With approximately 745,000 residents, Virginia’s fifth congressional district covers all or part of Greene, Campbell, Bedford, Albemarle, Nelson, Fluvanna, Buckingham, Cumberland, Appomattox, Prince Edward, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Franklin, Henry, Pittsylvania, Halifax, Mecklenburg, Brunswick, Fauquier, Rappahannock and Madison Counties, as well as the independent cities of Bedford, Charlottesville (main site of the University of Virginia) and Danville, making it Virginia’s largest district with an area of 10,181.03 square miles, larger than New Jersey and Vermont.

Virginia State Board of Elections Streamlines Voter Registration

Virginia Department of Elections

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2016

For More Information:
Martin Mash 804.864.8941

RICHMOND, VA – On April 28, 2016, the State Board of Elections (SBE) voted to adopt a new Virginia Voter Registration Application and amend existing regulations related to processing these forms. The new form and regulations make it easier for eligible Virginians to register to vote and ensure qualified military members and their families are notified of their special voter registration rights in Virginia.

Revisions to the form and regulations are in response to months of public comments and recent statutory changes. Since May 2015, the Department has gathered feedback on form revisions from members of the public, registered voters, nonprofit organizations, legislators, and election officials. After taking these comments into account, and incorporating recommendations from usability experts and field tests of the form by Virginia voters, the Department presented a more voter friendly form and regulations that provide clearer processing instructions to general registrars. Further the new form and regulations ensure that qualified military members and their families are able to take advantage of the special status granted by the legislature allowing them to register to vote up to and including Election Day. Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortés said, “I am pleased that the State Board has taken action to adopt a new voter registration form that makes it easier for eligible Virginians to vote.”

The changes will also be incorporated in the Department’s Citizen Portal. The Citizen Portal is a quick and easy online voter registration tool for Virginia voters to submit their registration application without concern for delays. In addition to registering to vote, Virginians may visit the Citizen Portal to update their voter registration information, locate their polling place, or request an absentee ballot. The Department’s Citizen Portal is available at http://elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/index.html.

Dittmar Campaign Fundraising Surpasses Quarter Million Mark

Jane Dittmar for Congress


Charlottesville, Virginia (April 14, 2016) – Jane Dittmar’s congressional campaign today announced that 1st quarter fundraising totals surpassed the quarter-million mark. With over 600 individual donors, contributions ranged from $5 to $5,400.

“Thank you, thank you to every single one of our contributors who has supported this campaign,” Dittmar said. “This fundraising number is a reflection of the immense support that our campaign and our message have received since our September launch. We have been fortunate enough to work with incredible Democratic committees, community leaders, and others who have helped us get the word out. We look forward to continuing to listen to the people of the 5th as we continue our work.”

The campaign continues to reach district residents through meet & greet events, fundraisers, committee meetings, and community events. Dittmar recently spoke at the Rappahannock Democrats’ Blue State Bluegrass Brunch and the campaign has events planned in Farmville, Chatham, and Henry County in the coming weeks. The campaign has been holding round table advisory meetings to gather information on important topics such as veterans’ affairs, the environment, citizen safety, foreign policy, healthcare, and more.

Dittmar will work to improve the economic infrastructure in the district so that everyone in the 5th can have the opportunity to build a strong future for themselves and their families. “I’m running for Congress because I believe that everyone in our district deserves to be connected to opportunity,” Dittmar said. “Equal opportunity for success starts with a good education and continues with a good job to provide for your family.”

Dittmar plans to put her mediation skills to work in Washington to bring together different opinions to find solutions to the challenges that we face here in our district, in Virginia, and as a nation. Dittmar intends to work with local, state, and federal governments in order to connect Virginia with the new economy by harnessing the funding and resources that are already available in Washington. Dittmar will be formally nominated as the Democratic candidate at the 5th District Convention on May 7th.

How ‘ghost corporations’ are funding the 2016 election

Lawmakers gather along with lobbying groups for a press conference in 2014 to discuss a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Lawmakers gather along with lobbying groups for a press conference in 2014 to discuss a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Advocates for stronger campaign-finance enforcement fear there will be even more pop-up limited liability corporations (LLCs) funneling money into independent groups, making it difficult to discern the identities of wealthy players seeking to influence this year’s presidential and congressional contests.

The 2016 campaign has already seen the highest rate of corporate donations since the Supreme Court unleashed such spending with its 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision.

One out of every eight dollars collected by super PACs this election cycle have come from corporate coffers, including millions flowing from opaque and hard-to-trace entities, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance filings.

Why Is It So Hard to Vote in America?

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark piece of legislation designed to protect a principle of American democracy: equality at the ballot box. But in some states, access to voting is becoming less and less equal. In the aftermath of a controversial 2013 Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to draft their own voting laws, voter ID requirements have become increasingly common across the country. Critics of these laws say that millions of Americans who don’t have the necessary identification—a disproportionate number of whom are low-income, racial minorities—now face excessive barriers to voting.

The Atlantic’s Vann R. Newkirk II breaks down what these laws look like across the country and what they might say about the state of American democracy.

Authors: Greyson Korhonen, Catherine Green

Why use Votebuilder?

Virginia VoteBuilder
From an article by the Vermont Democratic Party
What is Votebuilder?

Votebuilder is an online database containing two sections. “My Voters” which contains information about every registered voter in the state and “My Campaign” which allows political parties and candidate campaigns to track and manage their volunteers. Votebuilder is exclusive to Democratic organizations and is used by every State Democratic Party and Democratic candidates ranging from Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign to local races. This standardization across states and campaigns has given Democrats an enormous advantage over other political parties for several reasons: existence of a large user base familiar with VoteBuilder; data is no longer kept in silos walled off, not easily accessible to others; since Votebuilder went national in 2007 Democratic Parties and campaigns have been putting data into the system regarding voter’s candidate preferences; constituency issue data is stored which has helped create finely tuned models of political preferences and voting behaviors. Most importantly, Votebuilder cuts down on the time a candidate committee would have to spend acquiring data allowing them to spend precious time on other campaign activities.

If you’re located in the 5th, we have a tech team that is available to conduct on-site, hands-on VoteBuilder training at your Campaign or Committee’s location. Please contact us for more information.

Why use Votebuilder?

Why should you use Votebuilder instead of a paper list or a locally created database?

Votebuilder contains voting history information for Virginia’s General, Primary,
Presidential Primary, and Municipal elections in one easy to search place.

Years of collecting Survey Responses from voter contact have helped create the
“Likely Party Model” contained in Votebuilder which classifies Virginia voters as a
Republican, Democrat, or Independent. There is no other database available in Virginia that makes this classification as accurate as Votebuilder.

Votebuilder contains data enhancements such as additional phone numbers,
address corrections, and certain consumer information that is not available from the Virginia Dept. of Elections or local lists.

Votebuilder organizes your data in a secure place that can be accessed anywhere
as long as you have an internet connection.

Votebuilder allows you to save the lists you create and share them with other uses

Votebuilder is really two databases in one. These different sections are called MyVoters and MyCampaign and contain different information and have different purposes. It is important to use the correct part of Votebuilder for the task at hand. You can easily tell which part of Votebuilder you are in by looking at the tabs at the top of the page. If you are in MyVoters the tab selected will be dark blue. If you are in MyCampaign the tab will be orange.

My Voters

MyVoters keeps track of all the registered voters in the state and includes a wealth of information gathered from a variety of sources on each individual voter. This information includes:

Contact information: Phone numbers, physical and mailing addresses
Geographic Information: Town, County, Legislative Districts, Wards
Demographic Information: Age, Sex, Race, and Ethnicity
Voting History: For General, Primary, Presidential Primary, and Municipal Elections
User Added Data: Survey Question responses, Activist Codes, Contact History

The MyVoters side of VAN is the most commonly used part of Votebuilder. It is where campaigns create lists for phone, walk mailing programs as well as store the responses they receive from their voter contact efforts. MyVoters is also where you will find the contact information for Town, County, and State Committees, Activist Codes for constituency issues, information on absentee ballot requests, and polling place information of individual voters.

My Campaign

MyCampaign is the volunteer management side of Votebuilder. A Committee’s
MyCampaign database by default starts with zero people in it, and as volunteers and activists are recruited they are added to the database. Many of the tools such as list creation and reports available to you in MyVoters are also available to you in MyCampaign. Thus, when you learn one side you will be familiar with the other. An important distinction between MyCampaign and MyVoters is that records located in MyCampaign do not need to be registered voters in the state since you may have volunteers under the age of 18 or from out of state. MyCampaign allows the user to do the following:

Store volunteer and local activist contact information.
Create lists of volunteers.
Keep track of preferred volunteer activities.
Use a built in calendar to track volunteers scheduled for canvasses, phone banks, etc.

MyCampaign is typical used by campaigns with large volunteer operations or local party groups who need to track volunteers and activists over long periods of time. Every Committee has their own MyCampaign database which cannot be viewed by other committees.