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I set my alarm for 3:15a. If I hit snooze once, which I knew I would, it would still give me enough time to shower, shave, put on my suit, walk the dog, and make the drive out to Loudoun County, VA to get to the poll by 5:30a on Election Day. As a member of the OFA volunteer legal team, I was one of two attorneys assigned to a particular precinct. Just about every precinct in a swing state (and maybe elsewhere) had at least two attorneys. Larger precincts had three.

We had one job: make sure no one was wrongfully or unlawfully denied the right to vote. And if anyone had to cast a provisional ballot, the attorney on the inside texted me what the provisional voter looked like, so I could approach them on their way out to get them to give me their contact information and sign the necessary form to allow the Democratic Party to represent them at a hearing on provisionals if need be.

After the morning rush, a nice OFA staffer pulled up to my table and dropped off a kit including legal forms to supplement the ones in the PDF packet I received, an easel, and this sign:

If you had voting problems you knew you could come see me. Thankfully this only happened rarely, but I was glad to be able to help out those who needed it. Since this was the first federal election after redistricting in Virginia, a few folks wound up at the wrong precinct. Problematic, but thanks to the mobile web apps designed by the OFA team, I was able to direct them to the right precinct. One example (identifying information blocked out):

On rare occasions, people were not able to vote or were challenged on their residency. In these instances, I was either able to direct the voter to the proper course of action (such as a provisional ballot), or the inside attorney handled it. Whether the incident was large or small, we reported it to our state legal HQ either via phone or web app:

Throughout the day, reports were uploaded to OFA, and OFA central staff called us to get counts at periodic intervals. Compare this to the Romney campaign's election day operations, including their vaunted ORCA system:

Among other issues, the system was never beta-tested or checked for functionality without going live before Election Day, two sources said. It went live that morning but was never checked for bugs or efficiencies internally. The volunteer at Ace of Spades also cited this issue but as one by which field workers couldn't get to know the system ahead of Election Day. But inside Romneyland, officials were experiencing similar problems as votes were being cast.
The Ace of Spades article from a Romney supporter is really worth the read. In the comments section, I saw the following:
Did I mention that at 5:40am OFA had their person there, with a chair, with a huge sign to answer questions about provisional ballots. When the poll didn't open at 6am on the dot, the OFA person was calling at 6:01am, and actually talking to a live person.
On one occasion, I was a little unclear about the best resolution to an issue so I called it in. It took a minute or so to get through to the central boiler room, but my recommendation was confirmed as proper and I was able to direct the voter to cast a provisional ballot. A week prior, we had been distributed guides covering a whole gamut of possibilities along with our precincts, web links to mobile apps, hotline phone numbers, and precinct data. Romney? Well, here's what I read in another Ace of Spades comment:
I had something similar happen with Lawyers for Romney. Long and short of it -- they didn't get me my precinct information until 8pm the night before. I had eight different precincts I had to spot-check and they waited 10 hours before I was supposed to be on-site. Eight. Fucking. PM. The. Night.Before.

Not only that -- I was supposed to have a partner that was also going to the same precincts. They gave me his name. That's it. No phone. No email. We had no way to contact one another.

As I told Ben and John, something weird went down. They were super organized leading up to election day. Hell, I initially got contacted back in May to help out. Something really melted down in the last 10-14 days before election day. I'm trying to determine who was in charge of that clusterfuck.

Good Christ....

You can't gather a whole lot from one precinct, even one in a swing area of a swing county in a swing state, but it's hard to avoid trying. When I saw the difference in operations with what we had and what they had, I felt awfully good. The sunset at my precinct was also a good omen:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Awesome thanks for sharing! n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elmo, Red Sox, steamed rice
  •  That was fantastic detail (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Sox, llywrch

    One likely silly question: when you gave  turnout information to HQ, you would give total numbers right? You would obviously not know the D/R breakdown, right?

    •  We reported total numbers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madhaus, llywrch

      and provisional numbers. Four years ago when I did this, we also entered unique ID codes for identified supporters. This precinct wound up being relatively small (by NoVA standards) and going pretty strongly for Obama, so they may have adopted a broader GOTV plan for this precinct and more targeted ones for others.

      Unapologetic Obama supporter.

      by Red Sox on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 07:47:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Sox, llywrch

    hard work!

  •  Thanks for coming to VA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Sox, lonespark

    but I gotta tell you!  We are pretty squared away year in and year out with our Democratic Committees in NOVA.

    So while it was great to have you here - let's not forget the people who live in these precincts and work these polls EVERY FREAKIN YEAR!

    Seriously - the Democratic Committee in NOVA was the OFA teams, I get kinda PO when that is never mentioned like all of a sudden all these great new people made this happen.

    While new volunteers help - It is the local Dems that were organizing the HUBS / team groups in February and March, starting the phone banks, leading the voter registration drives in the community.  We set up the structure in the first place.  WE are in our neighborhoods, we know our voters and we do this stuff every year regardless of the candidates.  

    Takin it to the Streets! time to GOTV

    by totallynext on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 07:53:54 AM PST

    •  I lived in Virginia most of my life (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lonespark, madhaus

      And largely because of the traffic and my affinity for urban living, I left for DC.  I know how hard working these guys and gals are, and the local folks working the polls were great. Enthusiastic, friendly, and professional even when GOPers got rude (though to be fair, it was only voters who got rude--the GOP poll workers at my precinct were very nice), they got the job done. I was there as legal counsel to OFA, but I couldn't help but join in with them during down times to engage voters.

      Unapologetic Obama supporter.

      by Red Sox on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 07:59:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you. Very instructive and useful for 2014. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Sox, madhaus

    I find myself already focusing on 2014 elections.  I'm in awe of the brilliance of the systems and the unselfishness of the volunteers, and hope that we can mobilize this process in the mid-terms, so that we do not see a repeat of 2010.

  •  It's really very awe-inspiring (0+ / 0-)

    It's really very awe-inspiring how much effort and foresight and perspiration Obama and his campaign team and campaign workers put into his re-election.

    I guess Mitt Romney and Company thought that more money alone would solve all their problems.

    This is the same bunch of geniuses who think that CEOs deserve extravagantly higher pay just because they're CEOs, regardless of how effective they are.

    They also believe that if you don't offer extravagant pay and compensation to a CEO, no one good will want to come to work for you.

    It's all foolishness.  

  •  Thanks for all your hard work! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That Ace of Spades article is stunning.  My God, the incompetence!!!

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