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Master Voter Identification with VoteBuilder: The Ultimate Guide

Published: Mar 27, 2023

Your success rate in voter identification campaigns depends on scale and quality. The scale determines your resources and tools, and your campaign quality lays the base for outreach and canvassing.

In the 2018 US midterm elections, Democrats Abroad had a 300% increase in voter turnout. They used distributed phone banking to call 150,000 overseas members, reminding and persuading them to vote. Prior data collection campaigns and targeted calling shot up the percentage of meaningful conversations to more than 90%! The state party team could not have reached this incredible feat without voter identification, which is essential for democratic campaigns.

Replicating such massive success requires the right tools for voter contact efforts. NGPVan’s VoteBuilder is a tool designed to make voter identification efficient for small and large-scale campaigns. That’s what this guide is about – conducting voter identification with VoteBuilder.  

In this blog post, we will explore 

  • How to identify voters using VoteBuilder, and 
  • How to reach out to these voters with targeted campaign messaging. 

What is voter identification?

Voter identification determines the segment to which a particular voter belongs. The process of voter identification typically involves the following steps:

  • Acquiring a list of targeted voters
  • Appending and scrubbing the voter list
  • Developing a targeted strategy
  • Contacting voters
  • Assessing voter support
  • Using voter data for microtargeting

Political parties typically use the following segments to identify voters:

  • Strong supporter
  • Supporter
  • Not decided (or swing voter)
  • Not a supporter
  • Strong opposition

In addition to these broad categories, campaigns use more niche segments to identify voters. These segments may be based on various factors, such as 

  • Demographics (age, gender, race, etc.)
  • Geographic location
  • Political ideology
  • Issue positions
  • Past voting behavior and
  • Level of political engagement. 

The former main segments help campaigns filter contacts based on their voting likelihood. Strong opposers are filtered out, while supporters and strong supporters are categorized further by their interest levels (e.g., Interested in volunteering, potential donor, etc.)

The niche segments help campaigns tailor and personalize their messaging to each voter. Such targeted outreach can increase the likelihood of swaying undecided voters and mobilizing them.

What is NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder?

NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder is a web-based voter database and outreach tool. The tool provides political parties and advocacy organizations, including democratic campaigns, with comprehensive voter data and engagement capabilities. 

VoteBuilder allows you to store and manage voter data, segment voters into various categories, and target specific voters for outreach, including first-time voters. 

The database includes a wide range of demographic, behavioral, and political data on registered voters. This includes past voting history, party affiliation, donation history, etc. 

VoteBuilder updates this data monthly and sources it from various public and private sources, including state and local boards of elections, political party organizations, and third-party data providers.

Data for voter identification

The main goal of a voter identification campaign is to create a target universe of supporters, including first-time voters. These supporters will form the crux of your campaign messaging over the persuasion and Get Out The Vote stages. 

Along with supporters, you’ll also be identifying opponents and swing voters so you can filter out or tailor your messaging for different segments of constituents.

The most common data points crucial for voter contact efforts that election campaigns use are:

  • Voter registration data
  • Demographic data
  • Voting history data
  • Social media data
  • Geographic data
  • Income data
  • Occupation data
  • Political donation data
  • Education data
  • Issue preference data

Let’s see what they are and how to use them.

Voter registration data 

These publicly available databases contain information on registered voters, such as name, address, party affiliation, and voting history. 

Demographic data 

Demographic data refers to information about a population’s characteristics, such as age, gender, income, and education level. 

Voting history data 

Voting history data refers to information about a voter’s past voting behavior, such as 

  • whether or not they have voted in past elections, 
  • elections they have voted in, and 
  • candidates or issues they have supported. 

Survey data 

Survey data is information obtained from questionnaires or surveys that ask voters about their opinions, attitudes, and beliefs on various political issues. 

Political parties create surveys on

  • Candidate approval
  • Issue opinions
  • Voter preferences, etc. 

Social media data

Social media data is generated on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This data can include information such as 

  • The content the user interacts with
  • The groups they belong to, and
  • The ads they click on. 

Geographic data 

This data includes information on where a voter lives, such as their precinct, district, and zip code. This can help you identify areas with high concentrations of supporters, swing voters, or opposition voters. Geographic data is also extremely helpful in canvassing.  

Income data 

Income data is often self-reported by individuals, which can lead to some inaccuracies due to intentional or unintentional errors. Moreover, income can vary over time and may depend on factors such as occupation, education, location, and industry.

Therefore, consider this an estimate or a range rather than an accurate figure. 

Occupation data 

Occupation data provides information on a person’s job or profession. 

Political donation data 

Political donation data refers to information on an individual’s contributions to political campaigns or organizations. This shows an individual’s political leanings, and you can use it to identify voters to target for a particular campaign. 

Education data 

Education data refers to information on a voter’s level of education, the institutions they attended, and their area of study. 

Issue preference data

Issue preference data refers to voters’ stance on various political issues. This can include their position on topics like healthcare, taxes, education, the environment, and social issues. 

For example, a campaign focused on environmental issues might identify voters who have expressed concern about or donated to causes like climate change, oil mining, deforestation, etc. During voter identification, target them based on their preferred issues.

Other data

People interested in volunteering 

Starting from the voter identification stage, your campaign needs to scale up volunteer recruitment to manage voter contact effectively. Ask strong supporters to volunteer and segment them according to their interests in the types of volunteering.

Hosts for campaign yard signs 

Yard signs are more about increasing a candidate’s name identification than swaying voter opinion. But they’re still effective in getting a candidate’s name known among the public. Note down a supporter’s interest in hosting yard signs so you can distribute your material to their address.

Finally, combine and analyze these data sources to build a detailed profile of each voter. Use this to tailor your voter contact efforts and increase voter turnout. 

How can you do voter identification with NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder?

NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder offers various ways to identify voters using the available data. 

Here is how:

  1. Creating voter lists
  2. Creating lists of targeted voters
  3. Data analysis
  4. Creating survey questions and script
  5. Voter outreach
  6. Tracking progress

Let’s go through them in detail.

Creating voter lists 

The first step in voter identification is to have a list of voters. Use MyVoter to create targeted and separate lists of voters (calling, texting, and walking lists). 

Source: VoteBuilder

You’ll find the option to create a new list on the menu of both My Voters and My Campaign.

Step 1: Choose the specific parameters you want to use for your search


Choose your preferred search criteria from a wide range of data points on the Create A New Search page. This includes searching based on location, demography, and profile characteristics such as a phone number or email address. 

Canvass Status and Survey Questions are also important fields to pull lists, as they let you include or exclude voters based on their contact history. For example, you can select only those who have answered “yes” to a survey question or exclude those who have recently called.

Step 2: Select criteria as applicable (you can choose multiple) from the list.


You can choose multiple search options on the Create A List Page by clicking on the blue text labels. The fields that support this feature are shown in blue text instead of black.

Step 3: Monitor your list


Track the characteristics you select for your search criteria. They will appear in a summary on the right side of the screen.

Step 4: Initiate the search query

Click “Preview My Results” to get a count of the people on your list before running a full search. You can expand the displayed number by clicking on the plus sign, which will show the number of phones, doors, and mailboxes on the list. After you have checked the preview and are satisfied with the list, click “Run Search” to process the query and receive your results.

Step 5: Edit the search if needed


You can refine the query using the “Add Step” function. This either adds or excludes voters based on a different set of criteria. Each command is accompanied by a detailed explanation of the action that will be taken. You can access it by hovering over the option.

Step 6: View the list


After VAN completes the search, you will see a summary of the list, a row of icons with different options for using the list, and a sample of the list to review and verify the data.


The icons located at the top of the screen represent common actions organizers perform with the list. These actions include 

  • Mailing (letters and labels)
  • Phone banking (virtual phone banks, robocalls, robosurveys)
  • Canvassing (MiniVAN, Cut Turf, or Map)
  • Data entry (Grid, Script, Form, or Bulk Apply), and
  • Transferring data to other sources (Export or Messages). 

You’ll see more information about each action when you hover over an icon. You can rearrange these icons by dragging and dropping them.

This gives you a list of voters who may or may not have voted for you, but you need to know if they are continuing their support. 

For instance, Dan Wagner, the DNC’s (Democratic National Committee) targeting director for the 2010 US elections, knew that their campaign was in trouble because of what the survey calls told them. Core Democrats would not be interested in voting for them again, especially first-time voters. 

“Core Democratic voters were telling the DNC’s callers that they were much less likely to vote than statistical probability suggested.”

– A more perfect union,

Knowing this helped them shape their campaign strategy to bring in more supporters who had moved to the Republicans’ camp. According to the article, the DNC used data and analytics to identify potential swing voters who had voted for Democrats in the past but had recently supported Republicans, and targeted them with specific messages and outreach efforts.

Creating lists of targeted voters 

With VoteBuilder, you can generate customized lists of potential voters using different parameters, including demographics, voting history, party affiliation, etc. 

You can use all the information MyVoter has about voters as the criteria to segregate them and create targeted lists within Votebuilder.

First, determine the priority areas for your campaign, such as voter geography or demography, to create a targeted universe of voters. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Registered voters in your precinct
  • Voting history
  • Demographic data (gender, ethnicity, age)
  • Voter’s contact history

Create separate lists for landline and cellphone numbers to ensure targeted outreach through different modes.

Furthermore, within the parameters of landline and cellphone numbers, further narrow down your voter lists using other criteria such as demographics, voting history, and party affiliation to create narrower targeted lists.

Data Analysis 

VoteBuilder offers two useful features for campaigns: Data visualization and Predictive analytics.

Data visualization: The data visualization tools help you analyze data and identify patterns and trends in a visual format. Rather than manually sorting through spreadsheets and lists of data, this tool presents the data in a clear and organized way.

For example, the tool can identify 

  • Most important issues to certain groups of voters
  • Most effective communication channels for reaching different segments of the population and 
  • How turnout rates vary across different demographic groups.

You can also use this to present data to stakeholders, such as campaign staff, volunteers, and donors, in an easily digestible format. This can ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the campaign’s goals and progress.

Predictive analytics: These tools leverage data to forecast future voter behavior. They help you pinpoint voters who are most likely to favor your candidate, enabling you to focus your outreach efforts on them.

This can help you identify potential swing voters and tailor outreach efforts to these individuals to win their support. It can also help you identify supporters who are switching their vote to the opposition and develop targeted strategies to prevent this.

Additionally, you can predict turnout rates among different demographics, allowing you to focus your resources on areas and groups with the highest potential for voter turnout.

Creating survey questions and scripts

When you contact voters as part of voter identification efforts, you need to record their responses related to supporter levels, issues, and other useful information for future outreach.

Survey Questions and Activist Codes are crucial to voter outreach, as they enable you to collect and utilize information about voters. You can access these via the Administrative Menu panel on the Main Menu. 


Step 1: From the administrative drop-down menu, choose Survey Questions or Activist Codes. You can also modify these. 

Step 2: Click “Create New Survey Question” or “Create New Activist Code” from the top right corner of the screen.

Step 3: Enter the text for the Survey Question/Activist Code and its details. Save your changes. 

Step 4: Input possible answers for the Survey Questions. The number of responses you can add to a Survey Question is unlimited, ranging from a basic “yes” or “no” to a more complex 1-5 Candidate ID scale.


The next step is to create your phone banking/canvassing script, where you will use the above survey questions and activist codes.

Create the following list of survey questions and multiple-choice responses to capture data from voters:

Question 1: Can {candidate_name} count on your support?

Response 1.1: Strong Support

Response 1.2: Leaning Support

Response 1.3: Undecided

Response 1.4: Leaning Opposition

Response 1.5: Strong Opposition

Question 2: Can you tell me who you currently have as your number one choice?

{Add candidate name/s}

Question 3: Can I ask you about issues you particularly care about at the moment?

Response 3.1 – 3.8: Health, Environment, Climate Change, Transport, Agriculture, Education, Jobs, Immigration

Question 4: Will you volunteer to help elect {candidate_name}?

Response 4.1: Phone banking

Response 4.2: Text banking

Response 4.3: Canvassing

Response 4.4: Data Entry

Response 4.5: Other

Response 4.6: Not interested

Finally, create an Activist Code for people who want to host a yard sign.

Name your activist code as ‘Yard Sign’ and set the script question as ‘Can you host a yard sign?’

Now that you’ve segmented the lists, made the script, and have the survey questions and activist codes, we’ll proceed with voter outreach.

Voter outreach 

Voter contact has to strike a balance between time, money, and people. 

Depending on the availability of resources, you can choose from these options:

Let’s see how each works for your voter contact efforts.

Door-to-door voter identification campaign using printed walk lists or MiniVAN

​​Door-to-door voter identification campaign involves canvassers going door-to-door in targeted areas to speak with voters and gather data about their voting preferences. You can run these campaigns using 

  • Printed walk lists or 
  • MiniVAN, a mobile canvassing app developed by NGP VAN, which is invaluable for democratic campaigns.
Source: MiniVAN

MiniVAN helps you create walk lists or maps for door-to-door canvassing routes based on voter information collected through previous outreach efforts. The app allows canvassers to quickly and easily record voter responses to survey questions and update voter information in real-time. 

You can enter this information into MiniVAN, which volunteers can use to target specific voters in a particular geographic location. The app also allows volunteers to mark the results of their canvassing efforts, which can guide future outreach strategies. 

The MiniVANual offers a step-by-step guide for setting up a canvassing campaign with MiniVAN, from creating surveys and scripts to importing voter data and generating walk lists.

Most suitable for: This type of voter outreach is most ideal for voters who are undecided or have a low level of engagement with the political process, including first-time voters. It provides an opportunity for canvassers to engage with these voters directly and gather information about their views and concerns. 

Manual phone banking campaigns using OpenVPB

Campaigns use this outreach method to identify and engage with voters. This approach involves volunteers making phone calls to voters using either the OpenVPB or Collective Calling tools within NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder.

This is what conducting a manual phone banking campaign using OpenVPB looks like:

  1. You create a list of voters to call using the targeting criteria available in VoteBuilder. 
  2. Volunteers log in to the OpenVPN system, which will provide them with a script to follow and a list of voters to call. 
  3. The volunteers mark each voter’s response within the system, which will update the voter’s record in VoteBuilder.

Most suitable for: Manual phone banking campaigns are typically most effective for engaging voters who are not easily reachable through other means, such as door-to-door canvassing or digital outreach. This may be due to their work schedules, mobility issues, or other factors that make it challenging for them to attend campaign events or engage with the campaign online. 

Using manual phone banking, you can reach a broader audience and gather important data on voters that you can use to inform future outreach.

An automated dialing campaign using Callhub

CallHub is a telephony tool with a 2-way integration with NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder. It allows you to automate the dialing process and manage call lists. You can merge events, record calls and add notes to the voter’s record for future reference. CallHub allows you to tag contacts during campaigns and sync them with your NGP Van voter registration records for a wholesome voter identification exercise.

Most suitable for: Automated calling, like manual calling, is most ideal for voters who may not be easily accessible through door-to-door canvassing. However, automated dialing can save more time and effort to reach a large number of voters in a short amount of time. This is most suitable when you 

  • Have a large contact list and few volunteers
  • Need multiple dialers (e.g., Power dialer and Predictive dialer) for varied use cases and different list qualities.
  • Are pursuing high-volume calling campaigns.

Peer-to-peer texting using tools like CallHub

In Peer-to-peer texting, campaign volunteers engage potential voters with meaningful one-on-one conversations at scale. With tools like CallHub’s Fast P2P, your initial text messages go out in bulk, reaching your entire contact list quickly. Agents are assigned to engage people who respond in conversations.

You can use the data on VoteBuilder to create targeted lists of voters who are likely to be receptive to texting as an outreach method, especially first-time voters. This can include 

  • Voters who have opted into receiving text messages,
  • Younger voters who are more likely to use texting as a primary communication method or 
  • Voters who have previously responded to text messages from your campaign.

Most suitable for: According to a survey, 74% of millennials use text messaging most frequently as their communication method. So, texting can be more effective for engaging younger voters than a phone call. It can also be useful for contacting voters who are unreachable in person. 

In the above list, notice that tools like OpenVPB, MiniVAN, and CallHub will seamlessly integrate with Votebuilder. This means the tools can work together without requiring you to switch between multiple platforms or interfaces to import and export data. This is crucial for targeted outreach because integration makes it easier to collect and handle information in your voter contact efforts. 

Connecting your CallHub and NGP VAN accounts

Here is a step-by-step guide for using CallHub for outreach in your NGP VAN voter identification campaign:

1. Log in to your CallHub account.

2. Select the Integrations section from the top menu on your page. You will see the NGP VAN integration details.


3. Choose between ‘My Campaign’ or ‘My Voter’ depending on your preference, and then enter your VAN API Key. If you don’t have an API key for VAN available, you will have to create a support ticket with VAN.


4. A custom field will be generated for you. This custom field is necessary for mapping the contact list data from VAN to CallHub contact fields. 

5. Export the NGP VAN list you want to bring into CallHub from VAN. Convert it to a CSV file if it is not already in that format. Select ‘Import Contacts’ in CallHub and upload the file.


6. Choose the fields you want to import into CallHub. Correctly map all fields to the appropriate CallHub fields. This will sync data between CallHub and VAN for all contacts.


7. To import Survey Questions and Activist Codes from VAN, return to the ‘Integrations’ page and select ‘Import VAN Items…’.

If any changes are to be made to the data in VAN, select ‘Refresh Now’ to synchronize the data once again.


Number of Activist Codes and Survey Questions successfully imported from VAN

8. Create a calling or texting campaign on CallHub for your NGP VAN list.

9. As you communicate with voters, you can tag them with relevant information. For example, tag voters who have indicated their support for your candidate, expressed interest in volunteering, or need a follow-up.

10. Track your progress and measure the effectiveness of your outreach using CallHub’s reporting features.

Tracking Progress 

Tracking progress is an important part of any voter identification campaign, and NGP VAN’s VoteBuilder offers a variety of tools to help you keep track of your outreach. 

Here is how you can track your progress using VoteBuilder:

  1. Set goals: Before you begin your campaign, define your goals and objectives. For example, contacting a certain number of voters or persuading a certain percentage of undecided voters.
  2. Tag voters: VoteBuilder and CallHub allow you to tag voters based on their responses. For example, tag a voter as “supporter” or “undecided”, “volunteer”, etc. This can help you keep track of voters you have contacted and their status.
  3. Update data: Use VoteBuilder to record the results of your outreach, including the notes you take during phone calls or door-to-door visits. This can build a complete picture of each voter and ensure you don’t duplicate your efforts.
  4. Analyze results: Use the data visualization tools in VoteBuilder to identify patterns and trends in your data, and use predictive analytics tools to make predictions about future voter behavior.
  5. Adjust your strategy: Based on your analysis of your results, adjust your outreach strategy as necessary. For example, switch to a multi-channel outreach approach if many voters are not answering their phones or are hanging up before your volunteers deliver the campaign message. 

FAQs for voter identification with Votebuilder

1. What is included in your VAN Subscription?

VAN allows your campaign to precisely target voters, effectively manage volunteers and events, and store the necessary data to encourage voter turnout.

This includes features such as:

  1. Lists of registered active and inactive voters.
  2. A platform for Canvassing, Phone Banking (Virtual Phone Bank), a volunteer-facing Virtual Phone Banking tool (OpenVPB), and contact recording.
  3. Turf Cutter and MiniVAN Canvassing App.
  4. Reporting tools.
  5. Access to the latest scores at no additional cost to your campaign.
  6. Phone numbers, including appended cell phone acquisitions, at no extra cost to the campaign.
  7. Integration with third-party services through the API.
  8. VAN Resource Center, which includes VAN Help Docs.
  9. NY VAN Support Slack Channel.

2. How much does VoteBuilder access cost?

The cost is structured in tiers based on the population size of the constituency. Political committees can only access information for the specific district they are contesting. The price remains the same regardless of the candidate’s stage. 

State House/City Council – $250

State Senate/County Council – $350

County/City-wide – $1,500
Statewide – $5,000

3. Do I need to pay my filing fee to gain access to VoteBuilder?

No, you don’t need to pay your filing fee to gain access to VoteBuilder. However, access to VoteBuilder is typically provided to candidates who have been endorsed by a political party or those who have registered to run for office.

4. Are there email addresses in VoteBuilder?

By default, Votebuilder does not contain any email addresses. 

You can manually add email addresses to your Votebuilder database for individual voters. However, the specific committee that added them can only view these email addresses.

5. How up-to-date is the data in VoteBuilder?

The voter registration details in Votebuilder are refreshed every month. 

Combing VoteBuilder with CallHub to phone bank the smart way

VoteBuilder is a powerful tool to help democratic campaigns efficiently identify and target potential voters. With features like data analysis, voter outreach, and progress tracking, VoteBuilder makes the voter identification process more streamlined and effective. 

CallHub, too is an efficient and effective tool for political campaigns to engage with potential voters through phone banking. With features such as automated dialing, live call transfer, and integrated voter data, CallHub empowers campaigns to make meaningful connections with voters.

Combine VoteBuilder with CallHub to gain a competitive edge in your contact efforts and engage with voters. See how you can phone bank with VoteBuilder and CallHub the smart and easy way.

Featured image: Photo by Element5 Digital

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