Morry Rao Hermon is a San Francisco Bay Area native, who has graciously volunteered to be a canvasser in Reno Nevada for the Democratic Party. Nevada, as we know, is a critical swing state for the 6 Electoral Votes being battled over in the Presidential election. The race for Senate is no easier for Catherine Cortez Mastro, who is waging a particularly nasty campaign to discredit this progressive Attorney General of Nevada.
The following is a letter written by Morry Rao detailing what it is like to spend one full day as a canvasser.
Today is the Big Day!
I arrived on Saturday, along with throngs of other Californians. For the past few days our goal has been to find our registered Democratic voters and make sure they knew where their polling place was and had a plan for voting on Election Day. We were giving a training, a list of the houses on a clipboard, and some literature to distribute about their polling place, when it’s open (7am to 7pm), and a sample script.
I was assigned to a mostly Latino working class neighborhood, since yo Hablo Espanol! It was great actually using my Spanish to inform new citizens and native-born Hispanics about where to cast their ballot. The response was mixed. Some were so glad to hear from us and would say things like “Estoy con Ella” (I’m with Her), Trump es un Mal Hombre, etc.
Others, however, were tired of hearing from us. Because of all the volunteers pouring in from California, the precincts were saturated, even inundated, with canvassers going door to door, and calling them on the phone. Some registered voters were even hostile.
That’s the downside of our very well oiled machine of a ground campaign–we are focusing perhaps too much on the registered voters, and probably would have had more impact going to the undecided registered Independents. Maybe they will now go to the polls because they are so sick of hearing from us–perhaps there has never been a more media covered and hyped up Presidential Election in history!
Another reason why they were being canvassed so thoroughly because of the unprecedented early voting here in Nevada, where between 50-70% of voters–upwards of a million people, waited in lines to cast their ballot before Election Day. A high percentage of early voters in Nevada were Latinos, reflecting signs of what is referred to in politics as a waking sleeping giant; with the fastest growing demographic group all over the country swinging Democrats, especially in this bizarre election, where Trumps racist comments really hit Latinos hard, and in a very personal and unpleasant way. Early voting ended here on Friday, so we are now focusing on the relatively few voters that have to get to the polls today.
One woman I talked to yesterday said that she was told she couldn’t vote today, so we called the registrar’s office voter hotline, and the person on the other end looked her up and confirmed that she was indeed registered at her local polling office (one more for Hillary!) And another woman who moved to Reno from Sacramento registered her new address online but never heard back, and so we got her detailed information about how she can vote today (another for Hillary!).
I spoke to many Mexican families on Sunday afternoon, which was a beautifully sunny, warm day here in the high mountains. Most of these families work in the hotels and casinos of Reno. They were fired up! Some of them knew that their polling place is Wooster High School, but many did not, so it felt good letting them know where it was exactly and how to get to it. We also informed them that the polls are open desde siete en la manana hasta siete en la tarde (7am to 7pm), and that if they get in line by 7pm they will get to vote, that they have a right to time off from work to vote, that this election es muy importante, that every vote counts (cada voto cuenta, y el voto Latino es muy importante), and that we can even drive them to the polls if they need a ride.
But it hasn’t always been fun on this run. On my first run out in Sparks, NV, I was asked to leave an apartment complex by the security guard, because I was ‘soliciting on private property.’ I tried to say that I was not soliciting, but canvassing, and that this was my right as part of our democracy to encourage people to get out and vote. And he said, ‘that’s the problem with you Hillary people–you think because she breaks the law and gets away with it you can break the law and get away with it”, and preceded to call the cops on me! Nevada is Trump country, with a lot of conservative white men who are also fired up for Mr. Trump.
And on my first pass this morning one property manager at a very low-income apartment complex with a lot of poor whites (a la Breaking Bad), most of whom had apparently moved, started yelling and cursing at me that I have no right to be there, have to leave, get off our property, etc. etc. This time I called the cops on him!
Back at headquarters now. Lots of people were at work, but I did bring a guy to the polls with my rental car, and saw where it was located. Not a long line yet–probably after work it will get busy.
And that’s a wrap! More later! Si se puede! Adelante!
Director of Philanthropy, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
And there you have it! The results of tonight will show how effective canvassers like Morry and his comrades have been over the past weeks. Currently, in response to the early voting results it appears canvassers and the Democratic Party have conducted a brilliantly successful campaign, with their numbers exceeding those of the Republican Party by 52,000 votes. Donald Trump is blaming the lead on misconduct in the polls. This has been proven untrue because protocol states that polling locations have the right to remain open so long as registered voters are in time line waiting to cast their ballots.
Nevada has put up a tough, grueling fight for this election. Tonight will give long awaited closure to the state of Nevada, and this country.