It’s around 10 PM, the night before a crisp November morning like today, that I’m used to getting the phone call from a friend or two: “Hey, do you want to make some money, because—,” or “I know this is kind of last minute—.” They’re campaign staffers looking for last-minute help, and I happen to know more than a few of them. So it follows that I’ve been involved with a number of NY and NYC elections, a sudden death run-off, and a couple of off-season special elections.
If you haven’t tried it, you can’t know the rewarding feeling that kneeling down at 11 o’clock in an elementary school cafeteria, feverishly counting football-field-lengths of paper from the poll machines, can bring. It’s especially rewarding after a sleepless night of cruising around in your candidate’s SUV, listening to Slipknot, tearing down hundreds of your opponent’s signs (which we call fragging).
Although feeling like a subject of David Attenborough narration is awesome, I had obligations that kept me from going to the big leagues this time around. But those same friends of mine—well, some of them—went balls-to-the-wall and outsourced their services, traveling as far as Florida and over to Ohio to be a part of ‘the vote that counts.’ Here are some dispatches from them, which I’ll be updating all day. And Romneyists, please don’t be shy. Drop a line @DanStuckey:
11:30AM: Florida, Obama Campaign Staffer, J.
I’m just putting stickers on peoples doors. Actually, a shitty piece of construction paper with some adhesive on it is more accurate than ‘a sticker.’ I’m in Riviera Beach, the African American city in Palm Beach County. It’s Hot and humid; it’s Florida. Started at 5:30am this morning. Second earliest that I’ve had to wake up on the campaign.
12:49PM: Youngstown, Ohio, Obama Campaign Staffer, K.
Souls to the polls was effective yesterday, and the precincts are turning out well today. I’m nipping out, it’s somewhat cold here, but that’s not deterring people from lining up around the block.
1:15PM: Palm Beach County, Florida, J.
Quizno’s for lunch. It tastes pretty good, it has chipotle mayo on it. No music, but the guy who lives in the baptist church I’m working in had Goodfellas on in the background for a while until someone asked him to turn it off.
1:45PM: Youngstown, Ohio, K.
Today is hectic as you can imagine. I got up at 6:00am and was at the polling site at 6:30am, technically I reported late, but it’s because—oh yeah—my car got smashed up. I’m suspecting that someone from the other side took a hammer to it because there are signs and literature stashed in it. Youngstown is crazy right now, it’s a mix of locals, and an influx of people from California and Massachusetts helping with voter protection, and there’s basically a language barrier between those people from the coast and the ones that live here.
3:08PM: Palm Beach County, Florida, J.
I usually have a song stuck in my head, but not today. I just Shazam’d “Touch Me” by Ginuwine at someone’s shack I tried to canvass just now. They didn’t answer, but the guy next door did. He had no idea who any of the people on my list were because he just moved into the neighborhood. He isn’t voting today because his rights haven’t been restored yet. Motherboard: Rights? Because of a felony. I would say around 30% of the men here can’t vote because of that.
3:15PM: Youngstown, Ohio, Obama Campaign Staffer, K.
Ron Paul is still in the race out here. The radio station I’m listening to is called “The Wolf.” It’s stuck in the 80’s, much like when this place was in its greatest days. Before all the auto and steel jobs dried up.
3:58PM: Youngstown, Ohio, K.
Here’s a voter at one of the polling sites. He chose Obama but says he didn’t vote for anyone else because he doesn’t know about them.
4:02PM: Cleveland, Ohio B.
I vote in lower Manhattan, and because of Sandy I wasn’t able to figure out where to vote absentee before leaving New York. I just resigned myself to getting Ohioans to vote in my place. Essentially, I’ve been campaigning and waiting to vote for Obama for four years, so I felt terrible. I almost left Ohio for NYC to go and vote, but decided that was selfish. When Governor Cuomo issued his executive order I realized immediately I could vote in one of New York’s nearby counties. I ended up renting a car at the break of dawn to drive to Ripley, NY to vote as a Sandy-displaced-New-Yorker at a local high school. I then drove back to Cleveland, handed an extra vehicle to the campaign and went out to canvass.
4:50PM: Youngstown, Ohio, K.
The sun is coming down here and the campaign staffers are opening their final Red Bulls of the day, preparing to make the last effort with people getting out of work and heading home. Now is the chance to get people to the polls for many here who have worked for over a year on this. These last few hours represent their last chance to see their job accomplished
5:15PM: Palm Beach County, Florida, J.
This is so hectic. All I can say is I’m proud of how hard everyone is working right now and I choke up a bit whenever I think about us finally winning tonight.
Meanwhile back in New York
6:15PM: Queens, New York, E.
It’s helter skelter here in Queens. People are queueing up for three things today: To vote, to get gas, and buy emergency supplies. The thing is, we all don’t know what’s more important to us: Our freedom, our livelihood or our survival. Lines for all three are a minimum 1-3 hours. Because of the Governor’s executive order, people can vote anywhere via affidavit ballot. Voters are entering schools indiscriminately.