Home US Inside the Democratic Party’s plan to prevent vote-by-mail disaster

Inside the Democratic Party’s plan to prevent vote-by-mail disaster

That’s why Michelle Obama took time out from lacerating Trump in her Monday convention speech to implore supporters to vote early — but also to keep close track of their ballots if they vote by mail or, if they feel able, to vote in-person.

“We’ve got to vote early, in person if we can. We’ve got to request our mail-in ballots right now, tonight, and send them back immediately and follow-up to make sure they’re received,” Obama said. “And then, make sure our friends and families do the same.”

The Democratic convention was one of the first major public steps in a campaign that over a dozen Democratic operatives described in interviews, which will run the party tens of millions of dollars and become the main focus of the coronavirus campaign.

“The best strategy to prevent Trump from casting unwarranted shade on the results of the election is to win in a landslide, so we’re doing all we can to help folks vote, vote early and drive down that ballot rejection rate,” said Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

‘It takes more time’

Coronavirus has turned the Democratic Party’s voter contact program, one operative said, into something more like a tech support operation than a traditional door-knocking effort. Before the spring elections in Wisconsin earlier this year, for example, Wikler put together a troubleshooting team to guide voters through the mail-in ballot application process, including how to upload a required photo.

Voting by mail is an unfamiliar process to a lot of Americans. And while speeches and videos featuring the likes of Michelle Obama will help raise awareness about voting in November and get people to make plans, many will also need more contact and help from campaigns than if they were going to vote in person.

“When you’re teaching audiences to do something they’re not familiar with, like voting by mail, it takes more time and it takes more touches,” said Tatenda Musapatike, senior director of campaigns at ACRONYM, a digital-focused Democratic group that is running an eight-figure campaign to register and mobilize voters in eight battleground states. “More touches means more money.”

With door-knocking out on the Democratic side during the pandemic, it is also pushing more and more voter contact into the digital sphere. Sean Eldridge, the founder of the group Stand Up America, said peer-to-peer texting will take on an “unprecedented” role in this election, and his organization is trying to reach millions of voters that way with both volunteers and voters are stuck at home.

The Biden campaign and the DNC say their efforts are already well underway, and they have already reached out to millions of voters in battleground states to push Democrats to request their mail ballots now. Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC, is spending $ 24 million on voter mobilization, which includes vote-by-mail education. Fair Fight, a group founded by Stacey Abrams, has rolled out voter protection programs in 17 states.

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