Wesley Watson could not have predicted just how well his previous job as an HIV and substance abuse counselor in Michigan would prepare him for his current one as a political organizer during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As a regional field director in a crucial battleground state for NextGen America, a liberal group aimed at turning out the youth vote, Watson encourages residents at juvenile detention centers in West Michigan to participate in the political process after their release. Kent County Juvenile Detention Center youths are the kind of potential first-time voters that might otherwise be overlooked in this swing territory, where Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump by 10,704 votes in 2016.
The pandemic has indefinitely shelved one-on-one voter contact at places like detention centers, where visitation is limited or residents have been temporarily sent home. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures have derailed most of the group’s meticulously planned voter registration events.
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