If there is anything that working on a campaign has taught me, it’s that parties and candidate-specific campaigns are in the business of winning elections, not in the business of democracy.  What this means is that campaigns do not want everyone to vote.  They do not promote voter access or believe in activating as many voters as possible, they only want to activate those voters that will support their candidate.  It is actually in the best interest of many candidates to discourage certain demographics from voting.  This is why some New Hampshire voters will be bombarded with campaign phone calls and canvassers, while others won’t receive a single one.  Each campaign works to target those citizens who fit their algorithm for what a likely supporter of their candidate would look like.  And if that particular citizen is undecided, then they go all out to convince that person to join their team.

 

But the strategies  used by campaigns makes me wonder if there isn’t something inherently corrupt about allowing campaigns to target only certain demographics of voters so specifically, while avoiding and discouraging other groups.  Canvassers for the campaigns of all prominent presidential candidates will likely knock on the doors of only one out of every ten houses in the neighborhoods they visit.  They talk to citizens and leave literature about candidates at these houses, but this strategy seems to leave the other nine out of ten households woefully uninformed.  I understand that which voters are targeted is all up to highly complex algorithms that take into account the person’s likelihood to vote for a specific candidate, and that this strategy is in the best interest of campaigns.  Perhaps I am just idealistic in my belief that it is our civic duty to ensure that every voter is informed and prepared to vote, and that this should not be dependent upon that citizens party affiliation or candidate preference.  True democracy can only be accomplished when every citizen has their input into who their leaders will be.

 
--Sydney Spreck is a St. Olaf sophomore from Stillwater, MN, majoring in Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies.  She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential primary elections.