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Volunteers across America: Rhode Island

Anne, Rhode Island

My name is Anne Connor, and I’ve lived in Rhode Island since 1989. My husband and I moved here from New York City because it was an easier place for us to raise kids. Well, the kids are all grown up and out of college now, but we’re still around. It was actually my kids who got me involved in the campaign in the first place.

In 2000, my son was a high school freshman and he got me involved with a grassroots “get out the vote” organization. The idea was that everyone had to find 25 unregistered voters, get them to register, call them before Election Day to make sure they had plans for voting, then call them on Election Day to make sure they had actually gone through with it. Well, the result was increased voter participation in Rhode Island. Since then, I’ve had the voting bug—it’s all about getting people registered and to the polls. What it’s done for me is sharpen my instincts about the voting process. It’s America so everyone is encouraged to vote, but there are rules and you have to follow them. That’s why I always carry registration forms around in my backpack and I’ve learned all the info. Now, whenever I run into people—on the bus, at the supermarket—I can get them registered and ready to go. I just turned 65 and I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I keep on telling people under 30 that they have the most at stake. Their future is on the line in this election.

Our daughter is able to be covered by our health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, and, as of August of this year, there are certain preventive medical services that are available to me now that I didn’t have access to before. In addition to that, President Obama won’t back down on Planned Parenthood or women’s health choices, which is extremely important to me. I’m also very proud of Obama for taking a stand on gay marriage. He’s in line with many Americans on that one. People realize that it doesn’t make a difference who you love. But, as much as I love President Obama, it’s up to the voters now—it’s their choice if they want to move forward or backward.

My children, sister, and her partner, brother and I all went to the inauguration in 2009 and we had so much fun that my sister suggested that we look into going to the convention this year. So I decided to run as a delegate for Rhode Island and I won! I collected twice as many signatures as I needed—and I’m not some political insider. I’m just someone who wants to see President Obama get re-elected.

I figured that if I was going to be a delegate, I’d need to be more involved. So my husband and I now hold phone banks every week in Barrington, which makes it a lot more convenient for people to come out and help. I’ve also done canvassing twice in Nashua, New Hampshire, which we Rhode Islanders have adopted as our sister city. The first time around, I went with a group that included a mother-daughter combo. The two of them had never canvassed before so they looked like a deer in headlights at first, but by the end, I had to drag them away! The next time around, I added a high school sophomore to the group and we had a really fun time.

My favorite part of volunteering is talking to voters one-on-one. It’s nice over the phone, but I really like for them to see my face and see that I’m just an ordinary person who wants to see the President get re-elected. The personal touch is very important to me. I also like how welcoming all of the New Hampshire volunteers are. Each time, they are just so welcoming.

I would just encourage everyone to come out and join us! If you’re not comfortable going door to door, bring a casserole to a local headquarters—believe me, there are hungry young people here! Or just host a phone bank in your living room. I was talking to a woman just last week who wanted to help out, but she’s a single mom with kids and she’s just too busy to leave her house. Well that woman is hosting a phone bank next week! It’s really easy to get involved. If you’re a senior, just convince your neighbors. If you’ve got a car, give people a ride to the polls on Election Day. That’s what neighborhood organizing is all about.

I’ve got a lot planned for the next two and a half months. I have another canvassing trip to Nashua planned, then a week after that, I fly to Charlotte for the Convention. It’s gonna be so much fun. My personal goal is to introduce myself to as many people from as many delegations as possible. Then I’ll phone bank right up until Election Day. I actually just hosted a phone bank at my house last night!

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