I'm in Reno, Nevada, preparing to do some poll watching for the Obama campaign. We went to a training last night where they explained what seems like a convoluted reporting system, but organizers promise it actually works well.
Poll watchers basically hang around and wait for the county workers to post lists of who's voted at regular intervals. Then they call in the voter numbers to an Obama system that records voter numbers and transmits revised information to canvassers, who hit the streets, reminding – and probably irritating – supporters who haven't voted yet to get out to the polls.
I talked to a few volunteers who spent the weekend here and reported that some voters have heard plenty of reminders about voting. "I'm going to vote already!" one resident said.
Reno organizers were expecting about 60 people to their election-eve training; about 200 people were there. So it seems clear Obama has practically too many volunteers. One volunteer who had worked early voting in New Mexico last week explained, "The poll watching reporting system seems confusing but you just have to stay calm, try again if it's busy and have faith."
It's clear this really is a grass-roots campaign. But at the same time, technology is being deployed throughout the effort. It's chaotic on the surface but well engineered beneath. I'll get a first-hand look at how well it works today.
Meanwhile, AP reports that Obama released a last-minute video on tech policy, featuring excerpts from a speech at Google.
In the nearly three-minute-long video, Obama pledges to double federal funding for basic research and implement policies that would "keep the door open for the next generation of startups." He vows to put more government data online in an Obama administration and "ensure that every American has broadband access."
And ZD's own Robin Harris reports that according to OpenSecrets.org, Silicon Valley employees overwhelmingly support Obama. At virtually every major tech company, donations to Obama represented more than 90% of the giving. The only exceptions: Dell at 84%, Cisco at 82% and even EMC edged for Obama at 56%.