Working the Vote

2 min
at 11:43 PM
Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

Tuesday is election day and Marilyn Englander is among the legion of volunteers urging their fellow citizens to not sit this one out.

I’ve been volunteering at a phone bank to get out the vote. Though I hate getting those calls myself and didn’t want to do it, I needed to calm my worries about voter apathy.

The first day I reported to an empty store downtown re-purposed for election work. Creaking wood floors, a dusty smell, flickering fluorescent lights.

At tables along the wall, 30 people were hunched over laptops, peering at the screens. There was hardly a soul under 70 but a buzz of youthful energy filled the air.

Someone showed me the ropes and I settled in. At the next table, a woman very hard of hearing was shouting into her phone: “Hello! I’m a fellow citizen urging you to vote on November 6. Are you aware of this important election?” Very earnest.

Sponsored

Eavesdropping on other volunteers, I was surprised – actually humbled --- by how informed they were, and their passion as they reached out to folks hundreds of miles away in districts I couldn’t locate on a map. It was inspiring.

Nervously I dialed my first number – no answer. I felt relief. The second --- no answer. And a third...When finally someone did pick up, I was past my dread. I felt useful.

A 60-ish woman proudly informed me, “I haven’t voted since Nixon --- vowed I never would again --- but here I am lecturing my nieces and making them promise to come with me to the polls. I’m in again!”

A 40-year-old man admitted he didn’t much like his choice of candidates, but he sure wasn’t going to sit it out this time. He had opinions to voice. Several twenty-somethings were grateful for advice on how to vote. A 93-year-old crowed, “Don’t worry! I already voted.”

All around me volunteers were chatting amiably, often laughing. The atmosphere was warm. Hopeful. Energized.

Connecting to other citizens --- in that noisy room and across the miles --- eased my mind. It also renewed my faith in government... by the people.

With a Perspective, this is Marilyn Englander.

Marilyn Englander is a North Bay educator and founder of REAL SchoolMarin.