Thursday, September 17, 2015

Election Apps for Campaigning

In the article “New mobile election apps mean pressure's on for local campaigns” by Haydn Watters, he discusses the upgrade in technology used for campaigning. Door-to-door canvassers are now using database applications on tablets instead of paperwork on clipboards.

Since data is updated while canvassing, there should not be any errors. Another pro about using tablets for canvassing is that the apps are GPS-enabled, so it can track the location and progress of the canvassers as they update the information constantly.  It can also track if the canvasser skips over houses or even entire streets. This technological advance permits more efficient progress on campaigns. It allows data to be tracked easier and forces campaigns to work “for precision”. These campaigns save time by using this technology.

            Since the article is so brief, it overlooked some important points. In the Youtube video “Field Canvassing Tablets for Political Campaigns” posted by James Van Sickle, who represents Darwood Technology, Van Sickle elaborates the ideas in the article by Watters. He emphasizes that it is now possible to track the exact time, date, and location when canvassers went to each specific door and entered the data. All of the notes written by and for the canvassers are in the database, and it is so much easier for canvassers to contact the home office whenever they have questions. By using tablets to canvass, these organizations do not have to hire extra people to analyze the data because the app does it for them. Another important point he mentioned is that it is “more green” and saves so much paper!

            This is important to me because I spent my summer canvassing for political campaigns. I was fortunate enough to use a tablet at each door. I think they an effective upgrade to these organizations because it tracks the work ethic of each canvasser. My bosses could track how many breaks each person took. We also knew which houses we should skip over. A couple times people were more likely to use a credit card at the door because they could swipe it right there and we didn’t write the card number down. It is also so much easier for us to track which people gave money and how much they gave in the past because it is right in front of us. We also had a slideshow presentation easily presentable to each door.

            One of the disadvantages of using the tablet is that new canvassers may not know how to use it, so it was very common for them to enter the data wrong. But if we caught their mistakes, it was an easy fix. Also, there was always a chance that the tablet could die, and because the apps are GPS-enabled and require data or wi-fi, the app will not work if the tablet does not have signal. Even though there are some downsides to using the new tablet system, I think it is a very effective modification for campaigning.





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