28 March, 2023

Phonebank for abortion rights at stake in Wisconsin Supreme Court Election

icon get out the vote,GOTV,phonebank,volunteer
Volunteer to phonebank for women's rights
Image credit: Roy Lichtenstein

The Wisconsin Supreme Court race could decide abortion rights and 2024 rules in key battleground.

Susan Pfeiffer, veteran phone phonebank organizer explains how tech enabled volunteers are making calls to get out the vote in a new podcast.

“This election is the most important election in the country in 2023 because Wisconsin is the tipping point state for presidential elections,” said Ben Wikler, chairman Wisconsin Democratic Party. “Whoever wins the Supreme Court race will cast the deciding vote on questions like voting rights decisions, our abortion ban and even potentially whether to overturn the results of the 2024 presidential election." - Ben Wikler, chairman Wisconsin Democratic Party.

The court has also shaped Wisconsin’s election laws. It has voted in recent years to prohibit ballot drop boxes and have selected maps that cemented Republicans’ solid majority in the state legislature. “It’s going to be close,” former President Barack Obama said Tuesday in a tweet urging Wisconsin voters to cast their ballots early. - MSNBC

How can volunteers canvass for causes they believe in? How do volunteer phone banks work? What is a predictive dialer? How are volunteers trained to make calls?

Phonebank volunteers get out the vote for Wisconsin Supreme Court election

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz

"Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz has deep roots in the working-class neighborhoods of Milwaukee. She worked as a waitress to pay her way through UW-Milwaukee and Marquette University Law School and then joined the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office.

As a prosecutor, Protasiewicz tried every sort of case, and did so with distinction — successfully trying cases before the Supreme Court and earning a reputation for her legal skills and work ethic. While her opponent, Dan Kelly, was in the employ of right-wing interests that advanced rigid ideological and partisan agendas, Protasiewicz was serving the public interest. In so doing, she gained the knowledge and skills that prepared her to be a judge.

Voters recognized that fact in 2014 when they elected Protasiewicz to the circuit court bench in the state’s largest county. There, she oversaw the toughest cases, earning the respect of her colleagues, prosecutors and defense lawyers — and the voters who reelected her in 2020. In contrast, her opponent has never been elected to a judicial post. A political ally of former Gov. Scott Walker, Kelly was appointed to the high court by Walker and then removed from that position by the voters in 2020. He then went to work for the Republican Party, which was scheming to overturn the results of that year’s presidential election." - Madison

Republicans stack the Supreme Court to ban abortions.


In-person. Knocking on doors and talking directly to voters on their doorstep
By phone. Calling voters and speaking to them on the phone
Texting. Texting voters
By mail. Writing postcards and letters


Phone banking is the next best thing to knocking on doors as volunteers can have a direct conversation with voters just as if they were at their door. Volunteers:
- Respond directly to their comments, questions, concerns on the phone and persuade them
- Record their responses directly into the campaigns database: Yes; No; Undecided
- Document if the phone number is wrong, disconnected, or other issues – so the campaign can update its database
- Give voters important information such as: Where is their polling place? Dates/Times for Early Voting in their state, city, or district?

Predictive dialers

Traditionally phonebank volunteers used to manually call voters – one dial at a time. They'd have to wait 4-6 rings and mark Not Home if no one answered. They'd hang up and dial the next number. Very tedious... Most campaigns now use “Predictive Dialers” such as HubDialer or Scale to Win.

- The Predictive dialer is loaded with lists of phone numbers for voters
- The system speed dials through them rapidly and delivers that call directly to a volunteer’s phone as soon as it detects a human voice answering the call
- Volunteers only need a computer and a phone to phonebank - and do not have to manually dial phone numbers
- Phonebank volunteers can work individually from home, remotely but with other volunteers on a joint Zoom call or physically together in a room
- Volunteers dial into the Predictive Dialer system and wait for a voter who has picked up their phone to be delivered to their phone and computer screen
- Volunteers see the phone script and potential responses on their computer screen and record the voter’s responses on their computer

Free online phonebank training

Susan needed help in orienting new volunteers on what was involved with phonebanking. DemLabs developed this 5 minute video for her and it is freely available here as well. Susan recommends her volunteers watch the video before making calls.

Volunteer to phonebank to protect democracy
Share freely with this link

TakeAway: Democracy is not a spectator sport. Do your part: register, vote and organize.



Image credit: Roy Lichtenstein

Republicans deny women access to abortions and their freedom to choose

Digital Politics Podcast

DigitalPoliticsPodcast is a non-partisan podcast and the newsletter are projects of the E-Voter Institute, co-founded by Karen Jagoda in 1998 about the use of digital and traditional tools for political and advocacy campaigns. The audience includes digital and traditional political and advocacy strategists, solution providers to political and advocacy campaigns, pollsters, association leaders, activists, fundraisers, media planners, media buyers, media providers, elected officials, staffers, candidates, digital entrepreneurs, journalists, academics and investors.   

Listen to Postcarding and Other Political Grassroots Innovations with Andrea Miller Center for Common Ground on the Digital Politics Podcast with Karen Jagoda.
This podcast is based on an interview I conducted with Andrea Miller. DemLabs is collaborating with E-Voter Institute to highlight grassroots campaign innovations. Find out more about how to be featured in a future podcast here.

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