I signed up to do some Get-Out-The-Vote volunteering today, which is the first time I've ever felt compelled to do such a thing. It wasn't quite what I expected, but enjoyable nonetheless. I reported for duty at 10:00 at the Beaver County Obama campaign HQ, which had moved to a larger location in the IBEW building, from where it had been when I went there to help make phonecalls waaay last winter for the primaries. I have to say that it made me slightly uncomfortable that everything was so geared toward the unions, but actually when the retired gentlemen who were signing me in learned that I'm an employer, they brought over some other people to hear me explain why I think Barack Obama is the better choice for us small business owners as well as for our employees. They were really interested in my perspective, which I don't imagine they hear very often.

I said I'd prefer to walk rather than phonebank, especially since today was a gorgeous day, so they gave me a packet for a neighborhood in New Brighton, and sent me on my way. Even with the map printouts, it took me a little while to figure out which streets I was supposed to be on, and then I drove around a while longer finding a place to park that wouldn't be in anyone's way. I finally found a parking lot that only said No Parking for weekdays, and it was on 2nd St and I was supposed to be on 4th, so I figured that was near enough. Turns out after I walked around a bit, it was 2nd St North, so I had to walk back through 1st St, then count up again to 4th. And it was one of those hilly neighborhoods where half the streets don't go all the way through, but they pick back up later named the same thing. But luckily I did have a map along with my list of 38 households of potential voters. The list was pre-selected as either union members, or people who were members of some sort of working family group, so the idea was that they would be more inclined toward our candidate than not.

There were quite a lot of people who weren't home (and a couple who I think were home, but didn't hear my knock – a lot with no doorbells). Those ones we were to leave a flyer in their door, just telling some of the reasons the Obama/Biden ticket is good for working families, with a handwritten note saying I was sorry I missed them. There were only two which were answered by someone who said they never heard of the person who was on my list as living there, so those were marked as Bad Address. I got a few who said yes they plan to vote, but were noncommittal as to for whom (we weren't supposed to press on that topic, other than introducing ourselves as being a volunteer with the Obama campaign, and ask if they'd like one of the flyers – some did, some didn't). There were two who were definitely voting, but not for Obama, so I just politely thanked them for voting, which I think took them aback a little.

There was one woman who said she couldn't make up her mind because she didn't like either one; she's a lifelong Democrat, but was concerned about the "redistribution of wealth thing". She did let me talk to her a little about that; I just explained about the tax cuts for people making less than $200,000/year, which I said I knew I fell into that category (and she agreed that obviously [waving at her little house] she did too. So I just encouraged her to vote, but I'm not sure she will. 

But then I did get at least 6 or so homes where they were welcoming and said they were definitely voting, and definitely for Barack – two of them took me up on my offer of a free lawn sign, so after I was done, I drove back and delivered those. All in all the walking around took about 2.5 hours, and with all the hills and the beautiful sunny day, I worked up quite a sweat by the end. Then I had to drive back to Beaver to turn in my notes (which I hadn't realized I would have to do), but they had some hotdogs there, so that was good, since it was about 2:00 by that time.

So, it was a good experience, and hopefully my effort did its little bit of good…!

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2 thoughts on “GOTV

  1. Yes, canvassing is kind of an up and down affair. I have done it twice for a total of 7 hours. Sometimes you wonder how productive it really is but you just have to keep the faith. I have been excited by the number of people I have seen out on the streets knocking on doors. Our early voting is over here. Hope on Tuesday people will not be discouraged by the long lines. I am canvassing and phoning on that day. I hope there are plenty of safeguards to ensure that the votes are counted accurately and that those who have registered can actually vote and not just a provisional ballot which I understand are not counted.

  2. That's great! Just as a note, however, I do know that at least in our area provisional ballots are definitely counted as long as it's been determined that the voter was a registered voter – there's a receipt we give the voter that allows them to go online to make sure that it was counted.
    It is true, though, that if the person is not a registered voter, their ballot will not count. For example, our County Board of Elections director told us last week of a case where a woman said she registered to vote at some sort of drive at a Wal-Mart back in August, and she was wondering whether she was really registered – which apparently she wasn't, but now it's too late – but unfortunately the Board of Elections can't control the actions (or failures) of voter registration drives run by someone else. If it had been me, I guess I would've asked about it prior to the registration deadline last month.

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