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Millennials campaign for special election candidates

High school and college students canvass for Handel and Ossoff

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NORTH FULTON, Ga. — Millennials are rallying to #GetOutTheVote in Georgia’s 6th District.

According to the United States Election Project, fewer than 50 percent of Americans aged 18-29 voted in the 2016 Presidential Election. However, the special election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff to replace Tom Price’s congressional seat has seen much involvement from young people.

Wes Ross, 21, chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans, has been campaigning for Handel and said he thinks young people should be involved in this election because politics on all levels is important.

“I feel like it's my duty to be on the front line of the fight to keep the 6th District red,” Ross said. “We not only have a Republican versus Democrat race going on — we have a race that is a battle of two people that stand for completely different things.”

Ross said he and other members of the College Republicans have been actively involved in grassroots work for Handel.

“Several weekends ago we brought a group of [College Republicans] — Dalton State, Kennesaw State [and] UGA all sent multiple canvassers — and spent a Saturday going door to door for the candidate that we believe will make a difference not only for the [6th District], but the great state of Georgia as well.”

Elizabeth Phillips, 18, has been campaigning for Ossoff. Like Ross, Phillips has been canvassing neighborhoods, and she has attended rallies and the debate event. When she meets people, she tells them they should vote.

Phillips said she decided to campaign because she was disappointed by the 2016 Presidential Election. She said she felt unable to affect change until the House seat opened, and she realized she could be politically active in more ways than just voting.

“I felt an obligation to support the causes that called out to me,” Phillips said. “Ossoff is extremely supportive of marginalized groups, but his policy objectives are achievable and reasonable. His avoidance of extremes contrasts so starkly with the style we see in Washington.”

Like Ross, Phillips has campaigned along with other people her age.

“I never campaign without my friends,” Phillips said. “We have multiple group chats devoted to talking politics or for coordinating what events we'll participate in.”

Nicole Vacarella, 23, said that she has seen many people showing support during this election through social media. However, Vacarella decided to volunteer for Handel’s campaign because she wanted to do more than share posts.

“I was like, ‘I’m just sitting around, sharing stuff on Facebook,’ when I really wanted to get out there and understand the campaign,” Vacarella said. “I think it’s really easy or convenient to just share something that you care about.”

Vacarella said she noticed that no matter what side people were on, after the 2016 Presidential Election, she noticed a passion or energy among people to get involved in politics. She said she thinks everybody at a young age should try getting involved with campaigning.

“Knocking on strangers’ doors is probably the weirdest thing, but it really made me realize that I can do stuff like that,” Vacarella said.

While this special election has seen much involvement from millennials of voting age, younger people, like 16-year-old Isheeta Mukherjee, are campaigning even though they cannot vote. Mukherjee, who is canvassing for Ossoff, said she has been knocking on doors and making calls to get the word out about this particular election.

“This is really the first chance I've had to get involved in an election I cared about and have it matter so much,” Mukherjee said. “Because we are so close with this election, I wanted to do whatever I could with my power to make a difference.”

Mukherjee said that she still has the power of influencing others to go vote.

“I know the grassroots movement can be very influential,” Mukherjee said. “I wanted to do whatever I could on my end to impact the results of this election.”

Mukherjee said it is important for young people to be involved with local politics because politicians make more decisions about their lives than many of them are aware of, such as funding for college.

“We're soon going to be the ones to vote about all of these issues, and we need to be fully aware of what it is we want for our future,” Mukherjee said. “It's our job to use our voices to make these sorts of decisions, and it's never too early to start learning about the current issues we face today.”


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