We’re coming to crunch time in these elections, so I’m not wandering too much these last few days, because I can knock a lot of doors in the time I would otherwise spend driving to far away districts. So this weekend, I’m doing GOTV canvassing–yesterday in my own district, and today in Prince William County.
GOTV canvassing doesn’t lend itself to the kinds of in depth conversations I’ve had the rest of the year around Virginia. This is Canvassing Lite. For anyone who’s nervous about canvassing, GOTV canvassing is a great way to get started. The point is entirely to make sure people know there’s an election, and to encourage them to actually formulate a specific plan to vote. It’s really important, though, because many times people think “yeah, I’ll vote,” but if they haven’t actually thought through when they’re voting, how they’re getting to the polls, and what obstacles might prevent them from voting, then on the day of the election they’re much more likely to forget, or for one of those obstacles to stand in the way.
So I headed out yesterday with my very own incumbent Delegate, Marcus Simon. He represents the 53rd district, which includes Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church. I have to say, the silver lining to me of the 2016 election result is that it changed my view of how much involvement constituted my “civic duty.” Like many people I’ve commiserated with this year, I thought being an informed and consistent voter was enough–that as long as I researched who was on the ballot each year and voted carefully, I could leave the rest up to those elected officials. And this year, I realized that’s not enough–that these representatives need our help and support and input. Our civic duty extends beyond voting, to actually following what they do after we’ve elected them, and, if they’re representing us well, making sure they get credit for that and helping them get re-elected.
All this means that I’ve paid a lot of attention to Marcus this year, and to how hard he’s working to represent me. I’m pretty sure before this year, I’d never thought about telling an elected official what kind of bills I’d like her to write, or asking him to voice support for a cause that was important to me. But I’ve done that several times this year. And Marcus has been more than willing to listen, to talk it through, to help when he could–even, in the case of a death penalty clemency campaign my daughter was passionate about, willing to stick his neck out. Learning that I could and should be having that sort of relationship with my local representatives is absolutely the silver lining to this year.
That’s why I really wanted my last canvassing blog post to be a canvass with Marcus. Mind you, he’s fairly certain to win re-election this year, and probably doesn’t need to canvass for himself. But he’s been out helping and supporting other candidates all up and down the ticket, in other districts as well as his own, because it’s downright hard and frustrating to be in the minority!
We knocked over a hundred doors yesterday. We made sure people know there’s an election in 10 days. We asked them when they planned on voting. This is a pretty Democratic area, so turnout here is essential. This isn’t glamorous work, but it’s work that absolutely needs to be done. We can’t have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people if we don’t participate. 10 days–who’s going to join me?