The Unlikely Canvasser: A Story from Three Elections

October 3, 2018
davida

I’m the last person you’d want for grassroots action. I’m not organized and I don’t really like meeting new people. Truth is, I don’t have faith in a two-minute meeting between strangers to change minds. But in 2008, desperation over the election outcome made me volunteer to go door-to-door and get out the vote in Alexandria, Virginia, where I lived and had grown up.

Desperation and fear pushed me out my door at 6 a.m. on Election Day to the campaign headquarters. I’d be a “floater,” driving voters to the polls as needed. The HQ address turned out to be an old row house on King Street with a handmade poster out front, cheap bunting slung in the third-floor windows, and a few twenty-somethings at a table.

Never mind my floater assignment, they said. Instead, they had a more important task for me: a line organizer “had gone rogue” and they needed me to go “usurp her.”

“Keep people in the line at the polling place. Don’t let them leave,” they said. “Track how long people have to wait.”

So I drove to the polling station, mulling how I’d manage that. Before I cajoled anyone, I got another call. I was back to floater, taking people to polls.

Read my story on Medium here.

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