After numerous articles criticized the Romney campaign’s “Orca” project as an IT meltdown, the digital director of the campaign pushed back and said that the system mostly succeeded in recording votes and irregularities.
Orca was supposed to be the Romney team’s “killer app” on election day. Ideally, it was supposed to help 37,000 die-hard volunteers in swing states keep tabs on polling places, report voting trends on the ground, and let the campaign know of any funny businesses happened at any polling sites. These volunteers would use a mobile app to help them keep in touch with 800 volunteers back at the Romney HQ in Boston. If everything worked according to plan, the campaign would have actionable information about which counties to target in the middle of election day.
“This has never been done before — it’s kind of a brand new model,” Romney communications director Gail Gitcho told PBS on Nov. 5. “The Obama campaign likes to brag about their ground operation but it’s nothing compared to this.”
But numerous Orca volunteers complained that their passwords didn’t work, that they didn’t know to use the “https://” prefix to access the Orca site, and that the Orca site crashed often throughout the day. This indicates Orca wasn’t tested under real-world conditions before election day, a serious flaw in what was supposed to be a “state-of-the-art” system.
However, Romney digital director Zac Moffatt said Orca mostly succeeded in its aims. He said that 14.2 million voters and 5,397 polling irregularities were recorded on the system. He noted that data were reported from 91 percent of the counties where volunteers were stationed.
“I understand the frustrations over interruptions with so many people engaged,” Moffatt told the Washington Post. “But I have real numbers. … I’m very surprised, as digital guy, about the pushback people are getting. This didn’t materially change the course of the election.”
Regardless of Moffatt’s assessment that Orca mostly worked, it clearly didn’t have enough of an effect on the final turnout on election day to make it a close race.
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