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Dems Canvass Embattled N.H.

By Anton S. Troianovski, Contributing Writer

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Nearly 200 Harvard College Democrats combed the streets yesterday morning to assist in a final effort to get-out-the-vote in this battleground state.

While some arrived earlier this weekend, 30 members hopped on a 9 a.m. school bus yesterday to the state which was won by Kerry by a margin of 3 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

During the 40-minute ride, with NPR on high volume blaring continuous election updates, the College Dems could hardly contain their giddiness.

“I wouldn’t get anything done today anyway because I’m ridiculously nervous,” said Quinn G. Phillips ’07, making his first canvassing trip to New Hampshire.

Between last Friday and Election Day, the College Dems sent about 200 supporters to New Hampshire with the goal of “knocking on every Democratic-leaning door in Manchester” and driving residents to polling places, if necessary, said Thomas M. McSorley ’06, the legislative director of the group.

In Manchester, the Harvard delegation teamed up with America Coming Together (ACT), a non-profit organization affiliated with America Votes, a coalition of progressive groups.

Mike P. Kaufman, a staging coordinator for ACT, said that 2,600 volunteers were on the streets of New Hampshire on Election Day. Harvard students made up a third of the canvassers in Manchester, Kaufman said.

From the ACT local downtown headquarters, volunteers were driven around the town and dropped off in pairs with a map and list of Democratic-leaning residents that they planned to remind to vote.

On the bus, students disagreed over how successful their canvassing would be. But many said they did not want to sit idly by as this highly contested election was being decided.

“I want to know that I’ve done everything I could,” said Hallie A. Fader, a first-year student at Harvard Law School who was on her first trip with the College Dems. “I’ve been complaining about [President Bush] for four years, and it would be sort of silly if I didn’t do anything about it.”

A group of students arrived Monday evening and said they have barely slept since.

“We sunset canvassed, labeled, midnight canvassed and sunrise canvassed,” said William C. Nygard ’08, who did not let fatigue depress his spirits. “I’m fighting for our country!”

As the bus entered Manchester, the College Dems were greeted by scores of activists standing on street corners, most of them holding Kerry-Edwards signs.

“It’s sort of funny, when you think about it, to have four years of frustration channeled into one day,” Fader said.

After the polls closed at 7 p.m., the volunteers returned to the headquarters exhausted but upbeat.

“It takes a lot of effort, a lot of time and a lot of determination to reach people,” said Greg M. Schmidt ’06, College Dems campaign director. “We try to make whatever difference we can.”

In addition to canvassing, ACT dispatched volunteers to man phone banks and to make sure citizens waiting in long lines to vote weren’t discouraged from voting. Students delivered pizza to voters standing in two-hour long lines around Manchester.

On the bus ride back, which was even more packed than the morning bus, the anticipation that had been building up throughout the day approached its peak. The hushed group clung to the radio commentators’ every word, breaking into loud cheers whenever they heard evidence that the election would produce a Kerry win.

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