June 9, 2009

SOFTWARE OFFERS REAL-TIME ELECTION DAY DATA

AS CAMPAIGN workers barbecued on his Atlantic City lawn, Fourth Ward coordinator Anthony Cox was hunkered down in the garage, discerning from a laptop the next move in the push to get Mayor Lorenzo Langford a victory by the time polls closed in two hours.

Other campaigners did the same across the seaside resort in the June 2 primary as part of a new twist on the intense street operations to get out the vote that are a tradition in this city, where elections are knock-down, drag-out-to-the-bloody-end affairs.

For Cox, real-time numbers showed turnout among targeted voters in the ward's fourth district was just 15.65 percent, well below that of other areas. Then another ward leader walked in with a message: "I just got a call from headquarters, and they're concerned about 4-4."

So Cox dispatched the volunteers to knock on doors, giving them BlackBerrys designed to provide up-to-the-minute information on how many people had yet to vote in each house and urging one to "Stay in that area and just nail it."

The technology came courtesy of First Tuesday in November, a small voter-tracking company in Galloway whose services are being picked up by campaigns from Democratic-to-the-core Atlantic City to those in the Republican-leaning suburbs of Burlington and Atlantic Counties.

The company invented a system for which a patent is pending that allows everyone in a campaign to access a database of targeted voters via BlackBerrys and laptops connected by wireless Internet. They can then learn in real time which voters have gone to the polls, their voting history, and other personal information.

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