As we reach the fourth week of our virtual summer canvass, we here at VPIRG have been blown away by the level of support we have received from both our members and our stellar team of canvassers as we adjust to this ‘canvass-from-home’ reality.
Even still, VPIRG’s first ever (and hopefully only) all-digital summer canvass is off to a great start!
Though we are not operating at the scale we are accustomed to, we have managed to put together an amazing team of 31 dedicated canvassers who join us daily, making calls and educating the public about our efforts in the face of this pandemic. While many are based right here in Vermont, our team is calling in from their homes in 8 different states, from California to Massachusetts.
Over the past few weeks we have made nearly 19,000 calls and had engaging conversations with over 2,200 of our members. Though we cannot talk to our members face to face, we have nevertheless been successful with our fundraising efforts thanks to the generosity of so many of our members.
Between matched donations and contributions large and small, we have raised nearly $50,000 to continue fighting for the public interest on issues like clean energy, universal healthcare, regulation of toxic chemicals, and high-speed internet access. Our grassroots funding is crucial in allowing us to take the fight to big-money special interest groups, and thanks to the support of Vermonters across the state it is growing each day.
Vote-by-mail is one of the most pressing issues facing our state, so we are excited to announce that more than 3,000 Vermonters have signed on to our critical vote-by-mail petition.
Over the past several weeks, VPIRG and so many others have called on Governor Scott to authorize universal vote-by-mail, and our voices are being heard. Just yesterday the Senate Committee on Government Operations voted 4-1 to transfer authority to Secretary of State Jim Condos to move forward with mailing ballots to every registered voter in time for the general election.
Whether online or over the phone, hundreds of Vermonters are taking the pledge to stay home and vote, and that number is growing every day. Showing support for initiatives like this is crucial to protecting the health and wellbeing of our voters, poll workers, and the security of our elections, and we are heartened to see that so many folks agree.
Although we are not able to be all together in our Burlington canvass office, we are working hard to keep the spirit of the summer canvass alive. Every morning the whole canvass team meets virtually for announcements, where campaign updates and the numbers from the previous night are discussed. One of the biggest draws to the canvass is the communal atmosphere and the opportunity to explore Vermont.
“The biggest reason I keep coming back after 3 years is the people” said Eliott Rice, an veteran canvasser. “Between working with such an amazing group of motivated, progressive thinking canvassers and being able to meet and engage with Vermonters from all walks of life, you can’t beat the human element of this organization.”
Though we can’t see our members face to face, we are still having amazing conversations with them every day.
“The learning curve for transitioning a fundamentally in-person operation into a virtual one is steep, and I know all of us miss being out there on our bikes, meeting Vermonters face-to-face,” said Sebbi Wu, one of the canvass directors and VPIRG fellows. “I’ve been really impressed by the team’s performance and stick-to-it-iveness. We’re all learning as we go, and it’s incredible how effectively our team has adapted.”
Normally, our canvassers are out in nature every day, biking or hiking to every corner of the state, but because of the precautions taken due to COVID-19 this just is not possible. However, some canvassers have taken upon themselves to organize outdoor phone banking together, while practicing social distancing.
Whether from their front porch or the UVM campus, VPIRGers will always find a way to get outside and soak in some sun, and hopefully, we’ll be able to knock on your door again next summer.
You can help support the 2020 virtual canvass at www.vpirg.org/2020CanvassDonate