As problems continued throughout Election Day, Romney volunteers took to their Twitter accounts and blogs to seek help or express frustration. One volunteer wrote on his blog that he was told that he couldn’t use a smartphone with a camera at the polling place, making it impossible to use the application.
A number of deeply upset volunteers wrote on a Romney campaign message board that they could not get the program to work and were unable to get through to technical support, either receiving a busy signal or a recording that said try again later.
“I have called the ORCA helpline. It was supposed to be live at 5 a.m. . . . still getting a recording. Com on Boston we can’t help Mitt if you won’t help us.!!!!!” one volunteer wrote.
Some volunteers apparently did not understand how to access the ORCA application, mistakenly thinking they had to download it for their phone. But the application wasn’t in iTunes or the Android store; it was a “web application,” requiring the field workers to access it via a secure Internet connection.
There were reports that volunteers in some states could not get the security code supplied by the campaign to work on the web page. An anonymous campaign official was quoted on the conservative website, Breitbart.com, as saying that hundreds of volunteers in Colorado had called to report problems.
“The user names and passwords were wrong, but the reset password tool didn’t work, and we couldn’t change phone PINs,” the official was quoted as saying. “We were told the problems were limited and asked to project confidence, have people use pencil and paper, and try to submit again later. Then at 6 p.m. they admitted they had issued the wrong PINs to every volunteer in Colorado, and reissued new PINs (which also didn’t work).”
Moffatt, asked whether there was a problem with PINs that made it impossible to use the application, said he did not know.
Moffatt is the cofounder of Targeted Victory, a Virginia-based consulting firm that has a contract to work for the Romney campaign, according to the company’s website.
It is not clear if the reported problems with the PINs happened as a result of the crash at TD Garden or were a secondary failure.
A senior official in President Obama’s campaign said it had experienced problems when it first used a similar system in 2008. The official said the campaign had learned from that experience and, after two dry runs earlier this year, had no significant glitches in its Election Day program that also relied on a smartphone program. The official spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk about the matter on the record.
Romney campaign officials had expressed great confidence in the program. In an interview aired on Monday on PBS, campaign spokesman Gail Gitcho gave what appears to be the first extended preview of ORCA, describing it as a revolutionary tool to help the campaign boost turnout.
“At 5 o’clock when the exit polls come out, we won’t pay attention to that,” Gitcho said. “We will have had much more scientific information just based on the political operation we have set up.”
Despite months of preparation for obtaining the needed Election Day bandwidth, the crash apparently occurred because of the strain of so much Internet traffic in the Romney operation in a short period of time, campaign volunteers said.