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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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Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

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