In The Trenches

Here at State House District 3 headquarters in Denver, I’m witnessing the breakdown of Denver’s election system first hand.  The day started quitely enough: The usual get out the vote phone banks to registered voters who haven’t voted yet.

But, soon the phone bankers started hearing from voters who had tried to vote and then gone home, discouraged by long lines.  The priority turned to looking at the Progress Now Action reports of which vote centers were having problems on the Internet and directing voters to less overwhelmed vote centers, a constantly updated list as previously smoothly operating voter centers, like Porter Place and Harvard Gulch Rec Center ground to a halt from problems with computers and shortages of provisional ballots.When a call went out for election judges, we scoured our phone bank ranks and recruited four people to rush downtown to assist.

Now, the mood has changed again.  As we monitor the CDP lawsuit and the national election, the focus has turned to how to best use the campaign’s resources in the final few hours.  How many people should be in charge of phone banking?  How many to “knock and drag” (i.e. bringing people to the polls when they have transportation issues)?  How many to assess the situation at voting centers and determine if there is anything that can be done to improve the situation so that voters aren’t discouraged while waiting in long lines?

Unlike most elections, the focus this time is simply on making it possible for people who have already decided to vote to find a place where they can do it within a reasonable time period, rather that convincing a few more people to vote at all.

There is also an Arapahoe County operation, but in this southern suburb of Denver, almost everything is tranquil and according to plan, while the Denver crew does its best to manage a chaotic and evolving situation.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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