Maria Tokarchuk, volunteer for Kelowna-Lake Country NDP candidate Justin Kulik, knocking on a door in the Rutland area. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Doorknocking still effective in modern elections

“Face-to-face is always the best way to do anything,” said local Liberal candidate

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

It’s your local candidate for parliament — and according to the experts, it’s no joke.

As electoral campaigns and platforms continue to adapt to the digital age, politicians and experts agree that traditional face-to-face interaction through door knocking is here to stay.

“Personal contact is still the best way to reach people,” said Maxime Héroux-Legault, assistant professor in the department of economics, philosophy and political science at UBC Okanagan.

“On social media, you’ll see ads, and you’re going to see news articles. It’s not the same thing as meeting the candidate.”

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Héroux-Legault said door-knocking boils down to three primary purposes — persuasion, motivation and information.

“The motivation aspect of door-knocking needs to be taken into account,” he said.

“Parties are not trying to gain new voters but motivate their voters to turn out on voting day.”

The informational component pertains to candidates providing details surrounding voter registration and where local polling stations are, which also helps to increase turnout on election day.

Somebody who has had immense experience with door-knocking is local NDP volunteer, Maria Tokarchuk. She’s been volunteering in various capacities with both the provincial and federal NDP on a local level since 1991.

In her view, what has changed most over the past 30 years are peoples’ schedules.

“More people used to be at home and would answer the door,” said Tokarchuk with a slight chuckle.

“We try to go in the evenings between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., especially during the week. Probably half of the people are home.”

Tokarchuk said it’s been even more noticeable when trying to reach people by phone.

“When you phone people, they don’t answer the phone,” she said.

“When you’re at the door, people can look out the window and see you as a person, but on the phone, if they don’t recognize the number, they don’t pick it up.”

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Some local candidates share similar sentiments.

“Face-to-face is always the best way to do anything,” said Liberal Party candidate Stephen Fuhr.

“In the 21st century, there are other options out there and they also bring different pros and cons.”

Fuhr said while door-knocking is very useful, it’s also very labour intensive and you can’t connect with the same volume of people as you can through digital channels.

“Nowadays, I think its a good healthy combination of both face-to-face and interaction on social media,” he said.

“Quality interaction is important but you also need reach. Social media can help you with that.”

Conservative candidate Tracy Gray balances her approach, but added in the past four months she has door-knocked a distance equivalent to walking to Calgary and back.

“It’s all about connecting with people where they are. It’s an especially important way to engage with retirees and seniors.”


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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