By Talia Soglin
On Nov. 8, our country will decide on the person we want to lead us for the next four years. It will be the dramatic conclusion of what has often seemed to be an endless election cycle, one punctuated by unprecedented ugliness and vitriol. And in a political system which so often feels inaccessible to young people, three Alameda High School juniors went the distance by campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Sparks, Nevada.
Allie Solomon, Violet Daar, and Camille Minault traveled with Solomon’s family to canvass for Clinton with the Nevada Democratic Party. “It’s a lot more meaningful work if you go somewhere where it can actually affect the outcome,” Solomon says.
Daar agrees. “It’s such a crucial election, and I wanted to be able to do anything that would make tangible change,” she says.
The three juniors, along with Solomon’s parents, met up with other volunteers at Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Nevada. There, they were given packets with campaign literature, handouts, scripts, and a list of addresses.
Those addresses belonged mostly to people with a history of voting for Democrats. Instead of trying to change the minds of likely Trump supporters, the campaign is focusing on increasing voter turnout among those who are likely Clinton or undecided voters. “Most of the people were on our side,” Minault says, although she adds that many knew very little about both the presidential and down-ballot races, not to mention the voting process itself.
For example, Minault mentions that many voters didn’t know much, or anything, about the Nevada Senate race or the local City Council elections. Solomon’s mother encountered one voter who thought her sample ballot was her actual ballot. For those voters, “I feel like we definitely gave them more information to base their vote on,” Minault says.
Even with only a couple of weeks left, many voters the juniors spoke to were still undecided, or were apathetic about both candidates and the political system as a whole.
Daar says she tries to understand where those voters are coming from. “It is frustrating to have people that don’t represent you making the choices, but then you have to do something about it,” she says. “So many people would kill to live here so they could actually make a difference with their vote!”
Solomon, who has been canvassing in Nevada for the last two elections, noticed a marked difference in the atmosphere from past years. “In the past there’s been signs in everyone’s lawn, and we walked past groups of Republican canvassers and Democratic canvassers,” she says. “In this election no one had a sign up, it felt like everyone was trying to keep it on the down low.”
“People just don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want to have that conflict, they don’t want to fight with their neighbors,” she adds, noting that she a felt similar, though not quite as severe tension in Alameda during the primaries, between Sanders and Clinton supporters.
All three said that they found campaigning to be an inspiring experience. “It feels very satisfying to know you made a difference. It felt like really important work to do,” Minault says.
Solomon agrees, saying she was inspired by her fellow volunteers. “Even if we don’t win, look at all these people who dedicate their lives doing what they think is right.”