Every Tuesday for the next three weeks, former senator Barbara Boxer and her filmmaker and activist daughter, Nicole Boxer, who host a political podcast together, will break down everything you need to know about the midterms, from the issues at stake to the candidates who deserve our vote. Women have suffered some tough blows recently, but we can fight back. This week, the mother-daughter duo offer insight and advice for how to make the most of this last week before Election Day.
I ran for office in California 12 times (I lost the first time), and every time I had a big calendar on the wall that I methodically marked up every day for 12 months until the magic day—Election Day—arrived.
There came a point in every election when I knew I had left it all out on the campaign trail. I had given everything in my power to energize my constituents to do the one thing that would make all that work pay off—a vote for me in November.
In the last 90 days of every race I ran, I had four to seven events each day. There were breakfasts, brunches, lunches, coffees, and dinners. My staff filled every conceivable moment with campaign stops. During the 1992 race, this included a once-in-a-lifetime “24-hour campaign swing.” I pulled an all-nighter, traveling across the state of California. I remember pulling into Denny’s at 4 a.m. and being greeted by a handful of enthusiastic supporters cheering me on, wearing their Boxer t-shirts. We shared the most delicious toast with PB&J and a much-needed cup of coffee—a precious detail that somehow remains. It’s amazing I lived to tell the tale.
So as we reach the final days of this election year, I know exactly what our amazing candidates are going through. They are now focused solely on getting out the vote. No matter what the polls show, the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day.
The overwhelming feeling is excitement, because their goal of winning is within reach. On rare occasions, when they see an inconclusive poll and face the fact that voters may just not step up, they get a flash of pessimism…usually when they crash into bed. That may cause some twisting and turning, but it is coupled with a sense of relief that the end is in sight.
By this time, our candidates have given their all. They are exhausted but exhilarated. They are going to five, six, seven events a day, just as I did. In addition to all those house parties and fundraisers, you may see candidates on a precinct walk or shaking hands at the supermarket. You won’t see them doing other important tasks: meeting with newspaper editors to push for an endorsement, cutting last-minute commercials, prepping for last-minute debates—which I can tell you from personal experience are nerve-wracking and stomach-turning. With the whole world watching me on the debate stage, I remember thinking, Will I remember the facts on the budget or how many people need health care?
I remember clearly that by the time the big day came I was spent. I could hardly talk…and that’s a highly unusual condition for me! But with one week to go, there’s no time to think about anything else. No time to pay attention to a cold or a cramp or anything but the most extreme emergency.
I send every good wish to those candidates and those who are canvassing on their behalf. We know you are out there, knocking on doors fighting for what’s good. In particular I give a huge shout-out to those supporting first-time female candidates, who can well turn the tide of this great nation toward compassion and respect. To all grassroots volunteers, may this be the most rewarding week of your work life. And may the voters reward your candidate’s efforts with their most special right—their vote!
Early votes are being tallied, candidates are focused on a flurry of “Get Out The Vote” strategies, and the last push toward Election Day is here. This is a serious warning to Americans of all stripes: To sit this election out would be like turning our backs on the struggle for equality itself, a fight that marches on. An historic number of women running for the House of Representatives—238! If we win on November 6, women’s voices and our unique life experiences will ring throughout the halls of Congress like never before. It’s undeniable; participating in our democracy has brand new meaning. It’s the most important election of our lifetime.
Now is the time to start planning for next Tuesday—not next Tuesday. There is much that can be done this week (even if you don’t live in a swing state) to ensure that we wake up to the right outcome for women on November 7.
So reach beyond the ballot box this year and put some skin in the game. But, before you start getting out the vote for your favorite candidates, make sure your voter registration is in-check. Be sure you haven’t been purged from the rolls. It only takes a moment. Go to headcount.org or iamavoter.com to double-check your status.
Next, get ready to cast your ballot. If you’ve decided to vote by mail or absentee ballot—fantastic! Talk to friends, invite them over to fill out your ballots together, turn up the music and celebrate. Like most things, voting is better with someone else. In my community in Los Angeles, there are brilliant voter guides being shared by friends with like-minded politics. These are really helpful as it relates to propositions, ballot measures, and judicial picks. Trust your friends who are in-the-know to create a positive change.
Early voting might not be an option in your state, but you can still make democracy a group activity. Use this week to make plans for Tuesday with a few friends, deciding on a time and mode of transportation. The worst thing would be to realize on the evening of the 6th that you didn’t make time to vote.
By now you’ve read the candidate’s statements, watched a debate, and considered your options. Women Will Win the Midterms, but to do so, it starts with you and your personal plan to get out the vote. There are solid options for getting involved, no matter the amount of time or energy you want to commit. After you've rallied your friends to fill out your ballots or march to the polls together, explore Swing Left. The organization has created a tool that allows you to input your zip code and instantly discover the closest swing district and identify the candidate that most needs your help canvassing in these final days. Knocking on doors in your community is uplifting and life-changing. Swing Left, Indivisible, and many organizations are bussing volunteers to nearby states to canvass for one final push this coming weekend.
Don’t despair if you can’t get out to canvass. You can still make a huge difference: Phone-banking (making calls to undecided voters) is an effective way to reach hearts and minds. I have phone-banked more hours in my life than most ever will, and it’s exciting every year. There is nothing like connecting with voters and sharing your passion for a candidate. Who knows? You might just be the one to convince a non-voter to go to the polls! If that’s not an option this weekend, you can still donate to candidates—even $10 can make a difference in the last days of a tight election.
Energy is magnified when you connect with like-minded souls exercising your democratic rights. You may even meet the love of your life. The rewards are undeniable. So, jump on the bus, throw a party, organize your friends, or attend one of many get out the vote events near you. Let’s make this The Year of The Voter.