We’re In This Together – Report from Somerville It’s Up to Us

Submitted by David Sloane

Progressive Mass collaborated with Cambridge-Somerville for Change and Progressive Democrats of Somerville to hold a post-election debrief for progressive activists, in and around Somerville.  Volunteers and organizers from  multiple campaigns got together at the First Church of Somerville and were joined by progressive leader State Senator Pat Jehlen.  We shared coffee, donuts and bagels, and talked about our experiences.  Active supporters of Elizabeth Warren, Obama-Biden, Somerville’s Question 4, and Mike Connolly’s campaign for State Representative gathered near Davis Square, eager to revisit our victories and consider what comes next.  While most folks were from Somerville, others came from Cambridge, Arlington, and Winchester.

We had some lively discussions about campaign priorities, how to get voters to the polls, and how to improve the voting process.

What Worked?

  • A strong, local volunteer-organizing committee, Somerville for Warren, started working in Somerville almost a year before the election, building connections between the community, progressive groups, and the campaign.
  • The Warren campaign, local organizers and Tufts Democrats worked together to register Tufts students, plug them into the campaign, and get them to the polls on Election Day.
  • The volume of voter registration surprised many long-time organizers, both before the election and in increased turnout on Election Day, in Somerville and Cambridge.
  • Many voters were willing to wait in long lines, or go to an unexpected polling place.
  • Somerville’s Question 4 campaign to raise local revenue successfully targeted seniors and supplemented work done by other campaigns.
  • Farmers’ markets were great places to meet progressive voters during the summer.
Recommendations:
  • A stronger local presence, like a dedicated Somerville office, would have helped volunteers create a community, beyond the Elizabeth Warren headquarters in Assembly Square.
    • A progressive store-front location would be a great rallying point for local progressives in the future.
  • A dedicated Voter Registration Coordinator volunteer, in each town, would have helped get even more people registered and to the polls.
  • Voters shouldn’t have to wait in long lines – are there ways to improve the voting process, at the local and state levels?
  • There seemed to be limited focus on older voters, but older voters vote with greater frequency than younger voters.
  • Voting site efficiency and cooperation with poll-watchers varied widely between polling places – some seemed to improve through Election Day, others were struggling all day.

At the end of the session, organizers talked about connecting with activist groups to build on the energy and organization of the 2012 campaigns.  Tony Mack talked about the genesis of Progressive Massachusetts, and the opportunities for organizing across the commonwealth to pass more progressive legislation on Beacon Hill.  Everyone seemed to agree that staying organized, and working together was an important priority, and we hope attendees will stay connected through Progressive Mass and the other local organizations working toward more post-election progressive victories.

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