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  • Molly Lee

Listening to voters in Portland’s closest swing district



Have you canvassed before? I hadn’t until I volunteered to join our partner Indivisible Oregon’s Voter Listening Canvass in Vancouver, WA.

Canvassing is simply walking around neighborhoods, knocking on doors and talking to voters. I’ll be honest -- the idea of canvassing filled me with dread, and I’ve been avoiding it. But I’ve heard over and over again that canvassing is the most effective way to reach voters. The 2018 midterms are possibly the most important election of our lifetime, so I decided to take a deep breath and sign up. I’m so glad I did. The experience was fun, inspiring, and incredibly grounding in this age of social media mania.


Indivisible Oregon organized the canvass in coordination with the Washington Democrats and Swing Left, and they’re calling the effort #RiseAndOrganize. Vancouver is in Washington’s 3rd district, the closest “swing” district to Portland. That means that whoever wins the Democratic primary has a good shot at unseating that district’s Republican representative in November. And our canvassing efforts were an early, gentle nudge to make that happen.

Sometimes, the goal of a canvass is to promote a particular candidate or ballot initiative. But not this time. This canvass was simply an opportunity to listen. Listen to what’s on voters’ minds, hear what issues they care about, and then to pass that feedback on.


We met at the Vancouver Community Library. Erica and Jeff led a relaxed, you-can-do-this training, giving us all the tools and support we needed (including water bottles, granola bars, and peanut butter cups). I got paired up with another volunteer, a fantastic teacher named Beth, and we grabbed our clipboard and headed out to our designated neighborhood.

I admit, I was nervous as we approached our first door. But once those conversations started, all of my anxiety floated away. It felt like an honor to ask citizens about what they care about, and to hear their answers. Neighborhood safety. Honesty and integrity in our government. Gun safety. Protection from harassment. Immigrants...and how they make America great (this, from a 69 year-old descendant of Irish immigrants).

By the time we got back to the library, Beth and I were talking excitedly about how else we could get involved. It was an incredible experience, and I plan to canvass again in the Fall.

If you’re on the fence about canvassing, consider this a gentle push to try it. We need you. You will make a real difference.

Get involved! Find out upcoming WA-03 canvassing opportunities at the Indivisible Oregon website.

More about NWGSD's efforts to #StormTheMidterms

#StormtheMidterms #voteractivation

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