Voter Suppression.

It’s something I hadn’t spent much time thinking about until this election cycle. The GOP has driven so far to the right that their base threw up their hands and went for a non-politician. The Democratic Party also shifted so far to the right that a progressive movement rose up and got behind the campaign of a not-widely known Senator from Vermont.  Big money and Super Pacs have been deciding elections, the mainstream media’s been selling everyone a line and people have finally begun to notice. It’s been like watching the prequel to “A Tale of Two Cities.”  When a country becomes polarized, what comes next isn’t pretty.

Best oftimes

On Election Day in California, I volunteered to be a legal monitor for the Sanders campaign. The reason I did was because I’d read everything that had happened during the course of other states’ elections. Here’s a sampling:

If I keep writing about this, my post will rival War and Peace, so I will stop.

The media was…. crickets. Or spinning and misreporting, until the night before the California election (and the other remaining states that hadn’t voted) they announced that Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination. This was reported despite the fact that superdelegates don’t vote until July 25, 2016.

The irresponsibility of this act, on top of everything else, made me believe that volunteering was an absolute necessity. I received training late the night before from a hard-working, bleary-eyed lawyer who was trying to get everything coordinated. Around 1 a.m. I received my assignment and credentials. I was assigned to a precinct with an expected high voter turnout near downtown San Diego.

Showing up at 6:30 a.m. with donuts and a 12 pack traveler of coffee from Starbucks for the poll workers, I was still initially viewed with suspicion by them. I was finally allowed to sit quietly on a couch in the room and watch. I had access to an app to check voter registration and a link to a website to check polling locations.

Voters were standing at the door when it opened at 7 a.m. and remained steady throughout the day. As it progressed, I began to see that there was a really large problem occurring: HALF of the people voting were being given provisional ballots.

In California, a provisional ballot is given instead of a regular ballot for a number of reasons. Maybe a voter doesn’t have their mail in ballot to surrender (no, you can’t vote twice), they’re voting in the wrong polling place or they don’t have proof they are registered to vote.  Many people were first time voters and had chosen to register as No Party Preference. They could then choose to vote Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party or No Party Preference. That’s a complicated mess to begin with.

Unfortunately, many of the voters didn’t bring their mail in ballots and didn’t want to go back home get them or hadn’t received their mail in ballots. Some were registered with the wrong party. One young lady was shocked to learn she was registered Republican, when she clearly didn’t fit their demographic. Some didn’t want to walk the few blocks to their correct polling place and some couldn’t get back in time to vote at their regular polling place but felt it was important to vote.  I helped almost every other voter figure out a problem via my app or online. As the man supervising the precinct told me when he got back from making his rounds to the other locations, “It’s Provisional City.”

Why am I telling you this? Why should you care?

Because it’s been announced that Clinton has won California and there’s still 2.6 million ballots that have not been counted, largely provisional. Since the Democratic election was within 450,000 votes between the two candidates, 2.6 million might change things around.

Again, why should you care? Hasn’t President Obama already endorsed Mrs. Clinton? Isn’t she the nominee? Here’s a recent video by Lee Camp:

Not really. She’s the “presumptive” nominee. There’s still that July 25th vote by the Superdelegates to consider. And did you know Washington D.C. still hasn’t voted yet?

And in case you’re wondering why the Sanders campaign is continuing and his supporters are largely ignoring a call to “Unite Blue,” this is the Pre-K version of what’s been happening. As Americans, we’ve been told our vote matters, that it’s one of our most important rights. From what I’ve seen in this election, if you believe that,  you know about the oceanfront property in Arizona I’m going to sell you.

Wake Up. Get Involved. You Matter.


As a great man said, “Change starts from the bottom up.”


This week I went to the San Diego Convention Center on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m.  I’m a veteran of many Comic-Cons, so it was eerie to walk along a nearly-deserted sidewalk and go right into the building. Inside, things got a bit more familiar. There was a roped off area inhabited by about 20 people. I assessed the situation and claimed a spot against a wall to support my back, near 3 friendly Latinas. To my left, a young man was immersed in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yoginanda and listening to music. Cell phones were already being charged in the few electrical outlets.  We were in for a long wait. The doors to the event would open at 5 p.m.


As time progressed, the space filled and people were crammed in close.  Volunteers with clipboards picked their way carefully through the throngs, registering people to vote and getting signatures on proposed initiatives. A baby slumbered face down on a blanket near his watchful mom, a young blonde woman braided her boyfriend’s long locks into a festive look and passed out organic fruit, I got to chat with a smart Latino boy and his charming Muslim long-time friend.

As it drew closer to 5 p.m., local security gave announcements over an inadequate bullhorn that blared with static.  I think he spoke about what we could/could not bring into the event, but no one could really hear, except maybe 3 people in the front. Then the Secret Service took over. We all went through metal detectors and security screenings. I lamented not eating the two protein bars that were tossed out.


People swarmed into Halls D & E. I’d never seen it empty. At Comic Con it’s used as the main exhibit hall and is packed with vendors and nerds. Now, volunteers directed us toward the stage where Bernie Sanders would appear. Behind us was another stage filled with members of the press with cameras and behind that stage were tables for reporters. Music played, including “Disco Inferno” (Bern, baby, Bern). People held signs, tossed around balloons and chatted. Outside, the lines were so long they rivaled those at Comic Con when the Dr. Who or Game of Thrones cast made appearances. They let people into a side room to watch the event on a video screen. The total attendance: nearly 15 thousand people.


My boyfriend, who had arrived late, managed to sneak into the building and find me. While he’d been outside plotting his way in, he’d gotten a Bernie temporary tattoo on his neck.  An older woman from Wisconsin, who was a voracious reader, chatted with a high school age boy who did a killer Bernie impression. A tall man with a beard sat serenely in the lotus position and meditated. The press played blaring coverage by CNN talking about the GOP race until the crowd chanted “Turn it off! Turn it OFF!”


Finally, around 8:30 p.m., after standing pressed together for three hours, Rosario Dawson took the stage and gave an eloquent speech about why now is the time for everyone to be engaged in the political process. You can listen to it here:


Then Bernie Sanders arrived. He’d spent the morning talking to students in Flagstaff, Arizona (I won’t talk about the voter suppression in Arizona or the need to reinstate the voters’ rights act in this country, but if you don’t know about it, get on Twitter and put in the hashtags #ArizonaElectionFraud or #RestoretheVRA) Sanders had also made an appearance in Los Angeles on the Jimmy Kimmel show. He’s 74 years old and filled with energy, except for a voice that, understandably, cut out here and there from overuse. You can watch his full speech here:

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere, the love, the energy. Once you see Bernie in person, it validates everything you’ve read about his trustworthiness and compassion. From a viewpoint as a public speaking coach, he’s a master. But I don’t say that in a way that suggests he’s trying to manipulate his audience. When he talks about what’s happening in the world and where he stands on issues, his sincerity shines. He begins segments of his speech with the phrase “This campaign is listening to our brothers and sisters in…” and goes on to talk about the African American, Latino, Native American, gay and female communities.  Around me, there were people of all ages and ethnic groups, all finally waking up and understanding that we aren’t in control of this country anymore. Corporations, Wall Street and other special interests took away democracy ages ago, and many didn’t notice.

If you want to know who the Establishment wants in power, see who’s getting the mainstream media press (Hint: It’s everyone but Bernie Sanders.) If you’ve never gone outside TV news, go online and watch The Young Turks.


Now is the time to get past superficial preferences and learn about candidates. What are their positions? Does their platform make sense for you as a whole? I’m a “no party preference” voter because I want the chance to look at both parties. In the California primary, I can’t vote for a Republican because I’d have to be registered as one. I’ve checked their candidates on all issues, and until they change on women and minority issues, I’m out of that party. That leaves Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

I won’t vote for Hillary on the sole basis that she’s a woman and we allegedly need a woman president. I was a prosecutor at age 24 and have been through plenty of the issues women deal with in a male-dominated career, especially when I first started. Being female should never be the only qualification. I also want a woman I can trust. I’ve looked at Secretary Clinton’s record in depth and she’s changed her stance on so many issues over the years, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Since the Michigan primary is over, I’d like to find a time she’s mentioned Flint again. I know Senator Sanders did at the San Diego rally. She’s also more hawkish on getting involved in wars (She voted to go into Iraq)

Who you prefer is always your business, but please look at the FACTS about your preferred candidate, not just the “spin.” Get educated, get involved. When you’re done doing a thorough check and someone asks you why you voted for (your candidate choice) you will have real reasons, not just “feelings.” You will be able to state them with confidence. You will be part of what has always made America great– people getting involved in democracy.


Register to vote, give money, give time and VOTE.  Your country depends on it.



          When it comes to making an impression in a speech, one of the most important things to remember is that people don’t care about facts.

What? That can’t be right! You might be thinking.

Here’s an example: I recently heard a speech by a businessman who owns his own company. He told us about how he started it and detailed all the services it provided, giving us all the facts and figures. Did I care? No.


It was BORING.

          If you want to capture the attention of your audience, don’t put them to sleep with facts. Here are some tips on how to keep people interested and, most important, awake.


          Once upon a time…

          I am an invisible man…

          This is the saddest story I have ever heard…

These are considered some of the best opening lines of books. Why? Because they capture the imagination. People are wired to hear stories. It goes back to sitting around in the evening, before radio, TV, the Internet and Netflix, when entertainment was storytelling.

Use stories to tell your facts.

Compare this: “More than one in three women are married before the age of 15 worldwide.” to:

“Sonali Khatun was just 14 years old when her parents told her she would be getting married. She dropped out of school. Her wedding was arranged in just 14 days.
“She did not want to [get married], but we forced her, because in villages, when an adolescent girl is unmarried, people start to talk,” Matiura Bibi, Khatun’s mother, told the American Jewish World Service, an advocacy group. “After the marriage, we realized the boy was not nice. He was suspicious of Sonali. He started to control her and argue with her. I understood the marriage wouldn’t last.” Sonali got a divorce and faced being taunted by the girls of the village, but she is now an independent, successful working woman.”  Read more here:

By telling facts through a story, it gives the audience someone or something to visualize and identify with. By using stories that include facts, your speech will resonate with the audience, causing it to be remembered.


Now that it’s election time, we see candidates who are distorting the truth for the purposes of furthering their campaigns.

Here are some examples:

Arab Americans cheered during the Sept. 11th attacks.” – Donald Trump (untrue)

Then United States is going to accept 250,000 Syrian refugees” – Carly Fiorina (untrue)

Hispanic and teen unemployment went up under President Obama.” – Ted Cruz (untrue)

The handling of secret emails through a private server was permitted” – Hillary Clinton (untrue)

          “Climate Change is directly related to the growth of terrorism” – Bernie Sanders (overstating)

Studies have shown that misinformation has lingering effects, even if a falsehood is quickly corrected. This is especially true if the “fact” ties in with a person’s beliefs and resonates with them.


We’ve all seen items going around the Internet claiming to be “facts.” A famous one from 2014 was a woman who claimed to have three breasts. She circulated a photo claiming she’d had a 3rd breast implant in the center. In actuality, it was a prosthesis. However, this “fact” did lead to her recording a song and music video in Florida.

Why have the three-breasted woman and the not-candid candidates captured the imagination? The things being said aren’t true, but they evoked emotion. If you listener feels an emotional reaction, what’s being said will resonate more strongly with them.


          Let’s go back to politics. A master of media attention is Donald Trump. He says things that are outrageous and has been discourteous to other candidates during debates. What has this done? It’s put a lot of focus on him because the media likes sensational stories– and so do we.

When Darren LaCroix won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking, he walked out on the stage– and fell down. He stayed down for a purposefully long time, making the audience uncomfortable.

This was a masterful move. An audience views new information from the “reptile” brain, the part that processes information through a prism of fear and boredom. They’re afraid of new ideas, but they want to have their imagination captured. What Darren LaCroix did was shocking and, thus, excited the audience. It got everyone’s attention.  


          Think about your speech content and how to incorporate an unexpected moment into the presentation. It will keep your audience’s attention and make your presentation memorable.