As primary elections get closer, Keene State College students are working with the campaign offices in Keene and encouraging others to vote.
Some students have been volunteering or interning for the various campaign offices located in the Keene area including those of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
These students have been gathering and encouraging people to vote through canvassing, making phone calls, hosting events, visiting classrooms and setting up tables to talk to people in public places.
Students working for the Donald Trump campaign declined to comment because of the Trump campaign policy, according to Trump Field Representative Denise Bowdidge.
KSC senior and Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer Jeffrey Eilbert said, “I’m working a lot with the student Get Out the Vote effort with the students. I’m trying to get into as many classrooms as possible and talk to as many teachers to get them to open up their classroom for five minutes to talk to students about how to register. They can register and that they are allowed to vote because a lot of people don’t know that they can vote in Keene.”
Eilbert continued,“So far, I’ve been to about ten to twelve [classrooms]. Altogether, we want to get to about one hundred or two hundred classes.”
Campaign offices are offering to shuttle students to the polls on the day of the election.
According to Eilbert, a student only needs their student ID and driver’s license to vote.
KSC junior and Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer Giselle Snow said, “I’ve been working on getting the students involved because [they’re] a really big population that doesn’t vote. We’ve been working on getting everyone on campus informed. We’ve been letting them know how to vote, where they vote, that they can have a free ride from us on election day, and trying to get more student volunteers and reach out into the community.”
Campaign volunteers and interns said they meet on a regular basis to discuss different ways to get students to vote and to educate people about the candidates.
“On campus, we have a small team going of Hillary supporters. We meet once a week and we go and do phone banking together, we call voters that might be interested in Hillary Clinton and we also go canvassing off campus,” KSC junior and Hillary Clinton Campaign Volunteer Anna Wright said.
Some students have been working with these campaigns for quite some time, picking up extra hours to support the campaign they work for.
KSC senior and Hillary Clinton campaign intern Josh Poloski said “Generally, I have to pick up a couple extra shifts because I’m an intern, not a volunteer, and balancing that with a full course load and working on the weekends.”
Since working with these campaigns, volunteers and interns said that they have learned a lot and have gained valuable skills.
Snow said, “I’ve learned a lot of things working for the Bernie Sanders campaign. I’ve never been super into politics so I never understood the importance of it. Then I got into this campaign and realized just how important it really is to vote and to get everyone else involved. I didn’t realize how many people don’t vote and that’s an issue.”
Some students say they have learned more about the candidate’s viewpoints on certain issues.
Wright said, “I’ve learned a lot more about Hillary’s campaign in general, what she stands for and her platform. I learned better communication skills because you have to talk to so many people when you go and work there because you have to talk on the phone and in person.”
Volunteers and interns also expressed why they are so dedicated to the campaign that they work for.
Eilbert said, “I think the biggest point that Bernie has that caught my eye is the fact that he’s not accepting donations from super PACs and large corporations. He’s really only accepting small donations from private individuals with about five thousand dollars per donation. Other candidates can receive PACs which allow you to accept donations from corporations and there is no cap on that.”
Some students say they don’t agree with other candidates and that is why they are dedicated to the campaign they work for.
Poloski said, “I never really agreed with a lot of Bernie’s points on economics. I ended up, back in October when Hillary came to Keene State, seeing her and I was completely blown away by what a moving speaker she was.”
Students say what they want in the next president.
Snow said, “I want somebody who isn’t the regular politician. Most politicians have a lot of support from companies who want them to support them back. It’s not just ‘Hey, I think your a great politician,’ it’s, ‘hey, if I give you money, what do I get in return?’ I want somebody who stands on their own, isn’t afraid to say no.”
Other students say why they think the candidate they work for should be the next president.
Wright said, “Hilary probably has the most experience because she was the first lady and secretary of state and she has a lot of experience with foreign policy which we really need right now with everything going on in Syria and ISIS.”
Jacob Knehr can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org