I have been thinking lately about planned redundancy. Specifically, this is a strategy I employ in my garden, where, during the period in which everything is a tender, vulnerable seedling (right now), there is, I think, a cat which comes and hangs out during the night, enacting casual violence. The cat, or whatever it is, usually chooses one spot in which to sit, flattening some seedlings, nibbling on others. The cat’s actions are augmented by birds and lizards and who knows what else, and there’s only so much I can do to stop it.
So I plant a lot of seeds. Not all of them will make it, but some of them will.
One way I’ve been volunteering lately is text banking with Field Team 6, to register voters. There is a lot of redundancy involved here, too: you send out many texts at once, and very few people text back. Maybe fifty percent of people who do just ask to be removed from the list; some say they aren’t interested, or are already registered, and some spew real vitriol at you. The people you actually help are limited, but they are real: I’ve gotten a number of people to check their registration only to realize they’ve been purged, and re-register. I’ve reach a few of the casual willing, “Oh ok, why not” type people. I’ve chatted with those who are excited to vote, or who have already voted, one of whom called me “Sweetie” and I just let it pass me by, because in the context of this particular struggle, being called “Sweetie” by a stranger, as a 36 year old woman, was something I could live with.
To reach those people, those positive few, you have to send a lot of texts.
I know perfectly well, too, that many of us are receiving more texts than we actually need. I get up to three texts per day from different groups, asking me if I’ve registered, and I already voted. I can see how it’s annoying a lot of people, but, probably because I’ve been text banking myself, I can see the value in it: how, during an election I already can’t stop thinking about, these texts allow me to keep practical, positive steps I can take top-of-mind. They are people I can ask, if something goes wrong with my ballot. They are helpful voices—maybe too many helpful voices, resulting in a sort of helpful chatter, but helpful all the same.
I got very excited when my early ballot arrived; Arizona votes primarily early, by mail, and although I share all the concerns about the post office this year, I was pretty confident that, if I sent it back right away, it would work out fine. Then, I forgot to date my ballot envelope, and had to open the outer, mailing envelope seal: I was too nervous to mail it in, at that point, so I brought it to the county recorder’s office.
When I did this, I was nervous that it might be rejected, and so I brought a lot of helpful items with me, just in case. Black ballpoint pens, a glue stick, scotch tape, and about 5 kinds of ID. I was ready to throw the weight of proof behind my ballot, to sign a paper and match it against the signature on the ballot itself. But none of this was necessary. At the recorder’s office, there were several outdoor stations where you could drop your ballot off, all staffed. The man I showed my ballot envelope to had his own glue stick, and he glued it shut for me before letting me drop it in the box. I have been monitoring its progress here, and if it’s not fully processed in a week, I’m going to call the recorder’s office to see if they need anything else.
So much of this effort is probably redundant, but I am going to do it anyway, because this is important to me. I think everyone should get to vote, and have their vote counted. I think we should take care of each other, even when the helpful chatter gets a bit loud. I don’t know. I feel a lot of things right now, I don’t know that they are specifically hopeful things. In the past, hope was mostly a feeling for me, something that came unbidden from within. Now, hope is more of a verb, more of an action that I take with my hands, sending texts, writing letters, putting seeds into the ground. So many seeds, in so many places, with the hope that some will grow.