CEM is pleased to be bringing you dispatches from Indiana, courtesy of our intern Christina Arrison, who is working with the Obama campaign. This is the fourth in the series.
Canvassing on election day is usually pretty fun because at that point the universe of voters you’re communicating with has been narrowed to consist almost entirely of strong supporters and undecided people who lean heavily towards your candidate. It’s an exhilarating feeling to go to a neighborhood and find that everyone you’re talking to supports your candidate. It can make it a little more heartbreaking if your campaign loses, though, because after spending a lot of time with staffers and volunteers and talking to supportive voters, a win begins to feel inevitable. Today definitely felt like that – I walked this afternoon in a mostly African American neighborhood where at least two thirds of the adults I saw at their doors and out on the street were wearing "I Voted" stickers. Most of the rest said they were heading out later in the afternoon. It was a really great way to end my time talking to Indiana voters.
In terms of other election day observations, I thought that there were too many gaffes on the part of election officials. This year many polling locations were changed in Indianapolis for the first time in years, and the Obama campaign found this morning that in most of the old places there was nothing to indicate where the new location was. The campaign dispatched people to stay by the old polls and direct voters to their correct location, but while the authorities don’t have a legal responsibility to post the new address, it seems to me like that’s a simple step that could improve voter access immensely. Many of our canvassers also talked to people today who registered before the deadline but were told that they were not on the voter rolls. Instead of the poll workers telling them that they could cast provisional ballots, many of them were simply turned away. While the last time I was able to check the news there thankfully hadn’t been reports of major problems, like running out of ballots or broken down voting machines, I’m frustrated because it seems like these minor mistakes are repeated each election. And now that I know firsthand how difficult it can be to win over each vote, and how excited many new registrants are to cast their first ballot, it angers me even more to see even one person turned away. We all need to do a lot of work before November to ensure that the voting process goes smoothly everywhere across the country.
But now that the polls have closed all there is to do is wait. And clean up. And sleep. And hopefully celebrate! I have to head back to Baltimore so I won’t be able to see the returns in Indianapolis, but maybe by the time I land we’ll have a winner, or at least be close to knowing. No matter what happens, I’ve had a great time working on this campaign, and thanks to CEM for the chance to post my observations!