Forget the presidential election. The real online revolution is happening down the ballot.

Unbeknownst to the media, who continue to obsessively compare the digital capacities of the Romney and Obama campaigns, the Internet’s impact on the presidential race is relatively marginal. Where it actually has the power to transform politics is at the local level.

The fundamentals of field campaigns have been unchanged for years: you make a list of likely voters, talk to them and turn them out. In 2008, the Obama campaign put huge resources into building software to make this incredibly tedious process more efficient. The campaign proved that using the Internet to unify offline and online efforts makes field organizing much more effective.

This was great news for the very small percentage of campaigns that could afford to pay many thousands—or even millions—of dollars for such technology. But field organizing actually has a limited impact on large campaigns. It can do a lot for turnout, but very little for persuasion at that level.

For local campaigns, it’s the opposite. Most citizens have no idea who’s running for office and are therefore open to persuasion—a significant fact since local elections can be swung by just a few votes. And since persuasion at the local level happens by direct voter contact, field organizing is the key to victory. The campaign that does it better, wins.

So how can a campaign with limited staff and financial resources get the voter data they need and radically increase the power of their field operations? Enter the Internet, and more specifically, affordable political software.

Traditionally, consulting firms have had to cobble various web tools together to create “political software” for clients. Not only does this result in expensive, piecemeal solutions for candidates, it’s also labor-intensive for consultants who have to start from scratch with each new campaign. This is the opposite of a software model, which is about building something right once so that each time you deploy it, it’s cheap and easy.

Software is radically changing industry after industry, shifting our most familiar habits, like going to bookstores or plotting routes on physical maps. As Marc Andreessen says, “Software is eating the world.” And now, it’s eating politics.

Affordable software that gets technology out of the way and lets consultants and candidates focus on connecting with voters isn’t just the future of politics—it’s a reality right now. Technology more powerful than what Obama had in 2008 is now as accessible, easy to use, and less expensive than PowerPoint. From now on, affordable software that can run a whole campaign, from website to voter database to text blasting, will be a given not an exception.

Ultimately, it means that anyone can run for office. It means that candidates no longer have to seek out entrenched vendors or pay astronomical amounts of cash to access voter files, build web sites carve up turf for canvassing or conduct direct social media outreach to supporters.

It means local candidates who are running in nonpartisan races with small budgets have access to an open, affordable product that can help them win. It means political experts can focus on direct contact with clients and what they say to potential constituents, not how they talk to them. It means consultants can take on—and win—more local races.

By making the key to field organizing—direct voter contact—affordable and accessible to local campaigns, software is fundamentally transforming who can run and who can get elected. It’s transforming politics—and supporting democracy’s most basic tenets.

If you want to be of service to your community or city, you don’t need big budgets. You just need field organizing. And some kick-ass political software.

Joe Green is the president and cofounder of NationBuilder, the world’s first community organizing system.