Yesterday was the primary day for Massachusetts state and local elections. (The Massachusetts presidential primary took place this past March.) Local elections don’t get the same amount of turnout as presidential elections. To be perfectly honest, since turning eighteen, I rarely gave them much thought. I either didn’t bother with voting, or, in the case of local Pennsylvania elections that affected my parents, I filled out an absentee ballot according to my parents’ wishes. Not the best example of informed and active citizenship, I know.
When we were living in Switzerland, Mr. Mad Cow and I always voted absentee ballot in federal elections. Plenty of Swiss elections took place when we lived there, but, as non-citizens, they were mostly a sideshow. Especially the blatantly racist SVP posters. Click here to see what I mean. As expats, it’s all too easy to sit on the sidelines and think “not my problem”, or when it came to the SVP ads, “at least it’s not the US who looks politically bad”.
But now that we are back in the US (at least for the time being; you never really know with recovering expats), Mr. MC and I are making an effort to be better citizens, especially when it comes to local elections. I made a point to vote yesterday, while Mr. MC made a point to request and mail an absentee ballot since he could not go to the polls in person. Then, during the Vachette’s dinner, a Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) volunteer knocked on the door to make sure we made it to the polling stations for the candidate we pledged to support. This brings me to canvassing, and the power of a face-to-face conversation.
In August, I did more than put my money where my mouth is. I did some canvassing for the Hillary campaign in coastal New Hampshire. I have to admit to being somewhat nervous about the whole thing, but I went anyway. After I was paired with another volunteer with previous canvassing experience, a 20+ year veteran New Hampshire canvasser gave us all a pep talk and a general introduction to why canvassing can be so helpful for a campaign. In particular, he said a face-to-face conversation can make a real difference in getting someone to engaged in the voting process.
Two days later, at home in Somerville, I got a knock on my door. It was a canvasser for our incumbent state senator who was facing a primary challenger.The veteran NH canvasser was right. I had seen election related signs around town, but I hadn’t given the primary election much thought. By having someone come to my door and talk to me about the upcoming election, I was inspired to get more engaged in the process. I listened to what the canvasser had to say. I did some research of my own into both candidates, and then, most important of all, I wrote the election down on my calendar, so I wouldn’t forget to go vote.
And vote I did. The Vachette was pretty excited about the sticker.
(Phote of the “I Voted” sticker via Dwight Burdette)