by Josh Katcher
A Democrat stays in the White House — if Virginia stays blue. Virginia stays blue — if we run up the score in Arlington. And the way we run up the score in Arlington is — by registering a ton of new voters.
My name is Josh Katcher, and I am the Chair of Voter Registration for the Arlington Democrats. Between now and October 17th — the last day to register to vote in Virginia — our goal is to add at least 19,000 folks to the voter rolls. To put that in perspective, 19,000 new voters would expand the number of registered voters in Arlington by more than 10%. Also keep in mind that in 2014, Mark Warner defeated Ed Gillespie for U.S. Senate by just 18,000 votes; and in 2013, Mark Herring defeated Mark Obenshain for Attorney General by just 907 votes. So yes, 19,000 new voters could make a big difference this November!
The good news is that we are already hard at work making this happen.
Over the past two months, more than 90 volunteers helped staff the eight Arlington Metro stations near residential centers, signing up people to vote. Everywhere we tabled, folks enthusiastically sought us out. Which means we didn’t have to spend our time explaining why this election matters so much: 1) making sure we stop people like Donald Trump (who recently mused about punishing women) and Ted Cruz (who recently suggested directing police to spy on Muslim-American communities); and 2) stopping the many other destructive, anti-American ideas being peddled by the Republicans. Perhaps as a result of this type of extreme rhetoric from the Republicans, we received more than 500 completed voter registration forms — and handed out an equally large number.
One thing is clear: there is going to be unprecedented interest in voting this year. Our challenge is making sure that everyone who wants to cast a ballot realizes they need to register on or before October 17.
In the coming weeks our effort will expand to include multi-unit buildings, senior living centers, grocery stores, farmers markets, and the wide variety of festivals and events that make Arlington such a great place to live.
In fact, this coming weekend (April 9-10) is going to be our first Arlington-wide weekend of action. We already have more than a dozen events planned, and more are being added every day.
Voter registration is easy and non-partisan. More often than not, all you have to do is be willing to stand outside with some forms, smile at some soon-to-be new friends, and ask, “are you registered to vote at your current residence?” That’s it.
So, here is my pitch: volunteer an hour of your time next weekend or sometime in the near future. Help us win this election. And set the table for the next election (for governor in 2017) too.
I look forward to seeing you in the trenches!
To a blue Virginia.
Josh Katcher is the current chair of Voter Registration for the Arlington Democrats. He can be reached at Josh.Katcher@gmail.com.