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No on 8
Volunteers Not Giving Up in Bakersfield

No on 8
Volunteers Not Giving Up in Bakersfield


Volunteers in one of California's most conservative cities are trying to change minds at the last minute on Proposition 8. They are blanketing east Bakersfield, the predominantly working-class and Democratic-leaning area of the city. Bakersfield has seen some of the state's most dedicated support for passing Prop. 8.

It's about 7:30 a.m. in Bakersfield, Calif., and the skies are clearing after an overnight rain. I'm standing in the parking lot at the Kern County Fairgrounds with Juan Cerda, a 24-year-old volunteer with the No on 8 campaign. A budget analyst for Kern County, the born-and-raised Bakersfield boy has taken the day off to make sure No on 8 has a presence as voters walk into the polling place.

The fairgrounds' Harvest Hall building, a simple corrugated-metal structure, is the location for 14 voting precincts in east Bakersfield, the predominantly working-class and Democratic leaning-area of the city of over 310,000. Located about two hours northeast of Los Angeles, in California's agriculturally dominant (and notoriously conservative, culturally) Central Valley, Bakersfield is ground zero for Yes on 8 support.

"It's my community here," Cerda says as a steady stream of voters pull in and out of the parking lot. Earlier that morning a polling official came outside and measured out 100 feet from the entrance of Harvest Hall for Cerda and his volunteers. "We're fine up until the grass," he explained, pointing out a median splitting the parking lot from a lane of traffic in front of the hall.

Cerda thinks that this is the best place in town to make an impact, since he estimates 3% of the vote on Proposition 8 is still undecided. He and his volunteers have been milling about the parking lot, gently handing out No on 8 flyers and encouraging voters to vote no.

"There are a percentage of supporters who are confused about what a 'no' vote means," he said. "We want to make sure we are minimizing that wrong voting."

So far the turnout of volunteers has been good. Besides five or six volunteers in the parking lot, another three or four people stand outside the parking lot, waving a variety of homemade and official No on 8 signs.

"I'm expecting about 15 people today -- some people all day, some for a couple hours," he said. "But I'd really like to have at least 20." (Christopher Lisotta, The Advocate)

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