How to Get a Voter File from a Board of Elections
Voter files provide valuable data that can help you run a more effective political campaign. Luckily, many states offer voter files for free or at a low rate upon request from the Board of Elections.
If you’d like to access voter data to inform your own campaign, we can help point you in the right direction. Below, we’ll explain what a voter profile is and how you can acquire one from a Board of Elections.
What is a voter file and why is it helpful to have?
If you’re running a political campaign, a voter profile is an extremely helpful tool to acquire. These digital databases contain information about registered voters within states, counties, and districts.
The information provided in voter files varies from state to state, but the basic voter data, such as registration status and information on whether or not each individual cast a ballot in past elections, is standard across all states. However, a voter file will never reveal which candidates an individual has voted for.
Voter files are helpful for a number of reasons. For political candidates and those running campaigns, they can be a central resource. Although you won’t be able to see who voted for whom in past elections, you will have valuable information regarding the ways in which people vote within your region, such as how often and at what point they cast their ballots. Having access to this data will allow you to optimize and target your campaign more effectively throughout the election cycle.
The information in voter files can also be useful to journalists and researchers who aim to gain a better understanding of voter trends.
How to get a voter file from a Board of Elections
There are a few ways to gain voter profiles. You may, for example, choose to purchase voter data from a vendor for a fee. However, many state and county Boards of Elections provide voter registration data to those running political campaigns for a low price–sometimes even for free.
Who is eligible to receive voter files from a board of elections?
Whether or not you are eligible to request a voter file from a board of elections will vary from state to state. However, in most states, only political candidates or those involved with political organizations are able to receive voter lists. This is a precaution to avoid the use of voter data for commercial gain.
The bottom line is that if you are running a political campaign, you are likely eligible to receive a voter file from a board of elections.
What information do voter files from Boards of Elections include?
It’s also important to note that the information in voter files from each state will vary. Some keep more information confidential than others.
Many states will not release information on individuals who are under the age of 18 or those who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes. A state may also allow individual voters to request that their information remain confidential.
Regardless of the restrictions within each state and the amount of information included in voter files, commercial use of voter file information is never allowed.
How much do voter files from Boards of Elections cost?
The price of a voter file from a Board of Elections will depend on which state you are requesting a file from, as well as the range of the file.
You may request voter data from a state, county, or district. Generally, statewide voter files will cost you the most money, but they are sometimes available for free. The price ranges from $0-$37,000.
How do I request a voter file from a Board of Elections?
Like most of the factors we’ve outlined regarding voter files, the process of requesting a voter file from a Board of Elections is individual to each state.
Typically, you will need to fill out a request form for a voter file from your state, county, or district. Some of these request forms, such as New York’s, can be completed online, but others will ask that you mail them.
To find a voter file request form for your state or county, you can typically find luck with a quick Google search–something like “Iowa voter file request form” or “request California voter file” should point you in the right direction.
When in doubt, reach out to the Records Access Officer from the Board Of Elections from which you’d like to request a voter file.
The bottom line
For those involved in political organizations or running for office, voter files are typically readily available upon request from a Board of Elections. While the information in a voter file may vary depending on the state from which you’re requesting it, the data will no doubt be a valuable asset.
Keep in mind that, at NationBuilder, we provide free voter files to political candidates and organizations–get started today to acquire your free file and start running a more effective campaign.