Technology aids politicking in the 21st century

Soccer moms in a minivan will be approaching you with a MiniVAN on their cell phone. This may seem like a terrible play on words, and it is a horrible pun. Even though it is a horrible pun, it is still true. The Democratic party has started to move away from pen and paper canvassing when it is not necessary. Campaign volunteers are using a cell phone app that connects to the NGP VAN database used by the Democratic party.


The NGP VAN database contains records of who voted for Democratic party candidates in previous elections and who is most likely to do so again. Targeting voters who have voted the way the campaign volunteers would like them to have voted in the past save work and helps canvassers target people who are likely to get out to vote again. As useful as the program may be, it often over targets independent voters who may not be likely to vote the same way in any given election.

Technology is likely to play an increasing role in campaigns, and it may make it easier to get out the vote. While making it easier to get out the vote is good, there are negative aspects to using technology as well. Using cell phone technology may disproportionately impact rural voters. Rural voters do not always live in areas where cell phone data can be accessed. Some areas may have limited access at slower speeds.


This may not cause a problem for Democratic party pollsters as long as they continue to use the old-fashioned pen and paper methods where they are appropriate. The Republicans have not forgotten where most of their core voters live. Perhaps technology may be better used to solve the gerrymandering problem many people seem to have with the current system. Some people believe that gerrymandering gave the United States its current president.



MiniVan Canvassing Sets Records

On September 15, 2018, the NGP MiniVan app set a single-day record with a total of 18,421 people logging on across the country. The new single-day record was part of a broader annual increase in which 2018 has been the biggest year on record for MiniVan usage. With six weeks remaining before the mid-terms, the canvassing app had had more than 218,000 user logins. This total far exceeded the 2016 presidential election year total of 153,000.


– Canvassing Is On the Rise

NGP VAN provides support for election canvassing including the Democratic Party voter information rolls. The MiniVan mobile app has added flexibility and increased control for canvassing projects; the MiniVan promotes efficiency in canvassing, and it allows field organizers to maximize their staff effort. Importantly, canvassing provides an opportunity for voter engagement that includes gathering feedback on voter’s concerns.


Canvassing brings the human touch to politics through face-to-face contact, and person to person communication by telephone or the Internet. NGP VAN has led the way to use technology to amplify the human touch; canvassers can record and submit notes from interactions including closing the communication loop by electronically recording and reporting voter response to campaign information.

NGP VAN is part of an emerging array of technology that connects to politics in essential ways. Twitter has become a favorite platform for digital communications and streaming video appeals to audiences that do not intake information in written forms as eagerly as in visual and audio presentations.


-Small Campaigns Benefit

In an article published in Forbes Magazine, a leading political advisor discussed the impact of technology on modern campaigns. Alicia Roth Weigel is a political strategist and campaign consultant working in policy advocacy and campaign management through her company Intrepid Strategy. As a national and regional political consultant, Wiegel described the impact of the NGP VAN technology on local elections. According to Ms. Wiegel, local campaigns can use technology to get canvassing advantages that formerly only occurred in large well-financed national campaigns.


– Technology is a Two-Way Street

Ms. Wiegel joins a growing number of political experts that support the notion that technology increases contacts between campaign and voters, and vice versa. Voters can also use technology to communicate with political leaders and also to follow their progress. Technology provides a feedback loop that lets voters hold political leaders to account. The NGP VAN MiniVan demonstrates the growing importance and impact of technology on local elections.