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Dear Governor Ducey,

I signed up to learn how to canvass for your political opponent. I wanted to go. I meant to go. It was from 8:30 to 4 p.m. today, Sunday, Feb. 25. It’s only eight months until you are up for election and I want to do everything in my power, beyond writing these letters that fall on deaf ears, to make sure you’re ousted. I’ve given money to his campaign. I’ve talked to people in the hallways at Puente de Hozho. I’ve gone to fundraising events. I’ve posted on Facebook.

But I bailed today. I told the organizer, whom I adore, that I had too much work to do. And I do. I have to write this letter, for one thing. And I have to read submissions for DIAGRAM Magazine. I have to judge Best of the Net contest. I need to read two student essays, prepare to discuss Amy Leach in my undergrad class and read for hybrid essay/poems and prepare for my late night grad class. My grad class is from 5 to 7:30 on Tuesday nights because of the new regulation that 25 percent of all classes take place before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. When I started teaching, I taught from 12 to 3. That was the default time slot. Now, we’re not allowed to teach three-hour classes in the middle of the day. Now, we teach at night. The default changed.

My students. I cannot bail on them. I need to write and respond and track changes and write narrative comments on their essays. I committed to writing my letter and reading manuscripts long ago. I truly, truly want to help get out the vote. I want a referendum on this past year’s injustice. I want students in this town, this state, this country to get a brilliant education and not to be shot while trying to do so. That is going to take money and time and doing this thing called canvassing. We need to go door to door. But I don’t want to go door to door. I don’t want to make phone calls. I hate it when people knock on my door. I hate it when I get phone calls. The political parties email every single day. Every third day, I give them another five dollars. Isn’t that enough?

I know it’s not enough. I know my letters aren’t enough. I’m not sure knocking on people’s doors is the right thing or if it’s even enough. I remember a great story on This American Life that talked to some pro-choice activists. Once they sat down and really told people their stories, they were able to change some staunchly anti-choice voters’ minds. But then the data for that story was put under fire and it melted. The stories weren’t untrue but that people changed their minds and voted differently could not be confirmed. It was such a good idea. Just talking to people. Tell people your personal story and people will change their minds. But when I picture canvassing, I picture slammed doors. Slammed phones. People lying on the floor pretending they’re not home as I knock and knock (like my husband and I do when we see solicitors approaching).

There are a lot of ways to get people to vote.

Wait? Are there? Maybe there aren’t that many ways. Maybe knocking on doors is the only way. Maybe going to people’s houses on Election Day and picking them up and putting them in your car and driving them to the voting booth is the only way. (Actually, I think that’s called kidnapping.) Or, maybe mandatory voting, as they have in Australia, is the only way--the opposite of how the US is voter ID-ing people out of voting.

But how about this idea? Americans are a rebellious lot. It would be so much easier to go house to house and tell people not to vote. They would be annoyed by me and do the exact opposite of my request. The droves of people who would show up to the polls!

Dear Governor, what do you do to get people to vote for you? There aren’t as many rich, white people as other kinds of people in Arizona so how does it work? You probably don’t go door to door. I know you win mostly by default. That R beside your name is a whistle that signals “mark this box.” But somehow, door by door, call by call, letter by letter, that default will change.

Nicole Walker is an associate professor at Northern Arizona University, and is the author of Quench Your Thirst with Salt and a collection of poems, This Noisy Egg. She edited, with Margot Singer, Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, and is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment from the Arts. The thoughts expressed here are hers alone and not necessarily those of her employer. For more letters, visit


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