The BERN app is a way to talk to people you know and people you don’t know about the election, and to record the data from your conversations. Whether the person you meet is a Bernie supporter or not, we want to have open, honest, and thorough conversations with our friends, family, and neighbors about the 2020 election, and the issues they care about the most.
Q: Where does this data come from?
The data for matching people to the voter file is from publicly-available voter data from state Secretary of State’s offices. However, the BERN app only gives users access to a very limited amount of that publicly available data. To use the app, you must input a voter’s first and last name, and either their city and state or zip code. The only information that BERN gives a user that the user does not supply on their own is age. We include age so that you can make sure you’re matching the correct voter.
Q: I’m concerned about how you’re using data.
Talking to voters and keeping track of those conversations to be able to follow up and turn supporters out to vote has long been standard practice for political campaigns. For decades, campaigns have asked volunteers to go out and talk to voters using voter lists. In fact, most campaigns give volunteers access to voter lists and searchable voter databases that include home address, date of birth, phone number, voting history, and other information. If you’ve ever knocked on doors with a campaign using an app like MiniVAN, you probably have encountered a similar list with similar information.
Far from giving volunteers to more data than usual, our tool gives volunteers far less access to data than standard campaign tools. You must search for one voter at a time, you must already know the voter’s first and last name and either city and state or zip code, and after you find a voter are only given first and last name, age, and city and state. The only information that you are given that you may not know already is the voter’s age. Once you submit information about a voter (like their voting preferences, what issues are important to them, and whether they are a student or union member) only the campaign has access to that information. Other users of the BERN app will not be able to see the responses that you record using the app.
Additionally, BERN does not give out voters’ contact information. There is no way to use the BERN app to contact voters who do not wish to be contacted.
Q: What happens to information that I enter in the BERN app? Does it edit my voter registration? Who has access to the responses I record?
Entering information into the BERN app about a voter does not edit anyone's official voter information. It just sends information about that voter to the Bernie campaign, so that we know who is supporting Bernie and can make sure they’re registered to vote and that they turn out to vote. No other BERN users will have access to the responses that you record.
Q: Will you add my friends to the Bernie email list if I enter them in the BERN app?
No. Currently we do not even ask for contact info in friend to friend mode. We are relying on you—the person who knows the voter—to follow up with them. In community canvass mode, we give you the option to ask a voter for their contact information if they would like to get updates from the campaign, but that is optional.
You can use the BERN App at home in your pajamas, at your local farmer’s market, on a street corner, or at your friend’s birthday party. The real question is: where can’t you use it?
Q: Who can use the BERN App?
As long as you are following the volunteer principles of the campaign and the terms and conditions of BERN, anyone can use the app!
Q: I don’t have a phone — can I still use the app?
YES! BERN is a web-based application, meaning there is nothing to download on your mobile device. You can use BERN on any internet-enabled device like a computer, tablet, or phone.
Q: Is this an online or native (downloadable) app?
This is an online-only application at this time.
Q: What is the difference between Community Canvass mode and Friend to Friend mode?
Community Canvass mode is intended for use when you meet someone for the first time and talk to them about Bernie. You can schedule a Community Canvass event ahead of time to talk to voters with friends, or you can just talk to people around you! For example, if you go to the park and someone compliments you on your awesome Bernie shirt, you can pull out your phone, open the app, and pull up Community Canvass mode to get their name and gather data from the conversation you have with them.
Friend to Friend mode is for talking to people we know: our friends, family, or neighbors. When we are friend-to-friend canvassing, we are using the BERN app to record information about 1) who we know and 2) how they feel about Bernie and the issues at stake in this election. Just like we record information on voters through community canvassing door-to-door canvassing, we can record information on the preferences of individual voters who we personally know.
Community Canvass Questions:
What is community canvassing?
Community canvassing is simple: it’s going up to people in a public place, talking to them about the election and the Bernie Sanders campaign, and asking them to fill out information about their voting preferences in the app. You can canvass on the bus, on a street corner, at a farmer’s market, or outside of a grocery store. You can host a canvass through the official Bernie events map, or you can canvass people around you every day!
When and where can I canvass my community?
You can canvass wherever you are: on the bus, on a street corner, at a farmer’s market, or outside of a grocery store. Read this guide for more info.
Where can I find a community canvass event near me?
To join other Bernie supporters for a community canvass, you can go to map.berniesanders.com
I had a problem while canvassing, who should I talk to?
You can email [email protected] with any questions, or you can utilize the livechat feature within the app to reach out with any technical issues you’ve had. If there has been an emergency while canvassing, call 911.
What are some tips for staying safe while canvassing?
Dress for the weather
Bring snacks and water
If you’re worried about being safe while canvassing, canvass with a friend!
If you are asked to leave private property, you should leave immediately.
You are protected by the 1st amendment when canvassing in a public place.
Don’t argue or debate.
End any conversations that make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
Remove yourself from a situation where you feel unsafe.
If there has been an emergency, call 911
Friend to Friend Canvass Questions:
What is friend to friend canvassing?
Friend-to-friend canvassing means talking to people we know – our friends, family, coworkers, classmates, neighbors, congregation members, fellow union members – about the 2020 election.
When we are friend-to-friend canvassing, we are using the BERN app to record information about 1) who we know and 2) how they feel about Bernie and the issues at stake in this election.
Just like we learn about the preferences of voters through community canvassing or door-to-door canvassing, we can learn about the preferences of individual voters who we personally know through friend-to-friend canvassing.
What if I don’t know which candidate my friend is supporting? Can I still add them to my contact list in the BERN App?
Yes! The first step to friend to friend canvassing is building out your contact list in the BERN App, regardless of if you know the candidate preferences of each of your contacts. You have the option to indicate if the person is supporting Bernie, but you can leave that blank if you aren’t sure or don’t know.
Our immediate goal is to add as many people as we can to our personal contact lists in the BERN App. Over the coming weeks and months, the campaign will provide resources for you to have productive and persuasive conversations with people you know.
Which people can I add to my contact list the BERN app?
We use the word “friend” very broadly: You can add anyone you have met and known in your life to the app. We encourage you to prioritize people who you are willing to talk to about Bernie and the election.
Can I add non-voters and people who are not eligible to vote to my contact list?
Yes! This election matters to everyone, including those who are not eligible to vote.
How do I know who I have added to my contact list in the BERN app?
When you click “Save” after completing the friend to friend canvass form for someone you know, that person is added to your contact list in the app. You can see how many people and who you have added to your contact list in the “My Profile” section of the app.
I need HELP with the app! What should I do?
Livechat is available from 9am - 11pm ET in the app. If you read through this FAQ document and still don’t have an answer to your question about using the app, click the ? in the bottom corner of the app to be able to ask a real volunteer-app-expert a question.
Livechat should only be used for questions about the app, not questions about policy or feedback.
I can’t match the person I’m looking up in the voter file. Why is that?
If you can’t match the person you’re looking up, don’t worry! Sometimes, the data hasn’t quite caught up with the voter if the voter has moved, changed their name, or something similar that could throw off our data lookup.
If you encounter someone you can’t find in the app, simply add their information without matching them. We will look into why we couldn’t find them in the app and work to make our system even better.