Letter to PTP Staff: Adjusting our 2020 Program

Good afternoon Team Turnout,

When Harry and I started Progressive Turnout Project five years ago, we set out to be an added value for Democratic candidates in the most competitive elections across the country. Our vision was to establish early engagement with inconsistent Democratic voters to help elect majorities that would pass progressive legislation. While our first cycle didn’t yield the results we hoped for, our efforts in 2018 led to a Democratic House. And this year we’re eager to finish the job by electing Joe Biden and taking back the Senate.

Almost all of our programmatic dollars go toward our field programs because best-practice research shows that it’s the best way to get out the vote, and our own experience tells us that most campaigns and organizations don’t invest the energy, resources, or time to run robust field programs. While digital, mail, and phones are options, we know that they aren’t nearly as effective, and that candidates and allied organizations will put their programmatic dollars into those tactics. To put this into perspective, our 2018 field programs boosted turnout among our target voters an average of 10.4 percent, while our digital, mail, and phone programs didn’t register a measurable result.

That’s why when the Covid-19 outbreak began, we paused our programs, but dedicated ourselves to figuring out if we could safely continue our work. It took research, time, and close and careful consultation with an infectious disease doctor, but ultimately we determined that we could run a safe canvass program, even amid a pandemic. So we got to work.

I know our program is safe for our staff and target voters, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far this cycle to re-engage inconsistent Democratic voters in the electoral process. However, I have been troubled by the idea that anyone feels forced to participate in it. In May, we offered District Leaders who joined us before the Covid-19 outbreak the opportunity to join our Turnout 2020 phone program. And we made it clear to all applicants that we would ultimately go into the field when the time was right. 

That said, I want everyone in our organization to be able to contribute to victories on November 3 in a way that makes them feel secure. That’s why effective immediately we are taking the following steps:

  • Any District Leader or Field Representative in any office may elect to join the Turnout 2020 phone program at their agreed upon hours, pay, and benefits through the end of their term of employment. This includes any Alabama, Arizona, Florida, or South Carolina staff who recently decided to work with Turnout 2020 through August 14. The expectation remains that full-time staff will work a “Field schedule” which will be Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time and Monday through Wednesday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time, and part-time staff work the later, higher-contact end of those hours. You may opt-in to the Turnout 2020 program at any time between now and Election Day by completing this form
  • We will freeze hiring for open District Leader and Field Representative roles due to budgetary constraints that will come from a larger phone program. This means that any offer letters that have not yet gone out will not go out. We will honor any hiring bonus goals that were met on our most recent payroll and—as promised—pay those bonuses on your final, post-election paycheck.
  • We will continue to operate canvass programs wherever we have District Leaders, because we know we can safely operate our canvass programs with remote launches and trainings, mask and physical distancing at all times, hand sanitation between all interactions, and the introduction of weekly Covid-19 testing in our field offices.

As I have said many times this cycle, your safety is our number one priority. While we have been assured that the risk of getting or spreading Covid-19 at the door while practicing all of our protocols is near zero, I understand the fear that can stem from even the slimmest odds. I’m sure we all know someone who has gotten sick with Covid-19 and many of us know someone who has died from Covid-19. It is real and it is scary and it is why we are doing everything we can to take care of our staff in the field.

We know this crisis has been made worse by Donald Trump. We know that millions of Americans are about to lose their increased unemployment benefits because of the obstruction of Mitch McConnell. We know that these two men are some of the worst leaders in American history, and we know that we have to do everything that we can to defeat them on November 3. 

There are 99 days until Election Day. This work isn’t about any of us as individuals. It’s about our country and what kind of world we want to live in over the next four years. Let’s get to work.


Alex Morgan
Executive Director

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