PDI Electoral Glossary

Below is a glossary of commonly used electoral terms and concepts. Feel free to contact us directly, if you need more information

PDI Terms and Concepts


Absentee Applied Updates – Information received prior to an election that indicate specific voters who have applied for an absentee ballot. The frequency of files will vary between County Registrars. Most medium and large counties will release the first absentee file 25-30 days before the election day with 2-5 updates per week.

Absentee Ballot – A ballot that is mailed directly to the voter within thirty days prior to an election. The voter can return the completed ballot by mail, to any polling place, or directly to the registrar of voters office. A voter will receive a permanent absentee ballot if they complete and submit an application form, are recognized by the county registrar as a permanent absentee voter, live in a designated mail ballot precinct, or if the election is designated mail ballot only.

Absentee Voter – Any voter who receives or is scheduled to receive an absentee ballot.

Absentee Applied via Campaign (Online Campaign Center) – A field that stores Primary ID numbers for individuals who returned an application distributed by the campaign. These applicants have not yet been processed by the County ROV.

Add Geographic Filter (Online Campaign Center) – An option from the Create Lists and Files Page that allows users to add a geographic filter to a saved select prior to running output product. An example of its use would be running a campaign’s base select for only a limited number of precincts.

Additional Fields (Online Campaign Center) – This section of the Select Builder Page contains a list of many less frequently used fields that can be incorporated into any new saved select criteria. The select builder has two separate Additional fields sections to facilitate the use of two separate fields in the same criteria.

Alpha List – A printed list containing individuals sorted alphabetically by Last Name, First Name. Often used at polling places or to find voters.

Authorization Code (Online Campaign Center) – A code provided to the main campaign contact for accessing program security page and purchasing mail files online.

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Bar Code Module Session (Online Campaign Center) – The duration of time in which a batch of lists have been scanned. Reports can be generated to analyze scanning progress and efficiency

Bar Code Scanning (Online Campaign Center) – The process of performing data entry using code 39 bar codes to enter voter primary ID numbers and ID codes.

Base Precinct – A precinct number without the sub precinct value. Many counties split their precincts into sub-precincts to accommodate district boundaries. Using the base precincts as a grouping unit is recommended for walk lists and precinct counts.

Billing Center (Online Campaign Center) – A page that displays records for mail files purchased online. A PDI representative will use this information to process actual billing information and invoices.

Birth Place – Information acquired from a voter’s registration card identifying their place of birth (state for American born and country for foreign born).

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Campaign Data Set (Online Campaign Center) – The collection of data records accessible to a specific Campaign subscriber. This will usually cover a single district such as City, Congressional District, Senatorial District, or Assembly District.

Campaign Data Set Universe (Online Campaign Center) – The Campaign Data Set defined by geographic and demographic parameters.

Closed Primary election – Voters may vote in a party’s primary only if they are registered members of that party. Independents cannot participate.

Consolidated Precinct – This term usually refers to grouping of precincts that are assigned to the same polling location. These precincts are temporary for a specific election and are not available until 20-40 prior to the election. These precincts are also known as election precincts or poll precincts.

Contacted By field (Online Campaign Center) – A field that records the individual who made the actual contact with voters and filled out a printed list

Count – A calculated total of individuals that meet a specific criteria or select. Counts may be generated by voter, traditional household, non-traditional household, or number of voters in a house with qualifying voter.

County Code (County Number) – A numeric code between 01 and 58 that represent the 58 counties in California. The numbering reflects the alphabetical order of the counties. PDI combines the county codes with precinct numbers and Primary ID numbers to create unique precinct and Primary ID values throughout California.

Count Reports – A report displaying one or more voter counts. A count report can be generated from the politicaldata.com website, by PDI account representatives, or from the Online Campaign Center.

Criterion – A component of a select based on parameters set from the Select Builder page. Multiple criterion may be used to create a select. Webster definitions -A Standard, rule, or test on which a judgment or decision can be based. The plural form is Criteria.

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DBF (Dbase) file format – (our default file format) a file format widely used in many other applications needing a simple format to store structured data, such as Microsoft Excel and Access. To open/view a dbf with Excel, simply save the file to your computer, open Excel, then choose Open. In the Open window go to the ‘Files of type:’ box (at the bottom just below the ‘File name:’ box) you should choose “dBase files” (or any version of a dbf or dBase file). Beware of the records limit of Excel. Excel can only handle files containing 65,536 records. Any records exceeding this amount will be deleted.

Demographic Data – Information about a voter that can be used to predict future voting behavior such as if they are likely to vote and for what candidates or issue they would likely support. Some example of demographic data would be Age, Gender, Party, Homeownership, Vote Propensity, and Ethnicity.

Districts – A geographic area that is defined by the Registrar of Voters and conducts elections for representation. Range from congressional districts to Mosquito Abatement districts.

Door Hanger Labels – Adhesive labels affixed to door hangers displaying polling place information.

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Election Cycle – A period of time ending with an election day in which a campaign is active.

Election Precinct or (Poll Precinct) – This term usually refers to grouping of precincts that are assigned to the same polling location. These precincts are temporary for a specific election and are not available until 20-40 prior to the election.

Ethnicity – Voters with surnames exclusively associated with an ethnic group. Political Data also incorporates birth place information to verify ethnicity.

Export Files – The process in which electronic files are generated from an existing application such as the Online Campaign Center or Microsoft Excel.

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File Dates – The date in which Political Data processed and incorporated an individual county voter file with our statewide file.

File Extension – A suffix to the name of a computer file applied to show its format, or file type. (ex. “Voters.dbf”, “Voters.txt”, “Voters.pdf”).

File Type or (File Format) – A particular way to encode information for storage in a computer file. Common PDI file types include TXT, ASCII text, CSV, TSV, DBF (Dbase), and PDF.

Flag (Online Campaign Center) – A proprietary piece of information that is created by a campaign. It may identify level of support, membership in an organization, or attendance to a public forum.

Flag Group (Online Campaign Center) – A grouping of related flags. An example would be an ID group that includes separate flags for Walk Candidate, Walk Volunteer, Walk Staff, Phone Candidate, Phone Volunteer, and Phone Staff.

Flag Options – Select Builder (Online Campaign Center) – This page allows more comprehensive management of flag field data. Displays Flags, Contact Flags, and Support Flags.

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Gated – A street or address that is not accessible to campaign staff or volunteers.

General election – an election in which members of a given political body are up for election. While Primary elections serve to narrow down a field of candidates by party, the General elections actually elect candidates to offices. The general election is usually held on Election Day, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a state’s legislative body, as distinguished from local or special elections.

Geographic Options – Select Builder (Online Campaign Center)– Allows users to analyze geographic area prior to setting geographic criteria to a select. Area can be sorted and combined easily through this page.

GIS (Geographic Information System) – is a system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the earth. In the strictest sense, it is a computer system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing, and displaying geographically-referenced information. In a more generic sense, GIS is a tool that allows users to create interactive queries (user created searches), analyze the spatial information, edit data, maps, and present the results of all these operations.

GOTV – Get Out The Vote. A final campaign push prior to an election where voters are contacted based on support information and provided polling place information. The goal is to physically get voters to the polls on election day.

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High Propensity – Voters with a history of participation in previous elections, making them more likely to vote in future elections.

HH – Household (Non-Traditional).

Home Page (Online Campaign Center) – The opening page that appears after logging on to the program.

House Party Type – A profile of all voters in a household based on the party registration of each registered voter in the house.

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ID Codes (Online Campaign Center) – The actual value set for a flag. This would be the Y (for Yes or support) information.

Import Files (Online Campaign Center) – The incorporation of external data with the program based on Primary ID, Secondary ID, Precinct, Census fields.

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Lawn Sign (Online Campaign Center) – A sign displaying support of a candidate or issue that is placed in front of a home.

Lawn Sign List – A list that is sorted similar to a walk list but often grouped by census tract or zip code because of sparse targets. This list is used by a person assigned to distribute the signs to voters.

Level 5-security (Online Campaign Center) – All Access.

Level 4-security (Online Campaign Center) – All access except User Administrative Center.

Level 3-security (Online Campaign Center) – Access to Voter Lookup, Scan Barcoded Reports, and create lists.

Level 2-security (Online Campaign Center) – Access to Voter Lookup and Scan Barcoded Reports Only.

Level 1-security (Online Campaign Center) – Access to Scan Barcoded Reports Only

License/Use Agreement – An agreement between a campaign and Political Data to provide voter data for political purposes only. The specifics of the agreement may vary with each campaign.

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Mail Ballot Precinct – A precinct where all voters will receive their ballots in the mail and no polling place will be assigned.

Mail File – An electronic file containing only information relating to a voter’s name, address, and salutation. This file is usually grouped by household to reduce the record count and postage. Mail files do not contain phone information and cannot be used for any application other than direct mail.

Mail Flag – A field that records output sent to specific individuals. This feature allows the user to see exactly what mail pieces have been sent to each voter.

Mailing Address – This address is where the voter wishes to receive their mail. It is usually identical to the residence address.

Map Address (Online Campaign Center) – A feature that displays the location of a voters residence address on a map.

Map Library (Online Campaign Center) – A display of available maps for a campaign.

Median Income – Based on 2000 Census data at the block group level.

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NCOA – National Change of Address – A list of individuals who notified the US Postal Service of a recent change in their mailing address. PDI regularly matches the NCOA list to the California voter database.

New Registrant Database (Online Campaign Center) – A separate database of individuals registered to vote through a campaign. Before the cards are turned in to the ROV, the campaign can enter the information in the New Registrant database and later identify the voters as a likely supporter.

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Operators – Logical parameters to define relationships between all variables in a select. They generally consist of “And” – “Or” – “Not”.

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PAV – Permanent Absentee Voter.

PDI – Political Data Incorporated

PDI Universe Options – A set of voting propensity universes created by PDI for customers. The universes are solely based on vote history and registration dates.

PDIOCC – Political Data Inc. Online Campaign Center

Permanent Absentee Voter (PAV) – A specific status assigned by the County Registrar authorizing absentee ballots to be sent directly to a voter thus bypassing the application process.

Phone Bank – An organized effort to make a lot of live phone calls. This is usually accomplished through a telemarketing firm or an organization with similar telephone equipment.

Phone List – A printed list of voters usually sorted by precinct, street, address and phone number.

Polling Place – The location where a voter is assigned to cast their ballot.

Polling Place Lookup (Online Campaign Center) – A function allows the user to quickly look up a voter’s polling place information.

Polling Place Updates – The most recent file update information for polling place information provided by a county ROV

Precinct – The smallest geographic unit that is used to make up election ballot groupings. A precinct usually contains between 1- 1,400 voters. The numbering schemes vary between counties and they often have sub-units. The precinct can be considered a small neighborhood area. PDI puts a county code number in front of the precinct number to make the value unique statewide.

Primary election – an election in which voters in a jurisdiction select candidates for a subsequent election (nominating primary). In other words, primary elections are generally when each political party decides its nominee for the upcoming General election. Primaries are common in the United States, but are generally rare elsewhere in the world. California currently has a semi-closed Primary system.

Primary ID – The unique identifier for a specific voter. This number is created by the county ROV. PDI puts a county code number in front of the primary ID to make the value unique statewide.

Primary Qualified DTS – Unaffiliated voters, registered as Decline To State, Reform Party amd Misc. party affiliations are all qualfied to choose to vote in any one party’s Primary election.

Pure Dem – Voters in a house where all voters are registered Democrats

Pure Rep – Voters in a house where all voters are registered Republicans.

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Query – A database query, the standard way information is extracted from databases.

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Registrar of Voters – The county agency responsible for managing and conducting elections. PDI receives all voter files from the ROV office in each county.

Registration, Active – These are the categories of registrations that take some forethought and action on behalf of the voter. These voters actually went out of their way, either online, or going to find a paper form and mail it in. By showing that they are taking active steps to register they are signaling that it matters to them and we have seen higher turnout from these voters.

Registration, Passive – These are inclusive of the DMV registrants who have to opt out to not be registered when they are performing a DMV transaction and NCOA registrations. As we have seen since the automatic registration law was implemented in May of 2018, many voters weren’t even aware they were being re-registered and many voters were even moved into being registered as No Party Preference without their realizing it. There are also the NCOA registrations which, similarly, are often done in the background. If a voter moves the Secretary of States office will send to the county a notice to re-register a voter if they have a perfect match, and if the match is imperfect they will have the County verify first before re-registering. There are hundreds of thousands of these kinds of re-registrations, yet most people, even political consultants and candidates, don’t realize it is happening.

Renter – Voters living at an address with a unit number and do not match the county Assessor file.

Residence Address – The physical address where a voter lives. Voters can choose to have any election or campaign mail sent to an alternative address. A mailing address does not need to be within the same districts as the residence address.

Response Code Sets – A grouping of ID codes that are used to be displayed on a printed list. A response code is circled to reflect the contact (or lack of) between a campaign and a voter. For example, a walk list may use the following response codes: Y U N MV LS VTD.

Returned Ballots – Absentee ballots that are completed and returned to the ROV offices. Identifying voters who have already cast their ballots allows the campaigns to eliminate them from future selects.

ROV – Registrar of Voters.

Run-Off election – The second election in a two round system (also known as the second ballot) is used to elect a single winner from more that two candidates. Under runoff voting, the voter normally casts a single vote for her or his favourite candidate. If no candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round of votes, then all candidates, except the two with the most votes, are eliminated, and a second round of voting occurs.

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Scan Barcoded Lists Page (Online Campaign Center) – A page that facilitates the scanning of bar coded information found on walk lists, phone lists, AV applications.

Scanned by Field (Online Campaign Center) – The name of the individual who is scanning data in a bar code scanning session.

Secondary ID – An Alternative voter ID provided on ROV files, but used infrequently by some organization. This field is rarely required.

Select Builder (Online Campaign Center) – The part of the program that facilitates the construction of queries that set specific parameters based on the various data fields for targeting voters.

Select By – Address (Online Campaign Center) – This option incorporates all voters who live with a qualifying voter from a criteria into a select.

Select By – Voters(Online Campaign Center) – This option limits a criteria to just the qualifying voters.

Selects – A query based on one or more criterion. Selects are then used to generate lists, files, count reports.

Semi-Closed Primary – Like in closed primaries, registered Republicans and Democrats can vote only in their own party’s primary. However, semi-closed systems allow unaffiliated voters to participate as well. Unaffiliated, or Primary Qualified DTS, voter may either make their choice of party primary by requesting the appropriate ballot.

Session Report (Online Campaign Center) – A report that is generated after completing the scanning of a batch of bar coded reports. It will display the count of each ID recorded.

Show All Selected (Online Campaign Center) – This feature allows a user to view the voter lookup results page for multiple voters. The benefit is to not have to perform individual search for voters that can be grouped.

Source Data (Online Campaign Center) – The data file used for importing data into the program

Support Status Field (Online Campaign Center) – This ield contains every ID Code from every flag recorded for a voter. The purpose of this flag is to create a single field that contains all support information derived from many different flags. A support Flag will display changes in support as well as how many times a voter has been contacted. Not every flag value will get appended to the Support Flag. Users must check the Support Flag box when creating a flag. Only the ID codes “Y”, “N”, and “U” get appended to the Support Flag.

Support Update (Online Campaign Center) – This page provides a quick count of recorded Ids by a campaign.

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Template – Bar Code Scanning – This printed page contains the necessary ID codes in a bar code font that will allow users to record via scanning.

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Unmatched Records (Online Campaign Center) – Records that were not matched during the import file procedure.

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Vote History – Data that shows exactly which elections an individual cast ballots and whether they voted absentee or at the polls.

Voter Lookup (Online Campaign Center) – A page that displays all voter data for a specific individual.

Voter Surveys (Online Campaign Center) – A list or file that is used for a polling survey. Multiple questions are usually asked and recorded.

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Walk List – A printed list grouped by consolidated precinct (without the sub) and sorted by odd/even side of the street, street name, and street number. This list is intended to help people efficiently walk from house to house.

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