Political action committee MoveOn works to “Get Out The Vote”

After last week’s get-togethers in celebration of Halloween’s fantasy and folklore, some have “moved on” to host and attend a gathering in support of a different kind of tradition. Janice Humphrey held a “Get Out the Vote” Call Party, Saturday, Nov. 3, at her house in West Lakeview sponsored by political action committee MoveOn.

MoveOn is an American non-profit and progressive advocacy group pushing public policy reform through civic action. With more than 3.3 million members across the country, MoveOn aims to bring the public back into the political process. As a public service, the progressive organization is a way for ordinary citizens to find and voice their political opinions in a system controlled by big money and big media.

Various “Get Out the Vote” activities ask volunteers to make calls to fellow MoveOn members in swing states, where voters have generally vacillated between Republican and Democratic candidates in the last three or four presidential elections.

The Nov. 3 meeting in West Lakeview focused on those in Virginia, encouraging them to go to a central volunteer location where they will either be sent out to knock on doors or make further phone calls.

After every page, volunteer callers were instructed to personally report the results by dialing it in through a hotline. Indefinite responses will receive a reminder email and busy signals will receive a follow-up call.

“I heard on BEZ that Democrats don’t vote as often and Republicans vote in bigger numbers,” said Humphrey. “So part of this is to get the Democrats out there.”

Volunteers are given both a call sheet with names and numbers as well as a call script with guided dialogue. But MoveOn member Judy Welte, who recently moved to the Chicago area after being busy with Occupy Santa Fe, encourages personal opinion and made it known that conversation and engagement are key.

“I think the important thing is that people get a lot of robocalls, and it’s nice for them to hear a real person trying to have a real conversation,” she said. “I hear Republicans are just flooding with robocalls right now, and it’s sad, but that’s the reality. It’s all about human touch.”

But the calling process began only after the group briefly conversed about today’s political system. After referring to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as an “empty suit,” MoveOn volunteer Ron Guild said, “It’s not just about the landslide this year, but the lies.”

“I can’t recall anything as crazy as this election,” said Welte. “It started from day one when Paul Ryan lied about his marathon times.”

Other topics that came up included voter suppression and the five-hour lines Florida residents have been forced to stand in this election season, as well as the $1 billion advertisement spending and the emerging gap between political media and the public.

“I’ve learned a long time ago not to trust the mainstream media,” said Welte. “Because if you watch FOX News or CNN, you’re not going to get it.”

Humphrey also offered personal insight into previous MoveOn events. “I know last time I went to Milwaukee for MoveOn and we went to the houses of Democrats that sometimes voted and sometimes didn’t,” she said. “And so we went around and said it’s really important to get yourself out this time and vote.”

Contributors to the cause don’t have to be members of MoveOn. If, during the call, the person indicates he or she is unable to visit the volunteer location, they are further encouraged to vote and get their friends involved.

“Realistically, most people will say no,” said Welte. “But once in a while you get the person who does want to talk and volunteer, it’s just exponential.”

After socializing and reviewing the procedure in Humphrey’s living room complete with snack bowls and leftover Halloween candy, the group dispersed throughout the second floor apartment to a quiet spot to make their calls.

With a motto of “Democracy in Action,” MoveOn operates on an amiable ambience to stir up more volunteers through cordial conversation.

“It’s amazing how many people think they don’t need to vote,” said Welte. “And we are the personal touch; we are not robocalls.”

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