Wednesday, September 24, 2008

signing up

We are spending the week doing outreach, helping register homeless folks to vote. There are a lot of incorrect myths about voting rights, some folks think you need a home or can't have a record but the truth is you don't need a home as long as you've got an address for mail and we simply let everyone use ours. The folks who've tangled with the law have rights too. They don't always realize that, they think one offense taints them forever. Clever propaganda maybe, but just not true so education about the law has been half of our efforts so far.

I've been working the table for two days now and I've seen the range of politically astute folks who no matter their housing situation proudly vote every single year to ones who have never voted in their lives and are signing up for the first time because we are asking them to. Because this is being conducted through work we are unable to participate in any partisan activities, which means I'm simply registering folks and not talking politics but politics are being talked all the same by the folks signing up, folks for the most part seem to be voting Democratic but there are a few fans of the GOP, die hard conservatives sleeping on the streets.

Only one heated argument broke out, we had to ask the two dudes to take it outside, one was carrying on about moose killing (he was a fan) and the other was trying not to lose his mind. But my favorite moment was when I approached an elderly African American man who when asked if he's registered smiled as broadly as you could imagine. Oh yes, child, yes. I'm already registered. You see, I've been waiting for this moment my entire life.

I've talked to over 100 people these last two days and what I've learned is what I already know, these folks deserve much more credit than America gives them, as we push them to the side of the street and chase them out of our parks we forget that they have a voice and a right to use it.

When you are inside the voting booth no one knows if you have a home or not. It's that one moment in time where everyone is equal and everyone gets to have their say and that's what I like best about this, encouraging folks to seize that no matter their circumstances because this is their right, their freedom, and while poverty takes away almost everything that matters it doesn't get to take away that.


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24 comments:

KLS said...

I'm so glad you're doing this.

Little Monkies said...

Chills. Total chills.

patches said...

People who need the loudest voice for their needs, are the one who can't afford to hire a lobbyist. It's a good thing they have you.

Denguy said...

Yes, well said.
Everyone's vote has the same weight--from the richest to the poorest--all the same.

Sober Briquette said...

this past Saturday I sat with to a group of young Latinas at our kids' soccer game and their talk turned to the election.

some of these girls, mothers of six and seven year olds, are just now old enough to vote and are trying to figure it all out, from how to get registered to who to vote for and why they should even care.

Me talking to them felt like coaxing a wild animal close enough to feed it without scaring it.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

Wonderful post. I linked to it in mine.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Bravo! This is so, so important. Thank you for using your time in this way.

Oh, The Joys said...

You make me believe...

Yes. We. Can.

Bungi said...

I have begun to think about 'voice' a bit. That is something i have either taken for granted or did not delineate and think about it specifically...

Anyways, we are working with another organization that are working with children to make their voices heard... If you are interested, can give you the link to some of the short-films they've made. Pretty much in the Indian context. Let me know if you want to have a peek.

And we're talking US politics here as well. :-)

painted maypole said...

i love you and what you do! Thank you!

and that man. waiting all his like for the time when he could vote for someone who looks like him. fantastic (and of course, that's not a good ONLY reason to vote for someone, but it's a cool thing none the less)

Gwen said...

Good for you, jen. And for them.

Deezee said...

simply put, I'm applauding.

meno said...

Way to fight the myths!!

luckyzmom said...

Thank you for doing this.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Oh, that man! Waiting his whole life. Oh, my heart.

You continue to amaze me.

Omaha Mama said...

You rock!
I've been talking to my students about their right to vote. I've got two that are of age and I've been bugging them to register, I just don't know if they really will. I need to beef up my knowledge of the law, their rights, and what accommodations, if any, are there for people with intellectual disabilities to help them vote. You've fired me up, so your reach goes much further than you know!

Amy Y said...

I love that you're helping them get registered... Thank you for what you are doing.

Expatriate Chef said...

Amen. But, oh, am I scared if this one goes the wrong way. Very. Scared. Wrote a little something for the Just Posts back at my place.

crazymumma said...

Would it be alright if I planted a big wet smacking kiss full on your gorgeous lips?

hele said...

You are my hero*

motherbumper said...

"It's that one moment in time where everyone is equal and everyone gets to have their say". Hell yes.

Jill said...

Way to go Jen!

expatswede said...

Fantastic post. As a European following the (republican) election campaign with utter disbelief and horror, I can only say; well done.

Hetha said...

And this is why I love you and your blog. You've got it going on sister.