There’s not much the pandemic hasn’t changed, including politics. Politicians can’t kiss babies or shake hands so how do candidates for state representative campaign in a pandemic?
Pandemic or no pandemic candidates for state House grabbed their masks and hit the streets to talk to voters in their district one door at a time.
“Doors still happen, but when I go to the door I make sure that I knock. I step way away and when they come to the door I hand the literature with my fingertips and people we talk,” Mary Ann Turner, a candidate from Enfield, said.
But that was at the beginning of the pandemic. Turner said people are more likely than not to come to the door and chat at a safe distance.
“I have found that people are coming to the door,” Turner said. “You would think there would be less of them. There are more of them and they’re coming outside. We’re still standing 6, 7 feet apart. They want to talk to me.”
When COVID-19 came in March it meant most voter contact was over the phone but in the summer the campaigns were connecting with voters in person again.
“Wearing masks and socially distanced at their doors but people really responded to making sure their voices were heard,” Kate Farrar of West Hartford said.
Some of that may be a reaction to a moment when there’s less face-to-face interaction.
“People are really excited to be able to have a conversation. Be that behind their door which I’ve come across. Be that coming out with a mask and standing on their front lawn at six feet but people have been really responding positively to making sure they’re being heard and that someone’s really listening to them right now,” Farrar said.
There’s an educational component too. This is the first time voters can vote by absentee ballot. Because absentee ballots go out October 2, candidates have less than two weeks to convince voters to vote for them. That’s putting some pressure on the candidates earlier in the election cycle.
“These local elections could be down to a handful of votes. One vote, 10 votes, 20 votes,” Turner said.
The stakes are high and candidates are leaving nothing to chance. Many are out there every day knocking on doors and talking to voters.