Voter Engagement Registration

Goal:

To reduce unproductive voter engagement/contact activity to the greatest degree possible by creating a facility for national (and state) democratic and progressive organizations to “see” how each voter engagement campaign fits into the constellation of already planned activities.

Background:

Outside of Tables organized around high-profile races where multiple groups coordinate their activity, most voter engagement efforts by Federal PACs and 501(c)4s are run independently without granular coordination between or across groups.

This results in duplication of effort, wasting valuable resources – volunteers and/or paid canvassers – repeatedly contacting the same sets of frequent voters, aggravating/angering those voters and leaving insufficient resources to reach different sets of high value voters.

How much duplication? Looking at the Slack channels for just 3 groups, Common Cause, Turn PA Blue and PA Dems, there are almost 20,000 volunteer texters and over 10,000 phone bankers. If each volunteer does just 1 shift per group (acknowledging some overlap of volunteers across groups), 1000 texts sent or 40 dials made per shift, if there is but a 50% overlap across all groups in targeted voter lists, there would be almost 10 million wasted text messages, over 200,000 wasted dials.

There is a space between Mobilize (managing volunteer participation in events including voter engagement activities) and Vote Builder (the database from which sets of voters to engage is obtained and engagement results are documented) that could be occupied by a system that would go very far towards eliminating this problem.

This system would be a facility for political groups to register voter engagement campaigns.

Proposal:

Fill the space between Mobilize and Vote Builder with an on-line voter engagement campaign (VEC) registration system. Progressive/Democratic organizations would use the system to register VECs by geography, voter screen and time period.

The system would flag overlaps/conflicts in targeted districts and the sets of voters identified between the proposed VEC registration and already registered VECs. This would provide feedback to use to modify their VEC plan, absent an overriding reason to leave it unchanged, and thereby reduce duplication and wasted effort.

Campaign Finance Considerations:

Absent an advisory ruling from the FEC permitting a single database for both federal PACs and 501(c)4s, the system would employ a separate database for each political organization category. Candidates and candidate committees could test their VEC against registered VECs in both databases but not register their VECs as that would constitute impermissible coordination.

State level campaign finance regimes will need to be examined to determine if state PACs would be granted federal PAC level access or campaign committee level access.

Preliminary Feedback:

Conversations have occurred with the following people all of whom have responded enthusiastically to the concept (no one has shot it down so far):

  • Chair, Democracy for America
  • Executive Director, Latinos for America
  • Executive Director, PA HDCC
  • State Field Director, PA HDCC
  • Organizing Director, Turn PA Blue
  • Senior Client Success Manager, Mobilize
  • PA state legislator/member of caucus leadership

System Design:

Proposed initial functionality includes:

  • Enable registration of VECs by non-candidate/candidate campaign entities
  • Register each VEC based on the geography, time-frame and voter screen
  • Enable selection of geography by political subdivision (e.g. township, borough, city or county), electoral district (e.g. state/federal legislative district) or set of voting precincts
  • Inform VEC registrant of significant conflicts with previously registered VECs based on target districts and voter result sets for the VECs being compared
  • Be able to prevent registration of an overlapping/duplicate campaign
  • Enable candidates/candidate campaigns to enter a VEC to obtain overlap/conflict information, but not register their VEC

In addition to a first level comparison of conflicting geography during a common time-frame, the system would compare the proposed voter ID result set against those of already registered campaigns (see “VCR Result Set” table in the data model below).

The following diagram is an Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD) (draft logical data model) describing the data the proposed system would use to support the proposed capabilities.

VEC Registration System Logical Data Model