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Open Source Democrats Software Politics

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

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 It was these outdated options that convinced team Obama to build all the campaign tech in-house.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 emagery ( 914122 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:03PM (#42660355)
    ... open sourcing the software may be critical; not only does it expose to anyone who needs to know that its done well and ethically, but it can also serve as a platform (at all levels) for the majority of voters to fight back against the exponentiation of aforementioned gerrymandering.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tilante ( 2547392 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:07PM (#42660411)

    Why would they put it on ice for four years? There are plenty of state elections, local elections, and Congressional elections between now and the next presidential election, and I find it hard to believe that the software is so specialized that it's only good for presidential elections - for one thing, if it were that specialized, open sourcing it likely wouldn't help, since no one's going to bother working on code that's of no use for anything else.

    And also, "none of that will be useful in four years" sounds like BS to me. The hyped usage was in targeting who to have workers phone or visit. Polls, addresses, phones, etc. aren't going to change significantly in four years, and unless they did some seriously messed-up stuff, their code should still compile and run with only minor tweaks at worst four years from now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:31PM (#42660733)
    You're an alabaster retard. Yes, the same way. I dislike Obama, and I hope someone drops thermite on whatever server is hosting this software (and all the personal information it contains about millions of Americans), but the Republican Party gerrymanders harder, better, faster, and stronger than anyone. It's fine to be bothered by Maryland, but be bothered on behalf of the citizens whose votes have been stolen, not on behalf of the party that's done more to damage voting rights than any entity since Jefferson Davis.
  • by smoore ( 25406 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @04:34PM (#42660773) Homepage

    I know for a fact the Republican Party of Florida has similar a software/database setup that is constantly tweaked, maintained and used. There are too many elections between Presidential ones to let it go to waste. The DNC just needs to sell it to the state party offices to keep it useful.

  • by spacecowboy420 ( 450426 ) * <> on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @05:22PM (#42661323)

    Not opening the source is extremely short-sighted. On one hand, the opposition (read republicans in this case) may be able to leverage the progress of Obama's campaign developers. However, third parties would also be able to leverage this software. This would aid the third (or forth, fifth) parties to gain visibility and thus choice for the American people. Opening the code would be a net positive for those that matter; the American people.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982