Turnout Diaries: The South Bay 'Knock and Drag' - Voice of San Diego

David Alvarez

Turnout Diaries: The South Bay 'Knock and Drag'

David Alvarez supporters focus their attention on San Ysidro, where residents are likely to vote blue “because he’s one of us.”

Voice of San Diego is chronicling both campaigns’ last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts. For a look at Kevin Faulconer’s Election Day outreach, click here.


Confession: I had to Google “GOTV” this morning.

It’s shorthand for “get out the vote,” or the process of going door-to-door to encourage voter turnout.

Growing up in a family that prioritized voting (or maybe it was growing up in a community that was in the bag for county conservatives) meant I never really saw precinct walkers. So GOTV was new to me. Maybe it’s new to you.

Here’s what it looked like in San Ysidro this morning:

9 a.m.

About 40 volunteers crowd around David Alvarez’s South Bay campaign office – also know as Better Bodies Motorsport, an auto body shop. The volunteers fueled up for their 11-hour day with coffee and donuts.

They get a pep talk from Alvarez, Assembly Speaker-elect Toni Atkins, National City Councilwoman Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and former state Sen. Denise Ducheny. Alvarez reminds the crowd that Ducheny won her Assembly seat in 1994 by just 28 votes. Every ballot counts, especially south of Interstate 8, where votes are less likely to be mail-in and more likely to go blue.


10 a.m.

I drive over to an older suburb just east of San Ysidro to shadow Alvarez volunteers Roberto Alcantar and Lorena Slomanson. We start with a poll check, which consists of cross-referencing the polling location’s list of voters with the campaign’s list of supporters. Those who have already voted won’t get a knock on their door. Those who haven’t will get a visit from Alcantar and Slomanson, directions to their polling place and a ride if they want it.

It’s what the campaigns call a “knock and drag.”

The voter list shows 13 residents have voted so far. Alcantar, who grew up in San Ysidro and works as a field representative for state Sen. Marty Block, says that’s a good start compared with the single digits he saw the morning of the primary. He’s optimistic.

“There’s an energy here like I’ve never seen before because many people have never voted before,” Alcantar said. “We’re hearing, ‘I want to cast my first vote for David because he’s one of us.'”

Jerry Padilla and his wife walk from the garage, where they just cast their ballots. Padilla says his went to Kevin Faulconer, in part, to disprove the myth that all Latinos will vote for Alvarez.


10:17 a.m.

Alcantar and Slomanson attempt their first “knock and drag.” Before walking up to the door, they take a look at whom they’re dealing with.

Their voter list – compiled by the volunteers who make cold calls each evening leading up to Election Day – shows the residents’ ages, how many times they voted in the last five elections (most only voted in the general election) and how likely they are to vote for Alvarez.

Inside this house, a registered-Republican mom and her registered-Democrat daughter are both voting Alvarez. But they’re not home. Alcantar slips polling place directions into their security screen.

They move on to more houses. Most people are at work.

11 a.m.

Alcantar and Slomanson knock on Robert Melendez’s door. He’s finishing up breakfast but promises to vote for Alvarez as soon as he’s done.

Melendez says he was particularly influenced by the firefighter union’s endorsement of Alvarez.

“We need someone for the people, not the big corporations,” Meledez says.

11:45 a.m.

Melendez waves as he drives past us on his way to the polling station. When we arrive for a second poll check, about five people are casting ballots. The voter list shows 43 more people have voted since 10 a.m.. Nine of them were people Alvarez’s volunteers had connected with.

The poll workers say they’re not impressed with the turnout so far. They saw 221 people during the primary election – a 26 percent turnout rate.

But both the poll workers and Alcantar say things always pick up around 6 p.m. And Alcantar and Slomanson will be out there, “dragging” people to the polls until they close at 8 p.m.

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