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Victoria-based AggregateIQ played a role in creating some of that campaign software, he noted.

UBC professor Heidi Tworek takes a more optimistic view of both elections and campaigns during a pandemic, noting that South Korea and New Zealand took steps to expand voting options, including early voting and voting by phone.

Pushing the campaign online could provide extra traction for poorly resourced candidates to leverage the zero-cost side of social media, she said.

“It also give you new tools for identifying the voters you want to mobilize,” she said. “People’s beliefs are quite sticky, so it’s not that easy to change minds (with advertising), but you can energize those who already support you.”

If targeted advertising turns out to increase voter turnout, the result could be more engagement in democracy, she said.

During the 2017 election campaign the NDP spent about $2.5 million on “media advertising,” the Liberals about $3 million and the B.C. Greens $142,887, according to their financial disclosures. No detail about how the money is spent is given.

With a limited budget, the Green party will rely on volunteers who are engaged online for feedback to ensure that their message is resonating with voters and “that we are really listening to what is going on in their day-to-day lives,” said senior campaign advisor Jillian Oliver.

The NDP and the Liberals did not respond to questions about their social media strategy.

rshore@postmedia.com

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