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Pandemic Canvassing: Different for Democrats and Republicans

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 9:01 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The final push to get voter turnout, election canvassing, is in full swing.

Canvassers historically go door-to-door, talking to voters in-person about election issues and candidates. That method has been brought into question, as healthcare experts urge social distancing and limited social contact to avoid spreading the Coronavirus.

Subsequently, Democrats and Republicans are both adjusting canvassing. El Paso County’s Democratic Party has done away with traditional face-to-face canvassing because of safety concerns. Conversely, the County’s GOP is continuing face-to-face, door-knocking canvassing with face masks and social distancing.

“I don’t think we are being careless ... I think people know that voting is so important, that they are not going to let this deter them,” said El Paso County GOP Chair Vickie Tonkins.

When asked if she considered using solely remote canvassing options, like phone calls, mail-out documents, texts, and emails, Tonkins replied, “Never.” They are using those methods, but that chose not to rely on them alone.

Democrats however, are mainly using remote canvassing to reach voters.

“In the end, our goal is to keep people safe ... We have kept incredibly strict protocols," said Electra Johnson, El Paso County Democratic Party Chair.

When asked of her thoughts on the GOP continuing face-to-face canvassing, Johnson said “I think it’s really irresponsible, I’ve said that from day one.”

This local reaction is representative of a national trend, where democrats and republicans have opposing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county’s opposing party’s chairpersons agreed, remote canvassing only goes so far. Johnson says, there are some voters who do not have any contact information on record other than a home address.

Tonkins and Johnson also both expect, the pandemic likely will not keep many Coloradans from voting because of the ballot drop box system. That has been the state standard for several elections, and it requires little to no physical contact with other people.

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