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So we are looking at CiviCRM to help run my campaign. We have been using votebuilder which is very good but it has some drawbacks as well. one of the big drawbacks is that you can not see people outside of your district.

So i have downloaded the files for all of the voters in PA. I have some questions

  1. Have other people loaded these types of files into Civi before and if so a. How do you keep track of things like if the person is a dem or rep or other b. How do you keep track of the times in which they have voted c. How do you keep track of the multiple districts that they live in d. How can you search on all of the above so that you can find all of one party who has voted in the primary and general of x year and is in District Y

  2. I saw a note back in 2014 that they were working on the ability to "cut turf" does anyone know if that was completed, and if so do I need to download anything else

  3. If you can cut turf is it done visually? So on a map and i can draw on the map to cut the turf? if so is there a demo somewhere

  4. Is there a way to print by street (or turf) odd and even street numbers?

  5. If you can not cut turf, is there a way to create a list of people then go out and meet with those people, then somehow pull the same list up and quickly enter data?

  6. If you do go out and lets assume you are giving out pampletts, where would you store the information like ... not home..took pamplet...agreed to have lawn sign..agreed to volunteer..so that we keep track of that as part of a date related item..so when we run for office again we can look back see who did it last time and then capture if they will do it again this time

  7. Becuase the campaign has a limited life, can this be hosted on a shared server at godaddy or hostgator or something that is inexpensive. I need to keep the costs down but I never want to lose the data

thanks for your help. Mark

  • Hi Mark! Stack Exchange is best suited for single questions and answers, but I'll do my best to respond. – Jon G - Megaphone Tech Apr 21 '17 at 0:02
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So i have downloaded the files for all of the voters in PA. I have some questions

Have other people loaded these types of files into Civi before and if so a. How do you keep track of things like if the person is a dem or rep or other b. How do you keep track of the times in which they have voted c. How do you keep track of the multiple districts that they live in d. How can you search on all of the above so that you can find all of one party who has voted in the primary and general of x year and is in District Y

Yes, political parties import voter data into CiviCRM. There's a CiviCRM partner whose main clients are Libertarian parties, and Rick Santorum ran his 2012 presidential campaign on CiviCRM. One of my clients is a political party.

You'd use custom fields to store that data; you can use multi-value custom fields to store multiple districts. The Electoral API extension will create some of those fields - and automatically look up which district they live in (Federal and State only, but it wouldn't cost much to have someone add municipal-level). Searches work like any other search. You might need to get a little clever with smart groups to get "voted in primary" and "voted in general election", but it's certainly doable.

I saw a note back in 2014 that they were working on the ability to "cut turf" does anyone know if that was completed, and if so do I need to download anything else

If you can cut turf is it done visually? So on a map and i can draw on the map to cut the turf? if so is there a demo somewhere

Nope, sorry.

Is there a way to print by street (or turf) odd and even street numbers?

Yes, the Walk List Report.

If you can not cut turf, is there a way to create a list of people then go out and meet with those people, then somehow pull the same list up and quickly enter data?

Yes, there are several ways to do this, depending on your needs.

If you do go out and lets assume you are giving out pampletts, where would you store the information like ... not home..took pamplet...agreed to have lawn sign..agreed to volunteer..so that we keep track of that as part of a date related item..so when we run for office again we can look back see who did it last time and then capture if they will do it again this time

You'd capture that as an activity type, and add custom fields as necessary to that activity type.

Becuase the campaign has a limited life, can this be hosted on a shared server at godaddy or hostgator or something that is inexpensive. I need to keep the costs down but I never want to lose the data

I would NOT use shared hosting for a database that holds the entire voting population of PA. Get a Linode or similar for $10/month.

All this said - I'll answer a meta-question. ANY campaign organizing tool is going to cost you time and money. CiviCRM is "free" - but if you want to run an effective campaign, you'll need to be willing to spend money.

  • Thanks, Jon, I appreciate your taking the time to answer all of those questions. Do you do freelancing and if not, you mentioned one of the partners works with the libertarian group, do you know who that is? – Mark Pinsley Apr 21 '17 at 2:04
  • An update re turf cutting - an extension was created in 2018 to do that - see this - – Joe McLaughlin Nov 19 at 6:47
  • Also @markpinsley congrats on winning your election as Lehigh County Controller this year! Would love to hear more about the tech you used for that. – Joe McLaughlin Nov 19 at 6:56
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Jon has done a great job but SE likes lots of answers ;-). Mark there is a pretty strong community within CiviCRM that works with political campaigns, both for the candidates and for pure 'political change the world' style campaigns. There are many crossovers. Our work has mainly been at the national or federal level, and the odd US-state level. Therefore we haven't had the opportunity to really focus on what a single standalone candidate might need that might differ to what the big orgs need.

CiviCRM on Drupal using Activities, Views, Webforms, sometimes Views Bulk Operations etc can deliver a great suite of canvassing, data record and other tools to help get the 'elect me' message out and machine rolling. As Jon says, it can be finessed to meet your needs. Politics is done very differently in different places.

In Aus they need thousands of volunteers pushing the 'vote us' message on election day. In NZ it is almost forbidden to promote the party/candidate on the day.

But at the heart of these systems you need to know - who will vote - who might vote and what might persuade them to vote - who said they would vote and did they actually get their arses down to the polling booth yet - who can help (whether they will vote or not) - not to mention some dollars to help fund the campaign.

And yes CiviCRM will deliver all of this.

There has been some (currently not shared/shareable work done on turf-cutting, not sure what the estimate is for getting that 'out there' but won't be very near future)

There has been work done to improve walk-listing so you can output one-side of the road type lists. And yes you can take a device with you to record outcomes of those door-knocks as you go, or pull the info off the sheets at the end of the night and input or import.

Jon has answered the more specific questions, and as he says with some custom fields on custom Activities you can do pretty much what you like.

  • Thanks, is there a group you would suggest working with? The data in PA is fairly large. I know it can be culled down by getting rid of all of the inactive voters, but that still leaves a lot of votes. Also it has to allow for updates from later additions of the PA voter file..and they don't provide a diff file, just the whole file all over again. Also, i need to see what people are doing if they don't have a turf cutting tool. they must have a way around this – Mark Pinsley Apr 21 '17 at 12:03
  • Not sure what type of 'group' you are thinking of. Also do you want to contact me directly via fuzion, there are a few things that might be useful to you but they were developed on the basis that they would only be passed on to folks of similar political persuasion(s). – petednz - fuzion Apr 21 '17 at 22:42
  • We have one US based client that pulls in voter data (lots of it), so the hosting needs to be appropriate to cope. They are using something they developed before they got us involved so not certain about how 'shareable' the process for running the updates is, but it won't be that complex i expect - and there are probably plenty of others out there doing same stuff – petednz - fuzion Apr 21 '17 at 22:42
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I am the US client of Peter Davis (Fuzion). We maintain the voter information for 800,000+ voters in our county. The voter files provided by our board of election seems similar to what you get in PA.

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