November 03, 2008
Universal Voter Registration

Every election cycle, our nation argues about voter fraud and purging voters. Universal voter registration is the solution to both of these problems. It eliminates voter fraud. It makes unlawful purging of voters impossible. It's also more simple to administrate than our current system, therefore costing less and easier to validate.

Universal voter registration is very simple: Every eligible voter is registered to vote by default. Voters can "opt-out" if they choose, preserving their first amendment right to free speech.

Preventing Voter Fraud

My proposal extends our existing statewide voter registration database (VRDB) to record both eligible and ineligible voters. As the Evergreen Freedom Foundation has pointed out, the removal of ineligible voters from the VRDB makes validation very difficult.

Testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence!

-- Edsger W. Dijkstra

For instance, imagine you check the name of a felon against the VRDB. The name is missing. Why? Was it correctly removed? Or is the omission a mistake? It's better to retain the names of ineligible voters and flag them.

State of The Art

Modern demographic databases, databases of persons, are very good at matching names, using statistics and deduction. The key is aggregating data from multiple information sources and not throw any of that data away. It's standard practice data mining techniques. (Hence the need to track both eligible and ineligible voters.)

Unfortunately, the incumbent Secretary of State is woefully ignorant of information technology. In 2005, he was sued by the Washington Association of Churches, and lost, to prevent his office from using naive name matching algorithms. He intended to use "exact name matching" (first initial of first name plus last name) to compare the VRDB against the department of licensing database. This would have disenfranchised 10,000s of eligible voters.

The fundamental problem, as old as databases themselves, is every database of persons has data quality problems. The databases from the Social Security Administration, US Postal Service, Dept of Health and others typically have an error rate of 1-5%. If managed incorrectly, as the incumbent has done, these errors accumulate. Using state of the art data mining techniques, these errors are largely eliminated.

(I have experience using demographic database technologies to better track patients for our electronic medical records product. My day job. We track millions of patients, manually correcting a few records each week.)

National ID & Open Government

Stefan is correct to infer that universal voter registration is a path to national identification. This is the same conclusion of Curtis Gans, Director, Center for the Study of the American Electorate (a conservative think tank for voting and election reform). I originally got the idea of universal voter registration from Gans' whitepaper Toward a New Procedural Paradigm (2006). Here's the opening paragraph:

This paper will, in its winding way, end as an argument for a biometrically based National ID for voting and other purposes. It does not start there. It starts as an examination of how we came to have personal registration in the United States; how it, in some ways, has changed; how the motivation for its continuance and further elaboration rests on myths closely held by each major political party even though they are largely without foundation; how these myths have led to present-day increasingly cumbersome registration and voting laws, including but not limited to much more intrusive voter identification requirements and an ever increased need for administrative resources; how these changes are inadequate either to make possible the highest levels of citizen voting participation or to protect the integrity of the voting process; all of which leads, in turn, to the one available technology that will enhance these goals.

Why would I support national identification? It's a big scary idea, having the government know everything about us and tracking our every movement.

The sad truth is that we currently have de facto national identification. Our government has outsourced the job of tracking all persons to corporations like LexisNexus (nee Seisent) and ChoicePoint. Our privacy is routinely, systematically violated.

So there's an additional motivation for universal voter registration: Transparency and accountability. The basic open government argument.

The Western democracies that have universal voter registration also have legal privacy protections. By adopting universal voter registration, we'll daylight the existing massive demographic databases already in use. That in turn will be a catalyst for finally bringing privacy protections to the people of the United States.

Partisan Advantage?

As Curtis Gans illustrates, there is no partisan advantage to universal voter registration. The reason is our winner takes all form of voting. Whatever the size of the pie, the two parties will each take half. (This is known as Duverger's Law.)

Increases Voter Turnout?

Universal voter registration also does not increase voter turnout.

The only factor which consistently improves voter turnout is the competitiveness of the race(s). Election reforms which improve competitiveness are fair redistricting (anti-gerrymandering), alternatives to "winner takes all" voting systems, campaign finance reforms such as publicly financed campaigns.

Monkeying with the voting system does not improve voter turnout. Vote by mail, Top 2 Primary, early voting, moving the primary date around, etc, and so forth are just gimmicks.

Not Same Day Registration

Universal voter registration is not same day registration. I strongly oppose same day registration; it makes the administration of our elections a bureaucratic nightmare. You end up having election day registrations chasing cast ballots through the system. Not good.

Just like with our current registration system, universal voter registration would freeze the voter database before an election. Thirty days seems reasonable. That ensures voters are given the correct ballot for their residence of record.

Thanks

Thank you Stefan, for allowing me to post once again on Sound Politics. Honestly, I don't know if losing your endorsement hurts me or helps me (haha). But I hope that I've shown my proposal for universal voter registration is very serious and has merit.

Posted by Jason Osgood at November 03, 2008 12:28 AM | Email This
Comments
1. Bull.

Make voters register and show ID at a polling place.

Anything else is full of fraud, like we proved here in 2004.

Posted by: Independent Voter on November 3, 2008 05:36 AM
2. I'm with the poster @ 1.
We're not exactly splitting the atom here. If you're such a dolt that you can't register to vote, you're probably not smart enough to fill out an informed ballot anyway.

Posted by: Rick D. on November 3, 2008 05:51 AM
3. Let's see now; is it the 'right to vote' or the 'right to fill out an informed (and by who's definition) ballot'? I think this idea presents enlightened possibility. :)

Posted by: Duffman on November 3, 2008 05:59 AM
4. Mr. Osgood,

Thank you for posting the information above; I will consider it before voting this election.

This proposal sounds fine, if it is used in addition to ID at the polling place, and the retention of a physical polling booth.

Posted by: Sasquatch on November 3, 2008 06:24 AM
5. @ 3~ Of course you do Duffman, you're a nannystater. From your bull to Obama's ...

Bull awaits Obama win in Kogelo village
By NATION CorrespondentPosted Saturday, November 1 2008 at 19:35
Senator Barrack Obama's relatives have congregated at Nyangoma Kogelo village and will remain together until after Tuesday's US presidential elections.
They have set aside a bull to slaughter in celebration should the Illinois senator whose father was Kenyan win, according to family spokesperson Mr Malik Abongo.

I wonder if Darryl Hannah approves of this message...

Posted by: Rick D. on November 3, 2008 06:58 AM
6. A Modest Proposal -

* Use the same criteria that employers are forced to use to determine employment eligibility, when registering someone to vote.

* Use polling places to conduct voting with voting instruments that use "fill in the circle" or similar techniques to avoid hanging chads.

* Require two forms of identification at the polling place before allowing anyone to vote; a picture identification and voter registration card would be sufficient.

Now, how is this too much to ask to safeguard the voting process?

Posted by: zapporo on November 3, 2008 07:06 AM
7. Requiring valid, picture, government-issued ID at the polling place is a no-brainer. Another no-brainer is verification of citizenship (birth certificate or naturalization documents) and address when registering to vote, with no places of business, vacant lots or park-bench addresses allowed. Double voters, convicted felons (with unrestored voting rights) and illegal aliens who attempt to vote should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The burden of proof of valid registration should be upon the person wishing to vote, NOT the government. It is a citizen's right to vote, but also his/her responsibility to be properly registered. Anyone who opposes these conditions has an agenda-driven motive for allowing illegal voting.

Posted by: Saltherring on November 3, 2008 07:12 AM
8. Vote for Stefan.

He knows the voting business inside out and won't vote for this guy with the latest "good intentions" idea.

Posted by: Ron Hebron on November 3, 2008 08:07 AM
9. Any time people start talking about national IDs and rationalizing why we should have them, I get pretty worried.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on November 3, 2008 08:33 AM
10. Sigh, Jason, sigh.

Kudos for coming on here.

But your ideas are terrible.


Universal voter registration ... eliminates voter fraud.

Yes, by making illegal voters legal. Not exactly a "solution." More like "eliminating the right of self-determination of the citizenry."


In 2005, he was sued by the Washington Association of Churches, and lost, to prevent his office from using naive name matching algorithms. He intended to use "exact name matching" (first initial of first name plus last name) to compare the VRDB against the department of licensing database. This would have disenfranchised 10,000s of eligible voters.

You're lying, Jason. The matching would only identify POTENTIAL names to purge, it would not have disenfranchised ANYONE. You say things like this a lot, falsely pretending that there's not several steps in between identifying a potential illegal voter, and actually purging that voter.


The fundamental problem, as old as databases themselves, is every database of persons has data quality problems.

Exactly why your plan is FAIL: you want to use those same error-prone databases to include people, many of whom SHOULD NOT be included.


The sad truth is that we currently have de facto national identification.

No, in fact, we do not.


As Curtis Gans illustrates, there is no partisan advantage to universal voter registration. The reason is our winner takes all form of voting. Whatever the size of the pie, the two parties will each take half. (This is known as Duverger's Law.)

Obviously false. Come on, we're not stupid, Jason, no matter how much you think we are. We know that certain demographic groups tend to favor certain parties, and that if this were to expand voting among those groups, it would therefore change the balance. In particular, of course, I am thinking of the demographic of "illegal Hispanics," who overwhelmingly favor Democrats.


Universal voter registration also does not increase voter turnout.

Again, false. When illegal people can vote, they turn out more than if they can't vote. Pretty simple.


I hope that I've shown my proposal for universal voter registration is very serious and has merit.

You didn't.

The biggest flaw in your presentation is that you did not give a SINGLE WORD either toward preventing ineligible people from voting -- as you have continually refused to address this despite repeated requests on this site. Indeed, you have continually attacked efforts to prevent illegal voting, while ignoring the safeguards in place to prevent legal voters from being purged.

Nor did you even give a nod toward the negative security implications of a national ID.

Posted by: pudge on November 3, 2008 09:40 AM
11. Hi pudge. My new nemesis.

Have you read "The Action Is the Juice"? Well, we progressives have. And we adapted.

Previously, I comprehensively explained how using touchscreen voting machines eliminates voter privacy. You took exception to this. Called me a liar then too. Instead of refuting my thesis, you proposed using the magical properties of open source software to protect voter privacy.

Look, I'll make it very simple for you:

Universal voter registration is the only proposal on the table which utterly eliminates voter fraud. Opposing universal voter registration means you support voter fraud.

Why this disconnect? I have two theories. You do not understand the proposal. Or perhaps you don't want a solution because the issue of voter fraud is a handy bludgeon.

But for the sake of the readers of this blog, I'll suspend disbelief and imagine that you're interested in discourse. So let's have it: You tell me how universal voter registration permits voters fraud. Your home page says you're a software developer. So give me the scenario, the use cases, the reproduction steps. I want you to shred my idea.

Nor did you even give a nod toward the negative security implications of a national ID.

Words have meaning, pudge. Bruce Schneier is discussing the use of a national identification card to guard against terrorism. I'm talking accounting. (Yes, I've read Schneier's books. They're pretty good.)


Posted by: Jason Osgood on November 3, 2008 10:21 AM
12. Jason, instead of just saying that universal voter registration will prevent voter fraud, will you please explain to me how it will do so?

I'm not being argumentative, this is a serious question. Although at first glance, I wouldn't support this system, you could possible convince me.

Posted by: Paula on November 3, 2008 11:03 AM
13. Hi Paula.

With universal voter registration, every person is listed in a master database, and whether they're eligible or ineligible to vote is noted.

With our current system, ineligible voters are not listed. This means an observer cannot validate that an ineligible voter is marked as ineligible.

To utterly prevent voter fraud, you have to record BOTH the eligible and ineligible voters. There is no other system which can be proven correct.

Further...

With our current system, records of people are not always corrected matched. I have two relevant examples from this election.

#1 - A woman contacted me to alert me that she had received two ballots, one for her maiden name and another for her married name. She's been married for years. She has not moved for a decade. She submitted updated registrations. And yet, the statewide VRDB was not able to infer that her two names were actually the same person.

#2 - A man contacted me because he couldn't confirm his voter registration online. Turns out that one database listed his last name as "MC MURPHY" (two words) and another listed it as "MCMURPHY". (Not his real name.)

Both of these examples are data quality errors. People with technical knowledge stuck in the '80s (pudge, the incumbent Secretary of State) using naive exact matches would not find these errors.

The records of the woman who changed her name would likely have the same birthdate, address, and SSN. So there'd be a match and the duplicate removed. The records of the man that were mistyped would similarly be matched.

We do this every day managing patient records. Technically, it's the exact same problem as managing voter registrations. Identity Hub is a commercial product that provides this functionality.

The FEBRL (Freely extensible biomedical record linkage) is an academic/open source alternative. Here's how they describe the problem:

Record or data linkage techniques are used to link together records which relate to the same entity (e.g. patient, customer, household) in one or more data sets where a unique identifier for each entity is not available in all or any of the data sets to be linked.

Record linkage is an important initial step in many research and data mining projects in the biomedical and other sectors, where it is used to improve data quality and to assemble longitudinal or other data sets which would not otherwise be available.

Thanks for your question. I hope this explanation helps.

Posted by: Jason Osgood on November 3, 2008 12:31 PM
14. Jason, I understand your explanation, but I don't understand how universal registration will eliminate date quality errors. Can you help me out with that?

Posted by: Paula on November 3, 2008 01:57 PM
15. Jason:

Opposing universal voter registration means you support voter fraud.

Have you stopped beating your mother, Jason? Don't deny it, I have pictures.


You say a lot without saying much, but I am going to focus on the core of where you expose how stupid your ideas are.


Universal voter registration is the only proposal on the table which utterly eliminates voter fraud.

Let us all remember this quote: it "utterly eliminates" voter fraud. Osgood is saying that voter fraud will be IMPOSSIBLE under his system.

What that necessarily means is that there is no way for the data in his system to wrong, and no way for people to get around the system.

It is very easy to show this is wrong, using Osgood's own words, in particular: every database of persons has data quality problems.

I could just stop there, because I have just destroyed his essential claim, using his own words. But I won't.

Bruce Schneier -- whose article you either didn't read or didn't understand -- speaks in the context of stopping terrorism, but it goes deeper. His first point is that it won't help. But then he goes on to say that it is likely to cause harm, and costs a fortune, and that any benefit is not worth the harm.

Security is always an analysis of risks, and Schneier would be the first to tell you that there is no such possible system that could ever "utterly eliminate" voter fraud, so that tells me off the bat that you don't understand Shneier very well at all. This concept is fundamental to pretty much all of his work: no security is perfect or unbreakable.


Anyway, Schneier goes on and identifies several security holes in a national ID that would allow people to vote illegally. There's nothing new here, it's the same old thing as with most systems, but again, they completely undermine your essential claim of "utterly eliminating" voter fraud.

The first problem is the card itself. No matter how unforgeable we make it, it will be forged. And even worse, people will get legitimate cards in fraudulent names.

Two of the 9/11 terrorists had valid Virginia driver's licenses in fake names. And even if we could guarantee that everyone who issued national ID cards couldn't be bribed, initial cardholder identity would be determined by other identity documents ... all of which would be easier to forge.

Not that there would ever be such thing as a single ID card. Currently about 20 percent of all identity documents are lost per year. An entirely separate security system would have to be developed for people who lost their card, a system that itself is capable of abuse.

This applies directly to voting. His points are a. ID can be forged, b. people who control the system can cheat, c. people can forge other documents to get put into the system in the first place, d. the backup systems can be compromised.


With universal voter registration, every person is listed in a master database, and whether they're eligible or ineligible to vote is noted.

And it WILL OFTEN be wrong, according to YOU. Further, we have NO WAY OF KNOWING whether someone is ineligible to vote. There is no data telling us this for the majority of people.

So for people we don't know about, to make sure it violates no one's legal right to vote, it would have to be seeded with data that marks them as legal voters, even if they are not. And this is the fundamental problem: you offer no idea (because none exists) for how to prevent most noncitizens from being marked as "eligible." I strongly suspect you want it this way, that you want noncitizens to vote.


To utterly prevent voter fraud, you have to record BOTH the eligible and ineligible voters. There is no other system which can be proven correct.

Your system cannot be proven correct ... every database of persons has data quality problems.


With our current system, records of people are not always corrected matched.

Neither would they be in your system ... every database of persons has data quality problems.


Both of these examples are data quality errors.

Which also would exist in your system ... every database of persons has data quality problems.


People with technical knowledge stuck in the '80s (pudge ...)

Oh please. You really don't want to challenge me on technical knowledge. You will go down quickly, and in flames. As evidenced in this discussion.


Thanks for your question. I hope this explanation helps.

Yes, it shows you are either dishonest or an idiot. You want us to believe that even though all these other databases are flawed, that this One True Database won't be, especially since there is NO WAY to seed it with a list of who is NOT a citizen.

Thank you for helping to elect Sam Reed.

Posted by: pudge on November 3, 2008 02:03 PM
16. We need to throw out each and every registration in the entire country and start anew.

Registration only in person, with VALID ID and a fingerprint, followed by voting only in person (except military) with VALID ID and the fingerprint to be used for verification of questionable ballots.

The right to vote should not be treated as a convenience. Rights have responsibilities. If you are not up to the rigors of the resposibility, stay home.

Of course with the demoncraps running DC they like their fraud just the way it is.

But then, I think any person putting down his money to enter ANY political race should be required to pass a national civics and economcs test before they are allowed on ANY ballot. If you can't enter grad school without passing the LSAT, GMAT or MCAT, why the hell would we PAY people to run our lives without proving they are actually up to the task?

That would disallow most of the moron majority in DC... Olympia... King County...

***

ABC "20/20" co-anchor John Stossel:

"I keep hearing how important it is for everyone to vote. Let me be politically incorrect and say that maybe some people shouldn't vote. I know I'm swimming against the tide. Get-out the-vote groups now register young people at rock concerts. HeadCount cofounder Andy Bernstein told me: 'We registered over a 100,000 people. It is so imperative that this generation's voice is heard.' But wait. Is that really a good idea? Many kids don't know much. At a HeadCount concert, [ABC's] '20/20' asked some future voters, 'How many senators are there?' One said 12, another 16, and another 64. One girl guessed, '50 per state.' Most kids didn't know what Roe v. Wade was about. 'Roe vs. Wayne?' asked one. 'Segregation, maybe?' 'Where we declared bankruptcy?' Headcount's Marc Brownstein concedes, 'there's a lot of uninformed voters out there.' But he argued: 'Democracy is not about taking the most educated portion of the society and having them decide who's going to run the entire society. Democracy is about every individual having a voice.' I suggested that when people don't know anything, maybe it's their civic duty not to vote. 'It's an argument that really, really smacks against everything we hold dear as Americans,' Bernstein replied. ... Economist Bryan Caplan, author of 'The Myth of the Rational Voter,' points out, 'the public's knowledge of politics is shockingly low.' He scoffs at the idea that 'it's everyone's civic duty to vote.' 'This is very much like saying, it's our civic duty to give surgery advice,' Caplan said. 'We like to think that political issues are much less complicated than brain surgery, but many of them are pretty hard. If someone doesn't know what he's talking about, it really is better if they say, look, I'm going to leave this in wiser hands.' Isn't it elitist to say only some people should vote? 'Is it elitist to say only some people should do brain surgery? If you don't know what you're doing, you are not doing the country a favor by voting.' ... Voting is serious business. It works best when people educate themselves. If uninformed people stay home on Election Day, good."

EXACTLY!!

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on November 3, 2008 02:14 PM
17. Paula, it absolutely will not. Good question, but he won't answer it correctly, unless he admits his original claim is wrong, which I doubt he will do.

Posted by: pudge on November 3, 2008 02:24 PM
18. Pudge, kind of what I was thinking. I used to work in the IS department at a letter shop (i.e. junk mail processor) but my knowlege of DBs was pretty specific. I was wondering how any system could eliminate data quality problems.

Ragnar, you are a person after my own heart. Purge the voter rolls and start afresh. No third party registrars. Register in person at a county office. Proof of eligibility to vote in hand. Picture ID at the polls; limit absentee ballots to those absolutely necessarsy. Anyone who can't be bothered to go register, probably shouldn't be voting anyway.

Fingerprint is a nice touch, but how would you implement it?

Posted by: Paula on November 3, 2008 02:37 PM
19. Jason Osgood, we need you.
Sam Reed, you are FIRED (G*d willing).

Enuf said.

Posted by: Rossifarian Spy on November 3, 2008 02:40 PM
20. "Spy": maybe you can answer the questions, since Osgood can't?

Posted by: pudge on November 3, 2008 02:46 PM
21. Hi Paula-

...but I don't understand how universal registration will eliminate date quality errors. Can you help me out with that?

Sure thing. I'll describe the best system available today: the Seisent product, now owned by LexisNexus. (The NSA bought a Seisent system for their MATRIX program. It's that good.)

What Seisent does is collect pretty much every public record. No data is thrown away. With that data, they reconstruct each person's life history, from birth until death.

I'm telling you, as a statement of fact, that the Seisent system uniquely identifies EVERYONE in North America, citizen, immigrant, traveler, EVERYONE, in near real time. There is no ambiguity. If there is a any record anywhere of your life, you're identified. Uniquely. (I'd imagine that Central America and the Caribbean have pretty good coverage, if not perfect. My information is a few years out of date.)

Can we simply use Seisent for voter registration maintenance? I asked them. Technically, yes. But after the brouhaha with ChoicePoint illegally purging voters in Florida for the 2000 general election, Seisent won't go near election administration.

So. Can we make our own Seisent knockoff?

Happily, yes. We need to record three things: people, locations, and time. When we have enough records, we can rebuild people's history. With that history, that trace, we can choose the most recent, most accurate data. This is called the "single best record".

With that history (trace), whenever we get a new record, we find a match somewhere. With a match, we follow the history (follow the chain) until we get to the single best record.

Your question was about resolving data quality issues. Different strategies are used for different kinds of errors.

Say there's a typo, like a transposition. Normally "Jason" != "Jaosn". But using clever algorithms, "Jason" == "Jaosn". There's also algorithms for matching nicknames, common misspellings, and initials.

Data cleaning can be done on every type of data: street names, addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, SSNs, etc. If you have enough data, like a list of all known addresses, a list of all SSNs issued, etc, then each can be handled with a matching problem, just like with names.

Recall the two examples above. I'll use them to illustrate how given enough records, you can eliminate data quality errors. When the woman changed her name, the new married name would become the "single best record" and any match using the old maiden name would be linked to the new name. When the clerical people mistype "MC MURPHY", the matching algorithms (SOUNDEX is the most simple and familiar) would link it to "MCMURPHY".

How does the Seisent knockoff solution, what I can universal voter registration, compare with our current system?

Our current system does not uniquely identify individual. It does not retain history of changes. It does not record both eligible and ineligible voters. It cannot be proven correct.

I think that's about it. We explain this stuff all the time to our customers (hospitals, payers, doctors). Hopefully it made sense.

Cheers.

Posted by: Jason Osgood on November 3, 2008 03:16 PM
22. I am sorry Mr Osgood. I honestly wanted to vote for you. But your "Universal Registration" idea has to be the DUMBEST to come down the pike in years.

We are arguing over having people show ID when they go to vote and having lawsuits about the government tracking terrorists via public information. Can you imagine the outcry from the people when we tell them we want every public record of them in a database before they can vote?

Posted by: Sorry Osgood on November 3, 2008 04:01 PM
23. Fingerprint is a nice touch, but how would you implement it? Posted by Paula at November 3, 2008 02:37 PM

I wouldn't immplement it for voting but I would REQUIRE it for registering. It would have the effect of self-sorting because: who was wiggly about providing their fingerprint would probably not register. Furthemore, it could be used as a failsafe in sorting out illegal vote problems.

I rmember when we'd get a little pin, then a sticker that said "I Voted!". I'd proudly settle for a purple finger.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on November 3, 2008 04:38 PM
24. Universal registration will only work in an authoritarian government with nationalized photo id system. South Korea is a classic example of such a model. Over there, there is no registration to vote. Anyone turning a certain age (not sure how old, I am guessing it is 18 now. It used to be 20) becomes entitled to vote automatically. However, there is very little absentee voting, one must bring the national id (with a photo) to vote. Not even the driver's license is valid for this purpose.

That said, there is no way such a system would work in the US. The culture and the political system would not simply allow it to happen.

Posted by: DopioLover on November 3, 2008 06:31 PM
25. Hi DopioLover.

Other well known examples of authoritarian regimes sporting universal voter registration are Australia, Denmark, and Germany.

Next.

Posted by: Jason Osgood on November 3, 2008 06:53 PM
26. Thank you, Jason, for taking the time to explain. I understand the value of designating every voter as either eligible or ineligible. The data matching I understand; it's not that much different than what we did at the letter shop, just taken to the nth degree. That being said, I think I still favor a positive registration with the same data matching applied to the registration database.

Posted by: Paula on November 3, 2008 06:57 PM
27. Osgood:

You did not answer the question.

You were asked how to ELIMINATE data quality errors. Not how to deal with them as they are found, not how to lessen them, but how to ELIMINATE errors. Because the only way you can claim you will "utterly eliminate voter fraud" (your words) is to "utterly eliminate" data errors.

And you cannot do that.

I'm telling you, as a statement of fact, that the Seisent system uniquely identifies EVERYONE in North America, citizen, immigrant, traveler, EVERYONE, in near real time.

False. And you even admit you are lying a few sentences later:


If there is a any record anywhere of your life, you're identified.

False. If there is a record that the system has access to, which is not all records. Further, there are many people in this country, including citizens, for which there are no records available.

You said "everyone." Then you admitted it is not "everyone," but only people that have a record of their life that the system has access to. Which is not everyone.

And even further, people often do not have records available for when they move. It may, or may not.


Uniquely.

Not necessarily accurately. As YOU YOURSELF said: every database of persons has data quality problems.


Recall the two examples above. I'll use them to illustrate how given enough records, you can eliminate data quality errors.

No, in fact, you won't do that. Unfortunately. I wish you could. But you can't.


When the woman changed her name, the new married name would become the "single best record" and any match using the old maiden name would be linked to the new name. When the clerical people mistype "MC MURPHY", the matching algorithms (SOUNDEX is the most simple and familiar) would link it to "MCMURPHY".

First, you obviously do not understand the Soundex algorithm -- an algorithm I've worked with at a low level before -- because it has nothing to do with whitespace (and it is not in all caps). Gee, color me unsurprised that you don't really know what you're talking about. Soundex is a valuable tool and I've used it quite a bit, but it doesn't work like you say.

Second, this does not come close to explaining how errors are eliminated. This falsely assumes that the algorithms will always catch the problem, but what if her name was entered as "SMITH," due to operator error? And what if there's two people with the same name?

It IS NOT POSSIBLE to eliminate data errors. You are falsely advertising here, or you are just ignorant.

Further, the system cannot reliably identify who is and is not a citizen, because it does not have access to that data. Your system would presume everyone is a citizen unless proven otherwise. Your system would CREATE opportunity for MASSIVE voter fraud by registering thousands upon thousands of noncitizens to vote.


And perhaps even worse, you are proposing a massive invasion-of-privacy against the citizens of Washington with this database and data mining.

You have proven yourself to have very damaging and dangerous ideas, to not give a damn about preventing illegal voters, and to be incapable of serving in the office of Secretary of State.

Posted by: pudge on November 3, 2008 07:04 PM
28. Oh, and note how Osgood does not respond to my very specific and detailed arguments.

Because he can't.

He can't answer obvious and well-researched and educated questions from a concerned citizen, and wants to be Secretary of State.

The most important question he's never answered is how his system would identify which voters were non-citizens; how would his system "utterly eliminate voter fraud" when, in fact, it would be required to assume thousands upon thousands of noncitizens were citizens, and literally enable and invite them to commit voter fraud?

Posted by: pudge on November 3, 2008 07:16 PM
29. Hi pudge, my new nemesis.

The action is the juice.

You choose to not understand. That's your burden, not mine.

Next.

Posted by: Jason Osgood on November 3, 2008 07:22 PM
30. Osgood:

You refuse to answer the question.

You're running for SECRETARY OF STATE.

YOUR plan is on the table.

You have not given ONE WORD to how it would prevent noncitizens from voting.

Your silence is defeaning, and by refusing to answer you are tacitly admitting to my claim: you want to allow noncitizens to vote.

I am no nemesis. I am just a citizen who knows a lot more about these issues than you do, who is challenging you to back up your claims, in particular, the one that this would utterly eliminate voter fraud.

You cannot back up that claim.

You cannot demonstrate how this would prevent noncitizens from voting, because it would, on the contrary, legitimize noncitizen voting.

Thanks for playing. You lose.

Posted by: pudge on November 3, 2008 10:02 PM
31. As someone who has lived for several years in South Korea and speaks the language fluently, the national ID system sucks terribly. People can quite easily disappear or change their identities, even in that small peninsula. The number of people that run away from debts, husbands, wives, children, what not is shockingly high.

Bruce Schneier is right. We really do have to rely on the people to police themselves and the police to be smart about how they do policing. It's that whole American government thing. The easy answers are never right.

Posted by: Jonathan Gardner on November 3, 2008 11:20 PM
32. Computers are great ....when they work.... but for the matter of exercising our duty and right to vote, I'd just as soon meet the requirement for voting every four years or even more often if one moves from one voting district to another.

The sanctity of the vote MUST be upheld and I don't give a rats hiney how inconvenient it is. Show up at a country registration office with your birth certificate and a govt. issued picture I.D. Give all pertinent info plus a fingerprint and BINGO!, you're eligible to vote for the next four years IN THAT COUNTY. Just bring your registration card and picture I.D. If you move....you do it again and the new country HAS to notify the last county of your new registration and you will be eliminated from the voter rolls in your old county. You do it when drivers licences expire, why not voter registrations? Don't want to go through the hassle? Good! Don't vote! Simple, huh?

Posted by: Ain't from round here on November 4, 2008 02:52 PM
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Posted by: ziswhp jmvkxyle on November 5, 2008 03:56 AM
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Posted by: ziswhp jmvkxyle on November 5, 2008 03:57 AM
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Posted by: ziswhp jmvkxyle on November 5, 2008 03:57 AM
36. Why does Soundpolitics hate America so much?

They think America can't do what is done on a regular basis in most of the rest of the civilized world.

Because clearly, modern civilized nations in places like Canada and Europe are able to have universal voter registration w/o fraud or the BS the tin hat brigade throw up as a smoke screen.

Claiming we can't do what others are clearly able to pull off means they think America is dumber and less able than Europe.

While Bush has proved that's true for Republican gov't, Democrats have proved they can, and do, know how to run gov't effectively for the people. Just look at the deficit reduction done under Clinton, and the deficits run up by Reagan, Bush, & Shrub.

And the election returns coming in at a paltry pace shows Washingtonians prefer incompetence to run their voting system over someone who recoqnizes what century we're living ing.

Posted by: chicaagoexpat on November 5, 2008 01:00 PM
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