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In Memoriam: A Tribute to an Information Quality Innovator

  • June 01 2004, 1:00am EDT
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America has lost a true patriot and an information quality (IQ) innovator in the untimely death of Rev. Athan L. Gibbs, Sr. (August 30, 1946 - March 12, 2004).

Athan was dismayed, as many were, by the 2000 presidential election problems and how broken the election processes actually were. The problems went beyond the 172,000 disqualified votes in Florida. A Caltech/MIT study determined that "4 to 6 million voters were 'disenfranchised' from the presidential election due to 'faulty equipment' [sic, should be 'Faulty Processes'] (1.5 to 2 million lost votes), registration mix-ups (1.5 to 3 million lost votes) and polling place operation failure (up to 1 million lost votes), plus an unknown number of lost votes due to absentee ballot problems. The 4 to 6 million votes lost in the presidential election due to election process failures is the equivalent of throwing out the votes of the entire state of Florida!"1

However, Athan did not just complain. He had a vision (Covey's Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind), and then he did something about it. He created the concept of TruVote and "Put First Things First" (Covey's Habit 3), working diligently to make his vision a reality. An accountant and auditor by trade, but a true minister in life, Athan had a vision that no Americans who desire to vote should ever have their intended votes not counted accurately. Athan developed an electronic voting system called TruVote that could eliminate the vast majority of the disfranchised votes.

I had the privilege to know Athan and review his TruVote system. I was amazed that he had designed the TruVote system with the information quality principles that I was writing about in my analysis of the election process. I was honored that he asked me to accompany him to Washington to demonstrate TruVote to members of Congress.

I highlighted the TruVote System in my previously referenced detailed analysis of the election process failures. The TruVote System is an exemplary example of "designing quality in" to the voting process. TruVote is much more than a touch-screen voting system. Its IQ features include:

  • Photos of the candidates.
  • A split screen listing race candidates on one side and a summary of the voter's current selection on the other side.
  • The ability for the voter to review the choices made and the ability to change the vote.
  • A reminder to voters before they record their votes if they have not made a choice for a particular race, preventing inadvertent omissions.
  • A printed receipt that allows voters to call or query a post-election database to confirm that their votes were counted.

For a PDF color copy of the full election analysis, "Information Quality Mandate for Election Reform," containing pictures and a description of the TruVote system, visit and select "Tools & Resources," then "Articles."
My prayers go to Dorothy, Athan's wife, and his children, Jonathan and Angela, and to his other loved ones and to all the staff at TruVote, as well as those who now strive to make Athan's dream a reality. While Athan is no longer with us physically, his vision must live on to make America a better place.

If you would like to help improve the election process, please visit

1. English, Larry "Information Quality Mandate for Election Reform," a series of articles, DM Review, October, 2001-January 2002.

Larry P. English dedicates this month's column to Athan L. Gibbs, Sr., a true Information Quality visionary and innovator.a

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