The New York Times: The Progressive Turnout Project is getting back to door-knocking

The nation’s largest grass-roots organization devoted to voter turnout will begin in-person door-knocking this weekend — and canvassers will have to speak up to be heard through their masks.

The Progressive Turnout Project, a political action committee, announced this morning that it would begin a $52.5 million get-out-the-vote effort focused on 17 battleground states.

The campaign hopes to drive Democratic turnout in the presidential election and key Senate races, and reach voters who are likely to support Democrats but do not always vote consistently.

“We saw a real void in paying attention to these inconsistent voters,” said Alex Morgan, the group’s executive director, explaining why the group was founded in 2015.

“They say: ‘Why do you only come around every four years when you want my vote?’” he said. “The idea is to start that conversation early, to build up trust and good will, hiring folks who are from the communities that they’re working in.”

Although the pandemic put the group’s activities on hold, Morgan said it was on track to have all its programs running by July 4. He said that studies and the group’s own experience reflect that in-person canvassing — in which potential voters are visited multiple times during a campaign — has a greater impact than phone calls or digital advertising.

In order to get back to door-knocking safely, the Progressive Turnout Project hired an infectious disease expert to help it craft a set of strict social-distancing policies for its canvassers. As well as being barred from entering people’s houses, they will have to wear masks throughout the entire interaction.

“We think it’s an important signal of respect to the voter that they’re talking to,” Morgan said.The Progressive Turnout Project relies heavily on small-dollar donations, with the average contribution being roughly $15. Other Democratic-aligned political action committees have not yet begun any turnout campaigns of a similar scale, though the Service Employees International Union did announce in February — just before the coronavirus hit — that it would invest $150 million in get-out-the-vote efforts.

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