It was election day, 2008. I was working as a voter protection lawyer for the Obama campaign at a polling place in North Milwaukee that serves a nearly 100% African American electorate. The polling place started the day with insufficient staff and too few poll books to handle the voters who were already lined up around the block when I arrived an hour before the polls opened on election day.
At that time, Wisconsin still permitted same day registration and many of the voters in line had never voted before. The unanticipated surge of same day registrations overwhelmed the regular staff assigned to the polling place and the pace of voting slowed to a crawl.
Especially for November, it was hot in Milwaukee that day. At the campaign's request I had brought a car load of bottled water and granola bars to relieve the suffering of folks waiting in line. We didn't want anyone who showed up to leave without voting. Our voter protection team had contact by phone with an area coordinator for the campaign and we reported the distress the problems and delays at our polling place was causing.
The next thing I knew, in marched mayor Tom Barrett, with additional poll workers and more poll books. He worked the room, then moved on to solve the next problem troubling his city that day. I liked him instantly.
That day, I saw an African American woman who appeared to be in her 80's register and vote for the first time in her life. The joyful look on her face when she turned around from that booth after voting is a memory that will inspire and comfort me for the rest of my life.
When I heard that Tom Barrett was taking on the rematch with Walker, my heart soared like an eagle. On, Wisconsin.