11/6, 3:30pm update: Voting Rites (& Wrongs): Palm Beach County, FL – Dispatches from the Heart of Darkness
November 6, 2012, 3:30pm
Dateline Jupiter, FL: After two people in a row told me on the phone that they had been planning to vote today, but had changed their minds because “Get Out the Vote” calls had been coming in about hourly since nine this morning, I gave up. And that’s the end of my volunteer efforts for the Obama campaign this election.
Sure, being bugged about repetitious phone calls is a stupid reason not to vote. But all most people need is a stupid reason.
Prior to Obama’s campaign in 2008, in which a nearly unprecedented 62% of the eligible electorate voted, average voter turnout in a presidential contest had been a laconic 40%. That’s right, in a typical election year, only 2 out of 5 people who could vote for president actually do. In “smaller” races, turnout is even less.
So when we consider the hair-splitting and chad-counting over Bush v Gore in 2000, an important thing to remember was that the race actually came in at 47.9% vs. 48.4% OF FIFTY POINT FOUR PERCENT. In other words, 24.4% of eligible voters elected Bush.
So getting voters to vote does matter. But so does not pissing them off.
By 3pm today, we still did not have updated “strike lists” (lists generated by the Supervisor of Elections that tell who has cast a ballot and who hasn’t.) From those lists, presumably, a campaign would target folks who still needed to vote and (at least locally) have less than 4 hours to do so. And everybody else would get left alone.
Presumably. Instead, we were calling from lists printed this morning and accurate as of the last SOE update — which took place at 3:00 this morning. So much for the much-touted apps that were supposed to give real-time updating of voter turnout….
All of this isn’t solely the fault of Obama’s campaign. It’s the fault of the Obama campaign plus the fault of Patrick Murphy’s campaign, plus the fault of the Democratic Party, plus the fault of every other democratic candidate whose workers have a list and a phone. There hasn’t been the slightest effort to coordinate GOTV efforts or volunteers among all these different campaigns and entities in this county, and that’s why people are getting called over and over again.
At some point — weeks ago — the get-out-the-vote strategy needed to change. There was already plenty of evidence that over-zealous and over-saturated efforts to contact voters directly were starting to become counter-productive. But the strategy didn’t change, and my very strong fear is that, at least in Pal Beach County, the effort is going to blow up in our faces.
- See also: