Getting out the vote

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — We were sent to canvass in this community near Cleveland.

At the Slavic Village polling place Juan and I were monitoring on Election Day, I got into a discussion with the lone Bush volunteer working the poll. The Bush guy said there was a “good Garfield” and a “bad Garfield.” He didn’t know we’d been to both.

Garfield Heights (white) was long blocks of neat, small two-bedroom one-story, single family homes, with small front yards — slightly larger back yards — and driveways on the side. The houses were built in the fifties, and paid for with GI Bill loans. It seemed like a community content with itself; quiet, self-contained and aware of outsiders.

Garfield Heights (Black) was the actual heights. The streets were short and wound around a hill. Some of the houses were older on large plots of land. Some were smaller homes, like the “other” Garfield.

What the Bush guy meant by good and bad, of course, was white and Black.

There was a great sense of camaraderie among the locals with whom we worked, who were glad we had come from out of town (in my case, from New York City) to help them. I suppose it confirmed their importance to this election.

We met an older couple who had taken the bus to vote. They were proud to tell us that they had taken the 75 cent Circulator rather than the $1.50 regular rapid transit. They had voted for Kerry, but said their son was going to vote for Bush. Just as their bus was coming down the street, their son pulled in the church parking lot. They decided to wait so he could drive them home, and accompanied him into the polling place.

We were all cheering when the couple came out and announced they got their son vote for Kerry.

We felt good about the effort we had made. We helped people voting for the first time; folks who didn’t know where the polling place was (because there was no sign outside); people who had questions about the other amendments on the ballot; or those who wanted our campaign literature.

— Jessica Watson-Crosby (nyblackradicalcongress@yahoo.com).