Saturday, October 30, 2004

Knock Knock

Mr. or Ms. Infrequent Voter at Door or on Apartment Buzzer: Who's there?

Me: Me, elswhere Booland, your neighbor, and my cute 4-year-old daughter. We're working on a get-out-the-vote effort for the upcoming election. Can I ask if you've decided who you're going to vote for on Tuesday?

Them: Yes, I've pretty much decided.

Mermaid Girl: Who are you voting for?

Me: Ssh! [this is my least favorite part but it's in the script and I asked. I think I'm not going to any more, though]: Okay, well, of course you don't have to tell me this if you don't want to, but, um, can I ask who you're planning to vote for?

Mermaid Girl: Who are they voting for? Who are they voting for?

Them: Oh, I'm definitely voting for Kerry.

Mermaid Girl: I have a bag of seashells. I got them for my birthday.

Me: That's great! I'm out on the Leave No Voter Behind effort with MoveOn Pac [why don't I say this in the first place? Don't know. It's not like it's a big secret. Another thing I'll do differently next time.] This election is going to be really close, but if we get everyone out to vote we can defeat George Bush. Do you need a ride or any other help getting to the polling place?

Them: No, that's fine.

Me: Okay, great. [coming on to my second-least-favorite part] Can I ask if you know what time you're planning to vote on Tuesday?

Them [sounding doubtful, but dutifully answering]: Um, after work, I guess.

Me [feeling completely idiotic at this point, but what the hell? What's to lose?]: Okay, great. When you go to the polls, would you mind looking for the MoveOn volunteer near the polling station, and checking in? Then we can cross you off our list. [off our list? Off our LIST?? I would be totally creeped out by that if someone said it to me. Forget it. I'm not saying that any more. The election day volunteers can just get the info off the voter rolls so they can call the people who haven't voted yet on Tuesday morning and bug them while I'm teaching 4th graders how to look stuff up.]

Them [saying anything at this point to get rid of me]: Sure, sure.

Mermaid Girl: I'm bored. Can I have your pen?

Me: Great! Thanks. Have a good evening!

Mermaid Girl writes a series of elaborate and indecipherable notes on scrap paper with my pen while I frantically circle codes on my assignment sheet with the stub of pencil I got from her in exchange.

Repeat about twenty times, with minor variations, and you have our Thursday evening.

I'm supposed to ask for phone numbers and e-mails but I just can't bring myself to. I just want them to vote. RW is even more principled: she wants them to vote even if they're voting for Bush, God love her. The only phone number I got was for one woman who wanted to know how late the polls were open, because she's going out of town until Tuesday evening and wants to vote when she gets back. I told her I'd find out for her and call her back, and I did.

That woman had asked for an absentee ballot in plenty of time, but never got one. Which also happened to several of RW's artsy college students who are first-time voters and likely Kerry supporters. I'm not saying there's a conspiracy or anything, but still. I have to wonder.

There was one other woman who was kind of vague about the whole thing, including when the election was happening. I infused my spiel with extra urgency and pep for her. She liked Sarah, which helped.
Aside from those two, the whole evening was pretty pointless. Our neighborhood's such a hotbed of progressivism I was astonished at the one person RW encountered who said she was voting for Bush. Give her points for courage and individuality, anyway.

But there were those two. The whole idea is that every single voter counts, the state's really close, Gore won by 500 votes or so in Florida, oh blah blah if you're on the same mailing lists as me you've heard it all before.

It is seductive, though. RW went to the rally this morning a lowly volunteer, and came back a precinct leader (Mermaid Girl and I were home watching Dora the Explora). I'm her only subordinate volunteer so far. Well, me and the Girl. (Actually a 4-year-old is the best possible companion/accessory for political doorbelling; I recommend everyone bring one along. And despite occasional lapses from the script, mine was a trouper, especially once she realized that the whole shebang was a great way to delay bedtime.)

So I'll be going out tomorrow with another list before trick-or-treating and reporting back to my spouse. Wish me luck. (Hey, maybe they'll give me candy!)

This post was brought to you courtesy of the end of Daylight Savings Time. We now return to our regularly scheduled chaos.


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