Tuesday, November 4, 2008

MAINE VOTER STORY: Organizing Makes Voting Possible

We were all really moved by this story from Amy Halsted with Maine People's Alliance, the statewide grassroots organization in Maine. It's the story of a woman who would not have voted without the intervention of a community organizer. And don't think for a second this is the exception to the rule. We already heard Evelyn's story in Washington State, too. Just a few of the examples of how neighbor-to-neighbor voter organizing makes an immediate and lasting difference.

This is a photo of a woman who I brought to vote today. Her story is a great example of how important our all our hard work this summer and fall has been!

She called the MPA office when she got home this afternoon and saw she missed a call from a number she didn’t recognize (she was someone we registered this summer). I answered her call and explained that we were just calling folks to remind them how important it is to vote today and to offer rides to the polls. I asked her if she had voted yet.

She told me she had tried to vote at the local school where the rest of her family votes, but they turned her away saying she had to go down to city hall since she no longer lives in the same house with her extended family. She was worried about finding a parking space near City Hall—she told me last time she tried to park in that area of the city she got a $100 ticket that took her forever to pay off.

She had decided, before we spoke, not to vote.

I told her I could bring her to City Hall and wait outside in my car while she voted and then take her back home, and she agreed. In the car, I learned that she was born in Africa, has lived in America for 12 years, and is one semester away from getting her degree in social work from University of Southern Maine. She’s a single mom of a four-year-old boy and has another baby due in March. She lives in a housing development in Portland and told me how hard it has been to make it through school with a young child and how much she wants a president that will fight for people like her who are working hard and just trying to make a better life for their families.

Since she has moved three times this year and didn’t have proof of her current address, it took her 40 minutes to fill out the paperwork, register and vote (and there wasn’t even a line!). When I dropped her off at home afterwards, she thanked me profusely and said how good she felt that she had taken the time to do it!

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