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State parties focus on social media, phone efforts ahead of spring election

NOW: State parties focus on social media, phone efforts ahead of spring election

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – State political parties are adapting their campaign efforts to the rapid changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak ahead of a critical spring election.

Voters statewide will cast ballots for the presidential primary as well as the state Supreme Court race. In southeastern Wisconsin, high profile races include the Milwaukee County Executive contest and the election for Milwaukee Mayor.

Those races were expected to bring higher than usual turnout, but amid COVID-19 concerns, there is a rush to inform voters of alternative options to voting in person on Election Day on April 7.

State officials and leaders from the Democratic and Republican parties of Wisconsin are encouraging voters to request absentee ballots and vote early.

Prior to the virus outbreak, that meant knocking on doors or holding get out the vote gatherings. Instead, the parties are focusing efforts over the next three weeks to informing voters online or over the phone.

“We are undertaking an unprecedented, statewide field organizing operation that will take place entirely online,” said Ben Wikler, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, during a video news conference on Monday. “Reaching out to voters by phone calls, text messages and social media.”

The GOP echoed those efforts and added that they have been prepared to pivot quickly.

“Luckily in this new digital age we already were planning on using many of these more digital mechanisms to reach voters,” Alesha Guenther, the Deputy Research & Communications Director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin told CBS 58. “So we’re going to be reaching out to voters via email, via text message, and on social media.”

The race both parties have their eyes on is the state Supreme Court race between current Justice Daniel Kelly and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky.

Kelly, who was appointed by former Governor Scott Walker in 2016, is backed by conservatives while Karofsky is backed by liberals.

The race will determine if the current 5-2 conservative majority holds or shrinks to 4-3.

Information on how to request an absentee ballot can be found here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/VoteAbsentee

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