At 7:00am on Election Day Connecticut Center for a New Economy (CCNE) began receiving a constant barrage of calls: “Can you help me find my polling place?” “How do I know if I’m registered?” “I didn’t register, can I still vote?” “I heard you guys were giving rides to the polls….” (Yes we were!)
CCNE and Hartford Votes Coalition canvassers hit the doors to turn out the under-represented voters we talked to this summer and fall and coordinated rides to the polls.
All of the face-to-face conversations with people at their doors had ignited a chain reaction; Hartford residents were calling each other with reminders to vote, pleading with family and friends not to sit this one out. They were bringing cousins, neighbors, and acquaintances along with them to the polls.
The phones never stopped ringing. On several occasions the same person called back three or four times, having been turned away from the polls or sent to the wrong place. One woman, Audrey, whose parents had fought for the right to vote, attempted to vote in three different places before she finally was allowed to cast a ballot. One of our own canvassers, Alex, attempted to vote in three places before he finally slid his ballot into the machine -thereby casting the first vote of his life. Despite the confusion and frustration, Audrey, Alex, and many others did not give up. While this might point to concerns with the system, what it even more clearly demonstrates is a refusal to give up or back down, and a deep desire to participate.
On the corner by our GOTV headquarters in the Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford, a soup kitchen line merges with broader street life. The youth with faces obscured by the shadow cast by sweatshirt hoods- proudly donned “I Voted” stickers.
On the big day nowhere to be found was the resistance, the skepticism, or the reluctance to open the door that we too often encountered over the summer and into the fall. Instead, people from all corners of the city were striving to vote, to make their voices heard, to find a way to be involved. Thousands of people waited in line for three to five hours to vote at city hall, and hundreds remained in line late into the night.