I received an interesting phone call today from a gentleman named Rob in New York City who wanted me to spend election day as a poll watcher. He was recruiting attorneys, law students and other legal professionals, he said, because they were expecting trouble at the polls.
Now I know, of course, that this election is very close, and each party needs every vote it can win. The negative ads show that people don’t hesitate to play dirty, right up till the end. Next week I expect it will be worse. I don’t even want to think about the first three days of November. But our little county is pretty rural, and pretty laid-back. Did we really need to worry about these things here?
According to Rob, we do. Our county has five targeted precincts where the national committee has determined that some sort of interference with the voting process will likely take place. This interference could take the form of open challenges of each voter by a party representative, making each person verify their identity and prove they are registered and belong in that district, to the point of harassment and delay that might cause people to give up and leave the polls. (I’m not sure why people would come to vote without ID and voter’s registration card. But in our small county, no one has ever asked me for it. I just walk up, give them a name, and they sign me in. Then again, I’m a pretty ordinary-looking white woman.)
Some of the other tactics he described mystified me. He suggested that in some counties, it has been documented that whites rented up a bunch of Lincoln Towncars, put on suits and dark glasses, and cruised the neighborhoods where primarily black voters were going to the polls, intimidating them. Some people really don’t have enough to do with their time, I guess. Others are openly discouraged from voting once they’re inside the polling place and can’t be seen from the street.
Here in town, the courthouse is closed on election day; time for all the courthouse workers to drive their friends out to vote, I guess. This county is heavily Republican, has been for years. The county is 97% white. One would think Obama would have an uphill battle. But not this year. There are Obama signs all over the place, amongst the McCain signs. People wear Obama buttons, have bumper stickers. The Democratic headquarters finally has people moving in and out of it all day–the first time I’ve seen this in years. Are we ready for change? Yeah.
No. HELL yeah.
So I agreed to go to the training to learn how to “protect” the voting process. I’ll be at the polls where I’m assigned on election day, and I sure hope I’ll be able to protect the same freedoms our troops and elected officials are fighting for: making sure each of us has the right to have our say. I’ll show my children I’m willing to take the stand.
Make sure you’re out there, too.