Common Cause Parties Across America …

Common Cause’s first-ever nationwide house parties Sunday night were a huge success!! We had more than 75 house parties in 28 states, from New York, Maryland and Maine, to Colorado, California, and Alaska. More than 1,200 people participated in our conference call featuring Common Cause President Chellie Pingree and nationally syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington.

For some, the parties were a way to get to know Common Cause. Others who attended were longtime Common Cause members with an interest in talking with friends and neighbors about what we can do locally to help safeguard this year’s election.

President Pingree urged activists to sign up on Common Cause’s website to be an Election Day observer, watching to assure that voting is efficient, fair and available to all who are eligible. She also suggested volunteers sign up for Vote for America, Common Cause’s non-partisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote effort in which volunteers encourage friends and family members to make a commitment to vote.

The weather on the East Coast – heavy rain left over from Hurricane Charley – kept some parties smaller than they might have been. But hardy Common Cause activists didn’t mind braving the elements. In North Carolina, 10 people came to a house party in Raleigh, despite four inches of rain that day that created flash flooding.

In Maryland, more than 20 people gathered in Silver Spring on a muggy night for snacks and drinks at the home of Mary Boyle, Common Cause’s press secretary.Before the conference call, party goers saw a preview of an upcoming Robert Greenwald movie, “Untrilogy,” a compilation of three Greenwald movies — Unprecedented, Uncovered and Unconstitutional — which looked at the Florida elections in 2000, the war in Iraq and civil liberties issues in the wake of 9/11.

In West Hollywood, Calif., Katherine Davis hosted 19 people, registered four people to vote and raised nearly $50. “I’m tired now, but frankly it was a wonderful party,” Ms. Davis wrote in an e-mail Monday. “We had passionate conversation and shared strategies. One person came all the way from South Pasadena to my West Hollywood home. Two people took the bus to get here and got rides home, and there were spin-off relationships formed related to music and film business, etc. It was an amazing group and would have inspired anybody.”

Tony Musci, the chairman of Common Cause Utah, hosted about 13 guests in Salt Lake City, including three college students who drove an hour from the Provo area to learn more about Common Cause. The students “are actively interested in building a youth organization around the goal of campaign finance reform,” Tony wrote. “We hope to have some collaboration with them.”

He added he was pleased with Common Cause’s first experience with house parties. “I think our guests left feeling that they had spent a worthwhile evening,” Tony wrote, noting that his state’s director of elections came to the party and spoke to guests prior to the conference call. “We hope to find ways to increase interest for future events, and possibly assist other members in hosting their own parties throughout the state.”