Civic engagement for a stronger democracy

Canvassing is a simple thing. Whether as a volunteer, intern or employee it all boils down to one thing, going out and mobilizing voters. Elections today are won and lost on turnout and a handful of votes can make the difference, so campaigns go to considerable lengths to get the vote out. They’ll look for as many volunteers as they can get and send them out to talk to voters. Anyone can canvass if they’re capable of walking a few miles and have a passion for civic engagement, which we all should be to one extent or another.

My first time canvassing was in Sept 2019. I had just started a new internship working towards electing a Democratic majority in the Virginia legislature. I had no prior experience with campaigns and was rather nervous about the whole situation. I was about to start knocking on the doors of random strangers to talk about politics at a time when politics was heated and divisive like never before. Despite my fears I soon came to realize that canvassing was not like that. While you may have a few folks who are rude or dismissive, the vast majority of my interactions were positive. I got to listen to the voices of the electorate and understand the issues important to Virginians. 

And it all culminates on election day. Months of hard work, countless doors later, and it all comes down a single night of either heartbreak or ecstasy. When you put in so much effort into supporting a candidate you can’t help but be more invested in the outcome than you would be otherwise. Two years ago I was in the office with other canvassers and organizers on election night, and fortunately for us it was a good night for most of our candidates. The excitement and joy that comes with winning is incredible, like getting an “A” on a final exam you needed to ace.   Knowing that your work went towards successfully electing candidates is an enormously gratifying feeling, and even more so when the victory is by the thinnest of margins. 

This year will be my third consecutive year of campaign work. Askew and Turpin in 2019, the Virginia coordinated campaign in 2020, and now Guy for 2021. These campaigns have been great experiences for me. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people and see many new places across Virginia Beach and Norfolk, in addition to supporting candidates who have made substantial changes for the betterment of Virginia. So, as the 2021 Virginia elections start, I encourage everyone reading this to get involved. Sign up to knock on 20 doors, make 50 phone calls, or send 100 texts. Civic engagement is a hallmark of democracy, so go out there and knock on some doors.

By Hunter Nordberg