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What it takes to reach Ohio's last undecided voter isn't in Andrew Lewis' script.
By Andrew Lewis
It's election eve, and I'm working a phone bank in California. Forty-five minutes before the polls close, the autodialer beeps and on my screen appears the name of a woman in Ohio.
"Hello," she says. She sounds tired. I explain that I'm calling from the Obama campaign and that I want to make sure she got out to vote.
"No," she says. "I didn't."
I stop and I ask her why.
"I don't know who to vote for," she confesses. "I just don't know enough about the candidates to make a good decision." I hold my earbuds close to my head and strain to hear above the noise around me.
"You've just made my day," I tell her. "I can't believe I'm actually talking to an undecided voter in Ohio. I didn't know there were any of you left."
The woman laughs. I ask if there was something in particular she didn't like about the president. "It's hard to talk about," she says. She struggles and then declares, "I don't like gays. And I don't like abortions."
Those are deeply held beliefs tied to God and religion. Phone bank instructions are to cut bait and take the next call. But I don't. Instead I listen. I'm surrounded by the buzz in the campaign office. Virginia is closing and the folks on paper lists are dialing as fast as they can.
"I care about people," she continues. "And I want to help people out. It seems Obama wants to do that, too."
We're together and yet a huge divide separates us.
"You know," I finally say, "given how you feel about those first two issues, I can see how it's hard to support the president."
"It is", she says.
"But it's good you're thinking about it," I say. "Thank you for being nice. So many people have been calling into your state and you've been really gracious. You didn't have to do that."
She tells me it's been hard. And then she adds, "Where's my polling place?"
With a Perspective, I'm Andrew Lewis.
Andrew Lewis is a blogger and screenwriter. He lives in Sebastopol.