“Vote Chavous, No.1 on the ballot!,” shouted canvassers in hopes that Kevin B. Chavous would take Yvette Alexander’s position as Ward 7’s council member.
Often times, people go to the polls and vote but they don’t know the hard work put in by volunteers to get the word out. Canvassing played a major role in Chavous’ campaign.
“We are getting out into the community and showing our faces,” volunteer Didier Sinisterra said. Knocking on doors is said to be the best campaigning method and that’s what we have been doing.”Large groups of canvassers, primarily students and alumni from Chavous’ alma mater, Howard University, flooded in and out of his headquartersat 4193 Minnesota Ave. N.E. throughout the day.
“Having canvassers, in particular from Howard makes a difference in this community coming out to vote,” says Sinisterra, who is also a Howard alum. “Seeing us out there excited and energized gives them motivation to come out, too.”
Canvassing starts long before the day voters submit their ballot. For Chavous, it began in August 2011, says canvasser and poll watcher William T. Jolley.
Part of a canvasser’s job is to go door to door promoting their candidate. It is one of the tactics Mayor Vincent Gray used to get into office, reportedly knocking on every single door in the city.
Chavous followed suite visiting a large number of Ward 7 residents during his campaign.
“We knocked on over 10,000 doors,” said Chavous’ younger brother and canvasser, Eric. “The main thing for us was to actually get a one- on-one connection with the people in the community. That was very important to us.”
Some people have been canvassing for Chavous since day one, but it was many volunteers’ first time canvassing.
“Canvassing was a new experience for me,” says Maraunjanique Smallwood, a sophomore at Howard University. “Trying to inform voters about the candidate the day of elections was interesting being that most of them had already decided who they were going to vote for, but overall it was a good experience.”
Although many canvassers hit the streets from the beginning to end to electing Chavous as the new council member, council member Alexander stole the victory gaining an additional term in office.