25-year-old Patrick Mayes enters North Jacksonville’s Twin Towers to spread the good news—not only is Florida offering early voting, but the Democratic Party is offering free rides to the poll, along with a suggested slate of candidates. Mayes has volunteered to go door-to-door in areas where people might have trouble getting to the polls. The Twin Towers—a run-down assisted living facility—clearly has its share of problems. But getting people out to the polls isn’t one of them. As Mayes knocks on doors, the response becomes rote:
I already voted.
I went the first day.
I voted for Kerry, we gotta get the Democrats in.
I went up on Edgewood.
The Towers’ mostly black residents are living out their last days down on their luck. Mayes is at the other end of the lifecycle—he’s an articulate, fresh-faced chemical engineer, a graduate of Florida A&M University. Like most black folks from Jacksonville, his passion for this year’s election is fueled by what happened in 2000. But that passion isn’t restricted by youth.
One lady comes to the door with her granddaughter in tow, white beads shaking from her braided hair. Her grandmother is in a wheelchair and can barely talk; still she’s struggling to get across a message. The granddaughter interrupts the stuttering with a message that’s more of the same—She said she did it already.