On the Doors in Atlanta

Ideas and Issues
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December 15, 2020

Atlanta The Electoral College licked the envelope and sealed the deal on Joe Biden’s victory for Donald Trump to become the next President of the United States with 306 votes certified from the states to the president’s 232. Meanwhile the last gasp of the election cycle is still hanging in the air in Georgia as two incumbent Republican senators face runoffs to Democratic challengers on January 7th.

The Voter Purge Project, a partnership of ACORN, Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center, and the Ohio Voter Project, committed to finishing the job they started over a year ago in combating voter suppression. Our crew of more than a dozen were in apartment complexes in Fulton and Clayton counties in metropolitan Atlanta for the third week talking to potential voters and making sure that they knew the election was pending. The voter registration deadline had already passed, though we were still assisting some people who wanted to be registered. Mainly, we were alerting people that early voting was now open, and that if they wanted mail ballots, they needed to make an additional request, they shouldn’t assume that they would receive another ballot automatically.

Night comes early now, so we were hitting the doors between 2pm and 6pm. The temperature was in the low 40s with a rough breeze. The canvassing team was cold as they assembled in the parking lot of a day care center closed during the pandemic. Fred Brooks, who has been running the crew, collected the count-on-me’s signed by a number of people on the doors, committing to vote. The numbers will start falling now, since many will be voting early. My own totals were almost three times the commitments to vote compared to count-on-me’s, but I was making up the rear on the team, a long way from the leaders.

Expectations for a significant vote total are rising in Georgia. The media buys for all sides are inescapable, but from our experience so are the door-to-door efforts in the field program this go round. At some of the condo units I could see more than four door hangers or leaflets left by various teams. The most ubiquitous was from the union, UNITE Here, that represents hotel and casinos workers, especially in the powerhouse Culinary 226 in Las Vegas. Rumor had it that they had put 500 of their members and staff in the field in this last-ditch Georgia campaign. We saw a number of other flyers from an unnamed group. I saw a couple for something called Care, that I didn’t recognize. Over the hundred plus doors on my shift, I only saw one left on a stoop that had been dropped by Stacy Abrams’ New Georgia Project.

The mistakes made in November of ignoring the field are not going to be repeated in this election. I had more conversations through shut doors than I had ever experienced in my career on the doors. People were keeping it safe. They have good sense, and so do we, but the job is getting done.