Ask the Filmmaker: Election Day’s Katy Chevigny

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Katy ChevignyTo make Election Day, filmmaker Katy Chevigny fielded 14 crews to capture the action on November 2, 2004, all over the country. Election Day is as fast-paced and suspenseful as a thriller, with vote counts and political activism substituting for shootouts and car chases. The heroes of the day are ordinary Americans determined to vote, to turn out others to vote, and to see that the voting is legally and fairly done.

In our interview with Katy, she tells us that she wants viewers to get involved after watching the film:

What I’m hoping people will take away from seeing the film is that there are a lot of different things going on in our electoral process. People care about voting, and there are thousands of volunteer poll workers working long hours during every election because they believe in our country, and they believe in democracy. But our election system isn’t as good as it could be.
I hope that after watching Election Day, viewers understand that we could have a better system. But improving our election system is not going to happen on its own; people would need to get involved to reform the system so that everyone gets an opportunity for their vote to be counted.

Read more from Katy’s interview, find out about the technical challenges involved with melding 11 stories into a coherent film in her Production Journal or listen to our extended podcast interview.

Do you have a question for Katy about Election Day and the American election system? You can submit it in the comment field below. She’ll choose a selection of questions to respond to, so check back here after the film airs to see what she has to say.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
  • Mit

    FOREIGNID: 16477
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    In the 2000 election, a lot of people blamed Nader for causing Gore to lose. However, Nader defenders blame the election process, particularly noting the thousands of uncounted votes due to errors in polling (i.e.) illegal, non-handicapped-accessible booths, or absurdly long lines in poor neighborhoods. Based on what this film is about, does the Nader defense hold water that he wasn’t responsible for Gore losing? It was more likely the lack of proper election facilities?

  • David

    FOREIGNID: 16478
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Katy -
    In “Election Day” you combine 11 different stories of citizens determined to vote in the November 2004 election. Now 4 years later you have put out this film which is about to premiere on national television, and we are in the midst of another election season. That being said, I was wondering if you have kept in touch and kept up with the stories of the individuals from “Election Day.” If so, do you plan to do any follow-up filming this coming November?
    Best and congratulations on a wonderful film,
    David

  • Jacquinette Murphy

    FOREIGNID: 16479
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Katy:
    I am still enjoying this wonderful piece. It gives a varied perspective on the election experience in America. I caught the film on the segment of the ex-felons voting rights issues and I was captivated because this is an issue that I would like to speak to on a larger scale. I would like to know if you are working on piece that focuses more closely on this particular issue of voting in America?
    I have served as an election judge and have had to deal with some issues to be sure that the people votes would count. The ex-felon issue was intrguing to me after a conversation that I had with one at the polls during one election.
    Additionally, I would like to know if you will be touring with this film in the near future? Finally, are you working on a film to capture this historical election?
    I am so inspired to do more some watching your film, let me know if I can help
    Congratulations,
    Jacquinette Murphy

  • john harris

    FOREIGNID: 16480
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    What a horrible waste of 90 minutes. where have you been filmmaker katy chevigny? have you not read any of the books documenting ‘election fraud/theft” that took place in the Ohio Presidential nov 2004 election? Have you not watched documentary films such as “Uncounted” ? go to http://www.uncountedthemovie.com .
    your P.O.V. doesn’t even mention the horirble disenfranchisment that took place in which hundreds of thousands of voters were knocked off the voter reg rolls in Ohio. Not to mention the major problems that occurred with electronic voting machines and vote flipping.
    I will be surprised if this comment is allowed on your “post a comment”.
    the best that can be said about this documentary is that it hints at a few problems that occurred in the Nov 2004 Ohio election such as some long lines, not enough machines, confusion with where a voter’s precinct is. but nothing more. It is a cop-out and disinformation at best because this documentary serves to give viewers the impression that democracy was served in the OhioNov 2004 election and that our democracy is still working.

  • Alex Densmore

    FOREIGNID: 16481
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was just flipping through channels when I stumbled upon your film. I didn’t see the very beginning, but I enjoyed it. I guess, my questions: did you vote? I mean, obviously you didn’t film yourself voting. Also, what was it like not really throwing your perspective out when people gave their opinions on voting or issues?
    Thanks!

  • Jolene Pinder

    FOREIGNID: 16482
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thanks for your interest in purchasing the DVD of the film! You can
    get your copy at the Arts Engine store.
    http://www.artsengine.net/store
    The DVD includes the 84-minute director’s cut of Election Day, an
    interview with Director Katy Chevigny and several additional scenes.
    Enjoy!

  • Susan

    FOREIGNID: 16483
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Great film, Katy. How did you and your team decide who to follow for all of the stories in the film?

  • Lisa French

    FOREIGNID: 16484
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was very surprised (but pleased) to see Election Day on the local public station here in Sarasota, Florida (WEDU). I didn’t realize that the station even showed P.O.V. because it’s on when most viewers are asleep – 11pm Tuesday. I just discovered it.
    This afternoon, WEDU showed an obnoxious program about patriotism and gushing adoration of our American flag. The station regularly features cooking programs, gardening shows, Lawrence Welk reruns, the Austrian Waltz king (over and over!), WWII battle documentaries, business/financial news, on and on and on.
    Anyway, I watched Chevigny’s very good documentary and flashed back to the last big local election. I was there when the polls opened and I had an odd feeling about a man who obviously had something to do with setting up our wonderful paperless touch screen voting machines. I voted and, when the screen showed my selections, there was no mark in the square for U.S. Congress (a close race between a right wing Republican and a conservative Democrat). So my vote (for the Democrat) wasn’t there! I went back, re-entered my selection, and then submitted my electronic ballot. Hmm, I thought.
    Later at work, a co-worker mentioned that the same weird thing happened to her. Hmm. As it turned out, many people in this district who tried to vote Democrat noticed that their votes disappeared. Who knows how many submitted ballots without noticing. In the end, the right-winger won by a tiny margin but over 10,000 people skipped the vote for their congressional representative. Hmm.
    The matter went to the courts (and we will now have new voting machines) but it seems like the people who count (the ones who run the show) want fraudulent elections.
    This is the same district that sent Katherine Harris to Congress. She was Secretary of State, in charge of elections, while she headed Bush’s 2004 Florida election team before someone told her there was the appearance of a conflict of interest.
    It’s sickening – this “Florida Style.” Few citizens can easily get any real news or honest information that would allow them to vote in their own interest. And if they try, the election is rigged. “Election Day” showed some realities about voting, but unfortunately, not the worst of it. And Tampa Bay residents who sleep normal hours aren’t likely to ever see it.
    It all seems hopeless to me.

  • http://www.pbs.org/pov/blog/writers.html#eliza P.O.V. Moderator

    FOREIGNID: 16485
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thanks so much for your questions and comments!
    Katy Chevigny has answered your questions. You can find her responses here:
    http://www.pbs.org/pov/blog/2008/07/election_days_katy_chevigny_an.html

  • Patti T

    you have destroyed my Saturday evening by removing the Lawernece Welk re run programs. I am a senior that enjoys good music. Thanks
    Patti T