Simon Akam

Photography: US Elections

In September 2008, in the run-up to the US Presidential election, I travelled to Virginia to investigate the Obama campaign's voter registration efforts. The campaign was co-ordinating a massive drive to sign up new voters - in particular African Americans, who traditionally vote at a low rate.

The Democrats' attempt to change the electoral landscape of the state paid off - on November 4 Virginia went blue for the first time since 1964.

My story and photographs ran in the New Statesman shortly before the election. The piece is available here.

My travel was funded by a grant from the Fulbright Commission.

I also covered the candidates' September 11 visit to New York and the celebrations in Harlem on election night itself.

19-year-old student Davina Pitts with Obama campaign aides David Nibert and Alice McAlexander at a voter registration event at Virginia State University, a historically black college in Petersburg, Virginia. The Obama campaign's victory in Virginia, the first time the state had voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, was helped by an unprecedented mobilisation of African American voters. (Simon Akam)
  
The Stars and Stripes flies at half mast at the ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum at Columbia University, New York City. Barack Obama and John McCain took time out from campaigning to attend the event on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Simon Akam)
  
(L-R) Jamil Jasey and Sean Quirk make calls at the Obama campaign state headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Obama's victory in Virginia was the first time the state had voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. (Simon Akam)
     
  
Election officials sit around a ballot box in a polling station in the village of Njala in Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone during a by-election. REUTERS/Simon Akam (SIERRA LEONE).
  
LaShawndra Thorton, a student at the Mailman School of Public Health, sits outside a historic brownstone house in Harlem on election day. The neighbourhood, the upper swathe of Manhattan island, is the traditional hub of African American culture in the United States. (Simon Akam)
  
Anti-war protestors demonstrate on Broadway outside the ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum at Columbia University. Barack Obama and John McCain took time out from campaigning to attend the event in New York City on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Simon Akam)