Experience Magazine, December 2020
Like many Americans, Carson Christiano found herself with a lot more time on her hands in 2020. She filled it with politics. This fall, as the election neared, the San Francisco resident worked with Postcards to Voters, an organization that uses an AI bot to match volunteers with the addresses of targeted voters. Christiano wrote hundreds of postcards, urging support for down-ballot candidates in distant battleground states: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.
“I used to commute an hour each way. So during COVID I’ve had two extra hours in my day,” says Christiano, 38, the director of a research lab focused on poverty and international development at the University of California at Berkeley. “I’m not socializing as much. I’ve just spent hours and hours watching Homeland and writing postcards.”
Getting involved in far-flung local elections isn’t new: Bostonians drive north to New Hampshire every four years to canvass during presidential primary season; super PACs carpet-bomb Florida and other swing states with TV ads every presidential race. But long-distance advocacy became more commonplace during the Trump era — fueled by technological advances, increased polarization, and a pandemic that left political junkies stuck at home, hungry to do something that matters, and with more detailed information than ever to focus their efforts.