Election Day Countdown: Day 3

Greetings from the Mount Laurel Democratic Headquarters! Last week I received a call from a woman from these headquarters who asked if I would like to come make calls on Saturday morning. At first I was hesitant and told her I would have to check my schedule. I reached for my calendar and saw that I was free, so I responded “yes.” I was excited to be able to help in such an important election and in one that I myself cannot vote in. This morning came along, much anticipated, and so I gathered my notebook, the directions I wrote down to get to headquarters and my personal chauffeur-a.k.a. my mother.Our journey was relatively short, despite getting lost in the Atrium. As soon as we saw a bombardment of John Adler signs, we knew we were in the right place. After saying “good morning” to an elderly couple, we entered the building, and were greeted by three desks in an L-shape and two twenty-something year-olds. The young woman’s laptop had an Adler sticker, an Obama-Biden sticker, an “Ask me how many houses I own” sticker and a couple more. She asked us to sign in and, if we didn’t mind, traveling a couple more minutes to a satellite location. The young man, your typical awkward geek dressed in Gap, gave us a printed Google map with the number of the man stationed at the location we were being sent to. I was disappointed, for that was the extent of my visit to the actual Democratic Headquarters. My mom and I walked back out to the car, and my mom commented, “I love driving around,” in a sarcastic tone, which my mother uses reservedly.

The satellite location to which we were assigned was the Guardian Insurance building on the corner of North Maple and Route 70. This was not what I had expected: I expected around fifty people, all seated in cubicles, making calls from lists and everything being hunky-dory. Not to say that things weren’t hunky-dory, but my whole idea of what this experience would be ended up being my mother and I seated at mahogany desks, mine in the back facing a wall and hers right next to the door of the building, with rolling desk chairs and a typical office phone. There were only four other people in the building with us, and they were upstairs. One was the satellite location leader named Marshall, who actually graduated from Cherry Hill East, another was a man in his thirties and the other two were women in their sixties who were all very friendly. In my mother and I’s isolated world of the first floor of what I thought to be this random building, I succeeded in making 57 calls in 90 minutes.

I was assigned Line #4, given a list of about 75 names and I received a script of what to say to the people on my list. The first call I made was to a registered Democrat who said he would “definitely” be voting, and voting Democrat. The next was less encouraging, with someone who said they were “straight Republican.” Throughout the 90 minutes I made calls, I was hung up on four times; the remainder of the recipients of my calls were either highly amused by my efforts or highly annoyed by my efforts. About an hour in, I went over to my mother, feeling defeated and purposeless in this campaign again, and said I couldn’t do this anymore. She responded: “Avra, your ego can take it. These calls matter, even if you only inspired one person to vote. Every vote counts. Let’s see how you do if we stay another half an hour.”

I was embarrassed that I had given up so easily, and agreed to stay that half hour. Within that half hour, I made calls with slightly different results. I decided to vary what I said on the script in an effort to not sound like a machine, and to try to show recipients through the telephone line that I actually cared about them and not just their vote; thus adding a “how are you?”. Although there was the occasional rude recipient, one saying “forget about it,” there was another woman I called who was gung-ho about voting Democrat in this election. She said: “Even if Jesus were running as the Republican ticket, I wouldn’t vote for him. I’ll never vote Republican again for the rest of my life.” This was quite encouraging, as was another comment made by a recipient of my call, saying: “Sick or not sick, I’ll be there.” The last call I made was to a 27-year-old female, who promised to vote Democrat and that she was already registered and ready. I was just glad the calls I made ended on a positive note.

Of the Mt. Laurel citizens I called, most were between the ages of 50 and 80 years old, which was intimidating for me, a mere 15-year-old. However, making calls was a way I could be involved, since I’m not eligible to vote (regrettably). Although I haven’t made plans for Election Day yet, I know that making calls through the Democratic Headquarters is an option. However, I would much rather stand on the street with an Obama sign, trying to get passing cars to see that people like me care about their votes. Either way, getting involved beyond just voting is helpful to each campaign. One of the main lessons I learned from my experience of making calls today was that even though I can’t vote in this election, I can influence others to do so.

With two more days until Election Day, I implore you to follow my example, and get out there and get involved, and OF COURSE to vote on Election Day. Voting is a privilege, so take advantage of it, because those of us who can’t vote are envious of your ability and opportunity.