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The first week of DukeEngage flew by. As I adjusted from my unstructured quarantine summer schedule to working full time, I couldn’t help but play Elvis Costello’s “Welcome to the Working Week” on repeat in my head. After a few hours of training on Monday morning, I dove straight into a full week of work on my project. I’m serving as a political data manager at WeVote, a nonpartisan, nonprofit startup that is compiling ballot information prior to the November 2020 election with the goal of increasing voter education and turnout. This week, I’ve been using WeVote’s algorithm to locate candidates’ Twitter accounts and link them to their WeVote page. This serves a dual-purpose of providing prospective voters easy access to first-hand information from candidates as well as pulling in a picture of the candidate to display on the WeVote website. I’ve also been researching dozens of organizations that issue endorsements of political candidates, ranging from Planned Parenthood to the NRA and everything in between. After I find endorsements, I import them into WeVote’s data-managing software, verify the information, and publish it live onto the WeVote website. This process allows prospective voters to see a list of organizations that have endorsed each candidate, which can allow them to see quickly what values a particular candidate stands for and expedite the decision-making process. 

I couldn’t have accomplished any of these tasks without the help and instruction of WeVote’s senior staff members. My supervisors have been nothing but supportive and have even included me and other interns in decisions beyond the scope of our normal work. I was worried coming into the internship that the work might be mundane, but I have been pleasantly surprised. Though it is at times repetitive, it feels significant and my efforts feel truly appreciated. 

I am excited about my work with WeVote because I have heard countless stories from friends and family members claiming that they don’t have time to vote or, more specifically, don’t have time to figure out who to vote for. I am hopeful that my work making candidates’ endorsements and Twitter pages more readily accessible will make decision-making easier for voters and eliminate barriers to voting.