8 Ways Technology Has Shaped the '08 Elections

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Obama Uses SMS to Announce Vice President

In a move that generated plenty of media hype over the summer, the Obama campaign became the first presidential team in U.S. history to announce its vice presidential pick to supporters by sending a text message to their cell phones. The surprise was ruined, however, when the Obama campaign's decision to select Joe Biden was leaked to the press hours before the announcement officially went public.

McCain Advisor Links McCain with BlackBerry Creation

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Democrat Al Gore took a lot of flack for saying that he "took great initiative in creating the Internet." Even though Gore was referring to securing government investments in technology that would eventually lead to the widespread adoption of the Internet, such as the Information Infrastructure and Technology Act, Gore was subsequently lambasted in the press for having claimed to have "invented" the Internet.

Similarly, McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin in 2008 pointed to his BlackBerry and said McCain's work in the Senate helped to create it. While Holtz-Eakin meant that McCain's work on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation helped foster market conditions that led to a proliferation of smart wireless devices, many in the press pounced on McCain's supposed delusion and produced headlines such as "McCain BlackBerry easily connects with Gore Internet."

E-voting Sparks More Anxiety

Just what the country needs: more electoral chaos out of Palm Beach County, Fla. Yet that is exactly what happened this summer when the county that became infamous for its hanging chads during the 2000 elections accidentally excluded 3,700 ballots during a recount, despite the fact that the county thought it had fixed its problems by implementing a sophisticated e-voting system. Other e-voting hotspots to watch this year include Denver, where the Denver Election Commission has done a complete overhaul of its touchscreen voting system, as well as New Jersey, where a judge blocked the release of a report that examined the source code used in state voting machines.

Palin's E-mail Hacked

A mere three weeks after she first emerged on the national scene as McCain's pick for vice president, Alaska governor Sarah Palin learned that messages from her private e-mail account had been hacked and posted online by the hacker group "anonymous," which had previously been most famous for its Web attacks on the Church of Scientology. Less than a month later, federal officials indicted 20-year-old David Kernell of Tennessee for hacking into the account. If found guilty, Kernell could face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

This story, "8 Ways Technology Has Shaped the '08 Elections" was originally published by Network World.

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