My experience in Arizona was, to say the least, a very new one. I was completely unaware of what voter registration would be like when I arrived there, except I knew that we had to go to Arizona to do it to help the immigrant community vote, so legislation such as the Dream Act could be passed. When we first began registering voters, I wondered if it would make much of a difference at all. However, by the time I had started to do some work, I began to see it differently – that if enough immigrants registered to vote and got their voice heard, then they could make things better for the other immigrants, ones who are “undocumented” and can’t vote. And I would like that, because I have a close personal connection to some people that are dealing with these very same problems. So although I still may not have liked doing voter registration and even if I wasn’t very good at it, I could at least say I tried to help my brothers and sisters in the immigrant community by registering people to vote.
One thing that struck me on this trip was how hard registering voters actually was. I had expected it to be much easier, and be some sort of sit-down work where people would come to you to register. When I heard, during our training on the first day, that our host organization, Promise Arizona (PAZ), had registered 10,000 voters with all their efforts, I thought it was a really low number. However, when I actually got out there and experienced for myself how hard registering voters was (how about getting kicked out of Wal-Mart at least three times?) I thought it was a miracle that they had got to 1,000, let alone 10,000. It doesn’t help that I have never been good in social situations such as voter registration where you have to approach people and ask them to register, but I got the general feeling that voter registration was hard for almost everyone.
The companionship with the folks during the trip was enjoyable. It was indeed entertaining to hear some of the stories told and to talk about some of the sports going on at the time. However, there were a few times when I felt out of place as the only “kid” in the whole group.