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Get out vote effort starts before dawn

on November 4, 2008


Nov. 4 – It is 6 am, and most of the storefronts on Broadway are dark and shuttered.  The sun has yet to rise.  But the lights are on at the Oakland Democratic Party headquarters, and the people streaming in are awake and attentive.  This is no day for early morning grogginess.  It is Election Day, and the activists and volunteers are ready to get down to business. 

Yuli and Anna Zulaica, sisters who live in Emeryville, stride in at 6:30 am.   Their eyes are bright, their curly hair styled; Yuli has even found time to apply a subtle shade of lipstick.  Within minutes of signing up, they are handed a stack of papers and a flashlight and are sent on their way.  

The Zulaica sisters get instructions.

The Zulaica sisters get instructions.

Get Out The Vote efforts—commonly known as GOTV—are standard practice on Election Day, and a crucial component of a campaign’s ground game.  The time to convince voters of the merits of your candidate or position has passed.  Now it’s all about getting your supporters to the polls.  

That’s where the Zulaica sisters come in.  They, and others like them, have volunteered to walk precincts, and hang flyers on doorknobs and gates.  Another contingent of volunteers will be calling voters encouraging them to vote.  A third group will be stopping by polling places, checking lists to see who has already voted and who could use a little more prodding to get to the polls. 

No matter the party, position, or ideology, political campaigns have mobilized armies of volunteers to work for their cause on Election Day.  Hector Barajas, a spokesman for the California Republican Party, estimates there are 2,000 volunteers working in shifts today.  The California Democrats have 5,000 volunteers, according to spokesperson Brian Brokaw. 

Yuli, a part-time law student at Golden Gate University, has worked on political campaigns before, but she says this election season is different. 

“There’s a lot more activism this time,” she says.  She adds that other people in her San Francisco-based law firm have taken the day off to volunteer. 

Both sisters juggle a stack of GOTV paperwork: a map of the precinct (centered on Alcatraz between College and Telegraph), a list of addresses of registered Democrats, and pamphlets and door-hangers that promote the party-sponsored candidates and initiatives.  The door-hanger features a prominent photograph of Barack Obama and lists the nearest polling place.  Other flyers urge voters to vote no on Proposition 8, the initiative that would ban gay marriage in California. 

This stretch of North Oakland is friendly territory for the Zulaica sisters.  Windows and lawns are dotted with Obama and No on 8 signs.  A woman walking her dog sees their flyers and stickers, and thanks them for volunteering.  A man sees Anna from down the street and comes out of the house to take her flyers in person.  “Thank you,” he says.  “I knew you guys were coming!” 

Anna and Yuli examine their route.

Anna and Yuli examine their route.

During their 90-minute precinct walk, they see no McCain-Palin signs and only one house that makes them worry for Proposition 8  “There was a Yes on 8 flyer there,” said Yuli, “so I just put a lot more No on 8 fliers on top.”

Although Anna and Yuli have a list of addresses, they end up leaving fliers at every residence along the route.  “We have enough fliers,” said Anna, an undergraduate French and Italian Studies major at UC Berkeley.  “If people don’t like it, they can throw it out.”

The sun is out full force by the time they’ve completed their walk; the mini-flashlights they picked up at party headquarters are just a souvenir of their pre-dawn arrival.  The blocks are neatly papered with door-hangers and fliers.  Their job complete, the sisters part ways: Yuli goes home to her husband and baby; Anna to a 9:30 am class.  

But the work continues for the thousands of volunteers state-wide who are working to get out the vote, and efforts will continue throughout the day until polls close at 8 pm.  The sisters themselves also have one final task—in the course of what will prove to be a long, anxious day, both will have to find time to vote.×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg|×199.jpg


  1. Patricia Zulaica on December 1, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I think this is a great article! I am the third Zulaica sister, living in Las Vegas. I appreciate their effort, among many others, who assisted in the No on Prop 8 campaign. Although they were not successful, I’m sure many people did no overlook their efforts in getting their voices, and those of the gay population, heard.

    Great to see their hard work was appreciated!!!!

  2. Janiece Rustin on December 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I would like to say “thank you” to Anna and Yulissa (and the reporters of this paper) for their time, energy and dedication to the No on Prop 8 campaign. These women have moxy! And, as a Lesbian I am proud to know they were out there with many others making a difference in the community that day.

  3. Telemaco Seamanduras on December 4, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Good job ladies.
    Proud of you.

    see you soon.

  4. Charell Williams on June 9, 2009 at 7:12 am

    This is awesome. I wonder who raised such wonderful young adults.

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