Last Saturday I went to Las Vegas Nevada as a volunteer to help register voters. I got up at four in the morning, got ready, and left my home by four forty to get to Hillary’s headquarters in the Westchester part of Los Angeles (just north of the airport) by five. I arrived a little early and glad I did. A half hour later the line was almost out the door with people waiting to sign in.
However, I waited more than an hour before we got on the bus and on our way – at six fifteen. I was assigned Bus 2 – two full buses left from the Westchester headquarters – one of fifty-three people.
I felt lucky to find a seat on the left aisle next to a young woman named Gabriella. We chatted a bit – she teaches four and five-year olds pre kindergarten – and then decided to partner for the day. Having a partner at the registration sites was a requirement.
It took us around four hours to get to Las Vegas – I whiled away the time writing of course, reading, and dozing – I don’t go anywhere without my laptop even though I had to pack a little heavy to accommodate it. Just outside the city we stopped at a fast food neighborhood to buy lunch. I opted for Panda Express. I figured that was better than one of the other choices – McDonald’s. Our dining room was the bus.
We arrived at the Las Vegas office a little after eleven and received a wonderfully warm welcome. Plus, a training on how to ask people to register. Although our trip leaders, Holly and Jackie, gave us a half hour training on the bus, this training in Las Vegas included some role-playing. I found that especially helpful. Gabriella and I role-played together. We were also told that if we didn’t get at least fifty no’s, we weren’t doing our job. LOL!
And then we were off. About twelve of us got into Daniel’s van, and he took us to the sites where we would canvass, dropping off two and three people at a time. He dropped Gabriella and me at a mini mall complete with a market and a laundry at about noon at the height of the Las Vegas heat and sunshine. He said he’d pick us up at three.
That’s when the real work began. My first chore was to find a shady spot, which was near the laundry. That helped. Although I wore long sleeves under my Hillary tee, I needed maximum protection because the sun makes me itch. Besides two other canvassers from another group were standing outside the market in the full sun.
It turns out the laundry area attracted a steady stream of people and right away the no responses began. Some people were undocumented, some people were already registered, and some people said in no uncertain terms they would not vote, that they were fed up with this election or that their vote wouldn’t make a difference anyway. I greeted everyone the same way, smiling, calling out hello as I approached them, and asking them if they were registered to vote at their current address. I was also heartened that I got a young man to register within the first ten minutes of my first shift. The problem was I didn’t get the second registration until that shift was almost finished. Two registrations and a million or so no’s in three hours. Really about average for the job.
Dan drove us back to the office in between shifts for bathroom breaks, snacks, and sharing about our experiences. We also had to tally our results, turn in our completed forms, and pick up some new blank ones.
And then Dan took us out again to another site. This one also had a market with a security guard outside to make sure we didn’t canvass inside. I opted to station myself near the smoke shop – again in the shade. This was a busier spot than the laundry and in two hours time I registered four more people – for a total of six. Plus I ran out of forms. Of those four, one person checked Republican – I wish I didn’t waste a form on her, but we had to let them put down anything they wanted for party preference. However, the Democrats I registered were adamant Hillary supporters. That made it all feel worthwhile. Also, one of the people already registered signed up as a volunteer she was so enthusiastic about our girl.
Unfortunately, I had an hour to spare without a place to sit down. I walked around the mall several times tallying some much needed steps on my Fitbit and looked for a place to get a cup of tea – they didn’t even have a sit down place in the market except if I wanted to play the slot machines. So by the time of our late pick up, I was completely exhausted.
When we arrived at the office almost everyone was already waiting on the bus. Because of the hit and run, Gabriella and I were the stragglers. As a result we left about an hour late. That and having to make a dinner food stop, we didn’t get back to Westchester until one in the morning – about an hour and a half later than we had estimated. And you guessed it, we stopped at the same fast food emporium neighborhood. Gabriella and I went back for more Panda Express. This time I varied the dish with more veggies than fried rice and teriyaki chicken instead of chicken with green beans. After I ate – again on the bus with my plastic bag as a placemat – I was so full that I really couldn’t sleep much on our way back. I wrote and read again.
So what’s the bottom line? Was it worth the time? It was twenty-two hours from the time I woke up on Saturday morning until I got to bed on Sunday morning. And did we register enough folks to make it worth all the time we spent in Las Vegas?
I’d say a resounding yes. I met some great people, I learned something new, I spoke to some interesting people at the registration sites, I loved how we were welcomed and very much appreciated by the organizers and volunteers in Las Vegas, and I was stoked that our small group of fifty-three volunteers broke a record by registering two hundred and eleven people. My six registrations were about average though the champion on our bus registered thirteen. But even one is important. As Al Gore said in his speech this morning, every vote counts. And he should know.
If you haven’t yet, register, and then, don’t forget to vote!
Let’s make Hillary the next president of the United States of America!
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