Coronavirus upends traditional Vermont primary trappings

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 6:18 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The final 24 hours before the primary election is here, as candidates try to build momentum with get-out-the-vote rallies. But just as the polls will look different for voters Tuesday, the election homestretch has also changed.

In the final hours before the polls open in this Vermont coronavirus primary, candidates are holding both honk and waves on the street and virtual rallies, trying to make their last-minute pitch to voters.

Democratic candidate for governor Rebecca Holcombe was in Shelburne Monday. "We're running what's called a submarine campaign. We have been reaching out to people talking to them on the phone, reaching out through Zoom, and today and yesterday meeting them in person," Holcombe said.

Tuesday is slated to be a Vermont election night like no other, where COVID-19 shut down rallies, stump speeches, and election night parties.

And over 100,000 voters have already mailed in their absentee ballots. That’s 100,000 fewer minds that candidates have to change.

Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, a Democrat running for governor, says thousands voting before election day changed how he has waged his campaign. “In terms of mailing our postcards a little earlier than we would have, doing more social media boosting, making sure people know who we are, putting our ads in the paper earlier,” he said.

Though Governor Phil Scott hasn’t been actively campaigning, others are still making a final push on his behalf. The Republican Governors Association released a last-minute ad for the Republican governor.

And Republican John Klar, Scott's main GOP challenger, says he's making a final push through email and social media.

“It’s great if it gets more people involved. I’ve had a great journey getting to know people and getting people to run with me. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Klar said.

But facing a steep challenge against Scott also hedged his bets by registering as an Independent for the November general election.

No matter the party affiliation, all candidates are encouraging Vermonters to exercise their right to vote Tuesday. The polls open between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

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