I just had to take action in this election, but I was unsure how. When I read Fran's post "Registering the Homeless," BINGO! I knew that would be it. Since all my volunteer work is currently with homeless U.S. citizens, it was a perfect fit. I went to the auditor's office, got the forms and learned about deadlines.
What an inspiration it was! Last week during an all-staff meeting, my husband and I filled in for the shelter supervisors. Mr. B.E. answered the phone and handled the desk while I mingled in the day shelter room with my forms and my offer.
Eyes sparked to life, faces lit up when I asked people if they'd like to register. They did not hesitate. They actually thanked me profusely at times.
"This will be the first time I've voted," one man about my age remarked. "This is an historic election. I'm going to vote! Do you know who I'm going to vote for? Obama. He is one smart Black man."
A guy at the next table, overhearing this announcement, chimed in promptly, "He's a smart man. You can end it right there. He is a smart man."
The first man, duly noting the internalized racism of his remark, agreed. "You are right. He is one of the brothers. And he is smart."
"The New York Times endorsed Obama this morning," one homeless man informed me excitedly.
Seeing the shining pride and enthusiasm, I literally got goosebumps. The low-grade depression that often hangs like a pall over the room was lifted: "I'm registered!" "I've already voted." "I voted absentee."
My registration effort was entirely nonpartisan, of course. But people may declare a party as they register, and except for one "Undeclared," all registered as "Democrat." Many openly stated they would vote for Obama.
I felt safe enough to share my concern, a concern I've voiced repeatedly on the blogs: "I'm worried that people will not vote for Obama simply because he is African-American."
Emphatically one man responded, "If Obama could beat Hillary in Iowa, a state that is 93% Caucasian. If he could win here. In Iowa! Then he can win."
Relieved by this reasoning, full of hope and uplifted, I carried out those forms to submit them to the county officials.