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How Independent Republicans Are Trying to Help the Party Get Its Data Act Together

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, July 1 2013

Republican-leaning technology entrepreneurs are working hard to fill the tech gap for their party.

Purcellville, Virginia-based tech startup Voter Gravity, the GOP-aligned mobile voter canvassing company, just announced the second version of their mobile canvassing system. It was designed by Peter Anthony Tariche, a supporter of former Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Tex.) presidential run. FreedomWorks used a prior version of the system to get its volunteers to get out the vote on behalf of Republican Ted Cruz during his successful primary campaign for U.S. Senate in Texas.

The new version enables turf-cutters to cut up to 25 walk lists, instead of just one, said the company's Founder Ned Ryun, who is also CEO of the conservative issue advocacy group American Majority Action. The revamped system now also enables canvassers to conduct surveys and includes a predictive dialing system. The dialing systems are so named because they enable campaigns to call multiple people at the same time and connects the first person who answers with a campaign volunteer, saving those volunteers from having to hang up and dial again when nobody answers. Maps have also been upgraded in version 2.0 of Voter Gravity's mobile canvassing system: The company has partnered with Esri, the digital mapping company, to provide higher-quality maps.

Voter Gravity is pitching gubernatorial and statewide campaigns on the platform.

Meanwhile VoterTrove, an Austin, Tex. startup that rolled out the first version of its voter data management system last year, has also revamped its system and unveiled a new version late this May. The system is currently being used by the Connecticut Republican Party, which maintains records on 2.4 million voters. VoterTrove Founder Justin Gargiulo says that his target market is Republicans running for Congress in 2014.

This system allows campaigns to upload their "siloed" voter contact lists from Excel spreadsheets and match them to state voter records. The system enables campaigners to slice and dice their voter data using their own demographic criteria. They can then have volunteers and staff target those voters with phone calls and surveys, e-mails, and text messages. Volunteers who sign up to help a campaign out can match their Facebook friend lists to VoterTrove's voter records, and contact their friends on behalf of a campaign.

Neither of the systems currently work in conjunction with the Republican National Committee's DataTrust system, which means that Republican campaigns can't take advantage of the information gathered on voters by other candidate campaigns and advocacy groups like the Democrats do with voter data managed through NGP VAN.