Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Obama for America Offers Volunteers "Trip Planner," A Craigslist for the Campaign

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, September 10 2012

With Election Day less than two months away, both Republicans and Democrats are more focused than ever on having their volunteers hit the road in battleground states to knock on doors, register voters, and to talk to them about why they should vote for their presidential candidate.

Both sides are keen to show that their campaigns have momentum by publicizing the numbers.

President Barack Obama's re-election campaign let the world know on Twitter yesterday that supporters held almost 8,000 grassroots events this weekend. Staff also highlighted their "Weekend of Action," on the campaigns' social media accounts and on the campaign blog. On Twitter, GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's staff recently boasted that the Republican's volunteers have contacted more than 20 million voters this campaign cycle.

Factoring in transportation costs and accommodations, though, volunteering in states away from home base can be expensive. So the Obama campaign has created an internal "Craigslist" for its volunteers. Simply called Trip Planner, it's a bulletin board that enables volunteers to both post available rides and accommodations, as well as find them.

A search for a Friday afternoon ride from San Francisco to Reno, a city in the battleground state of Nevada, yielded a potential ride from the town of Fairfax in Marin County. The listing, which didn't give the name of the driver, simply provided the planned departure times at each end of the trip, told me that the car is a sedan, the driver a woman, and that no children, pets or smoking would be allowed.

The driver also disclosed that there wouldn't be any air-conditioning or heat during the trip.

"Sorry, I have a sound sensitivity," they wrote in the "special instructions" section of the form.

As a potential applicant for a spot in the car, I had to provide my name, address, phone number, e-mail and reason I'm taking the trip. I also had to sign a waiver that said resolved the Obama campaign of any responsibilities should anything untoward happen during the trip. The legal disclaimer tells me that the campaign does not conduct any screening, so effectively if the driver is an ax murderer, it's a risk that I must understand that I am taking.

Volunteers appear to be actively using the tool. A previous search for rides just this past weekend for trips to Nevada yielded several offers for rides from Berkeley. And a search for accommodations in Reno this upcoming week-end turned up 18 listings for rooms in and around the city.

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Tracking

Questions about whether Whisper is secretly tracking its users' secrets; the FBI's continued push against the new wave of encrypted phones; community service, high-tech-mogul-style; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Hosts

Airbnb in hot water in NYC; Knight Prototype Fund backs some civic tech projects; pondering Google's position on net neutrality; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Africa Calling

How some techies are starting to respond to the Ebola crisis; everything you need to know about GamerGate; how Twitter may upset the 2015 UK elections; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Burrowing

How Democratic candidates down-ballot are getting access to the same voter targeting tools used by larger campaigns; Microsoft Bing rolls out its election prediction program; Edward Snowden's first emails to Laura Poitras; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Attending

New revelations from Laura Poitras' film Citizen Four; how India's new real-time online attendance system for government officials works; tech critic Evgeny Morozov in hot water; and much, much more. GO

More