Batchelor Uses Art to Promote Democratic Voting

October 23, 2020 Caitlin Burns

Floral postcards designed by Arcadia University professor Betsey Batchelor

“In 2018, I had a call to action to combat this political despair,” said Betsey Batchelor, associate professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Arcadia University, who has joined thousands of other activists encouraging Democrats to vote in the upcoming election through Postcards to Voters. “While the introvert in me could not see myself knocking on doors or phone banking, the artist in me understood the value of “personal.” I found the idea of communicating through art a way to be authentic and achieve the valued person-to-person contact.”

Postcards to Voters is a grassroots movement that launched in March 2017 to encourage Democrats to vote in the election. Each handwritten postcard provides educational information to the recipient about candidates in the local, regional, and national elections. Postcard writers send their notes to registered Democrats around the country—Batchelor has sent her postcards as far as California. Since its creation, Postcards to Voters has sent over 5 million postcards and has 75,000 volunteers.

“It has become my lifeline to hope in the form of 4” x 6” rectangles of watercolor paper with a painting on one side and hand-written notes on the other,” said Batchelor. “Sending handmade cards made with care was my way of offering something of myself to others.”

With over 1,200 postcards sent to registered Democrats across the country that urges them to know their candidates and issues in order to get out to vote, Batchelor has perfected the postcard making process—block prints enable her to produce a dozen postcards an hour, with additional time for handwritten notes on each. While Batchelor’s numbers are impressive, she finds inspiration in those volunteers who have sent thousands of postcards—some over 6,000.

“I have joined a group of smart, funny, and energetic converts that have a little postcard station set up at home,” said Batchelor, who has also recruited her daughter to start making postcards. “My daughter pointed out that I am ‘so much more positive’ when I was writing these postcards.”

In 2018, voter turnout hit a 50-year high with nearly 50 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot, and Batchelor thinks it’s because of grassroots organizations like Postcards to Voters. She’s even gotten feedback from someone on Twitter who received a postcard from her in 2018 saying, “It worked. I voted.”

“At least one postcard had made a personal connection,” said Batchelor. “As an educator,  I despaired at those who believed but did not fact check, who somehow never learned critical thinking or chose to refrain from using it—but this gives me hope.”

For more information on Postcards to Voters, go to postcardstovoters.org.

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