I should cancel, right?
March 12, 2020 2:54 PM   Subscribe

I am scheduled to run a door-to-door voter registration canvass this weekend. Should I cancel it? There are few COVID-19 cases in my area, but it seems prudent to try to keep it that way.

My county has had 4 cases (3 active) of confirmed COVID-19, all traceable to travel or close-contacts with travelers. There have been 3 additional confirmed cases in my state. Basically every event has been cancelled and the University has gone online-only, but public schools remain open for now. My sense is that there is starting to be a lot of discussion about social distancing in my community, but so far not a lot has taken place.

My canvass would have 10-15 volunteers (assuming they still want to come) who would be in a room together for ~20 minutes. They would then walk around outdoors in pairs, knocking on doors and offering assistance with voter registration. Most contacts with voters are brief, and virtually never involve physical contact.

Overall, this seems fairly low-risk to me. On the other hand, the time to prevent disease transmission is BEFORE things get really bad, right? Plus, many of my volunteers are over 60 and might not want to participate.

This is our last chance to register voters before a very important Supreme Court election in April, so I would be bummed to cancel, but we have high-quality print materials, and could turn the canvass into a literature-drop (no face-to-face contact with voters) instead, which would probably further reduce risk.

So, my options are:
1. Cancel entirely
2. Go on as planned
3. Ask volunteers to drop literature instead of knocking doors

What do you think?
posted by juliapangolin to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Online training and then ask vols to drop off literature


Cancel entirely
posted by raccoon409 at 2:56 PM on March 12, 2020

Best answer: Many of your volunteers are members of a compromised population. Even though the risk of infection is low, social distancing is a necessary precaution - I would err on the side of caution and turn it into a literature drop. If you could provide gloves, even better.
posted by Everydayville at 2:57 PM on March 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

Nobody wants to open their doors to strangers right now, so option 2 is definitely out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:58 PM on March 12, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best answer: (I'm assuming the location in your profile is accurate.) This morning, the Wisconsin Election Commission cancelled all of our visits to assist seniors with early absentee voting. I was grateful to receive the e-mail because many of the deputies for that are also themselves seniors. I absolutely agree that it's an important election, but we have in-person registration at polling places, the library voting is still a go, and there's still plenty of time to get an absentee ballot in the mail. I would focus on getting that information out safely.
posted by teremala at 3:03 PM on March 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My partner is a political field director in Oregon. We haven't had any confirmed cases in our county yet, but there have been a couple dozen in the state. She's canceling planned canvassing for the foreseeable future and either replacing with lit drops or just switching to 100% phone banking. She hasn't made a final call yet which route to go.
posted by bassooner at 3:05 PM on March 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

If a campaign vol came to my door right, it would not make me want to vote for their cause.
posted by theora55 at 3:16 PM on March 12, 2020 [12 favorites]

From a public health perspective, door-to-door canvassing is irresponsible right now.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:30 PM on March 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

For perspective, from the NYT, it may be helpful to consider "Mr. Sanders’s campaign said that it had asked all staff members to work from home and that it would no longer hold large events or door-to-door canvasses, focusing on digital outreach instead."

It may also be helpful to note, also from the NYT, "It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can travel through the air, enveloped in tiny respiratory droplets that are produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes."

And unfortunately, from the Guardian: Coronavirus: many infections spread by people yet to show symptoms – scientists
posted by katra at 7:13 PM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Update: My partner cancelled all canvassing and is just doing virtual organizing without physical lit drops.
posted by bassooner at 7:55 PM on March 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks folks. Just writing the question helped me realize the right decision. Canvass has been cancelled.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:58 PM on March 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

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