What is a Voter File?
There are thousands of tools and resources out there for campaigns. From polls to surveys to other campaigns, there’s a seemingly endless supply of information to help campaigners achieve their goals.
Voter files are a great example of standard campaign resources. While most people don’t know what a voter file is, many campaigns use them to boost their strategies and improve messaging to their target population.
Voter files give you an idea of voter behavior in a specific area. If you’re looking for data about past and current voter registration and election participation, use voter files. There’s a lot of benefits to using them, and you won’t have any trouble accessing them.
What is a Voter File?
Voter files are resources assembled by an organization, usually a commercial one. They contain data about a population’s voting habits and registration, and they’re incredibly useful for gaining a picture of an area’s voting history.
These organizations get most of their information from public records, which contain the names and public registration information for every registered voter. Additionally, these records show who cast ballots in past elections, though they do not include who someone voted for. That information is private.
There’s a voter file for almost every American adult. Every person that has been or is currently registered to vote is included in the public record. Most states or counties have sites anyone can visit to look up the registration information of someone in their area.
However, voter files typically contain more than just one person’s information. They give a picture of an entire area’s voting habits and registration status.
Voter files from commercial organizations often include information from outside sources as well. These could be consumer data vendors, credit bureaus, political organizations, or another source.
Organizations take the information from the public record and their outside sources and combine it. With more data, they can give campaigns and other organizations a more comprehensive look at an area’s political behavior.
What Are They Used For?
With voter files, campaigns and other political organizations can see how their area has voted in the past. They can predict who will vote in the upcoming election, along with who they’ll likely vote for, and base their messaging on that information.
Additionally, with a record of who is registered to vote, campaigns can go out and convince unregistered voters to get registered. They can work on increasing overall voter turnout.
Many states also include party affiliation on their voter registration lists. With this, campaigns can better organize their canvassing efforts and target members of their own party.
Essentially, voter files allow you to build a more targeted campaign. You can see the names and general voting information for the majority of people in your area. Whether you’re using party affiliations, voter names, or registration statuses, voter files contain a lot of helpful information.
Voter Files Compared to Other Sources
While you can obtain similar information from polls and surveys, those sources are less reliable than voter files. They rely on information from voters themselves, meaning someone could lie, change their answer, or have their response altered based on how the information is collected. For example, we know that how a question is worded can impact undecided voters’ answers to survey questions.
Voter files, on the other hand, are based on data collected about voters. They can’t be impacted by changing answers or biased response collection. If someone is registered to vote or voted in past elections, their information is on the public record. It can’t be altered or edited.
For that reason, voter files tend to be popular for data-based campaign strategies. When planning canvassing campaigns, geographic marketing, or something else that relies on general population data, organizations turn to voter files.
Where Can I Get a Voter File?
There are many different sources for voter files, but you have to ensure that you’re using a quality one. You don’t want to get inaccurate or unreliable information. You can get a voter file from you local party, from you local board of elections, you can buy it from companies like l2political.com or aristotle.com with a lot of extra data about each voter. But, you can also get a free voter file from nationbuilder!
You can use voter files to improve your campaign. Get reliable voter files about your target population to learn how they’ve voted in the past, who’s registered to vote, and other information. With voter files in your toolbox, you’ve got strong resources and data to help you build the best campaign you possibly can.