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After the rattling election of Donald Trump in 2016, I felt an increased urge to be involved in politics, along with many others my age. I consider myself to have been pretty politically active my whole life — I grew up attending peace marches with my parents, and watched the Obama election of 2008 at a hotel with a bunch of local pundits — but I especially wanted to be involved in the midterm elections. I was excited about the candidate Stacey Abrams, and I genuinely believed she was capable of turning Georgia into a progressive state. I wanted to go beyond just volunteering, so I gathered up my courage and applied for an internship. I interviewed in late June and started as a scheduling intern in mid-July.
The road to the election was long and tedious, filled with color-coded spreadsheets and stacks of envelopes. However, the whole experience was ultimately rewarding. My best friend at college started interning in the digital department, and we canvassed together to get out the vote. I met other interns, who were mostly political science majors.
I witnessed the campaign became a focus of national attention, at one point slated by FiveThirtyEight as the closest race in the country, watched as it joined the ranks of Texas’ Beto-Cruz and Florida’s Gillum-DeSantis races. After news of Brian Kemp’s voter suppression tactics broke, the campaign was mentioned on Saturday Night Live and other late-night political shows. Oprah Winfrey campaigned for Abrams, then Barack Obama rallied for her. It was incredible to see how far Abrams had come since the primaries.
In the end, Brian Kemp did win the election, though there are myriad disputes of how fair that win really was. On Election Night, at a busy watch party at the Atlanta Hyatt Regency hotel, the sickening familiarity of the shift in the communal mood around 11:30 pm was palpable, and it felt like deja vu. Abrams ended the night strong, a refusal to give up the fight, and we went to sleep (past two in the morning) that night with the hope of a runoff. Although our fight to elect Stacey Abrams as the next governor of Georgia ultimately proved unsuccessful, it was not futile. We registered hundreds, possibly thousands of previously unregistered voters, midterm voter turnout doubled compared to 2014, and I learned so much from those five months on the campaign trail. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have worked on Stacey Abrams’ campaign, and personally, I think Georgia is looking more purple than ever.