For campaign managers and field organizers around the country, it’s crunch time. Many will be using NGP VAN software like VoteBuilder to carefully track, organize, and coordinate their efforts. MiniVAN, the data syncing smartphone app by NGP VAN, will no doubt be in heavy use as campaign staff and volunteers register every possible new voter they can and rally their troops in large-scale get out the vote (GOTV) efforts. This powerful NGP VAN app eliminates the logistical nightmares of turf packets and the tedious time-consuming manual data entry tasks that can slow the progress of campaigns to a crawl.
For some states, GOTV efforts will have to be compressed into an even tighter timeline due to the different ways different states vote. Many Americans will be casting their ballots much sooner than November 6. Some will vote as early as 30 days before the November 6 deadline. You can learn more about early voting opportunities in your particular state by consulting the Vote.org early voting guide. Since we know there will be tight elections in areas where people vote early, NGP VAN software may be the most important tool you can use to win in the narrow window of time remaining before those early voters start casting their votes.
Colorado, Oregon, and Washington vote exclusively by mail, with a few rare exceptions for voters with certain handicaps. This means that every voter in these three states is a potential early voter, and that a sizable portion of their entire state populations will vote early. Each voter receives his or her ballot via the U.S. Postal Service. They then mark their ballots and either mail them back, return them to their elections office, or drop them in an officially designated voter drop box. These ballots go out no later than the third week in October in all three states, and many will go out even earlier.
What practical effect does this have on GOTV efforts? There’s at least a two-week period – three weeks in some cases – for voters to vote. Some people vote early. And, of course, others wait until the last possible minute. This wide range in when voters actually vote can present certain challenges for campaigns involved in canvassing, phone banking, and GOTV efforts. However, for campaigns using NGP VAN software, this wide range in potential voting dates is much easier to deal with, as on-the-fly voter reports and electronic interactive turf maps can be generated easily.
Many other states have a sizable percentage of their voters registered as permanent absentee or vote-by-mail voters. A number of other states offer various options for voting absentee under various circumstances. NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder can be used to track different types of voters, including ones who tend to vote earlier versus those who tend to vote late, plus those who prefer to vote at a polling station on November 6. Tracking voters in this way allows campaigns to optimize their GOTV efforts to maximize return on investment. In a close election, the use of NGP VAN voter tracking and management software can be the deciding factor in whether or not a campaign wins.
Political pundits are all trying to predict what will happen in the 2018 midterm election. Some predict the younger vote will surge. Others predict a historically high turnout among women voters and independent voters. Some political professors and advisors are predicting a much higher-than-average turnout among certain blocks of voters, like African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, and Trump’s base. The truth is that none of these experts have a crystal ball, so none of them know for sure which voters will turn out and by what margin. Certainly, they can make “educated guesses,” but they don’t have access to every campaign’s most up-to-date NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder database so they don’t really know. However, if your campaign is using NGP VAN data, you don’t have to worry about what the experts predict, because you’ll have your own internal data, which is worth so much more.
The best thing a campaign can do is create its own highly accurate database filled with the data its team members personally collect. This, in fact, is where NGP VAN databases and the MiniVan app truly shine. Campaigns can rely on this NGP VAN data to make last minute decisions on where to send GOTV volunteers, which voters to call, and which voters to target the most in the last weeks and final days of the election. You can record data in your NGP VAN database when you check in with voters to see if they have returned their vote by mail ballots, if they know where their polling station is on election day, and if they need a ride to the station. NGP VAN makes things much easier to track. The data collected by one volunteer can be used by other volunteers and by your campaign manager almost instantly. Using this powerful software, you’ll know that every minute your staff and volunteers spend will be well-managed, productive time that yields results.
Will highly-targeted GOTV campaigns, like those made possible with NGP VAN, really matter in the 2018 midterm election? Let’s look at the turnout in one state as an example. On Aug 22, 2018, ABC 27 (WTXL) reported that more Floridians had already voted early, or by mail, than the total number of voters in the entire 2014 primary, including the voting that occurred in person at polling stations. Other states showed similar trends of high voter turnout during the 2018 primaries. With all this extra voting, if your campaign is not out there actively pursuing all these extra votes and turning out current voters, your chances of winning may be lower than ever. It behooves a campaign to be exceptionally well organized when organizing GOTV efforts in the remaining weeks of the upcoming midterm election, and NGP VAN provides the perfect way to do this.
In our modern day with pervasive internet, smartphones, social media, and busy schedules, it’s hard to imagine how a campaign could operate successfully without the use of a highly sophisticated electronic database tool that can be fully synchronized to field operations. The question becomes which software a campaign should use. Which campaign software is the most reliable, the most efficient, and the most useful? NGP VAN has proven to be the leader of the pack over the last several election cycles, and the midterm election should prove to be no exception. In fact, the most recent features of NGP VAN’s VoteBuilding and the MiniVAN app should make it more useful than ever.