How Voting Data Shapes Campaigns, and Why I’m Not Using It.

Over the past two years, I’ve had a chance to reflect about my experience running for local office. What most people don’t realize, is that as soon as you sign up to run for office, you are given access to endless amounts of voter data. Voter data that provides information about registered voters and their voting history. I have been surprised by how many people are unaware of how the heart of campaigning, knocking on doors, and talking with voters really works.

Traditionally politicians and campaigns use voter data to dictate how they are going to do their canvassing. So when they go down the street, they know which doors to knock on because they know who has voted in the past. To me, this is not an inclusive system. When we are only engaging with potential voters who have previously voted, we are leaving so many people out of the process.

We create a pipeline of the same voters, year after year, without any substantial effort to discover new voters to participate in local municipal elections. That’s why I’m going against the grain, and not using voter data to target which doors I knock on. My approach is all inclusive. I’ll try to knock on every door that I see, regardless if the people who live there vote or not. Because to me, when you just use voter data, you are missing the conversations with the immigrant family who may not be able to vote but have kids in the schools. You are missing the conversations with the family who just moved here and hasn’t registered to vote yet. And you miss all the people that have never had a conversation with a local politician.

If my campaign was focused on just using voter data, many of these conversations would likely not happen. By circumventing the typical voter data process, we engage all of the community in important and thoughtful dialogue. Also, doing this gets more people involved in a process that they normally would not be a part of. I am confident in our strategy because I have already had conversations with people who haven’t voted in a local election, that now will. The fact that you haven’t voted before in a municipal election doesn’t mean that you won’t this year, especially when you have a conversation with a candidate. And, recently, we can see this country needs to invite more people into the political process.

By attempting to knock on every single door, we can ensure that no Cambridge resident feels left behind because of their voting history. Bringing more people into the political process is now a necessity, and my campaign is starting this right here in Cambridge.

Although most political experts would scoff at the idea of not using voter data, my campaign team embraces this strategy. An all inclusive approach is much more modern and is the beginning of a new system that should be adopted by all campaigns. Judging by the 2016 presidential election, many voters felt left behind. This is because typical campaigns never reached out to these voters to hear their concerns. Under my philosophy, every door counts, every voice counts, and every community counts, regardless of the voter data.

My platform is built on the voices of Cambridge, not my own inner circle. This is also how I would govern.  As well as listening to the voices who have the time to come to School Committee meetings, I will make sure I am having engaging conversations with people who can’t come to these meetings.

It is time to try something new. It is time for every resident to starting feeling like they are now a part of the conversation. A great starting point is to avoid voter data to target residents. My campaign has done this, and has seen great success doing so. I look forward to continuing this approach and strive for a conversation driven campaign. If every candidate in both races would pledge to not use voter data, we can all build towards a more inclusive Cambridge.

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