Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CALIFORNIA VOTER TURNOUT: Serenading New Voters to the Polls in LA

Here's a great story from our partners at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). Adapting a song that's sung on birthdays to Election Day was a very creative strategy for getting people to vote early this morning -- and it worked too!

At least two dozen of us nervously stood outside Ms. Rosario’s home preparing to sing “las mañanitas del votante” (Voter’s Serenade) to whomever swung the front door open. It’s 5 a.m. on Tuesday, November 4. Accompanied by two acoustic guitarists, these Get Out The Vote volunteers, many of them immigrants unable to vote themselves, cleared their throats and belted away. With energy and gusto, the troubadours sang to the best of their ability urging neighbors to come out and vote.

“Estas son las mañanitas, que cantamos para ti, para los nuevos votantes, que votamos aquí. Despierta el voto despierta, mira que ya amaneció, porque nuestros votos cuentan, para una justa nación.”

The song is based on an old tradition that matches foolishness and love accompanied by mariachi at the base of someone’s window to “awaken them” from their restful sleep. In our case, the song was clearly a motivational ballad aimed at encouraging voting and reminding voters that our community’s voice can in fact impact our nation’s future.

The targets of our singing, first time voters, came out smiling and a bit embarrassed. Who wouldn’t be taken aback by the sight of 20 or so individuals struggling to stay in synch with the two harmonious guitars? Media outlets accompanying our group captured every moment and the reporters would gather the persons’ first impressions: how did you like the serenade, will you go out and vote, is this your first time voting. Yes was the answer to all the enquiries and the impromptu chorus beamed with pride.

For the younger neighbors, the singers also offered the following song:

“Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Voter John, Voter Jill, Morning polls are open, morning polls are open. Go and vote. Go and vote”.

After six first time voters accepted our offer to vote at 7 a.m. we marched along with them the length of a football field and we cheered them on as they entered the polling place, Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Again, the smiles were broad and our energy heightened when each voter emerged from the building, an “I Voted” sticker, red as a beating heart.

Photo Credit: Mayron Payes

No comments: