“Arpaio? I think his time is pretty much up—he’s been there too long,” says Dale Colyer Jr., a 44-year-old truck driver in a Diamondbacks T-shirt whose two young, biracial-looking children are playing in the driveway. Colyer, who appears to be white, is considering voting for Trump, who he finds “hilarious.” But of Arpaio, he says, “I heard he might go to jail for that racial-profiling stuff.”
The canvassers get direction on which houses to hit from their iPhones, which have an app version of the Democratic database tool VAN installed. (It’s called, naturally, MiniVAN.) After each knock, they record the appropriate response—yes, no, mail ballot, not home, moved—which syncs to the cloud.
“I have seen so many families suffer from deportation, from separation,” says Maria Martinez, a tired-looking 42-year-old with a pickup in the driveway. “I know kids whose older brothers are raising them because their father is gone. I know a mom who’s homeless with her kids because her husband got deported for a ticket. I’ve seen a lot of bad things.” Martinez, who has a job assembling refrigerators at the Subzero plant, says she definitely will vote against Arpaio.
Lopez is an excellent canvasser, gregarious and persistent. (The high schoolers are still learning.) He also functions as a sort of traveling social-services hotline. Offering to help with the homeless woman’s husband’s deportation case, he takes Martinez’s number, jotting it in the margins of an anti-Arpaio flier, and promises to call. Martinez, in turn, volunteers that there may be full-time jobs opening up at the fridge plant, “for the first time in years,” in case he knows anyone who is looking for work.
Some of the canvassers’ targets have personal experience with Arpaio’s system. “I have a brother right now that’s in there,” says Evangelina Garcia, 60, whose pebbled yard is dotted with cactuses. “He has cirrhosis of the liver and the doctors gave him four months to live, but Arpaio won’t give him his meds.” A makeshift wooden cross hangs over her door. Lopez gives her his phone number.
Arpaio’s voters may feel he is protecting them from a bad element that doesn’t deserve sympathy. But in this community, many feel a personal connection to Arpaio’s victims. “I don’t like how he’s racist,” says Tammy Roth, a red-haired, blue-eyed 29-year-old mother of two. The little boy and girl peer out from the doorway; dogs bark from behind a tall wooden backyard fence. “My mom’s half, my kids are half—my husband is Mexican. I don’t like the way he treats the inmates. Regardless of race, he’s just cruel.”
In a pink house with mauve trim, an old man in a red hat who speaks no English asks Lopez to help him decipher a letter from a financial-services company. As they talk about politics, Anastacio Enriquez, 78, becomes agitated. Why, he asks in Spanish, is Arpaio—such a bad person—in office in the first place?