Posted by: pattiandben | November 5, 2008

E-Day Is Really Here!!!! -PLUS- 1 More Day! Really Making Every Vote Count

OK, I started my latest update yesterday when there really was only one more day until the election. But things went crazy and I never got a chance to finish it. I guess now it’s already past the eve of the election… polls open in just 4 1/2 hours! It isn’t truly sinking in that my time here is pretty much over. I only have a handful of hours, minutes really, to make just a little bit more of a difference.

Did you know that Arapahoe county where I am stationed at has been called the “biggest swing county in the nation’? The pols have been saying what happens here will determine the presidency. i.e. If we win Arapahoe, Obama will win the election. We are all very, very nervous to see how tomorrow plays out, especially since Obama only has a 2 point lead in this historically Republican stronghold. That’s why we have all been working each minute to get every last vote. We’ll know by this time tomorrow (hopefully) if our efforts pay off…..

Mostly spent today on a really mundane but extremely important massive organizing effort to get some 500 credentials and credential packets to some 150 targeted precincts. The people who receive these credential will be our poll watchers and polling place leads. They will basically track which of our supporters are voting tomorrow. By late afternoon we will know who hasn’t been to their polling place and will actually send volunteers out to their homes to find them and bring them to the polls. Hundreds of volunteers will also be calling them at the same time. It’s pretty mind blowing that we will be able to accomplish this…..

Here’s what I meant to send out yesterday:

Here’s a timeline of my Monday before I go into how amazing canvassing can be… it truly does make a difference!!

7:45am      Wake up

9:00am      Deliver box of ‘chum’ (Asian Americans for Obama buttons, signs and bumperstickers, ‘I already voted for Obama stickers’, etc.) to DJ Aida who will be canvassing with Asian Avenue Magazine editor Erin Yoshimira and her husband Gil at Sakura Square, the one little Japanese block in Denver. It’s our one last push to get the Asian vote

9:30am     Drive to the Aurora field office (Arapahoe county HQs)
10:00am   Train out of state volunteers as they drive in from the airport. Make calls to recruit volunteers in between trainings.
1:30pm     Drive to our Kingston staging location in North Aurora to pick up our canvassing packets
2:00pm     Canvass in the Kingston area (and help make 2 votes count! … see below)
6:30pm     Drive back to staging location to report results and eat
7:00pm     Drive back to Aurora HQs
7:15pm     Help field organizers put together their walk packets for tomorrow
8:30pm     Drive to Littleton staging location to lend an extra hand
9:00pm     Help Littleton put together their walk packets… three separate printers break down in the process so we don’t get far in the next 3 hours =(
10:00pm   Hop on Arapahoe county staff conference call
11:00pm   Hop on Colorado staff conference call
1:30am     Drive back to Aurora HQs
2:00am     Organize credentials for election day poll checkers and polling place leads
3:30am     Finally pack it up and leave
4:00am     Finally get home and sleep so I can do it all over again tomorrow!

It is a bee hive of activity everywhere. Out of state volunteers are still coming into our office. We had one woman call from California in the later part of last night insisting that she come out to help us, and that she was going to jump in her car and

Spent the morning calling potential volunteers… are short for Monday and Tuesday and won’t be able to reach our goals for doors knocked if we don’t get more help. Had a good success rate… A husband and wife said they’d be down at our offices in half an hour to do whatever needs to be done, a few others said they’d help make calls or canvass either in the evening or sometime on Monday and another said she’d help drive voters to the polls. Nice!

The last several days I’ve been training out of state volunteers to prep them for canvassing (i.e. knocking on doors). Today, I actually went out and canvassed for the first time. So nice to get out of the office and out into the sunshine. It was a brilliant 80 degrees today (20+ degrees hotter than normal for here… and they say global warming is a myth.)

I buddied up with Camilla, and we drove to our West Aurora staging location where we picked up our walk packets. Walk packets include a map and basic info all the houses you’ll hit, the ‘script’ that you’ll use and extra literature. The data machine in this campaign is phenomenal. We have spent months knocking on doors and making calls and every night this data is uploaded. We know which houses have Obama supporters, McCain supporter and undecideds; who’s already voted, who needs a mail in ballot and which ones are new voters who need to include proof of ID with their ballots. Because we are in the final throes of this campaign, we are targeting only supporters and undecideds who have not yet voted so we can help them vote correctly so their vote actually counts, and those we have been unable to contact thus far. So, we’re not just wasting our time with knocking on every single door on every single block. Time is too precious!

The walking sheets are split up by even and odd numbered houses on each street. That way Camilla and I can hit twice as many houses, working across the street from each other. They tell us how old the voter is, their name, sex, whether they are a ‘supporter’ or need to be ‘persuaded,’ and their address.  Our goal basically is to ask whether the voter supports Obama and if they’ve voted. If no, we help them figure out how they need to vote (mail in ballot or at the polls) and what they need to do or where to go to get it done. We can even offer them a ride to the polls if they need it. And, of course, ask if they’ll come help us by volunteering a few hours to help us clinch this.
So that’s how it works. So how did it go?!

The first block was not what I thought it would be… I was ready to talk face-to-face to voters, but pretty much no one was home… until the last two I had for the block. The first lady said she wasn’t going to vote for anyone. No problem. I just moved to the next one. I was excited to actually see a light on and someone in the kitchen. I got to the doorstep, put my best face on and was ready to give it my all. But before I could say a word, this late 20-something skinny guy with a scraggly beard opens the door and says, “Sorry, I would rather vote for Hitler.” Yeah, what do you say to that?! I just said, “OK” and turned and walked away.

And this wasn’t some total ghetto neo-Nazi neighborhood. It was a beautiful tree-lined street with autumn leaves kissing the streets and single family homes. I even saw three homes with solar panels on the roof. So I thought this has got to be somewhat of a progressive neighborhood. Well, it looks like, luckily, that house was the one ‘bad seed’ of the bunch.

When Camilla and I walked up to the last home on the packet together, we could hear a big buzz coming from inside and smell dinner in the oven. We stepped up towards the open door and several people started whooping and yelling, “Woo hoo!! Obamaaaa!! We are ALL voting for Obama on Tuesday. ALL FIVE OF US!” They were so excited and thanked us profusely for volunteering. What a nice way to end a walking packet!

The next packet held the reasons why canvassing is so important, and how just going out there and hitting the pavement can make a difference one vote at a time. One of my first houses was for a 64 year old Hispanic man who asked me if I could speak Spanish. Oh boy, how do I get everything across with my extremely limited traveler’s Spanish?! Here’s how it went:

Me: “Por presidente, por Obama o por McCain?”
Him: “Obama”
Me: “La Vota? Si? No?”

He motioned for me to hold on and went into his kitchen and brought back his already filled out and sealed mail in ballot (MIB). Wow. This is great I thought. But then I noticed that not only was it sealed, it also had stamps on it. Oh-uh… In Colorado, MIBs must be received at the County Clerk’s office by 7pm on election day, not postmarked (side note: you can’t run it in at your polling place either). And it was already Sunday. Thank goodness I’ve mailed my share of postcards in Central America… I said, “Oh! No correo!” which I hoped meant either “no mail” or “no post office.” I pulled out a list of MIB drop-off locations and said, “Ballot para aqui” and basically got it across that you can’t mail it and must take it to a designated drop-off location. Whew! This is what it’s all about… I felt like I actually “saved” a vote from not being counted!

A couple doors later I came to a house that was completely Obama-fied… yard signs, window signs, and stickers everywhere. Felt great to know exactly what I was walking into at this house. Yes, this man is a complete supporter but he was actually planning to go to the wrong polling place until I came. The election day lines last time around were up to 4-5 hours long so he was really thankful for being saved from waiting in line at the wrong place.

A few doors later was a 27 year old Hispanic woman with two kids and two dogs who spoke some English. She was planning to go vote at the polls on Tuesday but told me she got a voice mail telling her that she could go vote on Monday. She ran and got her phone to play the message for me and that’s how I learned she actually had a mail in ballot. If she goes to the polls on Tuesday instead of turning in her ballot, it will be counted as a provisional ballot. i.e. It won’t be counted unless there’s a challenge or a tie in the voting.  We can’t have that! So, I basically helped her to fill it out, put it together, let her know that she needed to include a copy of her ID and where to turn it in. Another vote ‘saved’!

Imagine, I am just one person. But think of all of the tens of thousands of volunteers here in Colorado (probably even hundreds of thousands of volunteers). And the thousands helping us from their home states. And the millions across the country, and around the world. Each of us have been doing the same work recruiting volunteers and getting a couple extra votes here and a couple extra votes there. It’s amazing how one man has united us, brought us all together, seemingly with ease, as one community to make a change. We have been on the verge for so very, very long. I believe tomorrow, we won’t have to wait any longer.

If you haven’t… go vote! If you have… go help others vote!

See you in the new era of hope….

;patti

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