Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Time To Act, Time To Organize

Here is Barack Obama's acceptance speech, in case you missed it (or refused to watch it):



Now, before we continue, I need to ask my Republican readers to leave this post. Seriously, I love you, but I don't love your political views and I know you feel the same way about mine, so go away for now and when you come back in a few days, I'll have a new picture of Julian up. I promise. Yes, there are things I think you should know (like, say, how reality measures up with what has been said in recent days), but I don't really think it necessary you read this. This post will probably just make you angry as I will be doing some community organizing (which I learned this evening will be the new derisive term, to replace "liberal" which we all have to admit was getting old).

If I had slick HTML skills, I could probably format this so that the people who wanted to continue reading would have to click through. As it is, I'll just have to assume they will listen to me.

Are they gone? Alright, here is what I have to say to my fellow Obama supporters:

GET THE HELL OFF THE INTERNET AND GET OUT THERE AND REGISTER VOTERS!

Sorry for shouting there, I just wanted to get your attention.

I briefly got really drawn into this Sarah Palin business and found myself sucked into discussing with my internet friends the constantly unfolding drama and what it all means re: gender bias in our society. I even wrote a somewhat paranoid diary on DailyKos suggesting that the choice of Sarah Palin was really a clever trap and had my ass handed back to me on a platter by the commenters. But after watching her speech tonight, I realize that we cannot focus on her. Yes, I find the absolute hypocrisy of the McCain campaign and conservative pundits to be infuriating (total digression: I guess it's only sexism when we ask questions of your candidate--hopefully, at least, all this BS puts an end to the Saint Barack comments certain people in my life feel compelled to make. If not, I will feel compelled to refer to Sarah Palin as the "delicate flower who will be forever bruised if we even look at her the wrong way." Consider yourself warned! Oh, wait, I told those people to stop reading awhile back, didn't I?). However, the time to gape at the GOP has passed. Now we need to work.

We need to go out and register voters. Now.

As some of you are aware, I volunteered for the Obama campaign during the primaries. I did some phone canvassing, but mostly, I worked the voter hotlines (answering calls from people in primary states re: poll locations, voting laws, voting problems they may have had, etc.) I learned a few things about voters. A lot of people do not know their state’s voting laws,. This is not entirely their fault as the voting laws differ from state to state. However, a lot of people don’t know much about voting because they never bothered to learn because they didn’t really care. Until now. Barack Obama is inspiring people who have never voted. I always just assumed that everyone knew what registering to vote entailed, but I was wrong. I found that a lot of people just assume they are registered because they are citizens or because they have a passport or a drivers license (in some states, they do allow you to register at the DMV when getting an ID, but not in all states and, sometimes, people check that box, but it doesn’t get processed by the Board of Elections). Or they don’t realize they need to re-register if they move and, even, that voter registration doesn’t transfer from state to state. Or they think they can just show up at any poll location and vote on election day. Or something comes up suddenly and they want an absentee ballot on the day of the election. Or they assume that if they didn’t vote in the primary that they can’t vote in the general or that they have to vote for the candidate they voted for in the primary. Or they assume they can just register at the polls on election day.

Honestly, for every primary this spring, I spoke to people who wanted to vote for Obama, but could not because they were not registered, or they had to travel out of town for business, or they were in the hospital, or they were working late and couldn’t make it to their polling place, or they were college students who were at school and had registered at home (sometimes home was in a different state that had had its primary months before), or had registered fifty years ago and were on the inactive voter rolls because they had never voted. If my experience was any indication, I would guess that there were thousands of people who wanted to vote for Barack Obama this past spring, but did not because they were either not registered to vote or couldn’t make it to their polling location.

This election is going to be close and there is no guarantee that Barack Obama will win. We need to do everything we can to insure that every single person who wants to vote for Barack on election day is able to vote.

I know that it still feels like summer, but election day is coming up soon. In many states, the deadline to register voters is the first week of October. That is only four weeks away. FOUR WEEKS (sorry, I am shouting again). Here is a list of the voter registration deadlines for each state.

So everyone, we have to get off our collective butts and off of this board. We need to educate ourselves about the voting laws of the state where we plan to register new voters (if it is your home state: great. If you will travel across state lines to register new voters in a swing state: you are my hero!) Some states have really comprehensive websites which allow one to look up a person’s voter registration information–this is an invaluable tool for anyone who has access to the internet while registering voters (i.e. someone tells you they think they are registered, you can look it up for them). You can go to the League of Women Voters website for more information about your state, or you can do a google search (state name + voter registration is often a good way to start) to find out what sort of resources your state has (every state is different–I absolutely loved some states for having the info available, whereas I really disliked some others which seemed to purposely make the process more difficult than necessary). We need to encourage people to vote early or via absentee ballot if they suspect that on election day they will be unable to get to their polling place.

And then, on election day, we need to get out there and get out the vote. We need to knock on doors to remind people and we need to drive people to polls if they can’t get there on their own. But first we have to make sure they can vote when they get to the polls.

For more information, you can visit the campaign Voter Registration action center.

I plan to be working the voter hotline in the days leading up to and on election day.. I expect on election day, I will be fielding calls from people who have experienced problems voting. What I do not want is to field calls from people who are all fired up to vote for Obama, but cannot because they are not registered to vote. We cannot afford to lose this election, but if we do, we don’t want it to be because votes for Obama were not cast.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Judy said...

Our local county Democratic Headquarters just opened, and I'm going to try to get in today to see what I can do. I sent in my text to the Obama camp, but haven't heard anything yet - I'll go to the website later too.

I don't know how much help I can be with 2 little boys home with me all the time, but there's something I can do, I'm sure. I've never volunteered for a campaign before, but it's never been this important before, either.

I feel somewhat useless, given that Texas is pretty much a red state (although this area is pretty blue). The poll numbers I saw yesterday showed Texas as being a lot closer than I would have thought, though, so maybe it will make a difference.

I will say, if I thought I could swing it, I considered going to Missouri - a swing state - to stay with my mom and see how I could help there. I don't think my husband would let me take off with the boys for that long though. If Hurricane Ike starts heading this way, I may change my mind.

9:27 AM, September 04, 2008  
Blogger alimum said...

Judy

That is fabulous. EVERY little but helps. The option of making phone calls from home is a great one...it is the Phone for Change button on the website

Here is the texas page

http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/txhome

FYI, you may want to call your local HQ to find out what you can do--right now, the campaign is swamped with emails/texts.

Also, if you do visit your mom, you don't have to go for weeks on end. Even if you can only spend an afternoon helping out, your help will be most appreciated! Some friends of mine went to South Carolina for the Saturday of the primary and they felt just being there for one day it helped make a difference.

12:28 PM, September 04, 2008  
Blogger Vadim said...

This year is the first year when I'm legally allowed to vote, and I've registered and am planning to go out to the polls.

I think the biggest obstacle is work. Being at work during election day disenfranchises a lot of (likely Democratic) potential voters.

I think we should make Election Day a national holiday, or at least coincide it with a day like Veterans day so everyone can vote: http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/make-election-day-a-national-holiday

11:29 AM, September 05, 2008  

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