On October 5, I joined Hedda Kafka, Tami Fox, Arlene Hess, Susi Hirsch, and Susan Kranberg to help register voters in front of the JASA Williamsburg Senior Center. Before we set up our table, we gathered inside and Susan reviewed the materials with us and clarified our roles. This is a predominantly Hispanic section of Williamsburg. Our materials, printed in both Spanish and English, were displayed on the table set up outside the entrance to the Center. We were there to remind people that they only had nine more days to register, to help people register for the first time, and to make sure that they knew when and where they should vote. Unlike 15 other states, New York does not provide for early registration nor registration on Election Day (10 states plus the District of Columbia do). So far, all attempts to pass legislation to join the more voter-friendly states in our country have been stalled in Albany.
The JASA Senior Center is a very busy place, and our table and volunteers attracted many people. After a while, I thought I’d stroll up Graham Avenue, approaching shop owners and customers and people who might turn on to a side street. My favorite moment was a conversation with an elderly gentleman sitting in front of a store. “I’ve already voted,” he declared. “Really? When did you do that?” I responded. He tapped his head. “In my mind. I’ve already voted in my mind!”
“I’m afraid that won’t count,” I answered. “If you want to make your vote matter, you need to vote on November 8th.” “Are you registered?” “Yes,” he said. I had regretted all afternoon that I didn’t know more Spanish, though I’m not sure how much it would have helped with this particular fellow!