Northwestern students reinvent campaign methods in preparation for general election


Courtesy of Zamone Perez

Zamone Perez phone banks for former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday. Sunday was one of the first of many phone banking sessions NU4Biden is set to undertake.

Nick Francis, Reporter

As the U.S. prepares for an unprecedented election season with political campaigns adapting to virtual mobilization, phone banking remains a prominent strategy as Nov. 3 creeps near.

At Northwestern, a number of student organizations and individuals have begun the remote alternative to door-to-door canvassing. In fact, phone banking is not just an alternative, but is ideal for those facing physical impediments, McCormick junior Nora Chambers said.

“This is something that’s really important, and it is very accessible to anyone that’s passionate about it,” Chambers said. “It really is a conversation, and you’re trying to talk to people about their values. It’s not like you need to be the most knowledgeable person ever to do it.”

Chambers, a Chicago resident, phone banks independently from NU for the Michigan Democratic Party. During a phone banking session, she usually addresses politics, but she said simply teaching people how to vote is often the most important topic.

Forgetting to sign a ballot envelope is an oversight easily fixed over the phone, and Chambers believes little pointers like that help ensure mail-in ballots are counted.

Midwestern states like Michigan and Wisconsin recently experienced relatively extreme low margins of victory. Last presidential election, President Donald Trump’s votes outnumbered Hillary Clinton by approximately 0.2 percent in Michigan and 0.8 percent in Wisconsin, tallying his wins to include three swing states determined by less than a 1 percent lead. These three swing states could have lost him the electoral votes and the election had they all edged blue instead.

“Just by making 100 successful calls and talking to people, I can make the comeback and really make the difference,” Medill junior and former Daily staffer Zamone Perez said. “Hundreds of universities across the country are doing the exact same thing we are, so that can make the difference.”

Perez, a phone banker with NU4Biden, explained that the close races in Midwestern states are why he phone banks in Wisconsin.

Even though Perez said he is optimistic about the progress NU4Biden is making, the hard work, he said, will not waver until Nov. 3. In fact, October is the most critical month yet, NU4Biden’s communications co-chair Weinberg sophomore Matthew Norambuena said.

Norambuena said the election will most likely be determined by only six states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, and that is where he says the Biden campaign will spend major efforts. However, he said he is still hopeful that more people will join NU4Biden’s phone banking efforts in the meantime.

“I think it just depends on how many people get involved,” he said. “The only way it’s going to be effective is if a lot of people are doing it and if they’re doing it often, because those numbers add up.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect a source’s former position at the Daily and a mistake in the photo caption.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @nick24francis

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