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Mark Sherman: "This animation is about the people you organize, what you know about them, and how it's stored on your system. We're using interlocking circles to represent the possible data structures you might use to track the information you collect.

Data structures are simply ways of organizing data that you obtain, in this case, about the people you come in contact with during the course of a campaign. They are special storage bins used for organizing important information so you can retrieve it when you need it.

The first symbol that we have on this drawing-- is a circle representing the community, or the 'organizing target'. This represents the people that you hope to organize into your voter project. They are not all in your database because there are many that you haven't reached yet. The members are. This data structure holds the database of members. You've built it as members have joined your organization. And consequently, you know quite a bit about them. With decent software and recordkeeping, much of this knowledge should be in your member database.

You also have your volunteers in your database. Your volunteers are usually members from your organizing target, but some of them can be supporters from outside your community, especially when you are in the middle of an organizing campaign or voter project.

If you are running a voter registration campaign, you'll be collecting information about the people who register. And some of them will be members who are registering, but most will be people who are part of the community that you are organizing.

You'll want to integrate the new registrants into your contact database so you can follow up with them later. In particular, you'll be checking to see that their registration turns up in the voter file before the election.

When the time comes to do a voter turnout campaign, you'll be looking to retrieve all the people that you've registered as well as the existing voters in your target community. You'll be able to identify the voters in your community from a voter database that you obtain from a vendor or some government entity such as the secretary of state or county registrar.

So you'll have to find a way to keep that voter file in your system, you'll have to find a way to keep track of who your volunteers are, and you'll have to find a way to keep track of those new registrants.

And finally, as you are conducting a voter project, you're going to be going door to door and collecting people's opinions about the issues that concern your community. The information that you collect is what we are calling canvass results. You are going to want to store those results over multiple election cycles and link them to the voter's record so that you can go back and find supporters of your issues who may be interested in joining your issue campaigns and thus build your organization."