In the past seven days, I have been amazed at the sheer efficiency and effectiveness of OFA. After maxing out on my donations, I decided to help with GOTV efforts. I was going to be home for a couple of weeks (I travel constantly for work), so what time better than this? Follow me below the orange squiggle and be amazed!
On October 28, I looked at the polls in PA (pretty stable) and the ones in Ohio (stable, but razor thin margin for the good guys), and decided I would go to Eastern Ohio this year instead of GOTV in western Pennsylvania. So I picked a random OFA office in Ohio (Columbus) and sent them an e-mail saying I wanted to go to Eastern Ohio to help with GOTV.
1) Within two hours, I got a response from the office that they were forwarding my e-mail to the Office of Out-of-State Volunteers for Ohio (yes, there is such a thing).
2) Within a few hours after that, I had an e-mail from the Office of Out-of-State Volunteers. They thanked me from my interest, asked if I could help with GOTV in Canton, Ohio, where they needed help. I replied "yes".
3) Within a couple of hours again, I heard from the volunteer coordinator for Stark County, Ohio. She thanked me, asked me if I needed a place to stay and/or transportation help. I said "no" to both, and asked for a nearby hotel. She responded immediately, and gave me her cell phone number in case I had any more questions, and said she looked forward to seeing me on election day.
4) Since I was going to be busy with GOTV on election day, I went downtown to vote "in person absentee". There was lots of activity there, with a steady stream of voters. In fact, they had about a dozen "polling" stations setup (you can pick up your absentee ballot, fill it out, and then turn it in right there). When I went in (took my mom with me), every station was busy and we had to wait to vote.
5) While waiting to go to Ohio, I went to the OFA website and signed up for a couple of canvassing sessions here in Pittsburgh.
6) Almost immediately, I got a call from OFA, telling me that the location I had signed up to go to was further from my home than the location at Carnegie Mellon University, which is steps away from my house. They also asked if I could sign up for more shifts closer to election day. I told the volunteer I was headed to Ohio, and he talked me into staying in Pennsylvania. He said that with Philly possibly being effected by Sandy, we really needed to GOTV in Pittsburgh. So I delayed my trip to Ohio to Monday, and decided to stay home this weekend and help here.
7) One hour before I was to go to my canvassing shift on Sat, I got a text message reminding me to go, and where to go, and a telephone number to call if I had any problems.
8) When I got to CMU, there were a group of enthusiastic students working to GOTV. A young man with an Eastern European accent was phone banking, another was doing data entry, a young lady was managing the volunteers. A steady stream of students was dispatched with Obama campaign materials. Six of us were told we were being "exported" to the outer edges of the city because our area was saturated with volunteers.
9) We were picked up in a van driven by a Teamster volunteer (he told us he was one of the 47%) and worked a second job in funeral home and was the deacon of his church. We drove to Braddock, PA, and were discharged at the Braddock office in a beautiful old home functioning as the OFA Braddock office.
10) We spent the next few hours knocking on door of likely Obama voters. Lots of people not at home, but EVERY single person we spoke to said they were voting for the good guys (this is a mixed AA/blue collar area: lots of small, well cared for homes all decorated for Halloween, which had been postponed to Saturday because of Sandy).
11) When we were done, we called the OFA office and they sent another guy to pick us up. Back at the office, there was pizza and fruit and homemade salsa. While we waited for others from our group to show up, I did some data entry (update the list of doors knocked on, who was home, who was not, what was the level of support of people we spoke to, and there was a Notes field for information such as "there is no longer a house at this location").
12) We were all driven home by another teamster volunteer.
13) An hour or so later, I got a "Thank you" text from the campaign, with another reminder of my GOTV shift today.
14) And this morning, I woke up when I heard the "beep" signalling a new text message. It was OFA reminding me of my shift today!
I will close by saying how wonderful it was to hang out with the bright young students yesterday. Their enthusiasm was amazing, and gave me so much hope for our future!
8:47 AM PT: First time on Rec List! Thank you, everyone! I have lurked here for years, and went into withdrawal when the site was down recently.
9:44 AM PT: I am headed out the door for my 1 PM EST shift, but wanted to add one more thing: back in July, POTUS came to CMU to speak. When we got the tickets, OFA made us fill out postcards pledging to vote. This week, those cards started arriving via U.S. Mail. What a nice reminder from the past from ourselves to ourselves!
2:57 PM PT: Just got back from another day of canvassing and data entry. Today, it was an AA neighborhood. I did not realize how segregated parts of my city are: not one Caucasian person in that neighborhood. Today, I also saw some of the difficulties facing our team: a 21-year old first time voter who said she was for sure voting for Obama, and thought she was registered, but we could not find her in the database. A 97-year old home-bound gentleman who sent in a request for absentee ballot, but never received one, and who REALLY wanted to vote for Obama one more time. So please, do all you can to help GOTV.