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Pro-Sanders Canvassers Target Youth Vote With Unprecedented GOTV Ahead of New Hampshire Primary

"We've never, ever seen this kind of organization and mobilization before," said one volunteer.

Giselle Hart of Rights and Democracy New Hampshire and Marcela Mulholland of the Sunrise Movement at UNH campus Monday.

Giselle Hart of Rights and Democracy New Hampshire and Marcela Mulholland of the Sunrise Movement at UNH campus Monday. (Photo: Eoin Higgins/Common Dreams)

Volunteers with Rights and Democracy New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Youth Movement, and the Sunrise Movement canvassed the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire for Sen. Bernie Sanders' Democratic presidential bid Monday, a day before Granite State voters head to the polls.

"This is a really exciting opportunity for us," Violet Massie-Vereker of New Hampshire Youth Movement told volunteers at a meeting in the Rainbow Cafe in Durham before canvassing began.

The independent canvassing effort—not officially connected to the Sanders campaign—asked students at the university to fill out voter commitment cards and provided information on polling places and travel. The groups, all of which have endorsed Sanders, intend to provide buses and vans to transport voters to the polls on Tuesday.

UNH is the largest school in the state, making it extremely important, said Massie-Vereker. 

"We've never, ever seen this kind of organization and mobilization before," she said. 

Giselle Hart of Rights and Democracy New Hampshire talks to a prospective student voter on UNH campus in Durham, New Hampshire.

Sanders enjoys high approval ratings and support from youth voters, consistently polling well over his rivals. The campaign has not made a secret of its strategy to turn out students. 

As Common Dreams reported Sunday, Sanders called on supporters during a rally in Keene to "transform this country" through sustained activism and his election. 

Campaign manager Faiz Shakir told Common Dreams that the campaign was deploying all available resources to get out the vote. 

"We have a large pool of dedicated volunteers," Shakir said. "We're going to take advantage of that; we're going to do what it takes to win."

The campaign knocked on 150,000 doors on Saturday and Sanders drew the best-yet Democratic candidate crowd of the 2020 cycle for New Hampshire, 1,981 people, in Keene on Sunday. 

In a conference call to volunteers Sunday evening, Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) thanked the senator's supporters for their tireless work and asked for just a little bit more.

"The name of the game here is electorate expansion and bringing people out to vote that the normal political establishment counts on not turning out," said Ocasio-Cortez. "The political establishment counts on young people not turning out, on working class people, poor people, people working two jobs—they rely and they predict that we don't turn out. So that when we do, we completely upend politics as usual and change the game."

Marcela Mulholland of the Sunrise Movement talks to an Andrew Yang supporter on UNH campus Monday.

On UNH campus, Giselle Hart of Rights and Democracy and Marcela Mulholland of Sunrise posted up near the dining hall to spot canvass passers by. 

Both women had luck, with Mulholland finding an Andrew Yang voter mostly informed by the Joe Rogan Experience podcast to consider Sanders and Hart securing her first commit to vote card within twenty minutes. 

It's a thankless job—those two amenable student voters were counterbalanced by a large number of noncommitted or supporters of other candidates. But, Hart said, that's just part of how canvassing works. 

"You get about one in 30 meaningful conversations," said Hart. "But if you have 30 volunteers, and each one talks to 100 people, that works out to about 100 total committed voters of the 3,000."

Hart added that the work of canvassing extends beyond any one candidate. 

"If you get one voter out tomorrow, that one voter could become a lifelong voter," she said. "Not everyone understands the process—it's a bit of a civics education."

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