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I have seen evidence, from a number of polls, that "outsourcing" is THE issue this cycle. It can move numbers like nothing else, not even Iraq. I've seen it in polls for the House, for the Senate, for generic "Democratic Party".

So it is with much glee that I present the following story, courtesy of that liberal bastion -- PC World:

When the Republican Party clinched close gubernatorial races in Mississippi and Kentucky in 2003, it relied heavily on its Voter Vault database to get people to the voting booths. Though party officials are tight-lipped about what's inside the Vault, they've acknowledged it contains records on an estimated 168 million voters.

PC World has recently learned that the major development work on the Voter Vault was done in India. Though the RNC began work on a national database of voters in the mid-1990s, the Voter Vault wasn't ready to be put into the field until the 2002 elections. Two years prior to the 2002 elections, the RNC hired Advanced Custom Software (ACS) of Seattle to build a Web-based database to help campaign workers target likely Republican voters. According to information posted on, an online directory of outsourcing firms, ACS subcontracted development of the database to Compulink Systems of Maharashtra, India.

The Democratic Party, which has its Demzilla database, did all its work on the good ol' U S of A.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 12:07 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Shame (none)
    I love how we have to rely on a computer magazine to do the serious investigative journalism. Yeesh. Adam Nagourney can never be shamed.

    Swing State Project - Analyzing the 2004 battleground states.

    by David Nir on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 12:05:47 PM PDT

  •  But which is better? (none)
    I hate to be an ends-justify-the-means guy, but that is mostly what it boils down to.
  •  Collected info on voters and sent it overseas (4.00)

    That combination makes for a good story:

    GOP secretly collects information on a 170 million voters and sent it to foreigners for processing.

    WHAT info has the GOP collected on YOU?
    WHO in India and elsewhere had access to that info?

    Cue scary music.

    Really, this should be forwarded to a columnists at a lot of small newspapers. A few of them might throw it in.

    •  Recent Outsourcing History (none)

      Especially since there's several barely-covered-up cases in recent history of companies causing major problems with just this sort of behavior. In a couple of cases, medical contractors apparently slipped their outsourcing contractors "test data" under the table and wound up getting blackmailed by them.

      CNN - about as "trusted" as a compass in an active MRI machine.

      by RHunter on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 01:35:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the meantime... (none)
    the CEO of CISCO systems has said he wants the company to become a "Chinese Company", if that doesn't mean he is going to move as much of the company to China as possible, I don't know what does.
  •  Why am I not surprised? (none)
    Oh, right, because the Repubs talk the talk, but don't walk the walk when it comes to American jobs.  Silly me.

    "I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians."~Charles De Gaulle *CHEERS to blogs!*

    by spyral on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 12:14:22 PM PDT

  •  Demzilla Specs? (none)
    I'm working on a free software package for purposes of local party and campaign organization, and I want to make sure that the data that I'm gathering and the structure in which the data is stored can easily filter up to Demzilla, and vice-versa.

    To that end, can anybody tell me where I can get the specs on Demzilla?

    -Waldo Jaquith

    •  Plus Three (none)

      From what I can gather, Demzilla was / is being developed my a company call Plus Three. Apparently, it is a MySQL-based database with a Perl frontend which makes heavy use of XML (of course). As far as technical details go, I've found none, but it may be worthwhile to try to make a contact within Plus Three.

      BTW, I'm a software developer as well, and I'm interested in the project you mentioned. Where can I find more information on your work? Incidentally, I was contacted about two months ago by a company here in ATL, who wanted to offer me a job developing their local campaign organization software. But, when they mentioned Jim Ryan and a couple of other Republican candidates as their clients, I turned tail.

      •  Need More (none)
        From what I can gather, Demzilla was / is being developed my a company call Plus Three. Apparently, it is a MySQL-based database with a Perl frontend which makes heavy use of XML (of course). As far as technical details go, I've found none, but it may be worthwhile to try to make a contact within Plus Three.

        That's a good suggestion -- I'll do that.  They may be less than thrilled to hear from Joe Voter, but it can't hurt to ask.

        BTW, I'm a software developer as well, and I'm interested in the project you mentioned. Where can I find more information on your work?

        At this point, all that I have is pages and pages of notes, a MySQL DB outline, a standards base for the code, and a 10% done alpha version of the product, to function as a rough draft.  I'll take this rough version out for a spin and, modify the spec appropriately, and then start over again.  The program is just a PHP/MySQL app with XML/CSV/RTF input and output modules and the sort of data-management tools found in standard campaign management tools like NGP's Campaign Office, only limited to list management.

        My work?  Well, I've been a website developer for over a decade, and developed MySQL/PHP sites since 1999, having created hundreds of web-based applications and MySQL/PHP-drive wesites for dozens (hundreds?) of clients in that time.  I suppose is a good enough demo of my work -- I wrote everything there, save for the discussion boards, complete with a web-based administrative backend, XML data interchanges within the site, and all the little gewgaws that make a website/web application well-written.

        More to the point, I intend to create version 0.1 of this program (which I'm calling Project Neptune, for lack of anything better, during the alpha phase) solo, and then open it up as a standard OSS model.  There's no point in getting other folks involved if I get 60 hours into it and decide that I don't have the time or the resources to follow through.  I intend to release it under a modified GPL, restricting access to candidates or organizations who are not affiliated with the Republican Party.

        -Waldo Jaquith

        •  There's already a free software package for this (none)
          I'm doing some work for a non-profit org that already has a free software package for campaign organizing. It's called AdvoKit and you can find more details about it at the AdvoKit website. It's also PHP/MySQL based. Maybe you should contact the developers and see if you can contribute. More power to you if you want to make your own tool, but I'd hate to see people re-creating the wheel.

          A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

          by tmo on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 03:13:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If anyone is looking... (none)
            You can reach me at dbrunton at plus three dot com.  I'm David, one of the partners in Plus Three, and I'm happy to answer questions about specs and forward the appropriate XML Schemas, etc.  As far as campaign-specific tools, from what we've seen, Advokit is really top-notch work, done by a sharp group of people.  If you're looking for something to deploy in a campaign for that kind of management, I can't think of a much better choice.
          •  Not Right (none)
            I reviewed AdvoKit thoroughly before deciding to start developing my own program.  I was reviewing it for a campaign for which I was working at the time, and found it was not at all what we needed.  I'm sure it's good for some campaigns, but for any campaign or party chair that's looking to just manage lists, it's both overwhelming and premised on the whole P2P politics schtick, which just isn't how campaigns work, at least for the time being.  While perfect for, say, me, AdvoKit would overwhelm my party chair.

            I may fork it or use some of the code, though I haven't reviewed the license (a modified GPL) sufficiently to know if I'd be able to do that for my purposes.

            Suffice it to say, AdvoKit is neat, but it's not going to do the trick for the average campaign that's just looking for list management.

            -Waldo Jaquith

  •  Spin (4.00)
      I think the Rightwing Republicans will simply babble on about the 'global economy' and 'free markets'. But Lou Dobbs spent tons of time on the subject on CNN so maybe the fiscally conservative Republicans (that dying breed) might come around if it has legs.
    •  Your smackdown for RWRs... (none)
      babbling on about the economy is simple... its a pretty difficult argument to make that a political party needs to make operational choices based on the profit motive and global competitivness.  In fact, the decision to allow someone to "offshore" seems like mistaken calculation - can we save enough money on sending work offshore to outweigh the political cost of doing so?  Well I think its safe to say that the RNC figured if no one found out, then great, more dollars to spend on ads... now they they have been exposed its up to us to make sure they pay the price for that calculation.

      BTW: Send it to Lou Dobbs... he'll love this...

      •  One step ahead of you! (3.66)
        As soon as I saw the article on the main page I realized I had to send it to Lou.

        I think we all do. Not only Lou Dobbs, though, but all reporters.

        Anyone remember the scene in The War Room where they realize that the GOP had been making their signs in Brazil? We need to hammer this even harder than they did then.

    •  Lou Dobbs is wrong (none)

      "I'm not saying that John Kerry has all the answers, but Bush has none, and he's cheating off of Dick Cheney's paper."-Bill Maher

      by theprogressivemiddle on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 01:33:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  calling outsourced more easily (none)
      Since the call centers are in India, Republicans should be getting a ringy dingy to get out the vote from a caller in India soon.

    Winning without Delay.

    by ljm on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 12:16:03 PM PDT

  •  There's the difference. (none)
    I know, there are a lot of people (sometimes myself included) who say that there aren't a lot of differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.

    But, as far as I'm concerned, there's the telling one. Republicans care about what you (in the generic sense) can do for them, in terms of money, power and the like, and whatever they can do to get that at the lowest cost is what they'll do.

    Democrats in general care more about the people, and wouldn't try to save a few cents here or there by outsourcing something like this.

    Especially when visions harden into dogmatic ideologies, they become inhuman, cruel and dangerous. - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

    by wingedelf on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 12:17:40 PM PDT

  •  outsourcing good/bad (none)
    philosophically I want the world to be one economy.  It's only fair that Indians be brought into the world economy to make software if they can... or answer phones, or do data entry, and the Chileans and the, etc. etc.


    From a pragmatical philosophic side, however, it's vital that those workers also be "sourced" with the same rights as American workers.  Otherwise the competition is not really a competition, it's just leverage against domestic workers and it impinges against a basic patriot imperative to keep -our- nation strong, employed, buying and selling and living and breathing.

    I think "outsourcing" requires a two pronged attack:

    (1) force companies selling goods in the US to apply US labor standards in all places producing the goods.

    (2) slow the outsourcing trend in the near term, with regulation and also publicity.  We can release on the regulation for nations with acceptable labor and environmental laws.

    PS: this polls well?  really?  use it!

  •  They also get points for voter registrations (none)
    It's another business-based model for party building with competitive gusto.  GOP "Team Leaders" get 10 GOPoints per voter registration that they turn in- they track it all here. Notice the front page photo of the Kerrys "salute".

    PS- Bonus linkwith outline of how repugs in North Carolina have been guided to legally reject new voter registrations.

  •  At least they're consistent (none)
    Repugnicans have been telling us for a while now that outsourcing is actually good for American businesses.  And, of course, what's good for business is good for America.  Trickle down, tax cuts, blah blah blah.

    If nothing else, they're at least being consistent here.

  •  Where's our Ad attacking Bush & the GOP (none)
    Party & Congress on this issue?  Making an ad that broad would also let Kerry spend more money, as Bush has been doing.

    Bush finds a way around limits on ads
    By broadening the scope of their message, Republicans gain access to more funds for the presidential race
    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    WASHINGTON -- President Bush's political team is orchestrating a vastly larger advertising campaign than thought possible under federal law, taking control of millions in Republican Party funds simply by inserting the phrase "our leaders in Congress" in selected commercials.

    The strategy had gone unnoticed for weeks by Sen. John Kerry and the Democrats, who now may abandon their less-cost-efficient approach to advertising.

    "Reality" is the only word in the English language that should always be used in quotes.

    by LionelEHutz on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 12:39:06 PM PDT

  •  I forwarded this to my Republican pals (none)
    I forwarded the story to my Republican pals, and added:
    "If you are registered Republican, your data probably went straight overseas.

    Feel safer?"

  •  The company in question (none)
    Here's some company info:

    2, Bharadwaj Appt., Prashant Society
    Paud Road, Pune
    Maharashtra 411029

    Phone:    91-212-345306
    Fax:    91-212-331250
    Contact:     Mr. Uday Kothari

    Compulink Systems offers off-shore software development services. We have excellent infrastructure and dedicated team of professionals. Our expertise is in Visual Basic, Power Builder, VC++, ORACLE, Sybase, Access. Existing clients from USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Middle East and UK.

    •  Existing clients from USA...Middle East (none)

      I wonder what privacy enforcement is like in India.    Republican registrant databases in the hands of Al-Qaeda Construction could make for some very uncomfortable Republicans.  
  •  WHY IS THAT A BAD THING? (none)
    You go where it's cost-effective to do the work. That's what the Republicans do. And while the Democrats don't like to admit it, they do it, too. It's such a shame that Democrats demagogue this issue like the Republicans demagogue taxes.

    I'm not an economist, but from what I have seen, there are few issues that bring both sides together. You'll hear them bicker over the minimum wage or market regulations, but pretty much everyone on both sides agrees that free trade is a good thing.

    The Democrats are right, in my opinion, on just about everything else. It's time we wake up and smell the coffee over this issue. It's such a shame to see so many bright, engaged, friendly people - everyone here, more or less - be so blinded.

    "I'm not saying that John Kerry has all the answers, but Bush has none, and he's cheating off of Dick Cheney's paper."-Bill Maher

    by theprogressivemiddle on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 01:32:53 PM PDT

    •  Outsourcing without stronger safety net is sadism (4.00)
      I'd argue that continued outsourcing without a stronger safety net is sadistic.

      We need:

      • a minimum wage that's indexed for inflation
      • unemployment benefits extended until there's more jobs than unemployed people (last time I looked there were three times as many of the latter as there were of the former)
      • real job training for everyone who needs it
      • and universal health coverage.

      If we get those, we'd be well situated to handle outsourcing.

      Without those, we're facing a massively unequal distribution of the benefits of outsourcing. And I don't see why any of us should put up with it.

      A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

      by tmo on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 03:05:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just had (none)
        something longer typed out, but because apparently some unexplained forces hate me, it didn't take.

        Suffice it to say that I more or less agree with you. What you said partly explains why I am a Democrat and why I am proud to be one: we can help those out who get shafted during the transition, and we can be for the transition that will make things better. We just need everyone else in our party to catch up.

        "I'm not saying that John Kerry has all the answers, but Bush has none, and he's cheating off of Dick Cheney's paper."-Bill Maher

        by theprogressivemiddle on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 04:51:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  somehow off topic (none)

    If anyone reading this here is planning to post outsourcing-themed rants on unrelated mailing lists (especially those dealing with technical, operational matters), s/he/it can go fuck themselves.
    •  Ranting about Cisco on NANOG (none)
      I haven't been a NANOG subscriber for about 2 years now, but the rule used to be: if it can't be done by or to a router, don't post it on NANOG.

      Seeing as Cisco is a dominant player in the router market, ranting about their employment practices on NANOG is a little off topic, but hardly out in left field. I've certainly seen stuff much less on-topic posted there.

  •  Demzilla (none)
    Demzilla may be made in the USA by good God-fearin' 'Murikans, but I bet good money that the computers it was written on were not made in the USA.  

    I'm posting on a computer made in California. If the dems' database program is Mac-only, then there's a chance it was written on American-made computers, but even then, only Apple's high end computers are made in the USA.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't use this as an issue, but in reality we are only a few shades of grey away from Republicans on outsourcing.  All of us.  America wouldn't have the highest standard of living in the world if it weren't for the third world sweatshops that supply us with all our stuff and gadgets.

    "Revolutionary debris litters the floor of Wall Street." -Kurt Cobain, Diaries

    by Subterranean on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 03:27:49 PM PDT

  •  Hold on to your SS number (none)
    Glad to know that the Bush campaign is collecting Social Security numbers from rally attendees in their effort to extort more volunteer hours from the already-converted:

    "Those who wanted tickets [to the BC04 rally] were required to apply for them, filling out forms stating their home and e-mail addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, willingness to volunteer and whether they supported the president."

    Glad to know this is all being stored in an offshore database.

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