Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Monday, Dec. 11
The Indiana Daily Student

Monroe County Democrats call, campaign for Hill

Courtney Litchfield

Courtney Litchfield approached the door, pausing twice to look back, knit her brows and pout at her supervisor.

“You’re fine,” he said, smacking his hand against the stack of “Hoosiers for Hill” flyers that they’d be passing out. “Just knock.”

She ran her hands through her short blonde hair a few times and placed her hands on her hips. She pouted. Huffed.

She was terrified of this part.

She faced the door again and knocked softly. Once more, she turned back. A nervous smile.

“I’m about to lose my canvassing virginity.”

Courtney wrung her hands and looked expectantly at the front door. She waited.

The pattern continued for close to 20 minutes as she wandered from door to door on Bloomington’s south side on the September afternoon. She knocked, waited. Nothing.

She just needed to talk to someone. Someone just needed to answer the door so her stomach could settle, so she didn’t have to worry if she sounded stupid anymore. She needed the success.

Finally, she stood face-to-face with her final door. One last chance for someone to answer. She knocked.

She drummed her fingers against her clipboard and chewed absently on a pen.

Footsteps. This time, the door opened and a woman answered.

Courtney took a deep breath and smiled.

“Hi, I’m Courtney from the Indiana Democratic Party. I wanted to ask you a few quick questions. Are you planning to support Baron Hill?”


“What about Brad Ellsworth for U.S. Senate?”


“And how about our third candidate, Vop Osili, running for Indiana Secretary of State?”

A confused look.

“Is he a Democrat?”

Courtney nodded.

“Well, then yeah, I’ll vote for him.”

“Okay, great. Thanks. Don’t forget to vote November 2.”

The woman thanked them and closed the door. Courtney was smiling. A success.
“I didn’t stutter, did I?” she asked her supervisor. “I feel like I stuttered. Because I stutter when I’m nervous. Was I stuttering?”

He shook his head. “No. You were fine. You did it.”


On Friday, a month later, Courtney is settled on a chair in the Monroe County Democratic Party headquarters on Third and Grant streets. Her legs are outstretched and she nibbles on the cap of the bright pink highlighter in her left hand.

She has a phone wedged in between her ear and shoulder, and she’s using her right hand to peck a text message into her own cell phone.

With election day looming Tuesday, the party is calling on all of their volunteers and interns to contact as many voters as possible to remind them to somehow get to the polls.

Courtney, a freshman, will work more than 20 hours during the final four days. She’s exhausted and stressed, but she said it’s worthwhile work — she believes in the Democratic party.

All around her, the office is exploding.

A group of three campaign workers standing behind her chair hash out how many volunteers still need to sign up to work during the weekend. They’re short on people to canvass during their four-day “Get Out The Vote”campaign leading up to the election.
Another group of volunteers are discussing a story someone saw on CNN about a ninja murderer in Florida while neatly stacking Brad Ellsworth flyers.

Boxes and stacks of paper covering the floor have turned the office into a labyrinth. There are flyers everywhere, bundles of yard signs lining the walls.

Courtney doesn’t notice. She’s focused on the ringing from her phone as she waits for someone to answer. She can’t waste any time.

There’s a tight election days away, and she has a list of 650 people she needs to call by Tuesday. In the three hours she volunteered Friday, she hoped to call 150 people.
And most of them won’t even answer.

On a good day, she’ll talk to one of every three people she calls. On her worst day, she made 56 calls and only four people picked up.

But she’s calm.

Her nerves have subsided since her first canvassing trip. She’s comfortable.
Sort of.


In September, during her first week as an intern, Courtney was stationed in front of a computer in the party’s headquarters.

She was alone on those nights, except for another occasional volunteer and a life-size cardboard cutout of Barack Obama leaning casually against the back wall of the office.
She took the job because she likes to argue, Litchfield said.

It’s her first year at IU and her first year away from Fort Wayne, where, in high school, she felt like the only enlightened liberal amidst her uninformed, conservative classmates. She’d often get combative in arguments with them.

“Then they’d just say to me, ‘You’re stupid,’” she said.

Until recently, she spent most of her time at the internship entering voter registration data into a statewide system. She passed the time doing that by looking for the most unusual names in stacks of voter information forms.

On her own one evening, she approached people on her floor in Forest Quad and registered 20 voters.

On one of her first nights making phone calls, she ended up calling a testy older Republican who said he hoped to “vote those fuckers out of office.” She thanked him and hung up.

Courtney wants to be a lawyer some day. She yearns to be in a courtroom, working closely with criminals.

Courtney knows exactly what she wants.


Another phone call. She taps her highlighter on the list of calls she still needs to make, waiting for someone to answer. Hoping.

She is anxious about the election. Politico recently declared Indiana’s 9th Congressional District elections the fourth hottest House race to watch this November. But Indiana went blue in 2008. It could happen again, she said.

She just has to wait until Tuesday night. Then, she’ll be able to sleep, be able to focus on her escalating class work. And she’ll know who won.

Courtney’s back straightens. Her eyes widen. Someone picked up on the other end of the phone.

“Hi, this is Courtney from the Indiana Democratic Party in Bloomington. We’re just calling to see if you plan on voting ... Oh. Oh, really? How many calls have you received today? ... Oh, ma’am, I’m sorry about that. Do you know which offices have called you? ... Oh, okay. Have a nice day.”

The woman on the phone was not happy. It was 4 p.m., and she’d already received four calls about the election.

It’s been a growing problem for many of the volunteers today — people are complaining that too many candidates, too many offices have called them, begging to secure votes before the polls close.

Each candidate and organization maintains different lists of supporters, and with the election looming, everyone is calling everyone else. To a recipient, such as this woman, it seems excessive.

But Courtney is more focused on something the woman didn’t say.

“I hate it when I say ‘Have a nice day’ and the people don’t even say ‘You too,’” she said. “It’s so rude.”

She looks forward to that small social nicety. It’s one of the things that keeps her focused through an unending list of calls, especially when too many people are more than willing to hang up or provoke an argument with an 18-year-old.

“Like, sometimes I’ll call people and they’ll say ‘I’ve never voted before,’” she said. “And I’m like, ‘Well, neither have I.’”

Courtney turns another page on her list. Thirty phone calls down, and she’s still ready to make more.

She said she’ll miss being in the office after the election is over, but only after she gets some much-needed sleep.

She loves feeling as she’s actually making a difference, even if some people don’t want to hear her message.

Courtney punches another number into the phone and presses ‘send.’
“I mean, all I can do is keep calling,” she said.

Get stories like this in your inbox