Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day Break Down

Here I sit, realizing that the election is over and with that, so is my internship. What a crazy time it was. I'm still processing the experience and I'm not sure how to describe the surreal-ness of it all. So while I'm still figuring all of that out, let me tell you what Election Day looked like for me!

Yesterday was, as expected, as very busy and exhausting day. I went to the campaign office around 11 o'clock and the place was hopping! We had a crazy amount of volunteers and they were all hard at work on the phones. It was so great to see so many people giving up their time to make sure that everyone knew that it was election day and where their polling location was. I would say we had an average of 12-15 volunteers there at all times. We also had a volunteer who was going to pick up those who weren't able to drive themselves to the polls. Call me crazy, but I thought it was a beautiful picture to see so many people working together to help everyone exercise their right to vote.

After being on the phones for a few minutes and grabbing a quick bite to eat (Thanks to all the wonderful people who donated snacks!), it was time for me to hit the streets. Calling can be effective, but sometimes showing up on someone's door and telling them that you really need them to go vote just has a greater impact. So I went on my second canvassing adventure. The weather was perfect and I was more than happy to be spreading some Election Day cheer. Apparently not everyone felt the same way that I did. The packet I had to walk was small, only about 55 houses in a pretty condensed area, so I guessed it would take me around two hours to complete. I approached each house, clipboard in hand, and simply told everyone who I was and that I was really hoping we could count on their support at the polls. Considering it was 1 o'clock in the afternoon I only talked to people in  about half the houses, but that was a pretty great return compared to a lot of the packets I've had volunteers walk in the past weeks. The best part for me was that out of all the people I did talk to, I only had one person tell me they weren't going to vote! That's what I like to hear! Being out knocking doors on such a beautiful day was welcome break from the calling bubble I'd been in for the past several weeks, but then it was back to work.

When I finished walking the packet I headed back to the campaign office and entered all the data from my packet as well as some other things that needed to be entered. Then I proceeded to get back on the HubDialer for about an hour. After spending time on the dialer I started working on trying to contact all of the people in the walk packets that hadn't gotten done over the weekend. I was able to call close to a couple hundred people before 5:30. At 5:45 the couple of us that were left called into the county in Northern Indiana that is in the Central time zone.

The energy in the room was so high all day! Everyone was in a great mood and feeling really confident in the efforts we'd put into the campaign. I felt the same way! It was a great way to end this internship, and it was made even better by the fact that the people of Indiana chose to support at least one of my candidates, but more on that later.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Final Countdown!

It's here! It's here! It's here! It is officially Election Day! My mind is completely blown that this crazy journey I've found myself on is already coming to an end.

I had a very full day of classes today, but still went to the campaign office after I got done. The energy tonight was awesome! Everyone is tired and probably very ready for this to be over, but there is just too much excitement surrounding the races right now to think about exhaustion for too long! I feel great about the candidates I've chosen to support and I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to work for Joe Donnelly and John Gregg.

I spent the evening calling and trying to get out the final push to encourage everyone to vote. I cannot stress enough how important it is to exercise your right! I'm really tired of hearing people tell me that they aren't voting because they aren't educated enough. Don't get me wrong, I do not want people to blindly make choices about politics, but it isn't that hard to educate yourself. I'm sure plenty of people will squirm when I say it, but WikiPedia is a pretty great source for basic information on the candidates. JUST GO VOTE, PEOPLE!

I know we're all pretty ready for the campaign season to be over. Campaign ads rule the air right now and it's downright annoying. If I wasn't aware enough of that already, in almost every call that I made tonight the voter reiterated that to me.

The most disconcerting call I made tonight went something like this:

Me: Hi, my name is Mackenzie and I'm a volunteer with the Indiana Democratic Party. With Election Day being tomorrow we just--
Voter: Do you know what time it is?!
Me (admittedly getting a little sassy): Yes, it is 8:41.
Voter: Don't you think that's a little late to be calling?! .....I've gotten three or four calls a day from you people and I need you to stop. I'm already on the Do Not Call List but it doesn't seem to be working. I'm usually a Democrat, but I don't know if I'm going to vote for Obama because you people call me way too much! *CLICK
Me: ...... 

Talk about awkward! If her political views could be swayed so easily...I'm not too worried about my impact on her decision.

In five short hours the polls will be open here in Indiana and just a few hours after that I'll be at my station, continuing to make calls and encourage everyone I can to vote. I know the lines will be long, and a lot of times it's inconvenient and annoying, but please go. Our right to vote is a beautiful thing. Take advantage of it.

The Day I Met Michael Jackson

Yesterday was yet another long, campaign-filled day. I spent the day doing my usual: setting up packets, calling, entering data. I thought it was going to be just another day that would blend in with the rest, but I was wrong. Waking up this morning, I didn't realize I was about to meet...Michael Jackson. I'm not kidding. Today I met a man named Michael Jackson. In fact, I went to the house of Michael Jackson. And more than anything else this experience was...different.

Since I've spent plenty of time filling you in on the basic, logistical things that I've been rocking for the past couple of weeks, I figured I would take a break and give you a snapshot of one of the crazier experiences I've had. Hence, Michael Jackson.

Michael was the first volunteer to ever come into the Anderson office. My boss was amped and ready to start making a difference when Michael walked in the door. She got him all set up on HubDialer and was hoping he would a great volunteer for the next six weeks. Well, he lasted a half hour on the dialer before asking her for a dollar and saying he would be right back. Who knows where he went, but he didn't come back. She's told me about him a couple of times because she thought it was a pretty great story. We also thought it was the end of the story...until yesterday.

One of the local candidates was in the campaign office yesterday and mentioned that Michael Jackson was really, really hoping to volunteer. The only problem was that he didn't have a car. We had LOTS of walk packets that still needed to be out, so I found a couple that were right in his neighborhood and drove them over to his house. For those of you who don't know Anderson, let me explain one thing to you. It's a wonderful place. I've found great community and wonderful people, but there are also some very rough parts of town. Michael Jackson happens to live in one of these rougher parts of town. So, phone in hand, ready to call the first person on my speed dial if I found myself in a risky situation, I went up to the house. Trying to ignore all the "Beware of the Dog" signs. Michael was sitting on his couch and I explained all of the information in the walk packet and told him we needed him to hit the 100 or so doors listed by 6 o'clock. Then I walked briskly to my car and laughed out loud at the strangeness of the situation I found myself in.

I was hoping that would be the end of my Michael Jackson story, but it wasn't. Who do you think was asked to go back to the home of Mr. Jackson four hours later? That's right. Little intern Mackenzie was sent back out to pick up the packet. This time I knew a little better what to expect. Unfortunately it seems that going to Michael Jackson's house was mostly a waste of time. When I went to enter the data from the walk packet I had given him I realized he had only been to thirteen houses.

Ohhhh Michael...what are we going to do with you?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It Can't Rain on a Calling Parade

Yesterday began the Get Out the Vote efforts here on the Coordinated Campaign. That meant a very long day! My responsibilities were the same as last weekend, but I was anticipating a lot more work because we were supposed to do everything on a much bigger scale. I have 34 canvass packets that need to be walked before the election, so ideally I would have had 12 packets done yesterday. Unfortunately that didn't happen. The weather yesterday was really awful. Of the 12 packets I had hoped to get out, I sent out 3 and only one was completed. It was rough, to say the least.

On the other hand, we had a great turnout for the phone bank! I received this in an email this morning:

"We had an amazing day yesterday!  We made over 14,000 calls into our region.  I'm sure many of you, like me, heard from voters, "This is the 6th call I've gotten today!"  More than likely, they are receiving calls from us, the GOP, outside organizations, you name it.  Turnout is the name of the game right now.  Please note that the people we are calling are targeted and are the folks we need to show up on Election Day.  Without our encouragement, they may not vote."

Since I didn't have much to do on the canvass aspect yesterday, I spent most of the day on the phone. The calls we made yesterday are different in a couple of ways. The script is different, but we are also leaving voice mails now. Most of the calls I made yesterday were voice mails and the message I repeated a couple hundred times sounds like this:

Hi, my name is Mackenzie and I'm a volunteer with the Indiana Democratic Party. With Election Day right around the corner we're just calling folks in your neighborhood to make sure they're still planning to vote. We hope we can count on your support this Tuesday as well! Just a quick reminder that the polls are open from 6am to 6pm on Election Day and you must have your government issued photo ID with you when you go. If you have any questions about your voter registration or polling place location please visit or call 877-371-1882. Thank you!

It was a long day, but it was a good one. It was even better because my boss brought her dog into the office. She was quite the hit!