Monday, May 30, 2005

OK, I have to go, or I'll get arrested

Allan Oliver tries to introduce Deb Callahan

The crowd tries to get a look at Deb

Deb Callahan visited our office in October

Leave me alone!

Tiffany takes a little nap...and Riley and I try to annoy her

Sometime around the middle of October I allowed two middle aged women to talk me into getting a tattoo of a Donkey on my ass. If I stetch forward it looks like a giraffe, if I stretch backwards it looks like a goat, and if I stand just right it looks like a donkey. Good thing tattoos aren't permanent.

The ladies opted to get the tattoos on thier shoulders

Every good Democrat should have a Donkey tattooed on their ass

These are my tattoo buddies, Marla from Bulgaria and Jonie from Texas (I know the spelling on that is wrong)

This is the schmoozing part of the community canvass. Notice how every volunteer is talking to a staff member. Good work, guys.

the mole...she's really a Republican

Dustin is talking to a reporter from the New York Times

Riley stuffing his face...

Local activist Dick Bachelor gave teh volunteers a pep talk before they went canvassing

From one of the last community canvasses

A bunch of links about EVP

Here are a couple of stories that I have found about EVP. I'm sure that there are a lot more out there...if you find them, just put the link in one of the comments.

Phoebe Cohen and John Coggin interviewed by The Ledger at the Vote for Change Concert.

American University article on canvassing with EVP in Orlando.

Gainesville newspaper reporting on the DC trip to Orlando.

Deep's blog entry during the final push.

Lucy, Dustin, Alex, and Powell recruiting in Texas during the second hurricane.

An independent journalist's take on EVP.

A blog entry from Kurt, a volunteer from Texas.

Michael Rutkowsky reports on EVP. (Mike uses one of my photos without giving me credit! bastardo!)

Justin Allegro hitting the turf in Orlando two days before the election.

A Georgetown student reports on his EVP experience.

Yet another Texan reports on EVP.

They came all the way from Oregon.

Local high school student's experience at LCV.

A student at Yale on the end of the campaign.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Early Voting

There is a law in Florida that requires each county to allow voters to vote up to two weeks early. Orange County had over 10 early voting locations. Getting people to vote early was a big part of our Get Out The Vote the end it actually worked. Orange County ended up being won by John Kerry. The Republicans did a fantastic job of getting people to vote absentee and Democrats did a fantastic job of getting people to vote early.

On the first day of early voting, LCV teamed up with ACORN to host an early voting awareness rally. We met up in Lake Eola and then marched to the early voting site in the downtown library. There was a ton of media, including a TV crew from Japan.

Here is an article leading up to the Early Voting rally.

Mik and Jess

Mik and Angelo

No Blood for Oil...but coffee is OK

The TLs and Ben

Kali, Jourdan, Lucy, Steve, Riley, and Angelo, but where's Matt?

This is the lone Bush supporter being interviewed by Jess

There was one Bush supporter at our event...just one

I think the flag is a nice touch...its hanging in my bedroom right now

oh, liberal hippies

Bush sucks!

Yeah, that's media

More Media


FOX News?! Who invited them?

The State Director has something important to say

Oh, Allan

I think we can bank a couple of votes for Kerry with this crowd

got ID?

In line to vote

The TLs vote!

On the first day of voting the line was literally out the door

Which way?

Which way to early voting?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The big DC trip

This never would have happened if we hadn't been hit by four hurricanes.

During the second hurricane, most of the LCV staff evacuated Florida and went recruiting for EVP in Texas, Georgia, DC, and Philly. Thanks to Shirin, Steve, and Ed, somewhere around 300-400 college students came down to canvass in Orlando the weekend before our final GOTV push.

We put them up in villas out by Disney in Osceola County. These were the type of houses that Europeans rent out for a couple of weeks when they vacation in Florida. Most of the villas were pretty swanky, with hot tubs, pools, and over-sized bathtubs. Those college kids made out pretty well.

The LCV office rented over a dozen 15 passenger vans to take these kids out canvassing. I ended up in charge of a house of about 40 kids and out of that 40, I took about 12 out canvassing on Friday and Saturday. It was one hell of a drive from the housing to turf. The first day we canvassed out by UCF and on the second day we canvassed in Seminole county.

In addition to running the huge canvass out of Osceola County, we also ran a regular community canvass out of the main office. It was quite an undertaking. I didn't even sleep one of the nights because there was so much work to be done.

After canvassing on Saturday we took all of the kids to Downtown Disney for some fun. We made them all stand in front of Planet Hollywood for a mini-rally...then we set them free.

The DC trip from the point of view of a couple of American University students

Stumping through pumpkins in 'Kerry country'
Students for Kerry joins the League of Conservation Voters for one last push in Florida
By Megan Slack & Jen Turner

ORLANDO, Fla. - The October sun set over Washington last Thursday as 275 D.C.-area college students were loaded onto five massive motor coaches. After taking part in a brief rally led by the League of Conservation Voters, we were all fired up for the supposed 13-hour bus ride from the George Washington University campus to our weekend villas in Orlando. The next two days were promised to be a whirlwind frenzy of canvassing as part of a massive grassroots campaign for Sen. John Kerry.

The League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental organization that gives grades to presidents and government officials based on their record. President Bush is the first president in history to receive an "F" from the league, whereas Kerry has a long-standing grade of "A." Because of this huge discrepancy, the LCV has chosen to endorse Kerry for president, and has rallied countless volunteers in a few battleground states - such as Ohio, New Mexico, Oregon and Florida - in a mass attempt to get Kerry into the Oval Office. With the election only days away, the LCV organized the trip from D.C. to Orlando with the goal of talking to 50,000 voters in one weekend.

Fast-forward to 3 a.m. No one is sure what state we're in, but solid bets are being placed on South Carolina. Up and down the aisles of the AU bus, people had been working for hours to find sleep that wouldn't come. They wriggled around while they tried to find some position comfortable enough to doze for a few minutes, which proved to be no easy task. The most ambitious (or desperate) used pillows and blankets to stretch out beneath the seats or in the aisles. The more affectionate relied on the buddy system, resting their heads on the shoulder of the person next to them, stranger or not, and snuggled up for the ride. And the more rational leaned back, closed their eyes, and prayed for a Starbucks when we got to Orlando.

At 8:30 a.m., our bus pulled into a rest stop in a town called Brunswick, somewhere in Georgia. A sign outside the gas station proclaimed, "SPACEWALK FOR RENT," and was complete with an adjoining Waffle House knock-off called "Hubble House" (same logo and everything), and a convenience store that boasted feathered rooster figurines and a delectable selection of flavored milks. The League of Conservation voters told us beforehand that we would be in Orlando by 9 a.m. At this point, that gave us 30 minutes to get from somewhere in Georgia, to not only the state of Florida itself, but to a city well within it.

At 8:30 a.m., our bus pulled into a rest stop in a town called Brunswick, somewhere in Georgia. A sign outside the gas station proclaimed, "SPACEWALK FOR RENT," and was complete with an adjoining Waffle House knock-off called "Hubble House" (same logo and everything), and a convenience store that boasted feathered rooster figurines and a delectable selection of flavored milks. The League of Conservation voters told us beforehand that we would be in Orlando by 9 a.m. At this point, that gave us 30 minutes to get from somewhere in Georgia, to not only the state of Florida itself, but to a city well within it.

Finally at 11 a.m. we rolled into Orlando. The AU contingency was split into two groups, with some stragglers from Catholic University and Trinity University divided amongst us. Each group went to its own "villa," one of the luxurious vacation homes the league had rented for us inside some sort of neighborhood that consisted of nothing but vacation rental properties. We unloaded our bags and staked claims for bedrooms in the villa lovingly dubbed "Splendor in the Palms." The villa, intended to sleep 12, housed 24 people including College Democrats president Greg Wasserstrom, a few dedicated freshmen who participated in the Erskine Bowles extravaganza in North Carolina and a socially conscious cross-section of students from AU.

The LCV volunteers showed up at Splendor in the Palms, armed with canvassing materials and an energy level that frightened the hell out of our weary, fatigued and un-showered bodies. Not given much more time than what was needed to scarf down a slice of Domino's, we were shuffled into vans and sent off into the heart of Orlando's finest neighborhoods. This completely rushed and exhausted group of kids was being sent out to knock on doors, carrying the message that John Kerry would do his best for the environment if he were elected president. The expectations from the league could be seen as marginally sadistic, but we later learned that our bleary-eyed group knocked on approximately 8,000 households in one afternoon.

After a full afternoon on foot, we returned to our villa, where the blissfully relaxed, yet still socially conscious cross-section of students ambled around the house until we collapsed from the excitement of it all.

The next day started only four hours after we fell asleep. After breakfast, we went back into the vans and headed for our "turf," the area we would be canvassing that day. We were fortunate enough to be assigned to a huge neighborhood of apartment complexes, and we stumbled from door to door, singing to voters the praises of John Kerry. A huge portion of doors were left unanswered, so we would leave a League of Conservation Voters door-hanger behind, reminding these potential voters of Kerry's advantage over Bush.

We worked until the sun was barely visible on the horizon. Of those Floridians we talked to, a slight majority promised support for Kerry on Tuesday. A few voters could stand and talk at length about how much they hated President Bush, but still weren't convinced Kerry was the right person for the job, a most aggravating line of logic. The greatest accomplishment of the day came when devoted canvasser Dylan French successfully swung a voter to Kerry's side. This particular voter began her diatribe by mentioning her distaste for Bush, yet proclaimed Kerry "too inexperienced for the presidency," but by the end was convinced that the prospect of another four years with Bush was the less desirable option. Other small victories came in the form of receiving completed absentee ballot forms and distributing information about voting sites to people who were unaware of how to get out and cast their ballot.

Of course, campaign work was not all the league had planned for us. Orlando nightlife was on the agenda as well. After spending two days working our little hearts out as progressive champions for change, we were subjected to the corporate nightmare that is the world of Disney. We were dropped off in an area called "Downtown Disney," a monolithic cluster of themed restaurants, "nightclubs," and, of course, retail stores. After dinner there, our skin was crawling with capitalistic disgust, and we had never been so ready to return to the splendor of our villa.

Our second night in the house closely mirrored the first, too much fun and not enough sleep. A portion of our entertainment for the evening came from C-SPAN coverage of the Kerry and Bush rallies of the day, at which we cheered and booed respectively. Only a troupe of political buffs such as ourselves would opt for campaign speeches over the various other partying options. We crashed on floors, beds and couches after a raucous night of post campaign trip excitement.

Morning came quickly, and we re-boarded our buses to head home. The journey was long and excruciating. We were on a bus from 8 a.m. Sunday until 2 a.m. Monday. We were subjected to many hours of "Chappelle's Show" and a viewing of "Amistad," cramped seats with not enough leg space and unnecessarily long rest stops. Most of those who struggled to sleep on the ride down nodded off from pure exhaustion.

Our bus cruised into the AU parking lot and we filed off to retrieve our luggage. It took until the next day, after sufficient amounts of sleep, to realize what we had spent our weekend doing. Instead of passively cheering on John Kerry's campaign, we traveled many, many miles from home and worked tirelessly to get out the vote for our candidate. The fleet of students bused to Florida knocked on close to 48,000 doors in two days, our bodies running on near-empty and pure adrenaline. We legitimately have a personal investment in Kerry's victory. Huge amounts of our time, energy and passion have worked toward putting him in office, and standing by to wait for the results is almost painful.

A couple of the DC kids

The kids from my group

DC kids

DC volunteers

DC volunteers in front of Planet Hollywood

A lovely photo of Texas Thunder

The week before the Election

We spent the week before the election preparing for our final GOTV push. Most of our canvassing activities were put on hold and we scouted turf, cut turf, made phonecalls, and went recruiting. Our office was visited by Robert F Kennedy Jr and Jim Davis. It was a lot of hard work and most of us were itching to get out of the office.


Welcome Robert F Kennedy, Jr

Allan looks twitterpated