Kerry's Florida Brigade

This has to be the feel good story of the day. Check out what senior citizens in Florida are doing to make sure everyone gets to vote. If these 70 and 80 year olds can spend hours a day in the hot sun, "bunions and all," so can we. Call your local Kerry campaign headquarters and see what you can do to make sure that everyone who has registered gets a proper ballot and has a way to return it.

At Kerry-Edwards headquarters last week, the seniors were sadly shaking their heads because an absentee ballot had not reached the man in hospice care in time. His dying wish was to cast a vote against President Bush, and if only he had signed the ballot before he died, it would have counted.

God forbid that should happen to one of them.

Why don't they like Bush?

They tick off the war, the economy, Social Security, prescription drug benefits, homeland security, education and the man in the Oval Office, whom they regard with suspicion for a perceived lack of intellectual rigor.

...So they stream by the hundreds into the office here, volunteers in their seventies and eighties, die-hard Democrats, many of them Jewish, still irritated about the famous Palm Beach County butterfly ballot of 2000.

Are they making an impact? You bet.

The most dedicated of the seniors show up seven days a week, 10 and 12 hours a day. Already they have collected more than 60,000 absentee ballots countywide, distributed more than 65,000 campaign buttons, according to the paid Kerry staffers, who are all in their twenties. From this office, one of five in Palm Beach County, the volunteers make 8,000 calls a day, contacting likely voters, asking them if they need a ride to the polls, explaining the new early voting rules. The large cardboard sheet on the wall asking for Election Day drivers had 150 slots. It's full, and the new goal is 300.

And stories? They have stories.

"I was 12 years old when Hitler marched into Vienna," she says, as she steers her car carefully toward a large retirement complex where she will canvass. "I remember cowering in a corner, when they marched in and just ravaged my parents' home. I see so many parallels today -- the sneak-and-peek aspect of the Patriot Act, the disdain for the intellectual and the academic that this administration has."

Engaged in the process?

[Volunteer Weiss] knocks on 78 doors, carefully recording each contact on her sheet of registered voters. It takes a long time because the old folks who cautiously open the shades then want to discuss politics. It can be a lonely life here in the modest bungalows, and residents crave the social contact of voting. Casper Garber, 98, refuses Weiss's offer of an absentee ballot application and says he will take the bus to the community's clubhouse to vote on Election Day.

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