by Rachel Dykoski • 11/8/08 • The day before the biggest elections of our lives, I had the chance at greatness. Scratch that, a new hotness: I could be seen by thousands of people and had the potential to help hundreds by manning the phones at KSTP during the morning and mid morning news programs representing the League of Women Voters of Minnesota. As my editor can attest, my timing isn’t the best, so I hopped on at 9:00 a.m. instead of insane o’clock. Channel 5 often runs a hot line during those peak times when people need information. So, during tax time – certified public accountants man the phones. This time, it was patriotic women.
The script was simple but the information couldn’t be more complex. There was a lull while Regis and Kelly were on. But, whenever a radio station owned by Hubbard Broadcasting read the number to the hot line, the lines were hopping for about as long as you can remember a number you never dial. We’d ask for their zip code and using the smart system on the Secretary of State’s website, we could readily search for a person’s polling place. All I can say is, thank GOODNESS we live in Minnesota. Our voting laws are pretty forgiving so folks from 18 on up can remember that it’s voting day, register and cast a ballot all in the same day. I feel sorry for those poor sods that move on October 31st. One of the allowable proof of residency is ones utility bills, a rental receipt from within 30 days of the election and a MN state issued, photo ID. The ID can even be out of date but you can use it if it looks like you, amazing! But if you’re a student, who moved in October and nothing comes in your name your options dwindle and you need a new MN ID or to find a voucher. It’s the sweetest of the sweet. An upstanding neighbor who will swear an oath that they know you are who you say you is.
I answered about 10 of those kinds of answers from college students, fielded a couple of calls from newly weds with nothing but a honeymoon accomplished since their life-changing event. What I’m most grateful for were the calls from soldiers just back from serving overseas. And the fact that I could without blubbering say thank you for your service. Some didn’t have housing in their name. One had lost his lease. Another simply sounded noncommittal about residence. It’s because of the work of these young people that the LWV can freely offer ‘election protection’ advice for people whom also called. Two women had issues of concern, and I, powered with four hours of voter protection training (yahoo) knew that they were victims of misinformation and intimidation. So I shuttled their calls to the attorney lines.
I helped people, got to wave at them from inside the T. V. while we spoke and it felt good all over. Meeting Rusty Gatenby was just the dessert.