The campaign season for the 2020 elections will not be business as usual. Restrictions related to COVID-19 include social distancing, non-public gatherings, and the inability to canvass in communities with a high number of positive cases. All of which will hinder get out the vote efforts.
Campaign teams are scrambling to get their message out via traditional mailers, phone banking, and social media platforms. But some are bucking public health warnings and either walking door-to-door themselves or sending out hired "volunteers" to meet with voters at home.
The question remains - Should candidates be campaigning door-to-door during COVID?
Luis Alvarado, running for Pico Rivera City Council, says no.
"The public's safety should come first. There are many ways to engage voters without jeopardizing their health. This is a serious and potentially deadly pandemic and it should be treated as such. Any canvassing, especially in Latino communities with high infection rates, is reckless."
Former Mayor Pro Tem, and council member with the City of Santa Ana for 12 years, Michele C. Martinez tends to agree. "It should be about safety first. Although I am surprised to see candidates posting there door-to-door efforts online, especially the new candidates, I understand the need to have face-to-face time to get your message across. At the end of the day it's just too risky given the circumstances."
Martinez added that candidates should utilize technology especially popular apps used by Latinos like WhatsApp to reach voters.
As for the veteran campaign managers and firms, they are forgoing the legions of volunteers and paid interns who traditionally canvass and instead are taking a cautious approach.
"We are following public health officials advice on all matters COVID-19. We plan to dramatically increase phone calls, text messages and other virtual outreach," said Albert Morales, political director with LatinoDecisions.com.
Depending on where you live, you may have candidates walking and knocking and others using new and old tools to reach voters.
Incumbent California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer is re-working his campaign to ensure the safety of his constituents. "I represent a Black and Latino district with the majority being of Latin decent. COVID has hit our communities hard, so I decided to use a mix of communications tools the community is familiar with and view as favorable towards their safety. Trying to get 40 seconds of facetime with a voter and risking contracting or spreading COVID is not worth it to me. I can't see why any candidate would put their campaign ahead of public safety."
COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives. Elections and the way we learn about candidates is the latest norm forced to use creative measures and technology to get the message to voters.
With the November 3rd, 2020 elections around the corner, will voters take into consideration a candidate who knocks on their door during a pandemic or one using other means to send their information?
Whatever you decide, please be sure to register to vote and to of course vote.