Last night about 6:00 PM I watched a handsome young black man dressed informally but nicely standing on a busy corner on the bus mall downtown. He had a clipboard and a pen. Attached to the clipboard was a stack of voter registration self-mailing cards. Kitty-corner was another fellow set up the same way. Good eye contact, friendly smile. "Are you a registered voter? Time to get registered to vote today?" No solicitation. Just helping folks get signed up to vote.
As I watched him I noticed he - and his partner across the street - was approaching young folks specifically.
"Ready to vote? Let's get you signed up today."
Ninety percent brushed him off - avoided eye contact, suddenly started dialing their cell phones, juggling baggage, looking into the distance. He was handsome and did better with young women, "Hey there" he'd call out and get their attention. They'd pause and gab a bit then he'd get into the pitch, "I know you need to do this - you got to register to vote." And she'd say, "what's that?" and "Yeah yeah okay I'll be back later you know that" and then she'd start some business with her shopping bags and trot off.
After ten minutes of this, to confound it all, a buddy came up to this fellow. They obviously knew each other well and "whatcha doing down here?" "You know I'm getting folks signed up for the vote - do you vote? I'll get you signed up-" pen in hand ready to go.
His pal, young, strong, clear-eyed, full of life, took half a step back and summed it up with "oh no man I don't do nothing like that."