Because of the global pandemic of COVID-19, everything has changed. Now people have to practice physical distancing and stay at home if you are not an essential worker. With this big change, a lot of stuff is going to be difficult to operate. For example, voting will face a lot of challenges during this time.
It is going to be difficult to campaign without face-to-face interaction. The Democrat running for the state legislative seat in Washington’s Fourth District was looking forward to turning them over to the full schedule of activities she had planned — fundraisers, meetings, door-knocking. She had canceled all of it by the next week. Washington was the first nation to announce a reported case of the novel coronavirus. Dave Carvell said, “Our main concern right now is for the health and safety of residents across Brookline and the entire 4th District. We immediately moved to an all-digital campaign and are using our platforms to encourage people to stay safe, follow the directions of public health officials, and help meet urgent needs.” It is hard for people to campaign right now but there is always an alternative. Campaigning digitally might be difficult for some people but it is the only way for US citizens to stay safe during the global pandemic of COVID-19.
Some of the challenges that come with campaigning in a time of social distancing is missing out on in-person contact with the community and being able to speak directly with the people about the top issues and concerns on their minds. Another very specific challenge would be organizing signature-collecting efforts to appear on the ballot. It is very hard to organize a signature- collecting to appear on a ballot. They can do it online but it is a little bit different when you do things online. Some people might not really understand how to sign online or know where they can sign online. It is also very hard for candidates to connect with the residents during this time. Alan Khazei said, “Handshakes, hugs and face-to-face conversation are the heart and soul of grassroots political campaigning, so it has been a real challenge to adjust our approach. Safety of the public and my campaign team must come first, but it’s important that we find ways to continue to connect with residents.”
Some alternatives they are using include zoom meetings, telephone meetings, and other online platforms. Grossman, “We are trying to think hard about using Zoom and other online platforms to be able to conduct meetings and virtual house parties and continue to have that direct contact with folks in a safe and responsible way. … We are leaning on our digital and social media platforms.” They have scheduled online, virtual events to ensure they stay connected with voters. They are also trying to connect with voters through writing. They have been hosting virtual town halls and house parties, and they also installed an online chat feature on websites to provide the opportunity for voters to reach out in the absence of in-person events. They also shared resources daily on social media.