OFA's Final Phase: Massive GOTV Operation

Ohio community volunteers for OFAI'm writing this while on a conference call with OFA. As I glance up from the screen and out of my front room window, three young OFA volunteers are canvassing our neighborhood, knocking on doors cheerfully and

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I'm writing this while on a conference call with OFA. As I glance up from the screen and out of my front room window, three young OFA volunteers are canvassing our neighborhood, knocking on doors cheerfully and respectfully. I recognize one of them as a young lady who went to school with my daughter. They're out canvassing for all Democrats, not only Barack Obama.

This is the heart of the OFA community organizing effort. Today they launched their final phase -- the get out the vote effort. This follows the first two prongs, which include in-community contact to persuade undecided voters, and new voter registrations.

The campaign reports that these outreach efforts have reached 125 million voters, and those are face-to-face interactions, not robocalls or other automated contact methods. They are conversations, and they're conversations volunteers have been having for years. Unlike Republicans, OFA has relied on a grassroots face-to-face approach to reach new voters.

From the campaign:

As our Neighborhood Team Leaders opened their staging locations this morning, they began logging into our state-of-the-art reporting system, officially launching their GOTV hubs. Unlike campaigns of the past, our volunteers are not driving to some large office miles from their homes and handed a phone and a call sheet. Instead, Canvass Captains, Phone Bank Captains and scores of local volunteers will be knocking on the doors of the very voters they registered, have been talking to for months and know personally. And they will be directing them to polling locations in their communities – the schools their kids go to, the places of worship they attend each week and community centers they know well.

These efforts are all paying off. The campaign reports that early voting turnout is huge in the swing states. I have friends here who have gone into Nevada to assist neighborhood volunteers with efforts to get out the vote. As a result, the Romney campaign has essentially conceded Nevada.

Here are some of the other results:

Among non-midterm voters, Democratic turnout is outpacing the Republicans’ turnout in every single battleground state with party registration.

  • In Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Nevada, 1.4 million non-midterm Democrats have voted already, compared with just 840,000 non-midterm Republicans.
  • And in Ohio, more than 179,000 non-midterm voters from counties Obama won in 2008 have cast ballots, compared with just 91,000 non-midterm voters from Republican-leaning counties. Ohio does not have party registration, so how a county voted in 2008 is one way to measure this turnout.

This isn't to say there aren't concerns. Florida's shortened early voting days are a problem, but OFA has focused on sporadic voters in Florida vis a vis the early vote. They are encouraging all voters to turn out on election day, and they're working the lines of people waiting to vote to make sure they don't get discouraged.

In North Carolina, some college students are being shifted to provisional votes because of weird redistricting causing the line to roll right through the middle of their campus.

In Ohio, a lawsuit has been filed over Jon Husted's newest dirty trick intended to disenfranchise legitimate voters.

In Florida, one polling place was shut down on Saturday because mysterious packages were left, causing the bomb squad to have to shut down the entire polling place to explode them.

These are problems, yes. But the campaign is undeterred, and they've built a foundation of thousands of community-based organizations to make sure people vote, and that their vote is counted.

I asked specifically in a different call about what they plan for issues that arise on election day in terms of disenfranchisement reports or other dirty tricks. My question arose from reports about Wisconsin and Iowa poll watchers trained by the Romney campaign who were trained incorrectly regarding ID requirements in those states. Whether by accident or design, it's an issue the campaign is aware of and has volunteers and lawyers ready to deal with.

Every national election has stories like this. But we live in an age of YouTube and real-time reporting via Twitter and Facebook, among others. That enables a rapid response and if the voters actually come and VOTE, this election will be as fair as one might expect.

In the course of this phone call, my neighborhood canvassers have wrapped up here and moved on to a different location. It was comforting to see them out and enthusiastic in this formerly red but turning purple district.

It changes one voter at a time.

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