Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Report From Ohio – Being Useful

The Faithful Correspondent has been to the polls.

Your father and I just returned for lunch from acting as Poll Checkers (as opposed to “Watchers”) in the Wood County effort to GOTV, a joint effort between ACT and the Kerry/Edwards campaign using the facilities and manpower of, in this case, the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union. It was very inspiring to see how many people were getting into the act as phone bank volunteers or canvassers. We were impressed by the degree of advance planning that had been done; how smoothly and quietly everything proceeded.

We got to the nice new Union hall on Caple Road in Northwood around 9:45 a.m. after having voted at our own polling site in the Glenwood School closer to home. The Wood County contingent was gathered together by a volunteer leader. In this case it was Dan Ryan, the other Kerry delegate with me at the July convention. We were handed our precinct packets with separate lists of registered Democrats, instructions on what the job entailed, and how to do it. Each packet was assigned to a pair of workers and a map was included so we could find the polling place. In our case we were sent to a school in Northwood Precinct D where we were to “politely” request a convenient moment when it would be possible for us to look at their list of who had voted, cross off the names on our list of Democrats in that precinct, and return to base where we would transfer the information to both the phone bank and and then to the leader of the foot soldiers, the canvassers who go door-to-door urging our fellow Democrats to remember to vote. Our information prevented double-coverage of those who had already voted.

Dad and I will go back at 3:00 to be sent out again into the field after 4:00 when we’ll be allowed one more opportunity to disturb the workers at the polling places and cross-check the lists. I guess this process is routine for the experienced poll workers. I wasn’t aware of Republican partisans doing the same job we are. I don’t recall ever seeing Poll Checkers at work when I’ve voted in the past, but our habit is to get in and out early in the day. Democrats have had the reputation of being better at on-the-ground vote gathering, which is why the Republicans are trying to suppress the votes by all the means they can devise in the urban areas of Ohio. We had no challengers stationed in Northwood, I assume because the number of minority residents is small. I’ll be interested to see what the experience at precincts in Toledo proper will be.

We agreed that Doing Something made us feel better and best of all, passed the time until we find out how our lives will be starting tomorrow (or whenever the outcome comes out).