The Time Is Now

Having spent two days in Ohio this past weekend covering efforts by volunteers and staff of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) to help in the voter registration and identification drive in that critical swing state, I can report that there is a palpable sense of excitement and history on the ground in those areas where the presidential campaign is most hotly contested.

The ESPA group registered about 300 voters, just two days before the deadline in Ohio, and accumulated election day contact information on a total of 1,300 voters.

Voter registration has now ended in most states, but voter identification and turn-out efforts are the hard work yet to come. The efforts made by New Yorkers in critical battleground states, whether in person or by phone, can have a meaningful impact on the outcome November 2.

Pres. George W. Bush has made our choice this election an easy one. Even if gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans were not put off by the fiasco in Iraq and an economy that has faltered for four years, the president’s support for a constitutional amendment defining our second-class citizenship would be definitive.

America Coming Together, the group with which ESPA coordinated its Cincinnati trip, has a special Manhattan office dedicated to hooking New Yorkers up with ACT’s different swing state operations. Contact the office at 212-261-4311 or visit actforvictory.org.

MoveOn’s Leave No Voter Behind Neighbor-to-Neighbor Victory Drive aims to turn out 440,000 additional votes for Kerry from 10,000 neighborhoods. Visit moveonpac.org/lnvb/ for more information.

NARAL Pro-Choice New York conducts Saturday expeditions to Pennsylvania to canvass female voters there and also hosts weeknight phone-banking sessions. Contact the group at 212-343-0114 or visit prochoiceny.org.

DrivingVotes.org is a grassroots anti-Bush organization that helps out roadtrippers heading to swing states by providing them with materials to assist them in talking to voters about the election and getting them to the polls.

Swing The State describes itself as an “anti-Bush travel agency.” Visit its Web site swingthestate.org for more information.

Run Against Bush is a grassroots campaign dedicated to removing Bush from the White House. On Saturday, October 23, the group is hosting the second National Run Against Bush Day in more than 100 cities. For more information about the plan for New York and other cities, visit runagainstbush.org.

Election Protection is a national nonpartisan coalition that is training volunteer election monitors. On Election Day, volunteers will be traveling to polling sites around the country with a history of irregularities or voting rights violations. Volunteers will distribute copies of the Voters’ Bill of Rights, make sure that polls open and close on time, prevent voter intimidation and assist voters with overcoming any barriers to voting that they encounter. Help prevent another Florida. For more information on how to get involved contact Kristin Connelly at krconnelly@fordham.edu or visit electionprotection.org or impact2004.org.

At the conclusion of ESPA’s trip to Cincinnati, officials at the group indicated that they might be organizing additional canvassing excursions—perhaps to closer swing locales such as Philadelphia—prior to the election. Pick up the phone and call ESPA’s Chris Cormier at 212-627-0305 or email him at ccormier@prideagenda.org and urge him to plan another gay vote outing.

This list is just the start. There are only three and a half weeks left. Do something.

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