Romney Campaign Acknowledges High-Tech Election Day Monitoring System “Had Its Challenges”

Political News

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The name for Project ORCA, the Romney campaign’s much-vaunted, digital voter turnout and poll monitoring system, started out as something of a joke.

ORCA was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek rejoinder to an advanced data-gathering effort put together by the Obama campaign called Project Narwhal. The Romney team’s conceit: An orca is a natural predator of the narwhal, a tusked-whale that lives in the Arctic.

In an interview with ABC News on Friday, the Romney campaign’s digital director Zac Moffatt responded to critical online commentaries.

“Was it flawless? No,” Moffatt said. “Without a doubt, ORCA had its challenges.”

He acknowledged that technical issues began early and continued sporadically throughout the day. The system crashed entirely for about 90-minutes in the late morning on Tuesday — a problem the campaign attributed to an overload of the data servers in the TD Garden in Boston, the site of the campaign’s Election Day “war room.”

“So much data was coming in, the system thought it was under attack,” a campaign official said.

After going dark for an hour-and-a-half, ORCA re-booted and the campaign says it did deliver information to the legions of war room volunteers, headed by Romney campaign political director Rich Beeson. By the end of the night, according to the Romney campaign:

–91 percent of all counties that they decided to track reported data into the system

–14.3 million voters were identified and counted as having voting

–5,397 incidents of ballot box issues (none of them major) were identified that allowed the campaign’s legal team to respond in real time

“You can’t have a system that’s not working and still get those numbers,” Moffatt said. Still he said he understood the frustrations of those who had problems using it who expected a presidential campaign to “fire on all cylinders all the time.”

The system had been tested before Election Day — but not extensively. And the campaign did not know how it would interact with the TD Garden’s data infrastructure until Tuesday morning.

However, Moffatt added that had ORCA functioned flawlessly, it still would not have turned Mitt Romney’s loss into a win: “None of us feel this was election determinative,” Moffatt said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Respond to this story