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.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:
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.