Rock the Vote: Students Participate in Presidential and Mayoral Election Campaigns as Summer Interns


Graphic by Eshanika Chaudhary.

Josie Abugov

Audrey Kotick ’17 said she ventured nervously to the Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters on her first day of work in Brooklyn, New York.

She would spend the rest of her summer immersed in the world of politics, listening in on mass conference calls with hundreds of Clinton delegates and preparing with coworkers for the Democratic National Convention.

“I was working on the delegate operations team, which is the team that went to the Democratic National Convention,” Kotick said. “We did weekly role-plays in a room as if someone, such as a governor or a state representative, was experiencing a problem and would call one of us to help solve it.”

Kotick also reached out to Bernie Sanders supporters on Clinton’s behalf.

“Working [on the Clinton campaign] has not only inspired me to want to study political science in college, but has also led me to consider a career in public service in the future,” Kotick said. “This past summer was so memorable, and I hope one day to help elect another extraordinary leader.”

In continuing her political involvement, Kotick will travel for a week with the Clinton campaign during September.

According to the Horatio Alger Association, 85 percent of high school students consider themselves invested in the 2016 Presidential Election.

This statistic has increased since 2012, when only 57 percent of high school students cared about the outcome of the Obama-Romney presidential race.

According to a Chronicle poll of 336 students, 81 percent of upper school students believe the result of the election will affect them personally.

Seventy-six percent of students follow politics.

Evan Keare ’18 attended the Democratic National Convention and obtained a credential, the pass needed to enter the event, from a family friend who serves on the Board of Democrats Abroad.

On her second night at the convention, she could only find a seat directly behind the stage.

“There were no screens or speakers,” Keare said. “I couldn’t hear or see anything. It’s ridiculous they would even sell seats there.”

She decided to use YikYak, a social media platform that allows users to share discussion threads within a five-mile radius, to help her find a better place to sit.

She soon saw that “a bummed out Bernie supporter” was giving away a floor-level delegate pass, and she received it from them.

“I, a 17-year-old girl who can’t vote, was walking around the floor of the DNC with delegate credentials, crazy” Keare said.

Around midnight, when the convention came to a close, Keare sat thirty feet from the stage as she watched the first female presidential nominee in American history.

“I’m very passionate,” Keare said. “Hillary or nothing.”

Chloe Zoller ’17 was on the social media team for Mitchell Schwartz, who is running against Mayor Eric Garcetti ’88 this spring.

Zoller said working on the campaign has made her more aware of local issues and what matters most to voters in Los Angeles.

“It was a very grassroots campaign when I started working for them, so it’s awesome to see the amount of progress we’ve been making as we prepare for elections,” Zoller said. “It was also really cool to be on the social media team because we’re literally just reaching out to potential voters all over the country to try to get support.”

Jordan Friedman ’17 is a member of the Young Republicans National Federation and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He attributes high school students’ increased involvement in this election to promises from candidates, specifically those of Bernie Sanders.

Friedman said young people are concerned with the civic duties required of adult citizens. He said his generation’s focus on present issues is selfish.

“I don’t understand why so many people think they’re entitled to a job, free housing, universal healthcare. In my opinion, those are privileges and have to be earned,” Friedman said. “If they care so much about everyone, why haven’t they cared in past years?”

Though he identifies as conservative, Friedman does not support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

If voting, he said he would write in Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Eleanor Halloran ’18 volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign and believes that her involvement in Junior State of America, a nationwide organization emphasizing civic education, has made her more politically aware.

Even though she originally supported Sanders, Halloran now plans to volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“I’ve always highly respected Hillary Clinton and even if she wasn’t my first choice, I still think she’ll make a great president. I still support her, especially when the other choice is Donald Trump,” Halloran said.

Although it has been over a month since Keare attended the Democratic National Convention, she said she still remembers how surreal the experience was, like she was watching history being made.

She often thinks back to when she was nine years old, when she and her dad volunteered for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“It made me very humble,” Keare said. “When I saw Obama at the DNC, I was like, ‘I did some of that.’”