Stories from the US campaign trail: 'We felt it was truly possible to change the world – we still feel that energy'

9th November 2016 at 16:59
In our ninth instalment from the US campaign trail, UK sixth-formers say they are proud to have taken part in the campaigning which resulted in Florida apparently having its highest-ever voter turnout

As the final stages of the US presidential race got underway, 20 sixth-formers from five UK schools joined campaigners for Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and a number of the Republican congressional races. The students are part of the Inspire US 2016 programme, run by education charity The Transformation Trust, which offers opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them develop new employability skills and grow in confidence. TES has published a report each day from the students.

Reporting from Florida are Rubaiyath Reza, Tanya Hossain, Tasnia Abdullah and Sanjida Mustharen from Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, East London

Early this morning, we sat together in Tampa and watched the vote come in. 

Having spent the week learning about US politics, we understood that democracy had spoken.

And having spent six days campaigning for Hillary Clinton, we understood just how hard her team had worked to get voters to the polls.

Our week had been taken up working in the volunteer office at Clearwater in Pinellas County, one of the most hotly contested counties in Florida. Our main job had been door-knocking: we visited registered Democrats in local communities, recorded data on whether they were planning to support Hillary Clinton, and then encouraged them to vote.

 

On Tuesday, we were out in the baking sun for 10 hours, in some of Florida’s poorest communities. We knocked on almost 500 doors, explaining to voters where their nearest polling station was and how they could vote.

One of the most rewarding things we did was organising rides to the polls: we worked with volunteers to arrange lifts for people who couldn’t make it to the polling stations themselves.

'We organised transport to get voters to the polls'

We met a Hispanic couple who couldn’t get to a polling station because the husband had just had an operation. They didn’t have access to a car and told us that they really wanted to vote but it just wasn’t an option.

When we told them that we could arrange for somebody to take them to the polls, they were thrilled.

That same morning, we met an elderly African American woman who was caring for her grandson at home and had no way of reaching her registered polling station, an hour’s drive away. We arranged for her to be collected that afternoon so that she could cast her vote.

It was exciting and rewarding to know that because of our work, people who would not otherwise have cast their vote had been able to exercise their democratic right and express their beliefs.

It has been said that Florida had its highest voter turnout in history, and we feel proud to have been part of that story.

We were part of a large and dedicated team of volunteers – many of them women – from all ages, backgrounds and walks of life.

When we worked alongside them, we felt that it was truly possible to change the world, and we still feel that energy now.

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