last day of early voting
YIKES! tomorrow is it, the second! All day today I wish again I had four more months to talk to folks - so many people I haven't been able to talk with and these last few weeks, I've only talked mostly w/undecided voters or disenfranchised voters. Those voters that were leaning bush, I had to give up on - too late, too much time, not enuff time.
We finally get to demo headquarters & get a couple of precincts to hit. I drop Ariel off with her list on one street and I head over to the next street. Turning the corner I run smack into ACT - they are covering this neighborhood too. We compare notes - they have the same streets we have. ACT is not allowed to confer w/the democratic party - but they can confer w/me. I call into headquarters & tell them this neighborhood is already being canvassed. We head back in for another precinct.
Finally, we get a precinct that doesn't have ACT or Moveon or ACORN folks hitting the pavement. It is truly amazing how many volunteers and individuals there are here in Florida making sure bush is defeated - they're from all over the country, all ages, races, backgrounds - and all here to defeat bush!!! It is totally unfuckinbelievable!!! ufb!
Our first precinct has about 100 people on the list - at the same address - it turns out to be another elderly living situation - the rectangular buildings, 2 stories with about 8 apartments on each floor, and about 9 or 10 buildings. That's where the similarities end. There is no landscaping, other than grass & what individuals' have placed in front of their doors, at this complex. Paint is peeling off revealing years of colored stucco, stairs are cracked, screen doors are broken, door bells are non-existent. The manager first scowls at us, then looks at our list, points out the deceased names, the ones that are in the hospital, the ones that have moved, tells us no one will want to speak w/us - and we head out.
We find all democrats again, mostly wimmin, mostly African-American. Many need rides, which we call into the office. We decide to just hit up every door, given the deaths & the new comers. We leave sample ballots w/everyone who hasn't yet voted and continue on our way.
The next neighborhood we hit is also heavily democrat. One house has men up on the roof working. They instruct me to the back yard when I ask for Clarence Rewards. An older man is perched on an outdoor chair amidst a jumble of leaves & branches, while piles of debris are scattered thru-out his yard. He is leaning forward, hand resting on a walker, as he watches me approach.
I see he has been hit by the hurricane. I express my concerns - he tells me for 35 years he's lived in this house that had 19 pine trees growing in the front yard. You didn't used to be able to see his front door from the street (which is a major highway really). All 19 trees were snapped off with one wave of wind, a tornado. He points to the roots of the giant cypress to the side of us - a hundred year old tree, gone, smashed into the roof. His house is brick, except for the roof. He talks about how lucky he was the walls are still standing. Only the cypress tree took the roof out, which then let in tons of water, flooding the entire house, so he's lost all the contents inside. He sits in his chair, still in shock as he watches the men rebuilding his roof, surrounded by the remains of his previous life.
But this man has already voted. And he's voted for Kerry. His grandson comes and sits next to him, in the chair Clarence wanted me to take. I ask the grandson if he's voted yet. He looks ashamed as his grandfather bellows "this child didn't even register. We tried to get him to register but you can't tell young people anything these days."
The kid protests he was going to but he got too busy. Clarence & I exchange looks of disappointment & disbelief. I ask him how old he is. 18 years old, last week. I ask him if he's ready to go to war so some president's family & friends can get very rich. He looks mortified. I tell him he has to find at least 5 friends or neighbors who are registered to vote & help them get to the polls.
His grandfather points to the street behind them - you can start there, he instructs his grandson. Surprisingly, he solemnly agrees to do his part.
Ariel & I return to demo headquarters to pick up another precinct. While we are there, we get a call from carmen, another codepink womon, who tells us to head to a precinct across town where there are long lines and only bush supporters waving banners. We rush across town to the polling place, beeping our horn & talking on the megaphone until we get within reach of the poll - you cannot do any political messaging within 50 feet of the doors - the line is so long, it is not an issue. I park the truck in an obvious location so all have to read it before getting into line. Debbie has joined us too, so we spread out w/our banners & signs. A couple of other wimmin are already there too. Traffic is thick & we get to talk with lots of voters. This is a whiter side of town, richer, and more republican. We try to get those angry republicans to stop and talk - no one will, but the democrats are soooooo happy to see us!
While we are there, we get yet another call: jeb bush, georgie's brother & the governor of Florida, is holding a press conference at the republican headquarters down the road. Debbie & Ariel get that megaphone-glint in their eyes as we all wrap up our banners & charge back to the truck. We head out to the press conference, which turns out to be fuckin' awesome! I drive the truck slowly in front of republican headquarters as Debbie and Ariel take turns telling jeb "you can't help your brother out this time, we're watching you" along with other anti-bush, pro-kerry statements. The republicans are raving mad, lounging at the truck as we pass, screaming but even the entire bunch of them are no match for the megaphone queens! On the other side of the street, across four major lanes of traffic, the democrats go wild, screaming & cheering! We pass back and forth many times. No one makes a move to stop us though, not the police, not the governor, not the republican party! It was pretty awesome!
When we're done (the press conference is over), we head to Jacksonville Landing to get a bite to eat & to hunt down more voters. Folks are so happy to see us, we get our drinks paid for!!! We find a couple of people who promise us they will be the first at the polls in the morning!
Everyone else is waiting for us at Fuel Coffee Shop so we head over there, to regroup, do our final rituals for tomorrow, and to enter onto the computer about 600 names on the urgent response network for nov3 - the just=in=case bush tries to steal the election again. I am feeling excited and hopeful - Jacksonville seems to have changed since we first arrived so many eons ago, when we didn't see one Kerry sign, let alone bumper stickers. Now it seems, where ever we go there are Kerry folks and the republicans, still agressive, seem to brood more & send evil eyed glances as often as middle fingers our way! I have a lot of hope, I realize, as I look over the responses to the truck during the last three days - 29 yeahs, 6 fuck yous, and 4 thumbs down - not too bad considering the first time we were here, the yeahs & fuck yous were running almost even!
While we're hanging at Fuel, working on the computers, eating, drinking, making plans for tomorrow, we get handed a flyer about a 4:45 a.m. press conference in front of the supervisor of elections office tomorrow. The other codepink wimmin are talking about being there. I look at the clock - 11:55p.m. - great another 4 hour nite! I negotiate to be there by 5:45 instead. We'll see. Good nite & get so ready - this is it!!! peace & love, sam