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December 23, 2012 / milesandhisfavorites

A Firsthand Account From an Obama Volunteer

I am a Democrat at heart, since I’m only twelve and can’t vote.  However, I’m the kind of kid who reads Politifact instead of watching Smosh, and for a few months in the 2012 presidential election, I volunteered for the Obama campaign, and it was a ton of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work.  I did data entry, which meant I sat in front of a computer for several hours on end taking information from canvassers (the people who made calls and went from door to door) and typing them into Vote Builder, a website/program the campaign used to track voters.  I also occasionally did some manual work, putting together piles of stickers and transporting food from office to awaiting vehicle, but it was mostly typing info from forms.

The first time I went, I had some idea of what I was getting into.  After a political rally at Moravian College (which was attended by none other than Michelle Obama herself), I had decided to volunteer.  The local office was a few minutes of driving, or about twenty minutes of walking away, across the river on the south side.  The office itself was decent, with a couple of rooms, working facilities, and plenty of posters and such on the walls.  Every time I went (usually for a few hours every Saturday), there was good food and really nice, helpful people.  Save the “Every Demographic Imaginable for Obama” signs on the wall, and the working volunteers, the atmosphere was more parent-teacher conference than political campaign.  Not sure what the Romney office was like, but in terms of niceness, we were hard to beat.

The work itself wasn’t excruciating.  Usually I would pick up a few data sheets from the box in the room and get to work, then place the sheets in the appropriate box when I was done.  Rinse and repeat.  Sometimes sheets would be mixed up, not have a name on them, or be scribbled on beyond comprehension.  When there was nothing to do, I would snack, read Politifact (one of my favorite websites), or make small talk, or all three at the same time.

The work was interesting, too.  In my time at the campaign, I input data for more than a few deceased people (who I automatically marked as “deceased”), one of my friend’s father (the family were diehard Romney supporters, though they weren’t home), and acclaimed author Jordan Sonnenblick, who also wasn’t home.  There were Obama supporters, Romney supporters, undecided voters, and some very large dogs.  There were people who didn’t speak English, and some people who treated us like I would treat Jehovah’s Witnesses.  But I still loved almost every minute of it.

All in all, working for the Obama campaign gave me new insight about just how big an undertaking a presidential campaign is.  And yet, we didn’t treat it like a burden.  We treated it like we would if this was our daily job.  For some, it was.  I would do it again if I could, and hopefully in 2016, I’ll have a reason to.

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One Comment

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  1. Rob / Dec 23 2012 9:35 pm

    Miles,
    Congratulations on your first campaign. I was around your age when I worked on my first presidential campaign. This was in 1988, so the tasks were completed differently; but the experience was similar. My candidate didn’t win (thankfully), but loved getting a firsthand taste of the process.
    I encourage you to continue your political activities in any races that you care about. Use the knowledge that you will gain throughout your life to improve your community and the world.
    One final bit of sage advice.. don’t be afraid to let your ideals evolve over time.

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