Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On the Ground Report from a First Time Caucus Go-er/Volunteer

This Report from a good friend in Hawaii who just finished working the caucus. I put in the full thing because I really think it captures her excitement.

Definitely exciting stuff over here...the turnout was phenomenal. Last election they had a total of 4,000 people turn out in all of Hawaii, this year there were easily 4,000 just in our district. They're estimating right now about 30,000. We volunteered last Saturday to cold call at the Obama headquarters to get people out to vote so they told us then that gates would actually open at 6PM although registration was supposed to officially start at 6:30.

Our neighbor, Lomo, is also captain for our precinct so he asked us if we could transport 2 elderly couples who couldn't drive any longer. Of course we said yes - they ended up hiring a van but we were there early in case they needed us as back-up. Thank God! because they did not anticipate the crowds. By about 6:45 the gym at Stevenson High School was full and the lines outside were wrapped around the building, out of the school campus and into the streets. The vote officially started at 7PM and they asked all of us to exit as soon as we voted so the people who could not fit in the first round could come in to take their turn at voting. Everyone in line was told as long as they had arrived by 7:30, they would get a chance to cast their vote so people waited. It was chaotic, no one was really sure what they were doing because they really had never done this before but at least in our district, no one got upset.

Representative Schatz went up and down the line just reminding one and all that all those working were volunteers and to realize everyone was trying their best. So we just introduced ourselves to each other while waiting and chatted and marveled at history being written.

What was phenomenal to me was not just the numbers who turned out, it was the demographics. The age range was unbelievable. I stood up to offer my seat to a really elderly woman and started talking to her and the two neighbors who brought her over. She was 95 and her husband had taught political science at UH. But her 60 + neighbors said this was the very first time they had ever registered to vote and they were determined to vote because they knew their votes meant something this time. They said it was time for change, a breath of fresh air, and finally there was someone they believed could do it! And I heard that over and over again.

The one girl who worked beside me on the phone bank was 20, first time she was voting. The number of people we saw with walkers in the gym, one with a seeing eye dog, teen-agers who were there with their parents holding up Obama posters - truly remarkable. And, of course, because it was our district, we kept bumping into neighbors and friends so it was like one close knit community having a party. And in that entire crowd we saw only one Hillary poster. Needless to say, Obama ruled.