12/04/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Canvassing in Colorado; Battleground Blues

"Hi, my name is Emily, and I'm a volunteer for Barack Obama's campaign for change..."

I didn't really understand the term "Battleground State" until I came to Colorado on November 1 to get out the vote. Of course I knew that it meant the race here was close, but unless you are in the middle of it, you can't understand how that affects the residents of that state.

I live in California. We don't get visits from presidential hopefuls (unless they are looking for money), we don't see campaign ads, and we certainly don't have volunteers going door-to-door, trying to convince us that our vote matters. The only person who ever knocked on my door was running for the local school board.

But Colorado, one of the nation's newly-anointed swing states, is a different world at the moment. While canvassing in Jefferson County this weekend, I rounded a corner on foot and looked up a street. Obama signs and McCain signs -- side by side, thickly positioned, up and down the street. It was arresting. It almost looked staged. It definitely looked divisive. I am not talking about a few signs, I am talking nearly every house. How does this not impact a neighborhood? It must. It's a battleground.

The people I spoke with had been visited by campaign volunteers many, many times. Many showed signs of election fatigue; some were downright angry at yet another knock at the door. But others were more encouraging. They gave us a "Go Obama!" or "Keep up the good work" or, perhaps most importantly, a "Sure!" when we asked if we could use their bathroom.

Every vote counts in this state, and a significant percentage of voters are first timers. But the rules can be confusing:

Do you have a mail-in ballot?

Have you mailed it?

You haven't? Make sure you hand-deliver it because it's too late now.

Oh, but DON'T take it to the polls; you have to take it to a designated drop-off location.

But wait a minute, are you a first-time voter? Because if you are, you MUST include a photocopy of your ID with your mail-in ballot.

You lost your mail-in ballot? Let me tell you what to do...

People here in Colorado have been voting for weeks. They are tired, charged, annoyed, supportive... fighting. The day after tomorrow the volunteers will go back to their other lives, away from the daily and hourly push, regularly assessing data: who has voted and who needs to be revisited, and where should we reallocate resources. Over 40% of voters have already cast their ballots in this battleground state. Tomorrow, the lines will be long, but the battle will finally be over. And neighborhoods can go back to being neighborhoods.