Make Political Canvassing Maps for Door-to-door Volunteers

For those enabling political change, there’s no better way than face-to-face, one-on-one interaction. That’s where door-to-door political canvassing comes in. No matter the candidate or the level of office, a well-organized approach will help you more efficiently approach the right voters. That’s where a voter map could come in handy. BatchGeo makes turning a spreadsheet into a map as easy as copy-paste.

In the United States we have national elections at least every two years and local elections at least once per year. The biggest elections come every four years when the US President is elected, along with all members of the House of Representatives and roughly one-third of the Senate. That is the case in 2016. Since all political canvassing is at a local level, location plays a large role. Let’s see how political volunteers could use a map of locations for door-to-door canvassing.

View Example Political Canvassing Map in a full screen map

The above map is purely fictional, but included as an example of what a pair of canvassers might use. Though the addresses are real (taken from business listings in Santa Monica, California), the names are from a Star Wars character name generator. Volunteers might split the work up by Zip code, as shown here, other fields, or some other means. Read on to see some ideas for how to group voters for easy canvassing.

But first, you need your own list to visit, hopefully with the names of real voters.

Gather Your List of Addresses

One way to canvass is to go truly door-to-door, reaching everyone in a neighborhood. A map might not be as useful in that case, though you could potentially plot demographic data on a map and use that to select neighborhoods. However, the most efficient method involves direct targeting of individuals at specific locations. In this case, a map would be extremely useful.

Before you create your map, you need a list of addresses. These are the voters you and other volunteers will visit. There are several methods you can use to obtain names and addresses:

  • Your candidate or cause’s donors
  • Public voter registration records
  • Donor list of complementary cause or candidate
  • Consumer direct mail company lists

Obviously, check your local laws that might restrict privacy or other aspects of targeting individuals in this manner.

Create a Map of Voters

Now that you have a list of addresses, it’s likely stored in a spreadsheet-like format, such as CSV, XLS (Excel), or tab-delimited. Or maybe you keep it stored in a Google Spreadsheet. Regardless of the format, it’s best to open the document in some sort of spreadsheet software so you can confirm it displays in rows and columns and includes a header row at the top. Those labels help BatchGeo inspect your data, make assumptions, and display the data back on the map.

Example voter data

With data like the above, you can simply highlight all the cells, copy with Ctrl+C (Cmd+C on Mac), then paste into BatchGeo’s data box using Ctrl+V (Cmd+V on Mac).

BatchGeo makes some guesses about address, city, state, and postal code fields. You can click Validate & Set Options to check or correct these assumptions. Then map and our fast, accurate geocoder will convert every row of your spreadsheet into markers on your map.

Once you’ve saved your map, you can share any non-private map with everyone on your team by copying the URL. Private maps and more secure sharing is only available to Pro accounts.

Armed with their mobile-optimized voter maps, your volunteers are ready to hit the streets. Here are some ideas of how they might use the voter maps.

Group Voters by Zip Code or City

In many areas, your voters will be across multiple postal codes or even cities. If that is the case, you can use the BatchGeo grouping functionality to filter by unique values in that field. For example, you may have voters across six different Zip codes. Assign each volunteer one or more Zip codes and send them a link to your map.

Each volunteer can then choose Zip code in the grouping menu in the lower left. When they select their Zip code, the map will quickly filter to only the chosen Zip code. Choose a second Zip code and it will be added to the group that is displayed.

You can use this method to group by city or any field in your spreadsheet.

Group Voters by Volunteer

An alternative to assigning by region labels is to assign by volunteer in your spreadsheet. Simply add a new column to your spreadsheet called “Volunteer” and add the name of a volunteer for each row. When you paste your data into BatchGeo, it will make the volunteer name a grouping option.

You can use this method of pre-assigning records to spread the work equally between volunteers. Pre-assigning also simplifies what the volunteer needs to remember. Most people remember their name, while memorizing a list of Zip codes is much harder.

Group Voters by Last Name

Another way you could split up the efforts is to use alphabetical ranges by last name. For example, one person takes anyone whose names starts with A-M, the other takes N-Z. This is another circumstance where you need to add another column to your spreadsheet. However, in this case a spreadsheet can do most of the work for you.

Create a new column called “Alpha Range.” In the second row (just below the header), add the following formula:

=IF(CODE(UPPER(LEFT(B2, 1))) < CODE("N"), "A-M", "N-Z")

The formula assumes that the Last Name is in the B column, so adjust as necessary. Everything else should work for the example name ranges. If it's right for the first row, copy the cell and paste it for each additional row. The formula will update for the current row.

Now Go Ring Some Doorbells

Now you should have your list of voters, plan for how to group them, and a map displaying their locations. The only thing left to do is share the map with your team of volunteers and start going door to door. Get started with BatchGeo for free now.