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November 18, 2005

Ben Wants to be the KCGOP’s “database expert”

My friend Ben generally talks technology rather than politics although he stays up on politics pretty well.  But he brought the two together in this post at his techie blog on the Republican voter disenfrancisement project. I've lifted the rest from what he wrote so put quotes around it all:

Ok, I’ll take a break from pure technology discussion to talk about a place where technology and politics intersect. First a short recap: A few days before our last general election, the King County GOP issued voter challenges, significant portion of which turned out to be blatant mistakes, and another good portion turned out to be situations the GOP simply hadn’t accounted for.

A great partisan recap can be found here.

Now, the reason why this interests me enough to actually write about is that a lot of the GOP’s woes in regard to this case have to do with the fact that they simply did not do their due diligence when it came to querying their list of King County voters. (An aside: please note I did not call it a “Voter Database”. It’s a list. Stefan Sharkansky has what he calls “Voter Database”, but which I call a little searchable spreadsheet.

In King County (and elsewhere, I presume), you can only register to vote using your place of residence. So, the King County GOP, gets a list of all of the addresses of UPS Stores, Mailboxes Etc.s and other mailbox service places, and cross-references it with the list of voter’s addresses, most likely using a simple “=” operatory to compare the two lists. So, in about one second I’m going to write all of the technical information anybody will need to do the same querying as the GOP:

FROM my_tiny_little_voter_list AS vl
INNER JOIN mailbox_addresses AS ma ON ma.address_1 = vl.addl AND ma.zip = vl.zip
ORDER BY vl.last_name

That’s it! Now take the results of that and disenfrachise every row.

The sheer ineptitude of whatever “database expert” they have running the show over there boggles my mind.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 18, 2005 at 02:54 PM | Permalink


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That code is much more sophisticated than what the KCGOP (or is it Stefan?) did. They apparently didn't use Zip code in their JOIN statement, didn't concern themselves with compass-point segmentation (N, SE, etc.), and didn't account for such niceties as "Street" vs. "Avenue".

As reported in Wednesday's Seattle Times, voters living at 2311 45th Ave SW in West Seattle were challenged because there's a UPS Store at 2311 45th St N in Wallingford.

Posted by: N in Seattle | Nov 18, 2005 4:52:45 PM

You're right...I forgot about that. I actually made my idiotically simple join statement TOO complicated.

Apparently we're both over-qualified to be the GOP's resident "database expert".

Posted by: Ben | Nov 18, 2005 11:54:36 PM

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