Charles Orsino of Madison, Wisconsin came to regret his decision to ignore the get-out-the-vote activists he passed on his walk to work Thursday when he arrived home to find his wife and children had been kidnapped. Their ransom: Orsino’s vote in the midterm elections.
“It was the worst day of my life,” said Orsino, reunited with his family after casting an early ballot. “I come home, and I get this phone call, telling me I’d better go vote if I ever want to see my family alive again. I don’t know who they were; they said I’d ignored them on the street earlier, but there are so many of them out there. How was I supposed to know which ones were this serious about it?”
Orsino said the kidnappers told him not to call police and instead to proceed to the nearest polling place and vote immediately.
“They must have been watching because the girls were back in the house as soon as I got home,” Orsino said. “We can’t really feel safe in the house anymore, though. I feel like there are always eyes on me, waiting to strike again as soon as I shirk my civic duty.”
Other activists have applauded the tactic, saying it creates the needed sense of urgency about the election.
“We do want people to have this sense that if they don’t vote, we’re all going to die,” said Olivia Freedman, who hasn’t left her corner in 21 days, even handing out voter registration flyers in her sleep.
Madison police chief Sebastian Knight called it “one of the most heartwarming cases I’ve seen in my 22 years on the force. I mean, for someone to care that much about this country? You feel bad for the family, but this schmuck deserved it. Not voting in the midterms? What does he think this is, every other midterm election in living memory?”
Three people were detained in the incident, but police released them after determining they had “taken reasonable measures in the pursuit of a fair and representative democracy.”