Candidate for PA State House Emily Kinkead Describes Digital Campaigning During a Pandemic

I asked a few campaigns to weigh in on the new tactics and strategies they will be relying on to move ahead with critical elections. What is still possible? What is newly possible? How can we help from our homes?

You can read our candidate Q&A’s here.

Also, check out our Q&A’s about the Pennsylvania Primary Election.

Next up is Emily Kinkead. Emily Kinkead

Your Name: Emily Kinkead

Your Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Your Affilation(s): Candidate, State Representative, District 20

How do you describe your identity? I identify as a cishet white woman, fierce ally of marginalized communities, lover of animals, loyal friend, outspoken advocate, and forever dedicated learner every single day about things that I don’t now know but should in order to make the world just a little better.

Please describe the current status of campaigns and elections in Pennsylvania. Campaigns everywhere are having to learn an entirely new way of doing things – like campaigning in a foreign language. While we are all still trying to reach out to voters, to remind them that this election is one of the most important in history and that when this is all over, we need to have sent as many people to Harrisburg and Washington as we possibly can who will ensure that all of us are protected from minute one if this ever happens again.

What is specifically happening with your campaign? We are continuing on as normally as possible – reaching out to voters every day, using our platform to get the best, most useful information out to people, making sure that people know that they have a choice in this primary. We are reaching more voters on the phone than ever before and many are excited to talk about the campaign. People are scared and confused right now and they don’t feel like they have a lot of control over what is going on. I think that they are relieved to talk about something else, and something that they recognize that they do have some control over.

How have you adapted to the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic?  We stopped door-knocking a few weeks ago and are now exclusively focused on phone banking and relational organizing, which means we’re involving our supporters more than ever to engage their friends and family who live in the District, to talk about the election, and get the word out from the safety of home. We are also encouraging everyone to whom we speak to request a mail-in ballot. This election is important, but no one should be forced to risk their life in order to vote.

One big adaption that I must acknowledge is from our volunteers. The folks who were out all the time pounding the pavement for us before COVID-19 have not missed a beat and are phone banking, postcard writing, and serving as digital warriors to keep growing our support base. Without them, our campaign could easily have stalled out. Instead, we are pushing forward with as much energy as ever.

What forms of digital engagement have you incorporated into your campaign? We are utilizing video now more than ever. We’ve started up Monday Meet & Greets where folks can ask me questions – silly or serious – and try to get to know me better and understand my views on various issues that are important to them. These go live every Monday at around 5 pm. Questions for our MMGs can be submitted at www.tinyurl.com/questionsD20.

We are also using our platform to provide information to people about ways that they can give back, the needs of vulnerable communities, and actions they can take to ensure that all of our workers are protected from doctors and nurses to social services case workers.

In Pennsylvania, what are our options for voting? What are the concerns about the actual election day activities? As stated above, Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to vote by mail. This primary is the first time this option has ever been available. We put together an instructional video on how to request your mail-in ballot online (www.tinyurl.com/VoteByMail20). Voters also have the option to vote by absentee ballot. The difference between mail-in ballots and absentee ballots is that absentee ballots require you to provide an excuse as to why you would not be able to physically vote in person at the polls. Mail-in ballots require no excuse. Requests for these ballots must be made no later than May 26 and must be returned by the date of the election to be counted. Go to www.votespa.com/ApplyMailBallot to request your mail-in ballot today.

Finally, the date of the primary election has changed from April 28 to June 2. We are still expecting that there will be the option to vote in person on June 2, but we strongly encourage everyone to request a mail-in ballot instead. We cannot predict when everything will be back to normal and, again, your vote is incredibly important but so is the health and safety of you and your loved ones.

Where can Pennsylvania voters find the best current information? For information about our campaign, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@emily4pa20) or check out our website at www.emily4pa20.com.

We have a section of our website with all of the COVID-19-related resources we could find to help people through. We are constantly working to add more information as it becomes available. With so much information out there about resources of all kinds, we wanted to provide a single, digestible link where people could find what they need. Check it out here: www.emily4pa20.com/cms/covid-19/.

Additionally, we highly recommend tuning into the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s daily briefings. Get the latest information from the PA DOH here: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.

How can supporters get involved with campaigns while practicing social distancing and other protocols? 

We ask our supporters to do a few things:

  • Put a yard or window sign up to help increase name recognition
  • Follow, like, and share our posts on social media to help increase our reach
  • Relational organizing – talk to your friends and family about the campaign
  • Sign up for a phone banking shift
  • Sign up to write postcards
  • Get the folks you talk to or know to put up yard/window signs and start them through the other above steps

Where can readers find you or your campaign on social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/emily4pa20

Twitter: www.twitter.com/emily4pa20 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/emily4pa20 

Thank you, Emily.

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