The flood that hampered voting in some sections of far Southwest Virginia was a blessing for David Anderson, an 11-year-old, Henry Howell look-alike. The rains closed his Bethel Elementary School yesterday in Washington County, permitting the fifth grader to spend the entire day at Howell's Ninth District headquarters in Ablingdon.
With a shock of hair brushing his eye-glasses in Howell fashion, Anderson, wearing a green leisure suit and two-tone leather shoes, cradled a phone under his chin and telephoned his young friends, urging them to get their parents to the polls.
"If you know anyone who ain't voted, give 'em a call," the would-be precinct politico urged one of his friends.
Anderson said he met the Democratic candidate just a few feet from where he was sitting. "It was his birthday party and he was sitting right over yonder," Anderson said, as he toyed with his "I believe in Henry Howell" lapel button.
Voting is still a very special event for 62-year-old Gladys Watkins of Richmond, who put on her Sunday clothes yesterday and paced anxiously back and forth in her small frame home, complaining about her friend who had not yet arrived to take her to the polls.
"When is she gonna get here," said the elderly black woman, who then answered her doorbell and greeted two campaign workers for Henry Howell.
Watkins, like hundreds of other registered black voters in Richmond, was the target of a special "get-out-the-vote campaign" by supporters of Howell, because they believed the black vote throughout Virginia would be Howell's if his workers could get it to the polls.
"Sure I'm gonna vote for Henry," said Watkins, who slowly ran her finger down the sample ballot given to her by the Howell campaign workers. She added: "I'll vote for them, too."
When asked if she was going to vote for Del. Edward E. Lane for state at-colored?" When told that he was once a segregationist, she paused, her eyes widened and gasped, "Oh, then I don't think I can vote for him."
At the Northern Virginia Republican headquarters at Baileys Crossroads, campaign workers feverishly telephoned more than 30,000 voters that they had earlier identified as being "favorable" to Dalton.
"Just calling to remind you that today is election day - and John Dalton needs your vote," said one caller, as she scanned the green-and-white computer printout of voters.
Each voter who was reached was noted on the list. If the caller received no answer, an asterisk was placed beside the name and another call was placed later in the day.
At one corner of the telephone banks sat Mary Cooke, who took telephone calls from voters who needed rides to the polls. After getting their names and addresses, she called a nearby campaign worker to take the voters to the polls. "It's just like a taxi-dispatching service," said a campaign worker.
Allen Mitchell was ready to go by 8 in the morning yesterday, his '65 Chevy bedecked with Henry Howell posters, his reflecting sunglasses sparkling, and the visor of his flamboyant cap pulled down low over his round, brown face.
"I'm a veteran," he said proudly. "I done this before."
For the 10th year in a row, Mitchell, a foreman with Local 1248 of the International Longshoremen's Association, was headed out to get black voters to the polls in Norfolk, Virginia's largest city, to elect the Democratic Party ticket. For his day's work, he would receive about $30 from his local's political fund, according to local president Ed Brown.
Mitchell and dozens of other "drivers" like him - both paid and volunteer - were the foot soldiers in the Democratic organization's battle to get between 70 and 80 per cent of the estimated 18,000 black voters in Norfolk out to the polls.
By the time Mitchell showed up at the black Democrats' political control room - a tiny storefront sandwiched between a drugstore and a dry cleaner's - about a half-dozen young women inside were already on the phone, making call after call, and scribbling down the names of voters who would be too old or too sick to get themselves to the polls.
Three small sheets of white paper were shoved into Mitchell's hand. "Spencer" said one, "Watson." "Moore." A time and an address were listed by each name. All those named had to go to the Bowling Park Elementary School in Norfolk's fourth precinct to vote. All of them indicated they had no way to get there. All of them needed to vote about 9 a.m.
Ken Valtz, a field coordinator for Howell, sat in the red, white and blue-decorated Ninth District headquarters and pronounced the turnout "tremendous." He said the Democratic organization had about 1,000 cars taking people to the polls in the 21 cities and counties of the district that extends southwest of Roanoke to the Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky borders. In the city of Norton, for example, Valz said the Democrats "hired the taxi company. All you have to do is call the cab if you want to vote," he said.
"Callin' and haulin'" is a standard get-out-the-vote tactic employed by both parties in rural Virginia. The equivalent of Maryland's walk-around money. In Maryland, party workers have been known to distribute money to loyalists who go from door to door in heavily populated areas and drag voters to polls. In Virginia, workers are given money, usually about $20, to cover the costs of operating their cars to the valleys and mountains to ferry voters to polling places.
In the past there have been reports that some of the drivers offered a little whiskey to would-be voters to spur their enthusiasm for voting. But most party workers interviewed said that was a thing of the past.