Doing Their Part II
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Editor's note: AlterNet asked readers to write about the work they have done to educate, register and mobilize voters among their families, friends and local communities, and we ran an article recently to share their stories so that other readers might learn from their techniques and get inspired to do the same. But one article didn't seem to be enough, since we received such a large response. The following is another collection of readers' accounts of what they have done in this election. Some of the responses were partisan, while others were just about registering voters.
If you have your own success story, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are members of Central Nebraska Peace Workers. Nebraska's third-largest city is Grand Island, and it is the host of the Harvest of Harmony Parade on the first weekend of October. We brought 200 voter registration forms to the parade and set up a table on the street to work the crowd. We asked if people had registered to vote. Most had, but many had not. We passed the forms to those who hadn't and explained how to fill them out and where to mail them, and what the deadline was. We handed out 156 forms to unregistered voters.
Central Nebraska Peace Workers
St. Paul, Neb.
I carry a ream of paper around with me where ever I go. And when people tell me, "My Vote Doesn't Count" or "I'm don't care about voting," I pass them a single sheet of paper and ask them to hold it on their hand with their arm outstretched and see how long they can hold it – which is always longer than a minute. Then I hand them a ream of paper and ask them to do the same thing. When they protest at the weight, I tell them, "A ream of paper is just 500 individual sheets – just one sheet stacked on top of another. And that's the same with votes. They have real weight."
I am an artist/advocate and long-time member of The Farm (since '71) near Summertown, Tenn. and PeaceRoots Alliance since 2001.
I think that the American people need to change their hiring practices regarding the American government and start working for a better world. One of the projects I have been involved in has been to design billboards and get them displayed across the country. The first one I designed was a dove in front of the American flag with the words "Peace is Patriotic." We had around 50 displayed around the country during 2002 and 2003, and one is still up in the Bay area. This year, I designed an image for posters and billboards of Lady Liberty sleeping with the words "Wake up America! VOTE for change." There are over 60 billboards of this, along with bus shelter boards, bus signs and thousands of posters across the country. Check out peaceroots.org to see the designs, where the billboards are going up, and other projects.
I actually convinced two different people to vote for John Kerry. One of them wasn't going to vote at all, and the other was planning to vote for Bush.
The argument that I have used with people is about talking to people about the Supreme Court. A lot of people don't think that the president can make a big difference in the economy or their lives in just four years. However, the Supreme Court justices are appointed for life.
I let people know that in the next four years, at least one Supreme Court Justice will retire and need to be replaced. If Bush wins, he will nominate a candidate similar to the ones he's tried to put on the federal bench – and that means we are in trouble for the next 30-40 years.
This argument has scared the people I've talked to enough to change their minds. I simply cannot fathom how anyone who has a clue about civil rights issues in this country could allow George Bush to be re-elected. Gay rights, women's rights, the environment and even worker's rights are being decimated by the government, and the only thing that can help is keeping the Supreme Court on the sane side of these issues.
As someone who only recently gained an interest in politics and voting myself, I have attempted to share with friends and family the importance of voting. I update the people in my life as best I can about current issues not covered in the mainstream media. My biggest breakthrough has come with my mother. At age 51, she had never voted before, or had any real interest in politics outside of the nightly news. I began questioning her about politics to stir her thought and encourage debate. At first, she saw no difference between Bush and Kerry, but using information I have gathered from books, magazines and even AlterNet, I have convinced her to register to vote for the first time in her life.
Colby S. Green
I am a military mom. My husband is in the U.S. Navy. A few months ago, I had a brunch at my home to educate some of the other wives from my husband's boat about the presidential candidates, the issues and absentee voting. It was a nice afternoon of conversation and even some debating. However, I was happy that although some of the wives may have disagreed with each other, everyone who attended said that they were better informed than before the brunch, and all planned to vote in November.