Senator Barack Obama is ahead of John McCain in most of the current polls. In a recent stump speech, Obama advised his supporters to not get too cocky. He told them to remember two words “New Hampshire”, in a reference to his primary loss to Hillary Clinton when all polls indicated he would win.
History does not speak well for young voter turnout and simple psychology indicates that traditionally disenfranchised minorities, feeling the deck stacked against them, may feel their vote won’t matter.
On the positive side, Obama is not your average candidate. He has energized the electorate in ways not seen since the early 1960’s. This alone may be enough to get young and minority voters out to the polls.
The other factor of course is what I call the Ruben Studdard Effect. During the second season of “American Idol”, Ruben Studdard was so favored to win that one week he wound up in the bottom three. Why? Because his fans thought he had it in the bag and didn’t bother to call in and vote for him. Studdard went on to win the competition but his one week trip to the bottom three gave a wake up call to his supporters that their votes counted. Fortunately, Studdard had another week to return to his top spot. Obama does not have that luxury. November 4 is it. One chance to make your voice heard. It does not matter what the current polls say. If enough of you don’t vote, Obama will not win.
Finally, and sadly, an overwhelming turnout will be necessary to combat the efforts already underway by the Republican party to steal this election. From defamatory robocalls to devious push polls, the GOP propaganda machine is in full force. Even worse, there are marginally legal methods underway to suppress Democratic voter turnout.
Federal court rulings flatly prohibit Republican organizations from sending letters to newly registered voters in solely low income, black and Hispanic neighborhoods to verify their address. If those letters aren’t returned, the GOP contends that the recipient’s address on their voter registration form is incorrect and the registration is fraudulent. When the voter shows up at the polls they are challenged.
Republicans insist that the legal prohibition against this tactic applies only to the Republican National Committee and not to state and local Republican organizations and “volunteer groups.” Since GOP groups have declared themselves exempt from the court rulings against the tactic, they fully intend to use the letter-writing ploy to challenge the registrations of people in certain designated zip codes. The zip codes just happen to be those in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods.
This is the one year where you cannot expect anyone else to do your job for you.
If it rains, you must vote.
If it snows, you must vote.
If you’re tired, you must vote.
If the polls say it’s a lock for Obama, you must vote.
If you receive e-mail, phone calls or snail mail giving you confusing information about voting, you must get clarification and then VOTE. There are many objective sources of information on voting facts for your locality. Here is just one such site: http://www.rockthevote.com/electioncenter/. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you can’t vote if you know you can. Watch out for misinformation campaigns such as “in Florida, several districts will be voting on November 5”. This is the kind of foolishness told typically to older minority voters who might be susceptible to misleading information.
Bottom line, we cannot let the year 2000 happen again. This time it is too important. If your state allows early voting then vote early. If it does not, then vote on November 4.