As the Nov. 8 municipal election approaches, Youth Outreach Coordinator Isaiah Nelson vamps up efforts in trying to get students to participate since those between the ages of 18 to 24 are least likely to vote according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Nelson said, “Local politics is where everything happens. Decisions that directly affect you are made at the local level. “
This past summer, Nelson was a White House Intern in the Office of Public Engagement where he worked for President Obama’s Youth Liaison on youth outreach. Nelson’s experience in Washington, D.C. has helped him with the Riley for Mayor campaign. He described his work at the White House as “eye-opening” and “an honor.”
Although he has shifted his work from a national level to a more local level, Nelson said his job and the campaign is still intense. A typical day for him involves waking up at 7 a.m. to work with the interns in the office who are in charge of outreach in different areas in and around Charleston. Throughout the day he’s working on voter registrations and volunteer drives with his academic classes scheduled in-between his work. He’s generally at the office until 6 p.m., but before he can take a seat and relax, he’s back on campus speaking with various students and groups. Once done with his work on campus, he heads back over to the office to make data entries.
At times, it may be hard to remember he’s also a student. He still has homework like every other individual at the College and he’s currently working on his Bachelor’s essay. Nelson said he can’t even remember the last time he went to bed before midnight. Generally, he doesn’t get to rest until 2 a.m.
Nelson said his work is never done with the campaign. He said, “It’s intense. It’s a lot of fun. A campaign is one of those things you can never do enough of. There’s always another vote you can get. But working on a campaign is a lot of fun.”
Nelson and the interns have already registered 400 individuals in the youth community over a time-span of just two weeks. Nelson said he sees this as a huge accomplishment and would like to see more students going to the polls in order to vote.
Although the deadline to register to vote has already passed for the upcoming election, people can still register to vote anytime for other elections in the future. According to Nelson, registering to vote is easy. He said, “It is very simple for people to register to vote. It takes about two minutes and they only have to fill out a simple form from the Voter Registration office. They provide full name, social security number, local address, birth date and phone number. When we do the registration drives, we take the form into the office for them, so it is as easy as it possibly could be.”
Nelson said he is glad to see students getting involved. “It is our responsibility to go to the polls. And when we don’t, it’s extremely disappointing to see apathy of young people,” he said. “A lot of us don’t realize these local elections have a huge impact on us, not just presidential elections. Mayor elections are just as important.”