NY Phone Bankers for Obama

New York State is a safe bet for Obama. The NY State delegation in the House of Representatives splits 23-6 for Democrats and may shift to 27-2 in the next Congress. The NY State Senate, Republican for 69 of the last 70 years has a one-vote GOP majority and eight Republican seats are being strongly challenged.

So New Yorkers, who like to target their energy where the payoff is greatest, are traveling in substantial numbers to Pennsylvania and other states where the races are close. And they are phone banking in droves.

Typically the phone-bank volunteer signs up by web site/email ( call) or by phone (866-611-6447) for one or more two-hour time slots. Upon arrival, the phone banker is given a list of out-of-state phone numbers to call and a script that (based on what I heard around me) is adhered to in spirit but is adapted to fit the phone banker's personality. Volunteers are asked to bring their own cell phones and chargers (in case phones are all in use) but when I showed up today there were ample phones.

The advertised phone-bank sites in New York City include six in Manhattan, one in the Bronx, four in Brooklyn, one in Staten Islanbd and one in Queens. Some of the sites have capacity for hundreds of callers.

Most phone banking is routine. You call and the number is busy or disconnected or it doesn't answer, and you note this next to the voter's name. You remind people of the polling hours and their polling location.

Sometimes you get a hostile response. The lists are supposed to be of registered Democrats but you still occasionally get a highly strung McCain supporter. In these cases the forms are marked to make sure no one reminds them to vote.

Your sense of achievement comes from finishing a page. You hand it in when completed, and the phone bank organizers pleased as punch because they can then start processing the responses.

The most fun is when you can solve a problem. An elderly voter recovering from cancer needs a ride to the polls. You provide a toll-free phone number. You find out from another voter in the state that the toll-free number is constantly busy. So you get another number and you call back to the woman who had cancer to give her a better phone number.

The perks of the job include free sodas or coffee and if you are there long enough, food. You also get an Obama button and a Phone Bank badge. Phone banking wraps up at 9 pm. Late in the day you may be calling people in the Central, Mountain or even Pacific time zone.

Do it! Call 866-611-6447.