I don’t know about you, but I found the five-week ballot count and recount of the 2000 election excruciating. The election turned out to hinge on the votes cast in the state of Florida, which turned out to be in a statistical tie. The outcome of the election hinged on every last vote of their 67 counties. We have all heard enough partisan politics to last us for a long while. If you’re like most citizens, you want the government to fix the election process and never be bothered with a hanging, swinging, dimpled or pregnant chad again! However, this is a column dedicated to the discussion of data quality issues – so we are going to look at the 2000 presidential election one last time – from the perspective of a data management professional.

As it turned out, Florida’s 25 electoral votes would give a narrow edge to either George Bush or Al Gore. That made every vote critical. Suddenly, the nation had no tolerance for a margin of error in counting the ballots. But, the process Florida (and many other states) put in place was not up to the demands the nation had placed on it. We had a data quality problem of the highest degree! Fortunately, the U.S. had some business rules in place to deal with the dilemma –found in the U.S. Constitution. But, for five long weeks, the attention of the nation was on data quality. Let’s take a closer look.

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