Just after 6 a.m. on election day, eleven Edwards supporters gather in their office in Londonderry, N.H., to make the final push in a campaigning effort that has consumed their last few weeks.
A few minutes later, Jessica R. Rosenfeld ’07 appears, bringing the volunteers 15 McDonald’s biscuits—and some bad news.
“The woman at McDonald’s is not voting,” Rosenfeld reports, and the room reacts with dismay. The last few months have been spent trying to motivate every last New Hampshire resident of age to vote today, to vote Democrat and to vote Edwards. Any stay-at-home voter is a setback, it seems.
Rosenfeld and several others squeeze into a van to head off for the local polling places, where they will hold signs and make last-minute attempts to pull votes in Edwards’ direction.
Their simple approach draws from Edwards’ reputation as a positive campaigner. According to Rosenfeld, they aim to be not the most aggressive campaign, but the “nicest.”
After showing up at Grinell School at about 6:45 a.m. and planting a row of Edwards signs lining the entrance to the school’s parking lot, the volunteers set up camp on the sidewalk outside the school and launch their charm offensive in the freezing cold.
Volunteers from rival campaigns will show up in varying force over the next hour, but for now Edwards’ supporters are the only ones standing beside arriving voters. Just about every voter gets a bright “good morning” as he or she walks in to the poll, and the volunteers flash warm grins at all whose eyes they can catch.
The weather, in fact, is well below freezing at all times, necessitating a mitten run, a hot-chocolate expedition and more than a few temporary trips to warm up in the waiting van while one or two volunteers remain outside.
Like many volunteers, Rosenfeld wears chemically-reactive “Toasti-Toes” and hand-warmers throughout the day.
“I came up with four shirts for each day, and I’ve definitely worn all of them,” she says on the virtues of layering.
At one point a postal worker, stopping on his route to vote, asks why the campaigns are out so early and in such cold. The volunteers inform him that they are just “dedicated.”
“I’m dedicated,” the mailman says with a laugh. “You’re just lunatics!”
Making a List, Checking It Twice
At a Nashua elementary school, the Dean volunteers are also ready to brave the cold when the polls open at 6 a.m.