$600K for GOP PDAs?

BoingBoing reader Ron Hovingh says,

My dad, dear misguided soul that he is, gave some money to the RNC but listed one of my e-mail addresses because he didn't have one at the time. So I've been getting urgent GOP "Give money now!" e-mail since last spring.

The latest RNC newsletter urges a contribution of $200, which it said "will pay for a PDA to help our canvassers contact Republican voters quickly accurately" and notes that "the RNC is shipping 3,000 out to volunteer captains."

I suppose $600,000 is a drop in the bucket if you're still coasting on Enron donations, but I have to wonder: 1.) What PDAs still cost $200? 2.) Do they get to keep the PDAs, and isn't this bigger partisan payola than Michael Moore giving away clean underwear?

But not so fast. BoingBoing reader Mark Pike urges us to refrain from playa-hatin' on partisan PDAs.

I'm working on the campaign right now trying to increase Dem. voter turnout in FL. With regard to the PDA stuff, canvassing operations have been using them to enter data at houses about voters. They use them to store maps of neighborhoods. This helps them control their databases and collect information more efficiently. There's no way canvassers get to keep the PDAs.

Also, when contacted voters reveal their preferences and begin discussing what issues are important to them, some of the canvassers use the PDAs to show commercials and videos that specifically target the things voters are discussing.

Look into it a little more. It's pretty fascinating how much technology is being harnessed by campaigners this year.