13 October 2012


I registered 13 people to vote today, which means that my civic duty is done for approximately forever, or at least until three weeks from now when I get to vote. (I wrote "have to" there first, but we are not required to vote in this country. Can you imagine how that would go over?)

I signed up through the Obama campaign. In State of Happiness, political parties can do voter registration drives even while displaying their logo. And I did: I wore an Obama/Biden sticker, and I stood in the middle of the farmers market, and I asked people if they needed to update their voter registration ("Change of address? Have you moved recently?"), and 13 of them said yes. 

What you are not allowed to do is only register members of one party, and I would have a problem with that anyway. I think democracy is a good thing. (Listen to me sounding like a US ambassador overseas.) So I registered a bunch of "No party affiliation" people and one or two Democrats and one Republican (which actually surprised me, given the solid blueness of this town). 

Somehow I thought there would be more camaraderie involved, like maybe a whole group of people laughing and drinking coffee together and then dispersing in pairs? But I might be thinking of canvassing, c. 2008 when we were all just so desperate to see the end of the Bushie era. 

Instead I got a brief orientation and was sent out essentially on my own.

It took a little while to get used to continually smiling and talking to people who barely looked back, most of them. You have to be okay with inserting yourself into someone's conversation. At first I just sort of stood there, in the middle of the aisle between stalls, turning in circles, hoping people would come up to me. 

They did not.

So I went to them.

I ran out of the 11 forms the Obama campaign had given me, so I went and found another woman over on the other block. She gave me a few more, and I went back to my prime location.

Young people are the most likely to need to update their voter registration, I discovered. I suppose this is because they move more often. After a while, I only asked the older people out of courtesy. Most of them said things like, "I've lived in the same place for fifteen years." Well, then. You're probably fine.

13 registrations is apparently pretty good. The other person on my time slot got 3, and the woman who started an hour after me had 1 when I left. I don't know whether to credit this to the crossroads where I planted myself, or if I just had better luck as a not-old person. Maybe it was easier for me to talk to younger people because I am (relatively) younger. 

I'm not sure that I would say that it was fun, exactly, but it felt meaningful, and that is always a nice feeling.

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