Rwick Sarkar ’23

Environmental Voter Project, Boston, MA

This summer, I interned with the Environmental Voter Project (EVP), a nonpartisan non-profit that is dedicated to increasing voter turnout among identified environmentalists. Using a variety of data and predictive modeling tools, EVP has identified millions of registered voters who are both inconsistent voters and likely to prioritize the environment or climate change when voting. These models identify environmental voters with 89% accuracy.

Close to 16 million environmentalists, who were both eligible and registered to vote, did not vote in 2014. This is the problem EVP aims to combat, and therefore, works differently from other organizations that work in the electoral space. Rather than trying to persuade voters to support climate action candidates or policies, EVP focuses on getting people who prioritize environmental issues to turnout to vote. Their theory is by changing the electorate to a more climate conscious one, politicians will be forced to address these issues.

Like other political organizations, EVP had to quickly transition to 100% virtual organizing this spring. Previously, we did not have much of a phone-banking program, and interns would have spent much of the summer knocking on doors. However, the organization transitioned to a virtual workspace quickly and effectively, protecting the health of staff, interns, volunteers, and voters.

Working with 11 other interns and hundreds of volunteers, I was part of a team that made over one million phone calls to voters this summer. EVP volunteers also sent text messages to a similar number or more voters. I also worked on a variety of projects, ranging from updating our election information to creating “How to Phonebank” guides.

In some ways, this internship has left me with more questions than answers about what I want to do professionally. It is important for me to work for a cause I am passionate about, and working with an organization like EVP enabled me to fulfill that goal. However, voter contact is difficult and elections can be stressful. At the moment, I’ve decided to invest myself in this work at least through this election. Going forward, I think I’d like to broaden my focus from just campaigns to the public policy realm, taking more economics and political science courses, as well as continuing to study environmental issues. I think my experiences contacting voters and developing relationships with staff and interns virtually will enable me to have future success by prioritizing the people and relationships involved in my work. And in policy work, it is always important not to forget the people who are impacted by policy—the voters I spent my summer contacting.

Thank you to the Kraft Family and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for helping fund this experience and enabling me to devote my time to work I am passionate about.