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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-11-02 - 10:04 a.m.

Hope is on the Way

A friend forwarded this to me this a.m. We don't know the original author of this letter:

I’m in Florida.
Yesterday was one of the most moving, meaningful days of my life.
My job is to get people to the polls and, more importantly, to keep them there. Because they’re crazily jammed. Crazily. No one expected this turnout. For me, it’s been a deeply humbling, deeply gratifying experience. At today’s early vote in the College Hill district of East Tampa -- a heavily democratic, 90% African American community — we had 879 voters wait an average of five hours to cast their vote. People were there until four hours after they closed (as long as they’re in line by 5, they can vote).

Here’s what was so moving:
We hardly lost anyone. People stood outside for an hour, in the blazing sun, then inside for another four hours as the line snaked around the library, slowly inching forward. It made Disneyland look like speed-walking. Some waited 6 hours. To cast one vote. And EVERYBODY felt that it was crucial, that their vote was important, and that they were important.

And there were tons of first time voters. Tons.
Aside from some hassles from the republican election commissioner (he didn’t want us to give people water or food, even if we did it in a non-partisan manner; in fact, I actually overheard him on a cell phone saying “we need to find a way to leak out that there are 4 hour lines here in College Hill, that might thin it out a little -- but we gotta be careful cause we can get ‘bad spin’ from it; we gotta find a way to do it without getting bad spin”)... Aside from that, I had an amazing experience. No, actually, in a way because of that I had an amazing experience. Because these people know that the system that’s in place doesn’t want them voting. Yet they’re determined to do it.

The best of all was an 80 year old African American man who said to me: “When I first started I wasn’t even allowed to vote. Then, when I did, they was trying to intimidate me. But now I see all these folks here to make sure that my vote counts. This is the first time in my life that I feel like when I cast my vote it’s actually gonna be heard.”

To see people coming out — elderly, disabled, blind, poor; people who have to hitch rides, take buses, etc — and then staying in line for hours and hours and hours... Well, it’s humbling. And it’s awesome. And it’s kind of beautiful.

Sometimes you forget what America is.
This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s been an incredible experience. I think there’s hope.


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