Meet the newest tech start-up: the Obama campaign

In February, ahead of Nevada caucuses, the campaign rolled out a new voter-registration technology that collects voter registrations via tablet or touch-screen phone and delivers a paper form to election officials. There's no word from the Obama campaign about how well the mobile voter registration test went, and news of Obama donation-by-text efforts only broke last week. But these are two places that political campaigns have lagged behind other types of political organizing, in part because of antiquated rules. The last time the FEC overhauled its rules was in 2006, after a process that began in 2004, although its members have started to discuss another update.

Mitt Romney's campaign is far from Luddite and has drawn attention for its use of voter targeting techniques to reach people both online and off. At one point during the primaries, for instance, Romney's digital director Zac Moffatt told TechPresident the campaign had bought all reserve inventory in Iowa and New Hampshire for video ads appearing before YouTube videos. That said, Romney has faced a long primary season and done so with a lower bank balance than Obama. Romney's digital operation, working with the online communications firm Moffatt co-founded, Targeted Victory, is focused instead on doing what it can to keep money coming in and voters going to the polls in a state-by-state ground war.

Programmers like to say that "code makes easy things easy and hard things possible." Few things are inherently easy in politics, but the two largest campaigns this cycle have already demonstrated that technology makes at least some parts of campaigning easier.

Nick Judd is managing editor for TechPresident. This is the first in a series of regular dispatches for Yahoo News about how campaigns are using technology in the 2012 election.

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