Living in the cerulean state of New York, I’m looking for ways to contribute to the upcoming election. Other than voting. I signed up with an organization to hand-write 400 postcards to registered Democratic voters in swing states, encouraging them to vote on Nov. 3.
I was assigned Texas—The Lone Star State—and sent a supply of postcards. I was also provided with what reads like a data-driven and well-workshopped script. I know it by heart:
We do our best for our families no matter our color, age, or gender. But some politicians divide us to block access to affordable healthcare, good schools, and clean water. Let’s join together and vote Tues. Nov. 3 in the election!
My task: Write the note, add name and address, check the name off the master list, stamp the postcard (I buy the stamps) and mail.
Straightforward. And yet—an adventure.
I forgot how bad my handwriting is. It really sucks—almost indecipherable to anyone but me, and even I’ve been stumped when reading back through one of my journals.
But these postcards are blank and have to be handwritten. The handwritten card is more effective, according to research.
I used to have decent handwriting. As I kid I imitated my father’s writing (and forged his signature a few times), and over the years added my own flourishes to create a style my own. But then I learned to type—and type fast. My thoughts synched up with the speed of my typing, and so whenever I wrote by hand, my pen would be racing to keep up with my mind, and my handwriting has since fallen apart.
I try to be careful writing the postcards. Each one takes about a minute and a half to write, plus another 30-40 seconds for the name and address.
I try some ALL CAPS PRINTING OF THE MESSAGE, but this takes too long, isn’t much easier to read, and even I get annoyed by the sense I’m shouting.
I discover other ways to minimize my handwriting damage: Place the exact same words on each line, every time. Slowing down for tricky words—“clean” turns out to be a challenge; “no matter our” looks like a scribble of mountain peaks.
A few times I lose control of my pen and letters collide in the middle of the word, leaving an inky wreckage. All I can do is move on. Next sentence. Next postcard.
At one point I veer from the script and change “good schools” to “education” and don’t realize it until twenty postcards later. Move on. Next postcard.
My fingers lock, my mind deadens from the repetition of writing the same message over the same message over the same over and over again. I can handle up to ten postcards in a single sitting. I’m chipping away. Harriet has joined in. She has nicer handwriting. We have hundreds to go.
I sign them, Dave. I never go by Dave, but it seems appropriate for these postcards. Dave is asking you to join together and vote in our best interest.
I’m a tiny bit hopeful. There are likely hundreds or thousands of other people doing the same thing as we are: writing postcards to swing-state voters. Who knows what might swing the election our way. Shouldn’t every vote count?