Posted by Samantha Washington on July 08, 2016
Hi! I’m Samantha and this fall I’m going to be a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania where I major in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and minor in Gender Studies. I’m spending my summer here at FairVote working as an intern in the Outreach and Advocacy department.
Born and raised in Washington, DC, I’ve always been a bit of a political nerd. From helping my parents knock on doors as a kid during the ’08 campaign to scouring political coverage for fun as young adult, I’ve always found the process fascinating. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to think more earnestly about what it means to be an active participant in our democracy, not just a bystander. As a DC resident, I had to come to terms with the fact that, in our current electoral system, my vote will have next to no weight in the outcome of the presidential election, let alone my complete lack of voting representation in the legislative branch. Further disheartening was realizing that, while my vote counted for little, there were millions more people who would be prevented by law or circumstance from participating in the process at all.
In the midst of my realizations surrounding these issues, the time came for me to decide how to spend my summer. I had been debating trying to find either a political campaign to volunteer with or a non-profit dedicated to some set of social-ills at which I could intern. As I continued to weigh these options, I started thinking about the root causes of the two central problems I saw myself wanting to help with. On one hand, there were political campaigns for candidates (good candidates, candidates I believed in!) that were governed by strategies that favored certain demographics of people over others out of pure electoral necessity. On the other hand, there were a variety of problems in society that ultimately stemmed from the government’s lack of accountability to so many citizens.
When I found FairVote, I saw an opportunity to bridge these two concerns. FairVote’s dedication, not to a certain set of political ideals but rather to the principle that everyone deserves an equal shot at promoting their own political ideals, appealed to me. As an Outreach and Advocacy intern, I spend my time compiling and presenting information designed to help FairVote promote their reforms to the public and, more specifically, to activists and politicians. I’m excited to be working at a place like this, surrounded by people who care as much as I do about the political system as well as the people it seeks to represent. During my time here, I hope to figure to do my part in the pursuit of political enfranchisement as well as to figure out how I want to carry on that pursuit after graduation.
Sam is the 2016 Advocacy Intern at FairVote. Learn more about FairVote's Democracy Fellowships and Internship opportunities on our Employment page.