On July 28, we announced we are suspending in-person canvassing until further notice. Our staff are keeping their jobs, hours, pay, and benefits, while continuing one-one-one voter outreach, remotely, on the phones and elsewhere.
How we’re keeping voters and our employees safe
At Progressive Turnout Project, we know that one-on-one voter outreach is the key to boosting turnout. Our programs are most effective when we start early in the election year, building relationships with voters and giving them support to register and cast their votes.
But this year, the novel coronavirus means we need to adjust how we work — because the health and safety of voters and our employees comes first.
Originally, we’d planned to begin knocking on doors starting May 1. Instead, we shifted to phone calls to voters, while making the following adjustments for our eventual canvassing:
- Before we begin in-person canvassing in any county or metro area, we will seek out the latest guidance from local health authorities and other experts. The earliest possible launch date is June 20, and programs will launch locally when and if it is safe to do so.
- All our Field Representatives will be provided with cloth masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, sealable plastic bags for materials, single-use pens, and any other supplies required by applicable federal, state, or local requirements.
- All our Field Representatives will be required to: wear their PTP-issued mask or other appropriate face covering; maintain social distance (6 feet) from others; step back at least 6 feet after knocking on a voter’s door; and maintain social distance while engaging in conversation; use hand sanitizer after every exchange, wipe down iPads and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and wash hands for at least 20 seconds at the beginning of shift, end of shift, before meal breaks, and after using the restroom.
- Our Field Representatives will not be permitted to shake hands or hand their clipboards or iPads to voters. Voters will be asked to put their completed Commitment to Vote card into a sealed bag and to keep the pen to minimize exchange of items.
- Our employees will not be permitted to work if they are sick, and will be provided with paid sick leave.
- All non-essential travel is prohibited.
Who are you?
We’re Progressive Turnout Project, a grassroots-funded organization dedicated to boosting voter turnout. Our teams of Field Representatives — your neighbors — will be talking with voters like you in neighborhoods across the country this year.
Where are you active?
We will roll out our programs in conversation with local health authorities and other experts, if and when it’s safe to begin. This year, we plan to be active in 17 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. We will continue to add local launch dates below when those decisions are made.
- We began canvassing on June 20 in: Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver, CO
- We began canvassing on June 27 in: Augusta and Savannah, GA; Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, and Sioux City, IA; Kansas City and Topeka, KS; Augusta and Portland, ME; Manchester, NH; Appleton, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine, WI; and Charlotte, NC
- We began canvassing on July 5 in: Lexington, KY; and Asheville, Durham, Greensboro, and Raleigh, NC
- We began canvassing on July 11 in: Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lansing, MI; Missoula, MT; Winston-Salem, NC; Omaha, NE; and Allentown, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Scranton, PA
In Atlanta, GA, we began canvassing on June 27 and temporarily suspended in-person canvassing on July 10, following Mayor Bottoms’ announcement that the city would be returning to Phase 1.
How do you know it’s safe to canvass in my area?
First, we look for key benchmarks, including: any stay-at-home orders to be lifted, a 14 day decline in new cases, and that the state is following CDC guidelines and testing enough people. At that point, we reach out to state & county health officials to consult whether it’s safe to canvass door-to-door with our safety precautions in place.
Why did you leave a sticky note on my door?
Why did you leave a sticky note on my door? When our Field Representatives don’t get an answer at the door, we leave a note like this one instead:
It’s there to let voters know why we’re in their neighborhood, that we’ll try them again on another day, and to provide a link to this website so they can learn more.
What if I don’t want to open my door?
Our conversations with voters are entirely voluntary — we won’t ask anyone to open their door who doesn’t want to. Any voter who asks can be moved to a separate list, where we can follow up by phone or text instead.
How did you get my address?
We knock on the doors of registered voters, and we get those addresses from public records. Thank you for being a voter!
Do you really need to do this right now?
Yes. Our work in past years shows that effective canvassing can’t wait until October, and it can’t be replaced by online contact or TV ads. We know that one-on-one conversations are still the best way to increase voter turnout, and this crisis has proven that, more than ever, we need better elected officials to lead us. The stakes for this election are high, and we aren’t taking any chances — with voter turnout or voters’ health.
What about digital or phone canvassing?
Those are great tools that we use wherever in-person canvassing isn’t yet possible. This year, we launched a virtual phonebanking program, Turnout2020, to empower volunteers to make phone calls to infrequent voters. However, we know that safe, in-person conversations — when possible — are more effective at driving voter turnout.
What if one of your employees tests positive?
What if one of your employees tests positive? In case any of our employees tests positive for COVID–19, we follow all CDC and other guidelines for handling the situation, including:
- Sick employees must stay at home, and will not be permitted to report for work
- Sick employees will self-quarantine for 14 days on paid sick leave
- Locally, our program will shut down for 48 hours while we clean, investigate whether all procedures are being followed, and re-evaluate
- After at least 48 hours, if it’s safe, canvassing will resume
How will you keep me safe?
We want voters to feel safe to open their door. After knocking, our Field Representatives will immediately step back to a distance of at least 6 feet for the duration of the conversation. All our literature will be in pre-packaged and sanitized plastic voter kits, containing:
- One new pen for you to keep
- One Commitment to Vote card, which you can fill out and return if you wish
- Other cards with voting information for you to keep
Our Field Representatives will only break the 6-foot distance, with your permission, to hand off this packaged voter kit.
How will you keep your employees safe?
Our offices will only be open to the operations director at each location, and other employees will only visit as necessary to receive materials in a contactless arrangement. We’re providing our Field Representatives with cloth masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, sealable plastic bags for voter materials, single-use pens, and any other supplies required by applicable federal, state, or local requirements. We continue to provide paid sick leave to all staff members.
How can I help?
You can join our virtual phonebanking program, Turnout2020! To learn more and sign up as a volunteer, visit turnout2020.org.
How can I contact you?
You can email us anytime at [email protected]