I was very surprised to learn — the night before the election — that Orca would be run from headquarters in Boston. When the Orca system was down, our legal war room was flooded with pleas for help because the hotline in Boston wasn’t working. We even had calls from volunteers in other states asking us for help getting through to Boston. We were combat ineffective.
Having everything controlled by a national headquarters is just asking for trouble. Election laws are different in each state, and the training and Election Day operations should be organized at the state level. Furthermore, if one swing-state office’s power, Internet, whatever, fails, the damage won’t affect other states’ operations. Having a national number as a last resort is fine, but relying on a single central node that could fail is lethal. If there had been a complete network failure the first day that Amazon.com was in business, they would have fixed it and been back in business the next day. But you can’t postpone Election Day, and there are no silver medals for finishing second.
From what I have heard, the angriest critics are Romney people who have privately expressed disbelief that others on their team would let the system be designed in such an unreliable and vulnerable way. It is still unclear to me why the GOTV wasn’t done by the RNC — it’s a long-term effort and a natural role they have performed well in the past.