar, an energetic regional coordinator for Swing Left and organizer for Swing Left of Greater Boston, Left Field was put in touch with Jason Berlin of Field Team 6, a West Coast voter registration guru. Jason’s method for registering new Democrats is overwhelmingly positive and participatory. Instead of sitting behind a table covered with daunting paperwork, we would go up to folks on the street with clipboards and hats that made plain we were Democrats and say something like, “I’m here today to help people register to vote so that we can get rid of Donald Trump” or “Donald Trump doesn’t want you to vote because you can fix this.” The message resonated.
We registered the very young – in Maine you can pre-register at 17 if you will be 18 in time for the election – and some older people like a shy Latina, 65, who was a citizen but had never felt empowered to vote. Even when it was just a conversation, it was always interesting. A young man in rainbow wings and bleached hair was happy to share that he had just finished a degree in cyber security. He said that what he is seeing now on those channels parallels exactly what was happening in 2016. The only difference is the target. Right now, it’s Biden. We signed up the man with the rainbow wings to volunteer for Swing Left Maine.
Left Field was able to meet activists across states all pulling together. This is the beginning of the long game to defend the House, deliver the Senate, and win the White House in 2020. It’s a haul to Maine but it is the closest competitive Senate race. The lobster there is good, too.