Romney's Expensive Computer Get-Out-The-Vote Effort Explodes Miserably, Like Rest Of Romney Campaign


You can find just about anywhere on the Internet right now important stories about how Team Obama used a bunch of high-tech gee-whiz computer business to analyze huge amounts of data on voters and contributors and get them out to the polls, both in 2008 and 2012. Well, the Republican establishment wasn't about to take that lying down! No, they designed their own high-tech thingie called "Project ORCA," which did not work, just like all the other aspects of the Romney campaign that didn't work on election day. Let's get the secret inside scoop!

John Ekdahl is a blogger over at the conservative Ace of Spades, and is also a web developer guy, and seems reasonably clear-eyed about technology and organizational stuff, so you should go and enjoy his blow-by-blow of everything that went wrong with Project ORCA on election day. Project ORCA was basically a coordinating system for volunteer poll watchers, and before you liberals get yer panties all knotted up, by "poll watchers" we mean not people trying to suppress the vote, but people who hang out at the polls trying to make sure everyone in the campaign's database who said they'd vote actually voted, and reporting back if they didn't, so the campaign can call them to get them to come out. The Obama campaign did this very well, this year and in '08, so naturally the Romney people wanted to replicate it. Turns out they ... didn't? Here's a summary of Ekdahl's gripes:

  • There were nightly conference calls that were supposed to be for "training" but were really more for pep talks, at which Ekdahl's legit concerns about the system were ignored.
  • The ORCA "phone app" was actually just a mobile-optimized web page, which confused everybody.
  • Everyone got "instruction packets" emailed to them the night before the election. These were 60-page PDFs they were expected to print out.
  • In order to be an official poll watcher, you need to get a certificate from the campaign, or else you'll be shooed away from the polling place. Volunteers were supposed to go get this from a local campaign HQ, but nobody was told that in advance or in the packet.
  • Attempts to call anybody to resolve these problems were routed directly to voicemail, obviously.

Ekdahl also includes this delicious screenshot from the packet, and speculates that this is where the "pick up your fucking certificate" checkbox should have been. But at least everyone had chairs! Did you make sure to bring a chair, to sit in?

Brietbart also has a legitimately great and mean article with a fantastic headline about this debacle, which features extra details, like the fact that volunteers were all given the wrong PIN for the ORCA app, and then the system that was supposed to reset their PINs didn't work, so somebody did it manually, and then their PINs still didn't work.

If you want some real fun (and we assume you do), check out this chipper, optimistic video from PBS in which a Romney staffer explains how great Project ORCA is going to be, on November 5.

Anyway, this seems like it was quite the fuckup! The fact that the Romney campaign spent more than $100 million on services from political consulting firms close to his senior staff -- services that we imagine were not vetted through a rigorous contracting process -- couldn't have anything to do with this and other failures, could it? Thank goodness the Republicans nominated a savvy businessman with so much private sector management experience to run this thing. Just imagine how badly it would've gone under the direction of some hippie community organizer! [Ace of Spades/Breitbart]

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Well, goddamn it, a wonderful person we'd never heard of until last night is dead. Lyra McKee was 29, an investigative journalist who specialized in looking at the legacy of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. She was murdered by someone shooting at police during rioting in Derry, or perhaps Londonderry, depending on who you want to piss off by using either name for the city. The rioting broke out after police "started carrying out searches in the area because of concerns that militant republicans were storing firearms and explosives" in advance of attacks planned to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Police are blaming the violence and McKee's death on the "New Irish Republican Army," a radical republican group formed a few years ago from several smaller groups. Despite the name, the group has no ties to the old Provisional Irish Republican Army, which renounced violence and disarmed in 2005 following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which was supposed to have brought peace to Northern Ireland, and kind of did, at least much of the time.

McKee is being remembered by colleagues and readers as a promising journalist who was expected to go far. A year ago, McKee signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber; the first of the books, The Lost Boys, an investigation of eight young men who disappeared in Belfast during the Troubles in the '60s and '70s, will be published next year. A 2016 Forbes profile said "McKee's passion is to dig into topics that others don't care about." For instance, CNN reports, McKee spent five years investigating a story about the only rape crisis center in Northern Ireland and its long struggle to regain funding after the government eliminated it.

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