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Republican Party's Technology Revival Hopes Hinge On Data and Data Analysis

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, February 7 2013

Republicans using GOP Data Center, the RNC's centralized voter database, logged about 80.5 million voter contacts during the 2012 election, mostly in battleground states. That includes 14.5 million door-knocks in battleground states and another 900,000 in highly competitive races outside of the presidential battleground, according to Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer.
The numbers confirm what Republicans already know: They were whalloped in 2012. In the Obama campaign's "Legacy Report," campaign officials claim volunteers contacted voters nearly twice as often as their Republican counterparts did — about 150 million times. (That number includes volunteer recruitment and voter turnout attempts.) Read More

How Not to Roll Out Electronic Voting In Your State

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, November 6 2012

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno announced over the weekend that people displaced by Hurricane Sandy and unable to vote in their home districts should be considered "overseas voters" for the purposes of the election, allowing them to email or fax in a ballot application through a procedure based on one laid out by the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

But the procedure New Jersey elections officials were using was not designed to process such a volume of ballots, and the procedure they put in place was, by all accounts, barely designed at all. Halfway through election day, it appears that the state's effort to use technology to help people vote might do more harm than good.

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How One Group is Training Tech-Savvy Conservatives

BY Matt Taylor | Tuesday, October 9 2012

Morton Blackwell addresses students at the Leadership Institute earlier this year. Photo: Courtesy Leadership Institute

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Immediately after Ted Cruz's Republican primary victory in Texas, effectively guaranteeing him a U.S. Senate seat, his consultants opened up about many of the campaign's digital highlights. But they didn't reveal that some of the tactics came from a wellspring that many Republican candidates and operatives share: The Leadership Institute, known most recently for its role in shaping the early career of conservative provocateur James O'Keefe. Read More

Hardly Anyone Using Campaign Apps, Survey Says

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 9 2012

To reach registered voters on their mobile phones this year, campaigns stand a better chance by recruiting supporters to talk to their peers on social networks, according to new survey data.

While 88 percent of registered voters own some sort of cell phone, according to a survey released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, just five percent have signed up to receive text messages from a campaign or related group, and only eight percent have used an app from a candidate.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of smartphone-wielding voters have used their phone to read comments about the campaign on social networking sites.

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Why Samuel L. Jackson is Telling Obama Supporters to "Wake the F**k Up"

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, September 27 2012

JCER / YouTube

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: After collaborating to produce an audiobook of the not-workplace-appropriate bedtime story for children, "Go the F**ck to Sleep," author Adam Mansbach and noted provider of family-friendly entertainment Samuel L. Jackson have produced a video in support of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

It's called "Wake the F**ck Up." Yahoo! had exclusive access to a safe-for-work version for a few hours this morning. Here's why the video got made and its creators' strategy for viral success.

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Money in Politics Never Looked So Pretty

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, September 19 2012

Net Goldman Sachs donations as an organization.

Big-money political donors often give to members of both parties, while small donors are more consistently partisan, according to new visualizations of campaign finance data.

Campaign-finance observers have known this for a while, but there's something more compelling about ... well, about seeing it. And the kind of person who has known for years about who gives and why is not the kind of person this project is trying to reach.

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At Republican National Convention, Romney's Digital Director Hints At New App

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 30 2012

On a public Google Hangout Thursday afternoon, Mitt Romney's digital director, Zac Moffatt, announced that the campaign will soon roll out an event app that will handle event ticketing and provide a "social" component by pulling in Twitter and Facebook posts during a several-hour period around events. The upcoming app is not the only thing Team Romney has been up to. Over the weekend, the campaign rolled out "Victory Wallets," an analog to the one-click donations feature Barack Obama's campaign and the software firm Blue State Digital released earlier this year. Read More

The Ultimate AMA: Barack Obama To Do Q&A With Reddit Today

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 29 2012

Barack Obama's verification photo, proving that he's involved in an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit Wednesday.

Reddit users will get to "ask anything" of the leader of the free world this afternoon, according to an announcement on the site. Read More

From Romney and Obama Campaigns, Duelling Ads on the Tampa Bay Times Website

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, August 28 2012

As the Republican National Convention is now officially going forward in Tampa, both sides are making an effort to reach out to online readers of the local media outlets through ads — in some cases at the same time. The screenshot above of the Tampa Bay Times, also viewable to readers outside the Florida area, features a large, expandable, animated Obama ad at the top. In that ad, Romney's "qualifications" are checked off: "My tax returns: hidden. My companies: outsourced jobs. My state: 47th in job creation."

And on the bottom of the screen is an ad from the Republican National Committee hailing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as "America's Comeback Team" and promoting the hashtag #GOP2012.

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How a Romney Gaffe that Wasn't Went Viral on the Web

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, August 20 2012

"I never tried to pretend that the original 'RMoney' image was real, and acknowledged that it was faked shortly after I posted it," said Dave Allsopp, co-founder of the liberal site Democratic Underground. "But I understand that since then people have been confused as to whether it is real or not. As I said, that's probably the main reason why it has spread so far."

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Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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