Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election day impressions

I spent most of the day on the front lines of the No on Prop. 8 campaign, greeting voters and handing out hand cards at a San Bruno polling station at a middle school.

(In case you're not a Californian, Prop. 8 would overturn the recent California Supreme Court decision allowing gays to wed.)

Here are my election day impressions:
  • We Prop. 8 volunteers got lots of "thumbs up" from voters and passing drivers. We could tell they were really glad to see us when they honked their horns or took both hands off the steering wheel to give us two "thumbs up."
  • We decided to "kill them with kindness." We smiled and wished everyone a wonderful day, even if they told us they were voting "yes" on 8. We even smiled and waved at drivers who stopped to yell abuse at us (yes, there were several of those).
  • I expected a majority of younger people would support us, but I was pleased to see how many older men and women also told us they were voting no on 8.
  • About two-thirds of the people we greeted said, "You've got my vote." About 20-25 percent avoided us, ignored us, or waved us off. About 5 percent were rude or abusive.
  • One man, already in line (and thus out of reach) when we got to the polling station around 7 a.m., stopped on his way out to tell us how happy he was to see us there. I thought he was going to hug me.
  • One middle-aged woman and her husband stopped to say she's been angry ever since she first heard about Prop. 8. Saying it was "unfair," said she'd been waiting to vote against it.
  • One guy drove up around noon on a motorcycle, thanked us for being there, and gave us some homemade rice krispie bars. They were good.
  • I helped several people maneuver into tight parallel parking spaces on the street outside the polling station. One of them, when I handed him the No on 8 hand card, told me he wasn't that thrilled with the idea of gay marriage, but since it was now law, he was going to vote no on Prop. 8.
  • Big domestic model pick-up trucks and SUVs usually indicated "Yes on 8" voters.
  • A surprising number of people (8-10) questioned our presence outside the polling place. Several times I had to tell someone that we had indeed checked with the precinct captain and we were well outside the 100-foot limit.
  • A sizable proportion of Yes on 8 voters seemed angry, some downright nasty.
  • Many Yes on 8 voters couldn't seem to just pass us by or wave us off; they had to stop and taunt us, saying "you're going to lose because we voted yes" or the like.
  • Several Yes on 8 voters stopped their vehicles in the middle of the street yell out their windows at us. Some just yelled "Yes on 8" at us. Some yelled, "You're gonna lose; you're going down." One woman told us to repent because we were going to hell. So it goes.
  • Our "No on 8" stickers were a hot item with middle-school students. We gave out all we had and wished we had more. A good sign for the future.

1 comment:

Jean said...

Good on ya! I always feel like I'd just be "preaching to the choir" if I were to campaign for certain issues or candidates in this area. And campaigning somewhere like the central valley would probably get me mugged.

My "Buzzkill" post was distilled from six notebook pages of furious longhand stream-of-consciousness that I was scribbling during every spare moment of Nov. 5... on the train, between classes, on the train again... If Prop 4 had passed, too, my writing hand would have eventually needed to be amputated.