Canvassing is a Gift

4 mins read
Patrick voting. Photo provided by the author.

Today in Arizona, I waited with a dozen other people to canvass for Doug Ervin and Judy Schweibert.

They are both exceptional candidates.

In that group there was one woman from Los Angeles, three women from Oakland, a crew from Davis and a couple from Fairfield…all in Arizona.

Truly incredible…in January!

As I was canvassing, I knocked on a door of a mom with five grown boys.

I did not have her name on my list but I had her son’s.

She said, “My son has Down Syndrome. He doesn’t vote.”

I smiled.

Because…OF COURSE she has a son with Down Syndrome.

I looked her in the eye and said, “Your son can vote. My son votes. He has Down Syndrome.”

Her face looked like I was telling her a secret.

Her: “But he’s non-verbal.”

I said out loud what her heart knew.

Me: “You don’t have to be able to talk to get to vote.”

She got super quiet and said, “He can vote…why haven’t I let him vote?”

I could tell that she was going down into a hole of self-recrimination…but it wasn’t her fault.

Who asks people with disabilites to vote?

Who makes cool videos that say Rock The Vote and includes people with disabilities?

Who goes out of their way to explain voting to people with disabilities?


They are voiceless and the big, giant system likes it that way.

And, this is why canvassing is such a gift.

What are the chances that I would cross paths with this mom?

That she would open her door?

That she wouldn’t blow me off?

We hugged in her doorway. Crying.
Mom to mom. ❤

And then she started really crying…and revealed that another son was being deployed to the middle east on Friday.

She was sick over it.
Unable to stop crying.

Mothers – together – feeling utterly helpless.

But, we weren’t helpless.

We had each other…and I told her how much ACTION has helped me…how she could meet other moms and work to create the world that values our sons…and sees the pointlessness in endless wars.

I told her that she could get her son’s friends registered to vote.

Asked her to imagine what it would be like if every adult with Down Syndrome voted.

Told her my secret dream that someday someone with Down Syndrome would be elected to office!!

That our kids would do a much better job than the guy we currently have.

She laughed and cried…and we hugged some more.

Don’t let anyone tell you that canvassing is a waste.

It’s a way to build community…and break through the isolation…and remind people of what’s possible.

So, I don’t know who needs to hear this…but it’s on us to let the world know that people with intellectual disabilities GET TO VOTE!

Their voice matters.

Spread the word.

Here’s Patrick after he finished voting just in case you can’t picture it.

Originally posted on Facebook. Re-posted with permission.

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