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Open Source Democrats Software Politics

To Open Source Obama's Get-Out-the-Vote Code Or Not? 356

Posted by Soulskill
from the changelogs-we-can-believe-in dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's a battle brewing amongst Obama's election team. The political folks want to keep the get out the vote code closed source so republicans never get access to it, but the programmers want it open sourced so it can be improved upon. 'In this sense, the decision to mothball the tech would be a violation of the developers’ ethical principles. But the argument is about more than whether putting the tech back in the hands of the public is the right thing to do. "The biggest issue we saw with all of the commercial election software we used was that it’s only updated every four years," says Ryan. It was these outdated options that convinced team Obama to build all the campaign tech in-house. If the code OFA built was put on ice at the DNC until 2016, it would become effectively worthless. "None of that will be useful in four years, technology moves too fast," said Ryan. "But if our work was open and people were forking it and improving it all the time, then it keeps up with changes as we go."'"
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To Open Source Obama's Get-Out-the-Vote Code Or Not?

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  • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:12PM (#42660461)

    Except they had a huge electoral advantage from their software. The GOP does not have very sophisticated get out the vote tools. So why on earth would the DEMs give the GOP one of their proprietary competitive advantages?!

    "Hey we heard you wanted to gerrymander the districts even further. Here's a tool to help you elect officials to enable you to do that!"

  • by schneidafunk (795759) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:12PM (#42660465)
    This raises the interesting question of who owns the software and who's decision it is to open source it or not. The LA time link claims that specifically Obama and his campaign team is retaining the software, not the DNC.
  • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:44PM (#42660895)

    I'm not sure why they are worried about that. Obama is the most conservative president the US has had in at least 30 years. If the next democratic nominee runs on the notion of continuing what he has done so far the GOP won't be able to field a candidate who is more conservative.

    "Most conservative?"

    You have avery limited definition of Conservative. He's the left-most President in history on gay rights. He's left of Bush on health care, taxes, military spending, Immigration Reform (he supports a path-to-citizenship for all illegals, not just DREAMers), and regulating Wall Street. That encompasses pretty much everything in most Americans top 10 issues facing DC. And we still haven't gotten to the #1 Conservative project: re-making the Supreme Court in their image.

    Pretty much the only area he could be considered right of Bush is his use of drones, and that's only because Bush didn't have this many drones to play with.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:44PM (#42660897) Homepage Journal

    Who are we to tell them what to do with their software?

    The fucking owners, [wikipedia.org] that's who.

  • Re:Ownership? (Score:3, Informative)

    by autocannon (2494106) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @05:03PM (#42661113)

    It was written by PRIVATE employees, paid for by PRIVATE monies. Obama's campaign did not take PUBLIC money for his re-election.

    The code is either owned by the Obama campaign, or the DNC, or perhaps a specific individual. It all depends on who payed and who commissioned the work. Regardless, no government civilian workers had their government paychecks granted to them because they worked on coding the Obama campaign's get out to work widget.

  • Re:Ownership? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sunking2 (521698) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @05:19PM (#42661303)
    This is where I think you are wrong. Campaigns are paid for by donations, not from a government fund. Who does own it? I'm not really sure whether it would be some entity tied to Obama but not to the government or perhaps the DNC. Point being it's nothing like NASA, or any other government funded initiative and whoever does actually own it can do with it as they please.
  • Re:false dilemma (Score:4, Informative)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @07:46PM (#42662947)

    It's not a rumor. He did, in fact, withhold his birth certificate. He knew all along that to quell rumors he should release the long form. He chose not to for several years. He's special.

    Well no, he tried to *not* be special by not circumventing Hawaiian law to obtain a record that a normal citizen would not have access to. He released the only document that Hawaii would provide to him as proof of birth:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_citizenship_conspiracy_theories [wikipedia.org]


    every judicial forum that has addressed the matter, and Hawaiian government officials—among whom a consensus has been reached that the document released by the Obama campaign is indeed his official birth certificate.

    Obama was not entitled to receive a copy of the "long form":


    oshua Wisch, a spokesman for the Hawaii Attorney General's office, stated in 2011 that the original "long form" birth certificate — described by Hawaiian officials as a "record of live birth" kept in the archives of the Hawaii Department of Health is "... a Department of Health record and it can't be released to anybody", including President Obama. Wisch added that state law does not authorize photocopying such records

    Legally, there was no way to obtain his long form.

    Finally, in 2011, realizing that he *was* special, and that the long form might save everyone a lot of hassle, Obama requested a waiver from normal records release policy:


    On April 22, 2011, Obama asked Loretta Fuddy, director of the Hawaii Department of Health, for certified copies of his original Certificate of Live Birth ("long-form birth certificate").[46] Accompanying the letter was a written request from Judith Corley, Obama's personal counsel, requesting a waiver of the department's policy on computer-generated certificates. Corley stated that granting the waiver would relieve the department of the burden of repeated inquiries into the President's birth records.[47]

    On April 25, 2011, Fuddy approved the request and witnessed the copying process as the health department's registrar issued the certified copies. The same day, Corley personally visited the department headquarters in Honolulu to pay the required fee on Obama's behalf, and received the two requested certified copies of the original birth certificate, an accompanying letter from Fuddy attesting to the authenticity of same, and a receipt for the processing fee. Fuddy said that she had granted the exception to its normal policy of issuing only computer-generated copies by virtue of Obama's status, in an effort to avoid ongoing requests for the birth certificate.[48][49]

    Enough with the fake outrage.

    What else could he release? How about some school transcripts? Bush had his stolen & released. Why wouldn't someone do the same with Obama's? Oh, right. He's special.

    Well I can't answer why there is no one willing to risk criminal prosecution by stealing and releasing his school transcripts - why don't you do it? I'm not sure what it would prove if official state birth records and even birth announcements in 2 different Hawaiian newspaper are not enough to satisfy birthers. School records just prove attendance, I've never seen any agency accept a school transcript as proof of citizenship

    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/obamabirth.php [whatreallyhappened.com]

  • Re:false dilemma (Score:4, Informative)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:28AM (#42665959)

    Well no, he tried to *not* be special by not circumventing Hawaiian law to obtain a record that a normal citizen would not have access to.

    You are rewriting history. I hear there are job openings in part 2 of the Obama administration for people like you.
    From your source, Hawaii does not give it out to "persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record." He has interests. He could have made the call.

    Your reading comprehension is a little lax.

    Read what I quoted again:

    oshua Wisch, a spokesman for the Hawaii Attorney General's office, stated in 2011 that the original "long form" birth certificate — described by Hawaiian officials as a "record of live birth" kept in the archives of the Hawaii Department of Health is "... a Department of Health record and it can't be released to anybody", including President Obama. Wisch added that state law does not authorize photocopying such records

    The short-form was already released by Obama in 2008 and was rejected by the birthers, despite it being the only valid birth record that normal Hawaiians are allowed to receive..

    Here's a longer quote from the Hawaiia Attorney General's office (with highlighting added to help your comprehension)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42519951/ns/politics-more_politics/#.UP9yiGJQAUQ [msn.com]


    But Wisch, the spokesman for the attorney general's office, said state law does not in fact permit the release of "vital records," including an original "record of live birth" — even to the individual whose birth it records.
    "It's a Department of Health record and it can't be released to anybody," he said. Nor do state laws have any provision that authorizes such records to be photocopied, Wisch said. If Obama wanted to personally visit the state health department, he would be permitted to inspect his birth record, Wisch said.
    But if he or anybody else wanted a copy of their birth records, they would be told to fill out the appropriate state form and receive back the same computer generated "certification of live birth" form that everybody else gets — which is exactly what Obama did four years ago.

    He was born in Hawaii. I get it and always have. The issue is dicking around with not releasing the birth certificate. I don't hold on to Hillary Clinton conspiracy theories.

    But he *did* release the only birth certificate that Hawaii was willing to provide to him (until the public records office was harassed so much that they waived their normal policy to release a copy of the original birth record).

    On your original offer of "what else could he do" he could release some school records. The original point about the Obama election group not releasing source code would fall in line with the lack of transparency in this administration. It's not surprising.

    But you haven't said what releasing school records would do -- if an official state record of birth is rejected as adequate proof, what good is is releasing school records?

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