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 today >

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.

GO

tuesday >

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.

GO

monday >

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

More