Blog Post #3 – Hi there, are you a registered democrat?

Day 11: Brisk pace, uncomfortable tight-lipped smiles, and line of sight towards the concrete blocks were typical of New Yorkers. Of course, I was one of them every morning commute and rush hour, three days a week. People with free whatever-they-advertised for, various pamphlets, and forced smiles are scattered on every New York corner. Those that get caught in the trap of taking a flier either crumple up papers right as they get them or wait a few blocks before disposing of the advertisement.

Democracy is about the people. So the people put the candidate on the ballot. To do this, we needed a certain amount of signatures from registered democrats in the district to get on the ballot.

Protocol was two people per street corner, holding clipboards with green petitions sheets waiting to be filled. For the minimum of 900 valid signatures to be guaranteed, we needed at least 3000 signatures. Just to be safe. 3000. Among the ten interns, it seemed like a daunting task. We were asked to come in during earlier or later hours of the day, 7am to 10am or 5pm to 8pm – this effort was to catch people at their morning commute or rush hour. Mornings were especially hard, but getting home late was too. 3000. We were getting about 50 or so a day during these peak hours, which wasn’t putting us at those thousands of signatures.

Canvassing had its pros and cons. Getting out of the office was nice; but when the fresh air consists of cigarette smoke, smog, and remnants of burnt hot dogs, you question what your lungs will look like in a couple years. Walking uptown, I feel grateful for any kind of experience in the field of politics. Canvassing helped me get familiar with the oddly-shaped district, and help out the campaign more directly. This job consisted of two things: stopping people on the streets, and asking them for a signature. People we stopped had to meet two criteria: being a registered democrat that also lives in the district. Most weren’t, but there was a good amount that we stopped. “Talk to everyone,” was the motto that we lived and rambled on about.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, but the work was fulfilling enough. I was sleeping earlier and earlier – maybe I’ll regulate my sleep schedule this way.

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