Saturday lunch: Canvass debrief and tally

By Jenna Lowenstein, Interactive Media Coordinator, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

After the canvass, the 100-plus canvassers came back to our home base at East Los Angeles College to process the experience and discuss how the morning went.

The Task Force's Trystan Reese checks in with the canvassers.

The debrief started with a story about a “5” voter — someone who was deemed an unpersuadable opponent of same-sex marriage. A participant named Lisa told the story of a voter who told her she was living in sin.

The next participant talked about a “1” voter he’d met — someone who was a strong supporter. The man had expressed his unwavering support for marriage equality for same-sex couples, then talked about his family’s support, and even made a contribution to support the ongoing canvasses.

But the real meat of the canvasses today was to have good, involved conversations with undecided or persuadable voters. A participant named Frankie met a voter who is a monolingual Spanish speaker. The voter’s sister, who is bilingual, translated for Frankie; she told Frankie that her sister was leaning toward voting against same-sex marriage in the future. When Frankie came out to the sisters, they were surprised — “You don’t look gay!” — but were clearly impacted by having this conversation with someone who they learned was gay. At conversation’s end, both women indicated they’d be supportive of same-sex marriage in the future.

Vanessa also met a Spanish-speaking voter. “I had to bust out whatever Spanish I had,” Vanessa said, and she asked the woman how she felt about marriage equality. When Vanessa asked the woman if she was married, and why she’d married, the woman said she’d married for love, but she didn’t understand why same-sex couples needed the legality of marriage if they already had love. The voter had earned citizenship through her marriage to a U.S. citizen, so Vanessa brought up a personal story — her girlfriend isn’t a U.S. citizen. At the end of the conversation, the voter had moved, and was even joking: “By 2012, I’ll probably be a yes. And by 2012, hopefully your Spanish will be better!”

One hundred and 24 canvassers went out into East L.A. to talk to voters about marriage equality. They knocked on more than 2,300 doors, and had conversations with more than 600 voters. Of those 600 conversations, more than 90 voters had been moved by the end of the conversation. Either they were opposed to marriage equality and moved to a place of indecision, or had moved from indecision to a place of support.

Not bad for two hours work!