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They know if you’ve voted or not, and that’s not all

Secretary of State

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In this era of mail-in balloting, political campaigns have become a bit like Santa Claus: He may know if you’ve been bad or good. But, they know whether you’ve voted yet or not - and who you’re likely to support.

At Thurston County Democratic Party headquarters, volunteers work the phones calling likely voters.

Phone Bank Volunteer: “Well I also wanted to remind you to vote for other Democrats like Jay Inslee for governor.”

There’s nothing new about political phone banks. But what is different is just how sophisticated a profile these campaigns now have on you the voter. And they even know when you cast your ballot.

Randy Pepple manages Republican Rob McKenna’s campaign for governor. Pepple explains that each day leading up to the election, county auditors release a list of voters who've returned their ballots.

“And so what we do is take those lists and compare them to the voter lists that we have compiled,” Pepple said.

This helps campaigns know who to call and who not to call. But it’s even more sophisticated than that. Campaigns now use marketing and demographic data to identify subsets of voters and target them with last-minute persuasion messages.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.