Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No way. No how. No McCain.

Hillary delegate Nia Goldman. Her husband George is an Obama delegate!

8/26/08 - DAY TWO

After a night of sleeping wedged into a love seat just big enough for my cat and a surreal day of hunting for a ticket to Obama's speech at Mile High Stadium, I am in no mood for games. I've run into too many alleged "journalists" looking for disaffected Hillary delegates (of which I've yet to find) and I'm beyond patience.

I want some fucking unity. I want it now.

I track down some fabulous expresso from the local lesbian coffee house and begin my day in earnest. The night before it had become pretty clear to me that my chances of getting a ticket for the Obama speech had gone from slim to none. Every person I asked had the same deer-in-the-headlights look on their face when I brought the subject up. Clearly drastic action was called for.

Time to hit Craig's List.

Out of the 70,000 tickets available, some 30,000 went to Colorado and other western swing states. They "sold" out within 24 hours (they were actually free). In an effort to keep down scalping, the Obama campaign didn't mail out the physical tickets until this week. Recipients had to call in or log in on the internet and provide their names and contact information, along with the serial number on the ticket. Once registered, the tickets become non-transferrable. If your ID doesn't match the info you provided when the ticket is scanned at the stadium they won't let you in.

Of course this didn't stop the scalping at all. I logged on to the Denver Craig's List and found half a dozen tickets for sale. Yet almost as soon I attempted to contact a potential seller, the link would be erased. What started out as straightforward illicit transaction quickly became a game of whack-o-mole.

As the day wore on I watched as prices climbed from $100 a ticket to a $1,000 a pair. A $1,000 a pair for a political speech. No wonder McCain is do desperate to smear Obama as being a celebrity. He's green-eyed envious.

For hours I walk the Mall, my iPhone held out like a divining rod as I frantically send out emails. Low on battery, I finally give it up. I meet up with fellow California Dems Mary Jack and Cara Robin at the Sheraton for a talk given by Democracy Now's Amy Goldman. She had the best quote of the day about how the main stream media works in this country,

"They tell us so little about so much and get it so wrong"

The crowds have started to grow in anticipation of Hillary's speech. By far the demonstrators I see the most of are the Jesus freaks and anti-choice crowd. I'm baffled why they're even here. They're taunted by the crowd and their graphic sandwich boards featuring images of aborted fetuses make it impossible for the main stream media to give them any airplay. It's sad and pointless.

After a quick side trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond, I blow up my brand new air mattress and settle in for Hillary's speech. And am blown away.

"No way. No how. No McCain".

Oh. My. God. Hillary dear, all is forgiven.

The day ends at the California delegation's "Rising Stars" bash. I see half our team from the California Obama campaign, run into Councilman Eric Garcetti and spot Antonio Villaraigosa chatting up a slim brunette. But two apple martinis and a Sean Penn sighting later, I'm beat.

Time to go back to the apartment. The sooner I can get some sleep the earlier I can get up. I'm still on the hunt............

To see more photos of the day, check out my online gallery


No Particular Place To Go

Greetings from Denver!

8/25/08 - DAY ONE

Oh crap.

I've just arrived at the third-floor walk up apartment, bent over my suitcases, struggling not to pass out. In my hurry to settle in and get going, I forget they call Denver's stadium "Mile High" for a reason. Oy, not a great way to start the week.

After a few minutes curled up in the fetal position, I change, pack my weapons of choice - cell phone and camera - and take the bus downtown. Devoid of credentials, unable to get into the convention at the Pepsi Center, my world for the next few days will instead revolve around Denver's 16th Street pedestrian mall (think 3d Street Promenade). A lot of the bars are here, which means most of the delegates, which means all of the media, cops and protesters.

For the moment, the cops easily outnumber any potential protesters. They're everywhere. On horseback, bikes, Segues, foot, crowded in the backs of flatbed trucks. They're encased in Kevlar, draped in heavy tactical weapons. Yet they laugh and joke and get their pictures taken with tourists and delegates. It is beyond Orwellian. It feels like the future.

I wander down the length of the Mall and eventually end up at MSNBC's "election central" stage. It's huge - two stories of scaffolding and klieg lights. Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews sit perched high above the gathering crowd, while Rachael Maddow, Pat Buchannon and the rest of the pundits sit below. I end up watching Michelle Obama's speech with the crowd. Or I should say, watch the crowd watch the speech.

It's an incredibly moving scene. One moment hit me like no other. As Michelle spoke, I watched as an African American man in his sixties begins to weep. His wife puts her arm around his shoulder and he folds into her like a child.

I am humbled. As psyched as I am about the idea of an Obama presidency, I can never know the journey that brought this couple here to this place and to this moment.

I can never truly understand what this means to them.

To see more photos of the day, check out my online gallery


Monday, August 25, 2008

Winging It To Denver.......

I write this as I sit on the floor at LAX Southwest Terminal 1, gate 4A, about a foot from the Men's room entrance (there's an AC outlet and I'm trying to top off the computer).

OK, so it's not the most glamourous start to the week, but I have a feeling it's not going to be atypical either. I go to Denver with no tickets (not, at this point, even to Obama's speech on Thursday), no agenda, no plans. I figure I'll be surrounded by folks who'll have all of the above and hopefully they'll let me sneak in behind their slipstream.

The camera will be out and ready. You never know what the other 15,000 press photographers will miss.



Saturday, August 30
10am to 1pm, and 1pm to 4pm.

Sunday, August 31
1pm to 4pm

Ravenswork Studio
1611 Electric Ave. (just off the corner Abbot Kinney and Palms Blvd.)
Venice, CA 90291

We need people to make phone calls to Nevada to identify Obama supporters in that state. Phone banking now will save canvassers on the ground thousands of hours come election day. In 2004, we lost Nevada by only 2%. In 2008, with your help, we'll win in a landslide! Refreshments will be served.

You will need a cell phone and a charger. A WiFi capable laptop computer, though not mandatory, will be extremely helpful!

Saturday 10am-1pm

Saturday 1pm-4pm

Sunday 1pm-4pm


Phone bank volunteer Jim Hill and future Democrat Lena Rose

This was the kick-off weekend for Drive For Change, the California Obama campaign's effort to get out the vote in Nevada.

Dozens of volunteers travelled from all over Southern California to Las Vegas, Nevada. In a single day, they registered over 1,600 new voters. Hundreds more phone bank volunteers in the LA area made thousands of phone calls to Nevada voters, helping to identify potential supporters and new volunteers.

The Nevada State Field Director told us tonight that our efforts will determine the fate of Nevada, and Nevada could determine the outcome of the election.

And folks, we're just getting started. The California Obama campaign will have volunteer opportunities every weekend until election day.

Get involved. On 71 days to go.


Tonight, as I was cleaning out the old mac mailbox, I came across a blast from the past - a series of emails I had sent out to friends and family during my four days doing GOTV in Las Vegas, NV for the '04 election.

Unlike this year, where we have a proactive campaign with a strong ground operation in all the swing states, the '04 GOTV effort was a bit of a crazy-quilt, with a number of activist groups,, SEIU, and ACT UP (not to mention the Kerry campaign) were all running ops in the four days leading to election day.

It was an exhausting and unforgettable experience. And even though we ended up losing Nevada by a scant %2, after reading through these "dispatches" I know it wasn't for lack of trying.

Dispatch from Vegas: Dogs, bad lawn art, evil trailer park Biddies and getting out the vote.........

Oct. 30, 2004

Will Evil Trailer Park Biddies Cost Kerry the Presidency?

Viva Las Vegas! Almost. (Actually, to be completely accurate, I should say beautiful, downtown Henderson) where ACT (Americans Coming Together) has put me up in a lovely Super 8 Motel, just down the street from Sam's Town and the freeway. Hey things, could be worse. They've been stacking the volunteers up like cordwood in most of the rooms, putting 4 to a room (with 2 beds), but the housing coordinator took pity on my poor aging soul and let me slip into a room all by myself, although I expect this to change as more volunteers start arriving.

As most of you know, I'm here in Vegas through November 2nd to help get out the Democratic vote for Kerry. Nevada is a swing state, with Kerry and Bush in a statistical tie. What happens here in Vegas could make all the difference on Tuesday, so the city has become a kind of Ground Zero, with volunteers literally descending on the state from all over the country. Today, I found out ACT will be swarmed with over a thousand volunteers this weekend; that number is expected to double by Tuesday.

At this point, with voting registration now closed, ACT is concentrating on simply getting registered Democrats out to the polls. They've stopped trying to convince undecided voters or to sway Republicans into defecting for Kerry. All they want to do is make sure people actually go out to vote. So they're dispatching van loads of volunteers to canvas neighborhoods, going door to door to cajole people into going to the polls, letting them know where their polling places are and offering transportation if they need it. They'll do this today and every day through Tuesday. ACT expects to reach a 100,000 people in Clark County alone by the time this is all done.

All I can say is, be grateful California isn't a swing state.

A few highlights of the day:

I start the day by getting lost. It's been 7 years since I was in Vegas last and even with the map and directions, haven't a clue as to how to get to the staging area from the hotel. When I call the volunteer coordinator to get directions, he can't help me because he's not a local either. I wait on the phone for 5 minutes and listen to him ask around for help, trying to find anyone local who can give me directions. He can't. Everyone is from somewhere else. Eventually I figure it out for myself and make it in more or less on time.

After pulling into the parking lot, I get my first indication as to how huge this volunteer effort really is. There are hundreds of people lined up in front of the main tent, receiving paperwork and instructions. The parking lot is full of cars with out of state plates - not just California, but Arizona, Texas, Utah and even one from North Carolina. In another part of the lot, dozens of rented mini-vans are lined up ready to go. For the first time, I let myself hope, just a little, that maybe we can actually make a difference.

As I wait in line for my paperwork, I chat up a couple of women from San Jose who are volunteering for Planned Parenthood. A group of them had flown down just that morning. I look around and am amazed at the variety of people I see; middle aged white women from San Diego, local Black and Latino union organizers, college students in costume, entire families (including children) volunteering together, aging hipsters and yuppie professionals. Everyone is fired up.

I'm assigned a van with six other volunteers. Before we get started, several of the van groups get together to receive some last minute training. While we wait for instructions, we decide to go around the circle and introduce ourselves and why we're there. While most of reasons are what you'd expect - they don't like Bush or the job he's doing, Iraq, jobs, etc....some of the reasons were just heartbreaking. One woman has a quadriplegic sister who's about to be dropped by her insurance carrier. Another woman was there because she was worried about her brother, a Marine in Iraq.

She said simply, "I'm here because I don't want him to die."

We pile into our van. One volunteer is the driver and acts as our "Team Leader", driving us to our assigned neighborhood and keeping in contact with us throughout the day, making sure we have enough water and food and just generally looking out for our well-being. The rest of us are divided into 3 teams of 2, with each team given specific streets and addresses. We're given a check sheet to write down information as we contact the people on our lists (have they already voted, do they plan to vote, do they need a ride, is it a bad address, were they not home, etc.....). We'll visit these addresses four times between now and Tuesday. Like I said before, be glad you don't live in a swing state.

Our group is assigned to the Desert Oasis trailer park in an unincorporated section of Clark County just east and south of the Vegas line. Incredibly enough, part of the trailer park is considered a "gated community". (more on that in a second ). Now, when I say "trailer park", I'm talking double-wides on cinderblocks, identical in every way except the paint jobs. Some trailers were in better shape than others, with lovely rose gardens and some really bizarre "lawn" art (my favorite was the ceramic squirrel impaled on the spikes of a barrel cactus). Others were in such bad shape I was afraid to step up on their porches for fear of going through the floor boards.

And dogs. Lots of dogs. All vicious beasties that weighed maybe 12 pounds soaking wet.

Everyone we met was great. No undecided voters here, Bush needed to go.

The trouble started when we stopped in a little park to eat our lunch. After we were there for about half an hour, we see a head of blue hair poke out around a retaining wall to stare at us. A few minutes later, another. Then another. Then one of the Blue Hair women walk up to us and says, "You can't be here. You're trespassing."

Thinking she meant the park, we thanked her, packed up our lunches, and moved on to canvas the rest of the neighborhood. After about 5 minutes, a very elderly, very large, very angry African-American gentleman rode up in a pick up truck, got out and stood in front of us. "What the hell are you doing here?", he demanded.

So we gave him our spiel about getting out the vote, which did not impress him at all. "I don't care what you're doing. You can't be here. No soliciting. Don't you understand English?"

Hearing these words come out of an elderly Black man, at this particular time in history, was, well.........a little disorienting. So we tried to explain ourselves again. Again, he said "Don't you understand English? You're soliciting! Get the hell out of here before I call the cops!"

By this time, he was joined by a very tall, very elderly, and yes, very angry White gentleman who informed us he was Head of Security at Desert Oasis. Again, we tried to explain ourselves. Mr. Angry Black Man turned to Mr. Angry Head-of-Security White Man and said, "They don't understand English!", to which Mr. Angry Head-of-Security White Man replied "They surely don't. I'll say that much."

By this time, the same Blue Haired Biddies we had seen in the park (which I had started to now think of as the Evil Blue Haired Biddies) had formed a small gaggle behind the menfolk. At this point, I spoke up, looking directly at Mr. Angry Black Man, "Listen, I respect you concerns, but we have a Constitutional right to be here. We're not soliciting. We're not selling anything. We're not even trying to convince anyone who to vote for. We're just trying to remind people to vote and to let them know where their polling place is and to offer them rides if they need one. If you have a problem, call the authorities and we'll straighten this out. I mean, let's be reasonable, you want people to vote don't you? You're going to vote, aren't you?"

You would have thought I suggested the man sleep with his granddaughter. Mr. Angry Black Man just went ballistic, "Why would I vote? What the hell would I do something like that for! Get the hell out of here, don't you understand English? How can you tell people to vote? You can't even speak English!"

And so with that, operating under the principal that it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, we continued on, hoping to get to the last 15 houses on our list. Which is when the police cruiser showed up.

Now, to be fair to the police officer, he was a perfect gentleman about the whole thing, he even rolled his eyes and told us he gets a lot of calls from Dessert Oasis. But he made it very clear we shouldn't be there. Yes, we a Constitutional right to free speech, but the entire trailer park - even the paved streets - was private property. I asked what he could do if we chose to stay.

"Nothing. But if those gentlemen over there," he said pointing to Mr. Angry Black Man and Mr. Angry Head-of-Security White Man, "chose to perform a Citizen's arrest, I'll be obligated to assist them."

That pretty much ended our canvassing activities for the day.

So folks, if when Tuesday rolls around, and Nevada finds itself going for Bush by a scant 15-vote margin, I can direct you to a certain trailer park full of evil Blue-Haired Biddies in Vegas that will have a great deal to answer for.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


"We're a numbers-driven, people-centered campaign to change America!"

This is how Akili, our cruise director for the weekend, begins Camp Obama.

Over 200 committed Angelinos have gathered in a stuffy cafeteria at the Los Angeles Trade and Technical college near downtown. It's a diverse group - young, old, techies, technophobes, blacks, white, latinos, asians, hispanics, GLBT, and everything in between - bonded by a single purpose. To get Barack Obama elected.

For two days we're trained on what we need to do to get out the vote. Mainly, what we need to do to get out the vote in Nevada, which is critical swing state for Obama.

What follows are some photos from the event.

Take a good look at these faces. They look like America......

To view the entire gallery: CAMP OBAMA 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Only 77 Days To Go

Do you want Barack Obama to be our next President?

It is not enough to want him to win. It is not enough to hope he'll win. We need to help him win. We need to build this victory, one precinct and one vote at a time. And the time to act is now.

We've just returned from "Camp Obama," an intensive two-day training with senior campaign officials. The campaign is asking Southern California voters to "adopt" certain areas in Nevada and help bring that battleground state into the Obama column.

The Nevada race will be very tight. Bush eked out a narrow victory there over Kerry in 2004. To succeed, we need the help of every available Obama supporter. Together, we will become a numbers-driven, people-centered campaign to change America.


Between now and November 4, a hearty band of Obama supporters from the Westside and the South Bay will be organizing a series of local phonebanks and road trips to Las Vegas to help the Obama campaign identify, register and mobilize every potential Obama supporter we can find.

Can you attend a phonebank in your community and call
Nevada voters?

Can you join us for a weekend roadtrip to Las Vegas to knock on doors and meet Nevada voters one-on-one and in person?

Can you host a phonebank party in your home or office space?
Or provide refreshments for volunteers?

Do you have a friend who supports Obama but still needs to translate that support into action?

No contribution or effort is too small. This is going to be a hard-fought and close campaign.


Road Trips to Vegas From Now Until November!

Help paint Nevada Blue! The California Obama campaign and other Democratic groups will be running trips to Las Vegas every weekend from now until the election. Below are a list of dates and events.

To get more information about all volunteer opportunities in Nevada, including internships, go to:

August 22-24
LA 4 Obama - voter registration drive

SoCal Roadtrippers for Obama - Las Vegas, NV
There will be limited housing available but if possible, we would appreciate you arranging your transportation and hotel accommodations on your own. Rates range from $48/per night to $259/per night. Bring a friend, and split the costs.

For more information, and to RSVP, email Francesca McCaffery at

Sept. 5-7
Venice 4 Obama - voter registration drive

Sept. 26-28
California For Obama - voter registration and door-to-door canvassing

Oct. 3-5
Westside Democratic Headquarters - voter registration (details TBA)

Oct. 10-12
Westside Democratic Headquarters - last weekend to register voters(details TBA)

Oct. 14

Registration closes in Nevada

Oct.18 - 31
Early voting period in Nevada for the General Election

Oct. 17-19
California For Obama - door-to-door canvassing and GOTV

Nov. 1-4 (ELECTION DAY!!!!!)

California For Obama - door-to-door canvassing and GOTV

Phone Banking In Venice August 20, 23-24

Wednesday, August 20
Extra Space Storage Community Room
658 Venice Blvd., Venice 90291

We're looking for a few good people to phone bank to potential volunteers. Our goal is to identify other Obama supporters in Southern California who are all fired up to help us with the campaign. You supply the cell phone and a charger, we'll provide the phone lists, the refreshments, and the fun!


Saturday, August 23
10am to 1pm, and 1pm to 4pm.

Sunday, August 24
1pm to 4pm

Ravenswork Studio
1611 Electric Ave. (just off the corner Abbot Kinney and Palms Blvd.)
Venice, CA 90291

We need people to make phone calls to Nevada to identify Obama supporters in that state. Phone banking now will save canvassers on the ground thousands of hours come election day. In 2004, we lost Nevada by only 2%. In 2008, with your help, we'll win in a landslide! Refreshments will be served.

You will need a cell phone and a charger. A WiFi capable laptop computer, though not mandatory, will be extremely helpful!

Saturday 10am-1pm

Saturday 1pm-4pm

Sunday 1pm-4pm

Thursday, August 14, 2008

BO To The OC, Saturday, August 16th!

Barack Obama will be visiting Orange County this Saturday to participate in a community forum with John McCain at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. What you may not have heard is that California Democrats will be turning out in large numbers to greet him. If you'd like to be part of the crowd cheering Barack Obama on, please grab your Obama gear and come join us!

What: Obama Rally at the Saddleback Church

Where: Volunteers gather at the parking lot near LA Sports Fitness:
29400 Portola Parkway
Lake Forest, Ca 92630

When: Saturday, August 16th at 4:00 p.m.

Map: Click here for map.

There will also be McCain supporters in attendance, so it's important that we counter them with a strong showing of support for Barack Obama and his positive message for hope and change in America!

Nobody Knows Anything........

"Nobody knows anything."

- William Goldman, "Adventures In The Screen Trade"

In a Northern Virginia Starbucks tucked snugly away in a featureless shopping center not far from Washington D.C., a man, once solid, but now thickening in late middle age, looks around furtively, almost warily, before he leans in to his companions, and says, loud enough for me to overhear,

"This country will never elect a black man president."

The two middle-age women, one stylish in a pink silk t-shirt, Cartier watch and diamond rings, the other older and frumpier in a "Cougars for Hillary" sweatshirt, nod knowingly. The older woman sighs,

"He's too young. He has no experience."

The younger woman shakes her head in agreement,

"I can't bring myself to vote for McCain though."

"Oh what a horrible dilemma", the older woman laments.

"It's not good.", the man agrees.

"How's the diet going?", the younger woman asks, suddenly brightening.

Politics now safely behind them, the three make small talk for a few minutes before the man says his goodbyes and leaves. I watch as he exits the store and climbs into a brand new Mercedes convertible.

The man is African American, as are his two women friends.

On the last leg of a flight from Los Angeles to Baltimore, a pale man in his late 30's with thin hair and thick glasses boards the plane in Nashville and takes the seat next to mine. Seeing the Obama "Hope" sticker on my laptop, he starts up a conversation by telling me Obama was the first candidate he ever gave money to. I learn he lives in an exurb south of Baltimore. I ask him if Obama will do well in his part of the world.

"Oh yes," he says, "A lot people in my neighborhood have lawn signs up."

He tells me he's voting for Obama for most of the usual reasons I hear from supporters - he's tired of 8 years of mismanaged government, the war in Iraq, the economy, loss of civil liberties, the desire for real bipartisanship in Washington. He asks me how long I've been interested in politics. I make my usual joke, that I grew up the daughter of liberals, in a household where I thought Nixon's first name was "goddamn."

He laughs and tells me his parents voted for Nixon. In fact, he tells me, he's voted Republican in every presidential election - he voted for George Bush twice.

He's a Republican. As are most of his neighbors. And they're all voting for Obama.

Last week I left Los Angeles to donate my time and energy to the Obama campaign in Fairfax County, Virginia. Virginia, with it's 13 electoral votes, is one of the most hotly contested of the swing states. Both and McCain are pouring resources into Northern Virginia, just across the Potomac River within sight of our nation's Capitol. The local airwaves are littered with McCain and Obama TV ads I'd so far only seen on the internet. Yet on the ground, the Obama campaign seems to have the greater visibility. There are 6 Obama field offices in Fairfax County alone, 27 in all of Virginia. I've seen a lot of Obama bumper stickers and lawn signs, but not a one for McCain. Field data I'd been allowed to see had Obama way ahead in many areas of Northern Virginia, but closely on the heels of McCain in others, and depressingly behind in many southern and southwestern parts of the state (think Appalachia).

Virginia, and maybe the election, will be won or lost on the banks of the Potomac River.

I stood outside MacDonalds trolling for unregistered voters, canvassed door to door in modest leafy neighborhoods with bucolic street names like Surry Hill Place and Marblehead Court, and made countless phone calls trying to cajole the undecided and the uneasy. Every new day on the ground brought with it at least one slap-me-in-the-face-like-a-wet-sardine moment of clarity.

Forget everything you've heard and read. Whether it's Fox, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times or the Huffington Post. Nobody knows anything.

From the privileged white college kid who tells me he's registered but won't vote because our best days are behind us and "all the other countries are going to gang up on us and we're going to die." to the Hispanic evangelical Army captain who'd be happy to abolish the Departments of Education, Labor and Energy, but who hopes McCain will lose. You can't poll this.

Remember this the next time you hear some pundit wonder why Obama "can't close the deal", or read yet another poll "proving" he has a "problem" with "working class white voters".

Remember, nobody knows anything.

Liz Griffith, volunteer for "Virginia for Obama"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Swinging From A Swing State!

This week's post is being brought to you from Northern Virginia, battle-ground central, where I'll be volunteering for the Obama campaign for the next week. If you follow the polls as obsessively as I do, you probably already know Virginia is very much in play. If Obama takes this state, it'll make history, since Virginia hasn't voted for a Democratic President since Lyndon Johnson took the state in 1964.

The campaign is concentrating it's efforts in what's known as "northern" Virginia, the region that borders Washington D.C. This area has always been more progressive than the rest of the state, but that trend has accelerated exponentially with the explosive growth of the high tech industry. The campaign is hoping to add 150,000 new voters to the 147,000 they've already registered between now and the October 6th deadline.

This massive effort has the Republicans running scared.

According to The Washington Post, GOP operatives in Virginia are raising the spectre of "a very serious and troubling trend" of registration fraud.

"In Virginia, as in other states, loads of first-time voters are registering to cast ballots in the fall elections. Through the first six months of this year, 147,000 people, almost half under the age of 25, registered in the commonwealth, a figure that election officials say is unprecedented. As registration drives accelerate, including those run by the Barack Obama campaign and its allies, it's no wonder that Republicans are increasingly anxious about retaining their hold on a state that GOP presidential candidates have carried since 1968. What is surprising is their utterly baseless charge of "coordinated and widespread voter fraud . . . throughout Virginia."

The Post calls these accusations for what they are, voter suppression.

Folks, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Turnout of newly registered voters will likely determine the outcome in November. Unprecedented voter registration means unprecedented attempts to suppress turnout.

And, unfortunately, newly registered voters are the most likely to be successfully turned away at the polls.


Because newly registered voters are more likely to be so-called "low information" voters, or at the very least, inexperienced. They don't know what their rights are, and the system is gamed against them.

Again, from The Washington Post, in an article describing the hurdles the campaign will have in turning out the African American vote:

For many of these disengaged people, racial solidarity with Obama does not automatically trump apathy or despair. Even if volunteers manage to get them registered, it will require intensive follow-up to make sure they know where to vote, have the necessary identification and then turn out.

So as (Amanda) Bass, (a volunteer for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign) worked in 93-degree heat to canvass the bus stop in Macon, Ga -- which sits in front of a defunct railroad station that still has the words "Colored Waiting Room" etched above an archway -- she had to deploy a full range of tools. She linked the election to local issues such as rising bus fares. She chatted up people even after they said no, hoping to establish a connection for later. She deftly turned the flirtations of young men back to the task at hand.

Latasha Edwards, 20, a college student in lime flip-flops, flatly said that her vote would not make a difference. "There are a million other people on Earth," she said.

As someone who was on the ground in 04, whose job it was to follow up with first time voters in downtown Las Vegas, I saw this same scenario over and over again.

Most of these first time voters have enormous pressures competing for their time that can block their ability to vote. Day-to-day pressures such as lack of transportation (having to get up before dawn to catch a bus clear across town to get to a minimum wage job and not getting home until after the polls close), childcare issues (nobody to watch the kids even if Mom or Dad can make it back in time from work to wait in line at the polls to vote), confusion about polling places (because an underemployed first-time voter has had to move from one neighborhood to another since registering to vote), no voter i.d. (no driver's license) and lack of information (because the person has no phone or internet access so it's difficult to follow up with them)..................

I could go on, but you get the idea.

On election day, we'll need each and every one of you to do GOTV. We'll need you to walk miles to check in personally with first-time voters, we'll need you to drive them to the polls, and then maybe drive them all the way across town to get them to work, we'll need you to baby sit their kids, we'll need you to help them fill out provisional ballots, then follow through and make sure they come back with an i.d. the state will accept, we'll need you to buy them pizza so they don't pass out from low blood sugar as they wait in line for three hours, past dinner time, to vote.

We need you.

- Marta Evry (from Fairfax, Virginia)