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VoteBuilder Support / Information

TRAINING

Free, excellent training is available at traindemocrats.org, which has videos with transcripts and interactive presentations that walk you through important tasks. If, for example, you want to learn how to make complex lists, the trainings there will show you where to click at every step of the way. If you want to know how to cut turf, the training will make you click on points on a map to simulate what you would do to cut turf in VoteBuilder and what would happen. 

 

There are also some short tips in these help docs to help you do things like exclude all voters in a household, or make a list of just people in certain households, if at least one person in the household meets a certain criteria, such as being marked as hostile.

THE DATA YOU RECEIVE

Voter data you have access to will come from voter records and from the DNC and its market data partners. You should not expect the latter data to be accurate in all cases since it doesn't come from voter records and some of it will be imputed/estimated. 

 

Phone numbers are one of the most important data points that the DNC appends to our records. There have not been widespread reports of incorrect phone numbers but it may happen and you should mark such numbers as bad. You are not permitted to mark good numbers as bad, which would be an example of inputting incorrect data.

 

The following data is taken from the Voter File 

  • Name 

  • Voting address 

  • Mailing address 

  • Vote history in Hawaii from previous election cycles

  • Districts

 

Primary election vote history for the current election cycle may eventually be available for some counties if the county provides it, but this will not necessarily be the case if that data is not made available in time.

 

The following data is notably unavailable: 

  • Political party

  • Email

 

Voter records are updated approximately once a month at most, sometimes less frequently if something goes wrong. Update speed and frequency is affected by county offices, the post office, the DNC, and certain data vendors.

 

Please note that the data isn’t being sold to you. A subscription to VoteBuilder gives you access to certain data and permission to use it in certain, specified ways to campaign for a Democratic candidate. A subscription doesn't grant ownership over the data or permission to retain any extracted data outside of VoteBuilder after your subscription ends.

 

Data you input isn't lost simply due to your VoteBuilder account or committee being inactive.

WHAT YOU CAN DO...

  • Canvass with the MiniVAN app, which will load lists and maps and allow canvassers to record data about their interactions 

    • PDF walk lists you can print are also available 

  • Phone bank with Virtual Phone Banking or a 3rd-party phone banking platform that has an API integration with VoteBuilder that allows lists to be loaded directly into the platform without needing to upload an exported list 

    • PDF call sheets you can print are also available 

    • Virtual Phone Bank comes with VoteBuilder 

    • You will need to pay for a 3rd-party phone banking vendor if you prefer to use one of those instead. 

  • Peer-to-peer text bank with a 3rd-party phone banking platform that has an API integration with VoteBuilder that allows lists to be loaded directly into the platform without needing to upload an exported list 

  • Send (snail) mail to a householded list of voters based on last name or address 

    • Householded lists are lists of households rather than lists of individual voters

DON'T EXPECT TO...

  • export all the data to work with in a spreadsheet or another platform that doesn’t have an API integration

  • phone bank with an exported spreadsheet 

    • You will be able to phone bank using Virtual Phone Banking, PDF call sheets, or a 3rd-party phone banking platform with an API integration that allows lists to be loaded directly into the platform without needing to upload an exported list 

  • have an export request approved quickly if they are made in the evening or on weekends (though you may get lucky) 

  • be able to do something simply because you were able to do it in the past

AVOID THESE MISTAKES

  • If you suddenly don’t see your voters, don’t panic. Just click on the “My Voters” tab near the top of the page to go back to the part of VoteBuilder with the voter records.

    • You may have been unexpectedly moved to the My Campaign side of VoteBuilder through no real fault of your own. It’s possible this happens sometimes after timing out from lack of activity and then logging back in.

  • Don't pay for a 3rd-party phone banking platform before making sure there's an API integration for it that allows lists to be imported directly into the platform without needing a separate exported file to upload. 

    • It's your responsibility to make sure your chosen platform has this functionality. 

    • If you select a platform without this functionality, ask for a refund and then pick a different one. 

  • Don't assume birthdays and other imputed/estimated data is 100 percent accurate.

  • Don't expect to be permitted to export beyond the listed use cases even for the reason you have.

CREATE A LIST: include/exclude entire households based on certain members of it

  1. Create a list of the people in the households you want to exclude (e.g., people marked "Hostile" by your campaigners).

  2. Save that list as a Saved List.

  3. Create the list of voters you will use but from which you want certain households removed.

  4. Click "+ Add Step" and select the Householding option from the dropdown.

  5. From the first dropdown, select "Remove any person with a ..." and then go down through the other dropdowns until your criteria are met.

  6. Click the "Run Search" button.

SAVED LIST VS SAVED SEARCH

You can save either search criteria or search results, depending on your needs. The option to do either will be available after you create a list. After you do, you can click on the "Save List As" button near the top right corner above your list. 

 

After you make a Saved List or a Saved Search, you can access them in from My Folders. 

 

3rd-party platforms with API integrations typically require you to make Saved Lists rather than Saved Searches to move data from VoteBuilder into the platform. 

 

Saved List 

A Saved List saves the voters you get from your search. Every time you load the list, the same people will be on it. 

 

For example, if your list is based on voters who your campaign has contacted, and it was 100 voters, loading the Saved Search one day will give 100 voters. If your campaign contacts another 50 voters and you load the list again, you will still only get those first 100 voters when you initially saved the Saved List. 

 

Saved Search 

A Saved Search saves the search criteria you used to generate your list. Every time you load the Saved Search, the search will re-run and you may or may not end up with new results. 

 

For example, if your list is based on voters who your campaign has contacted, and it was initially 100 voters, running the Saved Search one day may result in 100 voters. If your campaign contacts another 50 voters and you load the Saved Search again, you will get 150 voters, since now there are 50 more voters who meet the criteria of the Saved Search. 

 

This, of course, assumes that your campaign is recording data about the voters it contacts and your Saved Search is properly set up to consider that data.

CUTTING TURF

Cutting Turf will allow you to do two things: 

  • Generate walk list for canvassing with the MiniVAN app 

  • Create Saved Lists of voters that would be difficult to generate from selecting criteria or typing out address parts to include or exclude 

 

Here are the step-by-step instructions 

  1. Generate a list of not more than 10,000 voters and 5,000 households 

  2. Click the "Cut Turf" button above your list near the center 

  3. Click on points on the map to draw polygons 

    1. Each point on the map represents a household with a voter on your list 

    2. If you want to divide your list up between several canvassers, you can draw more than one polygon around the households 

  4. Click "Save and Finish" near the top right, and then name your turf 

    1. This will also create a Saved List you can use for other purposes (e.g., householded mailing list, phone bank list, PDF walk list) 

 

To generate list numbers to load into MiniVAN either: 

  • Click on the check boxes to the left and then select the "Generate List Number" option from the Quick Actions dropdown, or 

  • Click on the downward-facing carrot to the right of each turf and select the option from the dropdown. 

 

Training is available at traindemocrats.org, which has a VoteBuilder 101 course as well as related courses like Using MiniVAN for Canvassing. The courses include interactive presentations that show you where to click to do things, including cut turf. Everything is free but you'll have to create an account. 

 

The turf cutting part of VoteBuilder 101 is available from Simulation: Creating Walking Lists and Maps. When it's loaded, wait to be able to click "START" and then, when presented with the option, select "Let's Cut Turf." You cut turf based on lists, which is also covered in other sections of the training.

REQUEST AN API KEY

Go to the Request an API Key page. You can search for it from the search field at the top of the collapsable menu on the left or find it in the Administration pane of the Main Menu.

 

You will then be able to select a platform from a dropdown menu.

 

Your request will need to be approved. Once it is, you will be able to generate an API Key. Your approved request will appear in Support Requests.

EXPORTS

Exports are allowed for: 

  • Householded mailing lists as a spreadsheet file (request export, requires approval) 

 

When requesting a householded mailing list, you will have to wait for the request to be approved. The Detailed Summary of Use only needs to say that it will be used for a householded mailing list. However, if it's left blank or the reason is vaguely related (e.g., “for GOTV”), we will assume it's for a householded mailing list. That should also be the only option available when attempting to download your list.

 

You can also create the following after generating a list: 

  • Envelope #10 printing or Mailing Labels in the Avery 5160, 5263, and 5264 formats 

  • PDF Walk Lists (as a worse alternative to the MiniVAN app) 

  • PDF Call Sheets (as a worse alternative to Virtual Phone Banking or paying for a 3rd-party platform with an API Integration that allows for lists to be loaded directly into it)

 

Exports may be disapproved for any reason, but would typically be for reasons such as you reporting that a request was a mistake and should be ignored (it needs to be denied to remove it), listing a reason that is not an approved use case, or a suspected abuse of the export privilege. If a denied request is later found to be inappropriate, you will not need to make the request again unless asked to.

HONOLULU EARLY VOTE DATA

Data on when a ballot was recorded as having been received may be available for the records of voters in Honolulu County. During the weeks leading up to an election day, the party may opt to purchase this data. (It was purchased for the 2020 and 2022 elections.) 

 

If the party does decide to purchase this data, as it has in past elections, committee admins will be notified via email about the planned schedule of updates. You do not need to ask if or when this will be done. Also, plans are subject to change. 

 

If available, the data can be used when generating lists. For example: to exclude voters who already voted from your canvassing lists. 

 

Please note that the other counties in Hawaii don't currently make early vote data available. 

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