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GOTV and Voter Registration Targeting Service
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Precision Mapping of Under-Represented, Infrequent or Unregistered Voters for voter registration or GOTV programs organized by 501, C, 3s.








Our objective is to increase civic participation in elections. This mapping service has been carefully designed specifically to improve the productivity of both voter registration and GOTV programs. Because it focuses turnout activities with such precision, this service can be very effective in raising voter turnout. Put together in the right way, it will leverage the GOTV work of even very small local groups. So far as we are aware, ours is the only service manned by leading GIS experts performing these services for 501, C, 3s and using both demographic and voter history data for Census bloc targeting.

CAUTION for 501 (c) (3) s: Voter registration or GOTV drives conducted by 501 (c) (3) s must be designed solely to educate the public about the value and importance of voting. 501 (c) (3) s are absolutely prohibited from organizing voter registration and GOTV activities in behalf of or in opposition to specific candidates or political parties.

". . . someone who votes only infrequently is four times more likely to go to the polls after having a face-to-face conversation with a campaign volunteer . . . than after receiving a phone call or direct mail. . . "

FACE-TO-FACE, DOOR-TO-DOOR THE KEY TO SUCCESS. One reality regarding future elections is known for certain. Voter drives to increase turnout will be person-to-person and door-to-door. As a reporter recently observed: "both parties have rediscovered the importance of communicating personally with people, rather than assuming that television ads or direct-mail brochures will motivate someone to vote. . . . [Campaign officials have] said someone who votes only infrequently is four times more likely to go to the polls after having a face-to-face conversation with a campaign volunteer . . . than after receiving a phone call or direct mail . . .."

Research findings of a Yale study show that the 40 year trend to impersonal voter contact (mass media, mail and phone banks) may be a leading cause of declining voter turnout since the 60's. Yale researchers show that "a certain segment of the electorate tends not to vote unless encouraged to do so through face-to-face contacts." The conclusion of these researchers was: "Face-to-face interaction dramatically increases the chance that voters will go to the polls . . .. The difference between the voting rate of those contacted and those not contacted is very large, 14.6 percentage points [for the November 1998 general election]." According to the researchers, effects of personal contact did not vary significantly according to message content.

If voter registration and turnout campaigns want to increase voting, the key will be having an effective and precise means of identifying and locating infrequent or unregistered but eligible voters.

Precision Voter Mapping Services

The first question any voter registration or GOTV campaign must answer is: who and where are the unregistered and infrequent (non-voting) voters? Although not registering and not voting are thought to be closely associated, voter registration and Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) drives target different people, for different purposes at different times. Consequently, we divide our map sets into two categories - voter registration and GOTV.

Voter Registration Drives

Between now and October 2004, community-based groups across the nation will begin fielding voter registration drives designed to bring out the vote of the nation's under-represented minorities and low income earners. About 70% of voters registered in such drives vote in the subsequent election. Absent more precise targeting information, the current productivity rate for door-to-door voter registration drives is a dismal two registrants per hour per canvasser. Some say it is much less. We are now producing custom neighborhood maps and interactive map databases that will permit campaign managers and street canvassers to focus their work exclusively on Census blocks holding the highest estimated concentrations of not-registered individuals.

GOTV Voter Mobilization Drives

With currently available targeting information, most GOTV drives unnecessarily squander much of their energy pointlessly contacting individuals who do consistently vote. The challenge is to leverage very scarce resources by confining GOTV mobilization efforts to voters least likely to turnout. Using our mapping expertise and registered voter files we create maps for neighborhood canvassing that precisely identify street segments where households of registered voters least likely to vote are concentrated. With these maps, activists can focus their turnout efforts only and exclusively on Census blocks and streets clustering the households of eligible voters most at risk of failing to vote. Canvassing focused this way will generate significantly higher turnout gains for the same GOTV investment.


A Note of Caution: There is no list of unregistered but eligible citizens. Our mapping services for voter registration programs display estimates of not-registered individuals for various geographic areas (states, counties, cities, precincts, blocs, etc.). These estimates are derived from imperfect statistics and are labeled "estimates" because they are not actual counts. Clients should treat these estimates as rough guides to the relative concentrations of not-registered or occasional voters in a specific area.

The key to finding neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of not-registered or non-voting citizens is something we call the "targeting hierarchy." It begins with a statewide interactive, web-based map that reveals the counties with the highest numbers of non-voters. Our library for accessing these maps is at

Locating Not-Registered Voters by Race, Ethnicity and Other Demographic Attributes

Not registering and not voting are known to associate strongly with certain characteristics like race, ethnicity, age, income/poverty, and education. Our maps show you where African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American or low-income earners, etc. are concentrated across and within localities. The targeting hierarchy begins with a statewide interactive, web-based map that reveals the counties with the highest numbers of non-voters belonging to a demographic group the client chooses to target. For example, the map below (Figure 1) displays the distribution of not-registered African-Americans of voting age across North Carolina Counties. This map tells organizers where in the state the largest estimated concentrations of not registered African-Americans are located.

Figure 1: Unregistered African Americans in North Carolina, Counties, 2002

Once a locality is chosen for voter registration or GOTV work, we work with our clients to establish a focus area meeting the client's targeting objectives. Our Florida clients in Tampa Bay, for example, decided that they wanted to limit canvassing only to precincts that had a combined minority population percentage of 40% or more. This became their "Focus Area" (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2: Tampa Bay Focus Area, Block Groups 40% or More Black and Latino Combined (18+). Map Designed Specifically for Initial Precinct Selection.

This kind of sorting is the essence of targeting. As long as organizers confine their voter registration drives to the focus area, they know they will be working in neighborhoods with a combined minority population of 40% or more. You will note that most of the Tampa Bay Focus Area block groups are white, which means that they are outside the targeting threshold of 40% minority.

Finding Neighborhoods (Precincts or Block Groups) with the Highest Concentrations of Unregistered Voters 

To maximize the productivity of voter registration canvassing, organizers need to know which neighborhoods (precincts or Census block groups) inside their focus area hold the highest numbers of not-registered citizens. Using our interactive maps, drive managers can easily search (zoom in) within their focus area for neighborhoods holding the highest estimated concentrations of unregistered Black (or, Latino, Asian, low income, etc.) citizens. Figure 3 below is a zoom within the Tampa Bay Focus Area (40% or more minorities) that will give campaign managers information they need to select precincts for canvassing.

Figure 3: Tampa Bay Focus Area Zoom for Precinct Selection View.

Finding Neighborhood Blocks with the Highest Concentrations of Unregistered Voters. As you can see from Figure 3, precincts and block groups can contain dozens of blocks. Without more precise targeting, canvassers can easily choose the wrong blocks leading to very disappointing results. Using Census and other data files, we estimate the number of people of voting age not-registered for each block. Our service delivers this information to you in two ways:

(1) Using the interactive map and zooming in on a neighborhood (precinct or block group) as in Figure 4, below.

Figure 4: Interactive Map Zoom, Neighborhood Voter Registration Canvassing Map, Tallahassee, FL 

(2) Retrieving an Adobe map through the interactive map "Information" feature (see tutorial for details). Adobe maps (see Figure 5 below) provide more detail and are fairly easy to print.

Figure 5: Adobe Map, Neighborhood Voter Registration Canvassing Map, Greensboro, Precinct #46, NC. Handout for street canvassing teams.

Clients prefer these high detail Adobe maps. By keying on the blue circles, managers and street canvassers can focus in only on the Census blocs with the highest concentrations of estimated not-registered voters.


A Note of Caution: Our mapping services for GOTV programs display infrequent voters as a dot overlay (pin map) or scaled blue circles for various geographic areas (states, counties, cities, precincts, blocs, etc.). These estimates are derived from imperfect statistics and are labeled "estimates" because they are not actual counts. Clients should treat these estimates as rough guides to the relative concentrations of sporadic voters across a specific area.

Our maps for GOTV drives are also carefully designed to help campaign managers locate concentrations of registered voters who vote only occasionally. Clients will be asked to help acquire registered voter files for localities where precision voter targeting is desired. We use these client supplied registered voter files to map the whereabouts of these infrequent voters. Our infrequent voter mapping follows the same targeting hierarchy described above with individual non-voters displayed as points or dots often color coded by race. Figure 6 below is a sample of what a bird's eye view of an entire city looks like.

Figure 6: Aggregated Individual Infrequent Voters by Precinct, Tallahassee, FL, 2000

Finding Neighborhoods (Precincts or Block Groups) with the Highest Concentrations of Infrequent Voters 

The next step is to zoom in to find precincts or block groups with the highest concentrations of non-voters. Locating neighborhoods (or, precincts) of predominantly African-American or Hispanic citizens for GOTV drives is a crucial first step. Yet, neighborhoods or precincts often contain dozens and dozens of blocks. Without more precise information on the whereabouts of non-voting voters within precincts or neighborhoods, drive managers are forced into the costly tactic of blanketing the entire precinct or neighborhood thought to contain concentrations of non-voters. The challenge for GOTV canvassers is finding the blocks within those neighborhoods holding the highest concentrations of infrequent voters. The final step is selecting a precinct or block group for canvassing and retrieving a map of that precinct or block group showing which blocks have the highest concentrations of sporadic voters.

Using these Neighborhood GOTV Canvassing Maps, community organizers can focus their turnout efforts only and exclusively on Census blocs and streets containing the highest concentrations of eligible voters most at risk of failing to turnout. The maps, which can be delivered as interactive we-based map databases (Figure 7, below), are also powerful tools for breaking down a huge job into manageable pieces that volunteers can easily understand and execute. These databases are a perfect tool for drive managers to make canvassing assignments for Election Day flushing and voter transport assignments to field volunteers.

Figure 7: Precinct Level Infrequent Voter GOTV Targeting Map, Focus Area, Tallahassee, FL. Drive managers use these maps to select precincts with most infrequent voters for GOTV. It is possible to add to this map symbol markers showing the locations of recent, campaign-recruited registrants.

Finding Neighborhood Blocks with the Highest Concentrations of Infrequent Voters.  Either through the "Information" feature of the interactive map (see tutorial for details) or by using a custom spreadsheet, you can retrieve a high detail Adobe map like Figure 8 below for any precinct (or, bloc group) in your focus area that you choose for GOTV activities. 

Figure 8: Neighborhood GOTV Canvassing Adobe Map, Leon County, Focus Area Precincts. These GOTV Canvassing Maps permit organizers to focus in only on the Census blocs with the highest concentrations of infrequent or sporadic voters.

How Organizers Use Precision Voter Targeting
For anyone with moderate computing skills, targeting with maps is not complicated or hard to learn, but it does take some time. A tutorial for using this service is available here. You should set aside 25-30 minutes to complete this tutorial. To get comfortable targeting voter registration and GOTV drives, we suggest that you complete this tutorial more than once. After completing the tutorial, go to and select (click on) your state of interest.

Each state map library is at a different state of development and most states do not currently include infrequent voter data derived from registered voter files. Although our objective is to build a comprehensive national map library, map libraries are not currently available for all states. Non-profit, 501, C, seeking expedited development of map libraries for a specific area should inquire about our Custom Mapping Services (see below).

Fees: Precision voter mapping is a long-term research services program of Democracy South. Eventually we will move to a non-profit, partial cost recovery fee schedule that will ask clients to remit a very affordable registration fee. These fees will defray a part of our service costs not met by grants. Although we hope that patrons of this service will consider making a donation to Democracy South, for the present, access to the map library is currently without charge. Go to for the portal to both interactive and Adobe maps.

Custom Mapping Services: Democracy South provides a wide array of custom voter/non-voter mapping services. We invite inquiries from clients seeking:

  • Expedited development of maps for jurisdictions and/or focus areas not now available,
  • Maps of unique or unusual, client defined, population characteristics,
  • Maps or pin map overlays of proprietary data (e.g., memberships, new registrants, etc.),
  • Walk Lists. We have the experience and capacity to produce custom, map-linked walk lists of infrequent voters. Caution: past experience has shown that such map-linked name and address lists are costly to create and sometimes yield disappointing results in practice.
  • Secure access map libraries,
  • Custom mapping service packages for national and regional organizations needing custom mapping for affiliates and partners.

Applying for Custom Mapping Services: all clients will be accorded a service priority. Some service grants will be available with awards based upon the following criteria:

  1. Applicants with previous experience in conducting voter education and GOTV campaigns will receive preference;
  2. Commitment - applicants with the will, determination and leadership to do voter education or GOTV work;
  3. Applicants working areas known to have high concentrations of non-voters;
  4. Applicants with basic computing equipment, access to the Internet, and basic-to-intermediary computing skills will receive additional scoring points;
  5. 5. Date of Application.

For an Application for Custom Mapping Services click here.

Build A Lasting Community Mobilization Capacity. Clients of this service will develop skills in using Geographic Information Science (GIS) based mapping software and data. They will also gain valuable databases about voters and non-voters across their state and in the localities they target.

GIS Qualifications
This is not a new program for those actually performing the work. Some highly experienced voting rights experts will staff this Democracy South voter mapping service. With literally decades of accumulated redistricting experience using GIS behind us, our staff of consultants is unexcelled in doing this mapping.


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