The California Republican Convention kicked off this afternoon with party leaders adamant about finding revolutionary ways to brand their candidates and further engage voters.
Inside the Burlingame Hyatt, a rousing speech from the state’s party Co-Chair Sharon Day during the executive luncheon was followed by a discussion of digital voting methods that could both change the way Republicans interact with their voters and how they market their candidates.
“What we have to do together is make sure Barack Obama is a one-term president,” said Day to emphatic applause from the more than 80 Republicans who gathered inside the dining room. “We have to take back control of the Senate, and we have to send more congressman to Washington, D.C. to stand up and talk about less spending, cutting taxes and capping our deficit.”
The party then turned its attention to Karen Clakeley, the vice president of sales in North America for Everyone Counts, a San Diego-based organization offering secure digital methods of voting, who introduced the audience to the company’s revolutionary style of voting; a method the California Republican Party is considering using for future elections, primaries and private contests, though nothing has yet been confirmed.
Everyone Counts offers software capable of hosting secure and cost-effective elections, with laptop computers and cell phones acting as polling stations. The software used is military-grade encryption, said Clakeley, and is monitored by a protective team to counteract hacking. The code used is available to audits and reviews to ensure security.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for engagement," said Party Chair Tom Del Beccaro. “Every thing we do is an opportunity for marketing, to brand our candidate and get more Republicans engaged.”
The software can be accessed from a laptop or cell phone and requires user registration, the information for which can be shared with the party hosting the event. The user will then electronically cast his ballot and receive an electronic receipt upon completion. The ballot is username and password protected, and users can be tracked by IP address and credential, to prevent copycat votes.
The digital method is conducive to the disabled, Clakeley said, as an auditory feature is available for blind voters who will be able to listen to the ballot choice and then speak their choices into a microphone.
Everyone Counts is one of many new ways the party is approaching defining its candidate. Beth Miller, public affairs officer for the California Republican Party, said the party has considered using the software to conduct a pre-primary endorsement election.
Should the party determine this approach desirable, it would host an actual election some months before the primary, in hopes of garnering high Republican voter turnout, and establishing a leader among its candidates heading into the primary.
Clakeley said the cost of hosting an election online versus through traditional means is roughly 30 to 50 percent cheaper, though cost varies greatly based on the type and size of election.
The state party’s determination to engage voters and define its candidates can be seen in its growing impact on Facebook – where the group boasts a quarter million Facebook fans – and on Twitter – where Republicans have collected more than 100,000 followers.
“We are building a legacy,” said Day to a hushed crowd. “We are leading the way in how we reach out to our voters with what we have in common and what we can do tomorrow. We have a proud message and that’s how Republicans win elections. The reality is, you are here this weekend because you love our country, and together, you and I, who understand Obama is and has been wrong for this country, are going to stand together and say enough is enough.”