Campaign canvassers surpass 5 million knocks ahead of Va. elections

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — With just about a week to go until the election, campaigns are down to the wire.

Virginia Republicans and Democrats say, collectively, they have knocked on more than 5 million doors — and they aren’t finished yet.

“The last week for a campaign in a statewide election, it is controlled chaos,” said Garren Shipley, Virginia Communications Director for the Republican National Committee. “Every additional door you get could make the difference.”

Shipley said knocking on doors is the most important thing a campaign can do.

“It’s one thing to see an ad. It’s another thing to hear something on the radio or get a piece in the mail. But when somebody knocks on your door and says, ‘Hey. You matter. Your vote will make a difference.’ That is a powerful motivator,” said Shipley.

The Republicans canvassers log their door knocks digitally. At each stop, the volunteers ask residents a series of survey questions and punch the answers into their phones.

“We’ve set up a community-based system based on the voters we know we need to contact,” Shipley said. “We have neighbors talking to neighbors.”

 

On Saturday, Dylan Barth and Conner Strong went door to door in a Henrico neighborhood.

Both are seniors at Glen Allen High School.

“I met some really nice people last week,” said Strong.

When potential voters did not answer, the teens left a door hanger reminding them to head to the polls Nov. 7 and who was on the GOP ticket.

The same day, Democrats in Henrico County visited voters who, according to their records, previously committed to voting for their ticket.

Armed with a list of names, addresses and campaign literature, Dan Fortuna and Cheryl Brown hit the ground running.

“It’s not the easiest thing for me, but it’s really important that we have a great turnout,” Fortuna said of knocking on strangers’ doors. “This is a crisis time for our democracy.”

Fortuna and Brown chatted with residents about the Democratic candidates and ensured voters knew their polling locations.

“I think we need to get everyone voting because of what happened in the last election,” said Fortuna.

Aside from governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, canvassers are also talking to voters about contenders for the Virginia House of Delegates.

This year, all 100 seats are up for grabs.

In the 72nd District, two fresh faces are trying to lock down a vacant House seat after Republican Jimmie Massie decided not to run for re-election.

Teacher Schuyler VanValkenburg is the Democratic nominee. Eddie Whitlock, a lawyer, is the Republican nominee.

Both candidates spent Saturday knocking on doors.

“It’s hard to be tired when there’s so much energy and there’s so many volunteers,” VanValkenburg said of juggling his campaign and his classroom.

Whitlock said he’s knocked on about 7,000 doors and has supporters doing the same.

“I have dozens of volunteers that have been working since March and have been knocking almost every single day,” said the Republican. “So to see people give it their time and committed to the cause, it’s very humbling.”

Shipley said, as of Monday, Republicans have knocked on about 2.7 million doors in the commonwealth.

Kevin Donohoe with the Democratic Party of Virginia said Democrats have knocked on nearly 2.6 million doors.

More than 261,000 of those knocks occurred in the last weekend alone, according to Donohoe.

The election is Nov. 7.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot through the mail is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31. The request must be received by the registrar by 5 p.m.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by appearing in-person is 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.

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