by Zoe Booth

This year is a big year for elections. The presidential election and the contentious senate races dominate the news, but what a lot of Americans never even consider until they get to the polls is the state and local elections and the candidates that they should vote for. These elections have the most direct impact on the daily lives of Americans because state representatives, state senators, and local office holders are creating legislation specific to where you work, live, and enjoy your daily life. I would argue that these local and state elections are more important than the national elections, but the news will never cover these elections as much, as they aren’t as polarized and scandal ridden.

The undervalued importance of these state and local offices and elections led me to want to be involved in some capacity with this level of elections this cycle, so I decided to seek out an internship. I came across an opportunity to intern for the Jonathan Wallace for District 119 campaign. Jonathan is a progressive, Democratic candidate running to represent Georgia House District 119 in the Georgia House of Representatives. His specific race is part of a group of close, contentious races for seats in the Georgia State House that has the potential to flip the state house from a Republican majority to a house controlled by the Democrats.

Because of the importance of this race for the future legislative agenda for Georgia, the Wallace campaign has been an energetic whirlwind of rounding up support for Jonathan and his platform. I have interned for smaller, local campaigns where it was a couple of people canvassing, phone banking, and running social media accounts, but the Wallace campaign is a much more organized and involved campaign experience, which is incredible considering it is majorly virtual.

As an intern, I have been tasked with many different jobs in realms such as voter outreach, social media promotion, logistics, data collection, and policy research. I have had the pleasure to speak with many voters and help them with their voting plan, whether it be by absentee ballot or in person. I have assisted in the recruitment and organization of volunteers for phone banking and leading neighborhood teams. I have completed research about healthcare policy and COVID-19 effects on the constituents of the district.

Besides what I have done for this campaign and learned about orchestrating a successful campaign, I have also realized that not only are these state and local elections important because of the closer impact that they have on our lives, but they are also important because, at least from what I’ve seen from Jonathan, these candidates actually care about and listen to their constituents and their desires. Jonathan makes it a central point of this campaign to connect with and listen to his constituents, even those who will not vote for him in an election. That is a sign of a genuine leader and a real representative.

All in all, before you head to the polls this November or fill out your absentee ballot, do your research on the state and local elections happening in your city, county and district and the candidates running for those offices. It will make all the difference.