Network of Sacred Heart Schools
Student Civic Engagement at Local and National Level
SHP junior serves as poll worker in local community, and interns for congressman’s reelection campaign
Shahnawaz Syed (SHP ’22), who has been involved in school government since middle school, this year took the skills learned through those experiences, and applied them to politics on a national scale.
First, Syed joined Representative Josh Harder’s (D) CA-10 reelection campaign as an intern, and then also became a poll worker in his community. For the latter role, Syed was drawn to help his community because “it’s imperative for young people to get involved. Generally, poll workers are older people, but this year it’s unsafe for many of them [to be involved] due to the pandemic,” said Syed. According to the Pew Research Center’s data from the 2018 general election, 58 percent of poll workers were ages 61 and up.
Syed saw his participation as a concrete way to give back to his community, and hopes the upward trend of young people becoming more politically involved continues.
“I think it's important for everyone to be civically engaged. We live in a time where politics influences everything around us, so we should not only understand but get involved in it. For me specifically, my family has always made politics and current affairs a topic at the dinner table, so naturally I grew an interest,” he said.
Learning the inner workings of a campaign for Congress, Syed was involved in strategy and reaching out to as many constituents as possible, often joining text banks with 25 or more volunteers meeting virtually. He was struck by the “incredible amount of work and money it takes to win an election.”
What was so effective for Harder to win the district in 2018, Syed said, was having one volunteer for every vote earned, “and that was with the largest ‘Get Out the Vote’ operation in the nation. This time around, we did our best to replicate 2018 under the current conditions. It paid off, as Josh declared victory on Wednesday morning.”