Unemployed workers help drive election turnout

Unemployed workers help drive election turnout

November 2, 2010 7:48:31 PM PDT
Midterm elections generally see low voter turnout, but according to the latest Field Poll, about 9.5 million Californians will have cast their votes by the end of the Tuesday. That would be 600,000 more votes than in the last gubernatorial election. The increase may be partly due to intense efforts to get out the vote by political parties and their volunteers.

California's unemployment rate stands at 12.4 percent on this Election Day. That number cuts across the political spectrum.

"I got laid off," said George Hefner.

"I am unemployed right now," said Jeffrey Aquino.

"I am unemployed," said Elani Pontiflet.

"I have been unemployed about eight months," said Steve Scheisser.

So on Election Day, Scheisser worked as a Democratic volunteer, Aquino did the same at Republican headquarters, Pontiflet clerked in a polling place, and Hefner walked door to door for the tea party.

"I would say I found politics as religion last year, about this time, when I lost my job," said Hefner.

And so the big push came Tuesday as volunteers burned phone lines, getting out the votes. The Democrats called mostly on first-time voters from 2008. Republicans cast a wider net, calling long-term supporters and those who've declined to state. In Pleasanton, George and his tea party went to polling places, noted of who had not voted and then went to their houses.

The unofficial consensus was that a lot of people did vote.

"I think that they are trying to support their base, whatever it is," said Pontiflet.

And that's the Democratic process, in action. From the lawns of Danville to the storefronts of Oakland, some of your 12.4 percent, they don't have jobs, but have not stopped working.

"One does politics to help his own interest, which is kind of something in America we don't understand very well. The French have a saying that either you do politics or politics does you," says Scheisser.


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