Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Adventures With Voting (and the Players Who Fought for that Right)

Aloha, everyone, 

I've mentioned before that it's been awhile between posts because I was off on other adventures. This here is about my latest. 

I recently worked for an organization that was registering people to vote here in California. Yup, I was that guy outside the local shopping center registering voters. 

We weren't pushing any agenda or candidates. The effort was simply to expand democracy by registering as many voters as possible. That appealed to me, as I'm a big believer in voting, so I took the gig. Here are a few experiences from that adventure. 

But first, since we're a card-collecting community, and I like to share my collection with all of you, I'm dropping in some cards from ML ballplayers who were combat vets. They're the heroes who fought for our precious right to vote. 

Leading off is Jackie in sparkle-vision (WW2) 

In this gig I interacted, for better or worse, with a couple of hundred (or more) folks a day. I asked if they were registered to vote, and their reactions ran the gambit from thanking me and encouraging me to "keep up the good work" to outright hostility. 

Tris Speaker WW1- The War to End All Wars

The work was rarely boring, and often pleasantly surprising. We came across all kinds, from yahoos dressed head to toe in camo gear (who don't want to vote), to a young man with a Bob Dylan shirt that read "This Machine Kills Fascists" (who also didn't want to vote - and failed to see the irony in it all). 

In looking up ballplayers who were combat vets, I came across Warren Spahn, who like my father, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and who also just like my father, was awarded the bronze star in the action. Unfortunately, it turns out I don't have any Spahn cards. This is something I'll have to remedy. 

Joe D, UD Baseball Hero, and WW2  hero. 

Here were some of the pleasant surprises:
The mom who's been eligible to vote for 37 years, but never bothered to vote. Until now. 
A new citizen-mom with a baby under her arm who happily registered for her first election. 
A heavily tattooed, heavily muscled biker, wearing stomping boots, who broke into a warm smile and proudly proclaimed he's already a registered voter. 
I was particularly surprised and encouraged by the number of 20-somethings who were already registered. 

Willie Mays, Korean War, and Stan the Man, WW2,  together again in Topps Archives 

Sometimes couples registered together and completely surprised each other. One would register as a Democrat, and the other as a Republican. Eyes would open wide, and more than once I heard the shocked partner continue the spirited conversation into the store, or the parking lot. 

Lots of folks felt very comfortable giving me their political opinions. Some of the Trump supporters worried me. They took a  little too much enjoyment in staring me down and declaring their allegiance to Trump in voices laced with venom. 

Christy Mathewson, UD Origins of the Game , and WW1

A few times people tried to stuff a dollar or two into my hand, without looking at me or listening to my words. Were they exceptionally kind because they were so quick to give me a couple of bucks? I didn't know what to make of a society where people wanting money are in our face so often, that it's just assumed. 

Teddy Ballgame WW2 AND Korean War

One not-so-pleasant surprise was running into so many people that our prison system holds in its grip. Far too many people told me they couldn't vote because they're ex-felons. 
Every day I met ex-felons, men and women, who were on active parole, or just off. They stopped being invisible numbers and became visible - in numbers - all around me. 
Bear in mind I was in completely random settings, for only a few hours a day, and I kept meeting people who had been snared in the prison population nets, and couldn't vote. 

Ty Cobb WW1

I've never had a gig like that before, and I'm not sure how much I'd like to do it again. That said, I got to work outside, which I love, and I was able to use the gig to put in lots of walking exercise, logging miles a day. 

And in a small way, I did my part for democracy by registering a couple of hundred new voters. 



  1. Sounds like an intellectually and personally enriching experience. It's crazy to me how many people simply never register.

    1. Yeh, it certainly was an enriching experience - and I didn't even see all that coming from what I thought would be a simple gig to make some extra spending money.

  2. I always tell people that even if they don't want to vote in the presidential race that plenty of important local decisions are up for vote as well. In my area their are several school levies.

    1. That's exactly right, Matt. I was surprised by how many people seem to think the presidential race is the only thing on the ballot.
      The state props are the ones that will most affect out daily lives.

  3. Interesting post! I'm apprehensive of people coming up to me on the street, since it seems they usually want money or at least my personal information, but I guess sometimes not.

    1. This gig also opened my eyes to the fact that fact. I'll certainly be a little more patient with folks who come up to me after this experience.