Chapter One.  The early days:

In 2001, Steven Adler was asked by savvy Democrat insider and computer programmer, Mark Sullivan, to help design and build a brand-new, cutting-edge, online voter database for the Democratic State Party of  Iowa.  Sullivan was on the Iowa team to find new technology for the State Party, and was not pleased with anything available.  Adler had extensive experience with grass roots, Voter Databases since the late eighties and also had experience designing large scale, enterprise class, on-line databases.  Adler said, “we can beat any of these other silly systems – please ask your people to hold off on making a decision until we can get them a proposal.”.  Soon after, Sullivan and Adler built the first version of their new system in Adler’s basement and they named it Voter Activation Network. It was an instant hit among the Iowa State Party and the candidates that used it. It broke all of the rules of what political software was thought to be up to that time. VAN was simple and fun to use, fast, open, and constantly pushed the envelope of election technology and voter databases. What’s more, the Iowa Democratic state party made more than $1 million the first year alone from revenues earned by the new technology.  VAN quickly grew, and Adler and his hand picked team of brilliant, socially awkward tech monsters constantly improved it. Led by Adler’s technology and Sullivan’s political savvy, this online system offered a number of the first and best features in the industry, from early, web based bar coded walking lists, to seamless Palm Pilot integration.  Adler even developed a real time, SmartPhone based canvassing tool in 2002, when virtually nobody had these devices, and no one could afford their data service.  Still, this would lay the early foundation of rVotes’ current, SmartVotes system, ten years later.  The VAN system allowed any candidate and their volunteers within the Party to participate in and contribute to the campaigning process. What’s more, the system created a single, state wide, unified voter database among every like minded campaign and organization within the entire state.

2004 photo of VAN Founders Steve Adler (left) & Mark Sullivan (right) overseeing a massive PalmPilot canvassing effort in Nevada. Later that year, VAN would have 10,000 PalmPilots in 17 states, knocking on 1,000,000 doors a day.

After just a few short years, VAN was the campaign system used in most of the Democratic State Parties in the US. Not long after that, the DNC, who were trying to promote their own voter contact system, also realized they couldn’t build a system better than VAN. The DNC announced in 2007 that they were officially switching over to the VAN system for ALL party campaigning across the United States. The VAN system, rebranded as “VoteBuilder,” was now the single, unifying technology used against all the Republicans in all 50 states (and now, several countries).

Now called NGP VAN, this technology proved it was, indeed, an enterprise-class unified database for the entire nation. NGP-VAN continues to grow, still based on the sound principles and design originally developed by Adler and Sullivan back in 2001.

You may have heard about the Democrat’s superior voter database, and their superior ground game, this is the system they are talking about.  With over 1,000,000 users across the US and the world,  NGP VAN is now the largest political software company in history.

Since 2001, dozens of  well endorsed, multimillion dollar funded efforts to build a competitor to this technology have failed miserably.  In fact, nothing has ever come close.  The most recent disaster was the Right’s $40 million Orca GOTV system.  This is the one that crashed and burned on election day. 


So you’re saying rVotes is pretty much the Democrat’s infamous, unstoppable, unified ground game technology?

Well, yes, pretty much -  only improved for Conservative use.   Here is a side by side comparison of the 2012 version of VoteBuilder next to the 2012 version of rVotes.  

Below, is a 1/2 hour news show, “Digital Age“, made shortly after the 2008 election.  It was made three years after Adler left, VAN, and interviews VAN’s other co-founder, Mark Sullivan. The system is credited as being “Obama’s Secret Weapon.”

OK, but what about rVotes?

In 2005, Steve Adler sold his half of VAN, relinquished all royalties and business ties to his former company, but negotiated retaining ownership of the codebase he had developed.  The only catch was that he had to wait five years before he could do anything public with it.  Discouraged with the huge imbalance between Democratic and Republican campaign technology, Adler saw an opportunity to help the Republicans regain the advantage in the “trenches,”  Adler continued to work in technology, and quietly continued improvements and development of his “codebase” during those five years. He waited until his non-compete clause expired and on January 1, 2010, he rolled out his newest creation: rVotes.

As of January, 2010, rVotes, the improved system, based on the proven core system of the Democrats’ immensely successful VoteBuilder, is now available for Republicans and their allies.

rVotes, the best campaign technology available, is here to help rebuild the Party. How can we help you?