SEATTLE - It's not often three women dressed as a chicken, a panda, and the U.S. Census Bureau -- yes, you read right -- knock on your door.
Perhaps even more strange, while it was Halloween, Joyce Tseng, 29, and her friends weren't looking for candy.
Hi. Trick or vote! they said to a resident in Seattle's Madrona neghborhood who replied, Trick or what?
Tseng is among 180 volunteers who participated in this year's Washington Trick-or-Vote, a canvassing operation organized by the Washington Bus. The Washington Bus is a group dedicated to encouraging political participation in the younger generation of voters. This is the second year they have organized a Halloween-based campaign against voter apathy.
There's one day out of the year every year that folks actually like to open their door and have an interaction with someone they don't know on their front porch, said Toby Crittenden, communications director for the Washington Bus. That day just happens to be Halloween.
And Halloween just happens to fall three days before the 2009 election. While the candidates spent the day out on the campaign trail, touring neighborhoods, hosting town halls, and waving signs on street corners, trick-or-voters canvassed about 8,000 homes in the evening, said Crittenden.
At first they're just ready to give candy to people, but when they hear why we're out here, reminding people... to turn in their ballots because the election is 3 days away, Tseng said. They're really happy we're doing it.
Unlike last year, though, Trick-or-Vote has taken a stance on two major ballot items this year -- supporting Referendum 71 and protesting Initiative 1033. They make no secret of it, and in fact say many homes targeted by volunteers were selected to support their agenda.
But they say the main goal of the program is still to encourage the millenial generation to get involved.
It s more fun than I think I expected, said first-time trick-or-voter Vivian Vassall, who was also canvassing the Madrona area, People have been very welcoming and this is just a fun neighborhood that we re in.
Neighbors witnessing the spectacle overwhelming supported the idea, if not necessarily the political stances.
I think it's more fun that way, adds a little bit of levity to something that might be a little bit mundane, said neighbor Dan Smith.
A lot of people wait until the last minute to mail their ballot in, so this is great, said neighbor Shauna Mindt, who Tseng's group visited.
And it's effective at mobilizing a younger generation, said organizers. Last year, four out of 10 volunteers had no campaign experience. But in one evening, they can visit thousands of homes.