Tracking Performance

Probably one of the most important success factors for running a successful voter project is having the ability to evaluate it, both as it progresses and after the election. As Robbie observes in the accompanying video, the database can help you measure the effectiveness of various mobilizing tactics after the project is completed. With this information, you can improve your performance in your next project.


We've provided some perspective on evaluation in the planning section of the site. In it we said that you should include both qualitative and quantitative evaluation, during and after the voter project. Your data system should be designed so that you can support the quantitative measures. You'll need to supply the field and project leadership with the ability to query the database. Prepare some canned reports that they can run on demand. It's also a good idea to train them in a query tool that lets them create ad hoc queries as the campaign progresses.

Internal Controls

The data systems also will need internal controls to ensure that the data being collected from the field operation is acurately getting into the system. Reports that produced from bad data will undermine the operation.


Data entry backlogs are one of the most typical complaints that we hear about electoral data systems. Projects start out with the best intentions and plans for collecting data but quickly fall behind as the field work goes into full swing. While some data is not needed until after the election is over, the voter project management team needs a lot of information at their fingertips during the project. Do you have enough volunteers to get the data entry done? In a well run project, the weekend's canvass results should be available within 24 to 48 hours. Last night's automated phone bank should be validated by the next morning.

The Bottom Line Imperative

Fair or not, funders and donors have a short time horizon. They like to evaluate your organization's work by the number of voters registered or the number turned out in this election cycle. They will be using the numbers you provide as the divisor to get the per capita cost.

Effectiveness Measures

We've seen a number of approaches to measuring the effectiveness of voter projects. Some organizations count how many people are registered and, of those, how many voted. This requires that you have solid information in your database about who was registered and the ability to match it against voter history records when it becomes available.

Other voter projects that are primarily concerned with turning out low income voters or voters from communities of color will compare the overall turnout percentage of the precincts that were worked versus the turnout of demographically similar precincts that were not worked. This analysis requires that you can identify precincts that you did the most work in, which should be pretty obvious!

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A database that is not only comprehensive but accessible to members and volunteers is an invaluable tool in voter engagement work, Robby Rodriguez says

Robby Rodriguez: the database is crucial to tracking electoral work