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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: diversity

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May 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Portland man recruits minority votes in a state with a changing face

With the magic of Barack Obama’s 2008 election long gone, fears of anemic minority turnout in November are prompting some to take action.

Johnny Richey recruits voters at Portland's weekend market. (Photo by Derek Walker / UW Election Eye)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Swaddled by a booth of clothing and outdoor garden trinkets, Johnny Richey hands out voter packets and homemade signs endorsing Barack Obama. Richey points to a stack of registration forms, noting that there used to be thousands of applications when he and his partner first began recruiting voters.

Since he started pounding the pavement, Richey has wheedled that stack down to just four or five.

“A lot of people have given up hope on the American electoral process,” said Richey, who spent last weekend recruiting at Portland’s Saturday market.

Richey, who is black and lives in this town, said he was not an active voter himself until he found somebody he identified with in a position of leadership.

President Obama galvanized his political career.

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