The poli sci guy hates this story, but the librarian loves it

The librarian sees it as a lesson learned for people who expect data ALWAYS to be available


In New York State today, we’re having the primary elections. For me, there are three Democratic races.

The District Attorney contest is between the incumbent, who some think overreached by indicting some Florida folks over steroids, a case that was largely undone by other courts, and a guy, son of a prominent defense attorney whose wife was so visible on the first piece of campaign literature I received, I’d think SHE was the candidate; I also got an AWFUL, as in amateurish, robocall from her. Does anyone for someone because their spouse, or worse, their kids, tells you how wonderful the candidate is? If anything, I’m LESS inclined to vote for that potential officeholder.

Then there’s the incumbent state senator running against a guy, and there’s almost no difference in their positions on the major issues.

But the one that is REALLY bizarre is the state assembly race with SIX, count ’em 6, candidates running for an open seat. One candidate is a disgraced former county executive named Jim Coyne who was convicted back in 1992 on federal charges of bribery, conspiracy, extortion, and mail-fraud charges for taking $30,000 from the architect of the Knickerbocker Arena while the 15,000-seat indoor arena was under construction in downtown Albany. Just this week, the retired county DA said Coyne should never have been indicted and is supporting his candidacy. There’s a woman named Margarita Perez who has been all but invisible, plus a couple of guys, William McCarthy and Christopher Higgins, who ran credible campaigns, especially the latter.

But the general consensus is that the real race is between a guy named Frank Commisso and a woman named Pat Fahy. For reasons that mystify me, Commisso decides to attack Fahy regarding some possibly substantive issues, but also about whether or not she had been registered and voted in Cook County, Illinois in the 1970s into the 1990s. The Cook County Board of Elections couldn’t find records under her name. Aha! Commisso says. But here’s where the great big caveat comes in.

From here:

In 1997, the [Cook County] clerk’s office switched to a new system of tracking its voter registrations… At the time of the switch, any voters who were still active in the old system were simply carried over to the new one.

But…”If you were registered in the ’70s and then your registration was canceled because you moved or you died…those registrations were not carried over to the new system.”

…[T]he clerk’s office, because of constraints on storage space, no longer has the hard copies of voter registration cards from that far back. And that means there’s essentially no way to know for sure.

The search that yielded the records produced by the Commisso campaign… went no further than the current computer system.

It is a massive non-story politically, as far as I am concerned.

But the librarian sees it as a lesson learned for people who expect data ALWAYS to be available. I was told in my first week in library school that when technology changes, information inevitably gets lost. This is almost always the case. Not every VHS movie has made it to DVD or BluRay. There are LPs that have never been in digital format of any kind. Ever since the cave drawings failed to make it onto papyrus, it has been so.

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