Katy Chevigny is the director of Election Day. After the film aired on POV, viewers wrote in with questions for Katy on the POV Blog. Read on as she answers questions about Nader and Gore in 2000, Ohio in 2004 and more.
Mit asks: 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 — 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? Was it more likely the lack of proper election facilities?
Katy Chevigny: The ultimate findings in the poll count for Florida in the 2000 election, as summarized in the Election FAQ on the POV website for Election Day, shows that even with Nader in the race, Gore won the popular vote in the state of Florida. If those ballots had been counted properly and in a timely fashion, Gore would have won the election despite Nader being in the race.
David asks: In Election Day you combine 11 different stories of citizens determined to vote in the November 2004 election. Four years later, 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?
Katy: I don’t have any plans on filming this November, but my guess is that many, many other people will, and I look forward to seeing what they discover! We have kept up with many of the characters and you can see what they are up to here on the Film Update page.
Jacquinette asks: I am still enjoying this wonderful film; it gives a varied perspective on the election experience in America. I was captivated by your focus on ex-felon voting rights.
I would like to know if you are working on a film that focuses more closely with this particular issue. Furthermore, how can I get involved with this issue and help? I’m also wondering if you will be touring with this film in the near future.
Katy: I’m glad you took special note of the issue of felon disenfranchisement. This was an issue that we were particularly interested in highlighting in the film, in part because we think it is very important, and I have the sense that the public does not have great awareness of the issue.
That’s great that you’d like to do more! The experts on the POV website have many great suggestions for getting more involved. One of the key ways is to volunteer to be a pollworker. Rosemary Rodriquez at the Election Assistance Commission explains a bit more about it.
We are touring with the film this fall. You can learn more about the schedule at electiondaythemovie.com.
John asks: Why doesn’t your film mention the horrible disenfranchisment that took place in Ohio in 2004? Hundreds of thousands of voters were knocked off of the voter registration rolls in Ohio, and there were major problems that occured with electronic voting machines and vote flipping.
Katy: In response to viewers’ concerns that Election Day did not cover the controversy in Ohio regarding the election in 2004, that is due in part to the fact that we had the made the decision before Election Day to film the events that were happening to these particular people we were following. So therefore, any events in the aftermath of the election were not covered. We were also aware that there were several other films also being filmed about the 2004 election, and we assumed that many of them would cover the details in Ohio.
Susan asks: Great film, Katy. How did you and your team decide who to follow for all of the stories in the film?
Katy: It was a massive undertaking to find all the “characters” we followed in Election Day and to gain permissions to film with all of them. Our producers Maggie Bowman and Dallas Brennan Rexer, along with our Associate Producer Christy King, each spent many weeks researching possible storylines and locations. We reached out to several nonprofit organizations working on various election issues, and they put us in touch with groups working on felon disenfranchisement, election protection, and alerted us to the fact that there were international monitors working on the elections. In addition, we sent out email blasts to hundreds of people all over the country, seeking ideas for characters or stories that were not generally covered in the mainstream new media, and chose characters based on that research.