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New York Votes and Volunteers

Up at 6:00am this morning, voted at 6:15am. Things were very busy at my polling station, a real sense of occasion. The lady next to me was congratulating a first-time voter, about voting in *this* particular election. I actually teared up a bit.

Billboard in the East Village

Billboard in the East Village

Here is a picture of my local polling site. Lines have shortened a bit since the early morning, and everything seems to be going well.

Sirovich polling site in the East Village

Sirovich polling site in the East Village

Afterwards I headed down to the Bowery Hotel, where there is an ongoing phone bank effort to call voters in Virginia. Apparently the McCain campaign is saying that voters have to be at the polls an hour before they close, which is not true. The phone banking campaign is all about convincing non-voters that they can still make a difference, and that they need to get to the polls.

Interestingly, the intensity of calling operation has gone up a notch: in contrast to previous phone banks, here we are asked to keep calling voters on our list until we get through, instead of leaving a message or flagging them as “not home”.

Obama phone bank at the Bowery Hotel

Obama phone bank at the Bowery Hotel

Initially we were calling voters in Virginia, urging them to vote. However, about an hour and a half before polls closed in Florida, we got an urgent message from the campaign HQ in Chicago that some precincts in Florida were not turning out in the numbers expected, and that we should drop everything and start calling Florida. I speak Spanish, so I was in the middle of a group of other volunteers, who would pass calls to me when the person on the other end didn’t speak English.

The sign stuck to my jacket says I Speak Spanish

The sign stuck to my jacket says "I Speak Spanish"

Things really picked up speed, with campaign staff urging people to keep calling right up until the polls closed. A couple of voters reported incidents of fraud, especially in nursing homes where patients were pressured to sign empty ballots. This was reported to the campaign HQ, which responded in a matter of minutes, calling the voter back and documenting what had happened.

Volunteers still calling Florida at 6:45pm

Volunteers still calling Florida at 6:45pm

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