Connecting to Voters: Volunteering Experience in 2020

HKS Student
This was written by a second-year MPP student at the Harvard Kennedy School.

For the past month, I’ve been doing two types of volunteering: (1) Deep canvassing through a national women-led organization, and (2) election protection hotline shifts. Deep canvassing has been focused on calling undecided, older women voters in the Midwest, sharing vulnerable stories, eliciting shared values, and slowly coming around to making the case for a candidate through the lens of their values. This work has shown me that there are indeed many undecided voters in the US, and although harder than traditional canvassing, a longer, 20-minute deep canvassing call can have transformative effects. The election protection shifts, by contrast, are non-partisan, focused on ensuring that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote and have their vote count, and are staffed by remotely-trained volunteers with legal experience. These shifts have really been focused on protecting voting rights, answering voters’ urgent questions across the United States, documenting barriers to voting, and providing assistance at all stages of voting—from registration, to absentee and early voting, to voting at the polls, to overcoming unexpected obstacles. All of this volunteering – scheduled in-between my courses and on weekends – has made me feel connected to fellow voters and volunteers across the US at a time of remoteness, disconnection, and fear.

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