Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get Out the Vote -- Part 2

Yesterday my husband and I went to the Clarendon Metro stop to attempt to register voters at rush hour. I promised myself that I would feel I had accomplished something if even one person filled out the form.

Our training encouraged us to get any potential new voters to fill out the form and give it back to us so we could turn it in to the Obama office and make sure it was transmitted quickly to the appropriate state office for processing.


We got such a variety of reactions to the above sign. These included:

– Yes (I’m already registered.)
– Thank you.
– Totally ignoring us as if we weren’t even there.
– No, I’m not voting and I’m leaving the country in a couple of years.
– I’m a visitor.
– I’m not a citizen.
– No, but I would like to register.

The last was like music to my ears. In the space of an hour we collected completed forms from 5 people and handed out another 5 or so to people who were going to mail them in.

I would probably have opted to do the latter, instead of giving some stranger my Social Security Number and my address. But I guess for some at least we looked honest enough and the thought of having to find an envelope and a stamp was worse than the idea of sharing one’s data.

I had multiple conversations with the nut vendor (I did not say nutty vendor), who said he simply wasn’t voting and was planning to move to a foreign country. He claimed he would have voted for Obama if he had picked Hillary as a running mate. At one point I said, “Couldn’t you just vote because many of us are sticking around and we would like to experience CHANGE?” He was not to be convinced.

The conversations with those who filled out the forms did my heart good and made it worth my time to stand out there recruiting new voters. We weren’t pushing Obama unless someone asked. We were simply pushing VOTING!

21 Comments:

Blogger Mo said...

It's so great that you're doing this! And seriously, to all of those people who are "leaving the country," couldja just vote really quick before you go for the rest of us who can't afford to move to Canada? Please?

9:48 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mo -- That was exactly what I said to the guy selling nuts. I thought about offering to buy his whole table of nuts if he would vote for Obama in exchange. But then I realized that was a little shady...

9:55 AM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Isn't it fun getting out there in the middle of a bunch of strangers?
And even though some of them are so distracted that you can't get through, sometimes you can and you have a huge effect on a total strangers day. Its right out of Patch Adams I know, but its true, and getting people to register to vote is just a good excuse to get out there and brighten up the world, one distracted stranger at a time.
I'm amazed at how just standing in a line what kind of effect I can have on the few, the many, the people around me.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bulletholes -- I love the challenge of trying to catch their eye and hold it. The really snarly people don't want to make eye contact.

All in all, this experience restored my faith in humanity. The latest polls in the Wash Post made me feel even better!

10:01 AM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Yes, I started to mention that. Lookin' good and if he can break away then he has my vote. I plan to vote for the winner this time.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Way to get out and do something good for change! The thought of broaching strangers for something like that makes me nervous. I don't know if I could do what you are doing. I admire that in you.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bulletholes -- What is your definition of "break away"? If I read the numbers right, as of today he would be the winner with certainty! I think the debates will only increase that lead.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Of course you could do it, and it was just steps from where you work. If you can read to ADHD kids, believe me, you could do this!

Of course raising thousands of dollars with a bake sale was a huge contribution on your part. We all have our own way!

10:30 AM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Yeah, you look kind of honest. I can't vouch for your husband, though. Haha, I just mean I haven't met him.

As for the nutty nut vendor, that kind of victim defeatist mentality doesn't serve people well in any part of their life. Instead of leaving the country, empower yourself, defeat the bad guys, take over your country, and make them leave the country!

1:54 PM  
Blogger e said...

I am all for empowerment! The problem, I think, is that too many people feel scared and beaten down, especially with the economy the way it is right now. Another thing is that many feel too far removed from the political process to make a difference.

I think that Barbara and David are putting faces to one of the biggest forms of power people still have and reminding them that voting still matters, especially now.

Bravo!

(I'm still thinking about moving, though, and I've already called about getting an absentee ballot sent to my home. A lot of people forget that they can request that).

2:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MC -- That was exactly the sort of logic I was using on the nut case, but he simply wasn't buying it. I'm not sure who he thinks he is punishing by not voting!?

E. -- The more I think about it, voting is the one thing that makes us all equal, no matter what our age, gender, socioeconomic position, etc. My vote carries exactly the same weight as that of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

The ironic thing is, I bet that nut guy won't leave the country at all. I had several friends who vowed to move after Bush won in 2000 and 2004, and they're all still here, grumbling. (But voting!)

Moving abroad is not as easy as it looks!

5:36 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

It amazes me that you have to actually try so hard to get people to vote when so many people fought to GET the vote.

I'd be voting with you were I an American!



(I can just imagine how Steve Bullethoes brightens people's day in a line-up!)

6:04 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- I can guarantee he will be selling his nuts there for years to come and probably complaining about whatever administration is in power. He will be able to say, "Don't blame me. I didn't vote for him." That's just the way some people are.

MOI -- Want to move to the US? I could register you to vote! :) Oh, but I forgot, you're not a US citizen...

6:29 PM  
Blogger e said...

I saw a TV interview with a professor of political science who wrote a research-based book on the waning electorate and how uniformed they are. For example, rarely could people who were asked identify the three branches of federal government. They could, however, speak at length about television programming such as the Simpsons...

Kinda scary to think that a large chunk of our populace probably could not pass a citizenship test!

7:03 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

E -- I would think it would be so hard for a smart politician to dumb down the message enough for these Simpson-fixated people to understand it.

9:56 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Barbara, I met Mother of Invention and I think we could domesticate her and Dave. I mean immigrantiate...er...humidify....nationalate...declarify, Tax, and Marinate into our way of life.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bulletholes -- I'm so jealous you got to meet MOI! But that would make sense since she recently went to Texas to a wedding. I must convince her to visit Washington, DC!

5:02 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

If I ever go to D.C., You're the first person I'm visiting! I know you're a fabulous cook and would know all the sites and shops to visit! Maybe even an in-house dinner concert?!!!

8:12 AM  
Blogger lettuce said...

good for you barbara - lets hope there are many others willing to get stuck in like you

(nutty vendor!!)

8:39 AM  
Blogger media concepts said...

e -- that's the second time you used the term "waning electorate" on Barbara's blog. What do you mean? If you are referring to the number of people who vote in the U.S., the electorate is NOT waning, it's growing! I included a link to the U.S. government report about this last time you used the term. I think we'll see the voter turnout even bigger this November than it was in 2004 (which had increased over 2000). To repeat, the U.S. electorate is NOT waning!

9:08 PM  

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