Sunday, February 19, 2012

Automation then, automation now

So the PG had an editorial yesterday based on some national analysis about that old canary folks really believe about dead folks showing up in the voting records. I know lots of folks believe that happens a lot here, likely in part because we have so many older voters and then they read things like that so they connect the dots.  I won't repeat it here, but in the past I parsed the data on that and you can see what I came up with specifically on the mythical dead voter in Allegheny County .   From what I see there just is not much evidence at all of dead people in the voting records at all; no matter how much fun it is to theorize. Every now and then I will see a record or two that has me wondering, but seriously, the data does not support any systematic problem.  Where there are 'ghosts' in the voting records it is among younger adults who are also the most mobile folks in the population.  That folks who likely have moved out of the region remain on the rolls longer than they might otherwise ought to is probably an issue, but not an easy one to fix actually.  There is no big brother requirement to report to the government when you pick up stakes and so it is the hardest cohort of folks to really capture accurately in the voting records...  no matter how well you administer the system.

Just a random musing though that I generally agree with the tone of that editorial that Pennsylvania needs to do some big jumps to catch up with the 21st century overall.. Just look at what the Ohio Secretary of State has going on in terms of electronic availability of voting records.  I am sure folks are working on implementing something similar in Harrisburg.

and I guess it fits here in this meme.  I was going to save this for next week sometime because it talked about assessments... but it also talked about modern administration of voting records in Allegheny County.What comment could one add to this? Here is a headline that was in the Pittsburgh Press some years ago and an article really worth reading:

Courthouse Getting Ready for Era of Computers - Automation Spells Savings for County Taxpayers, subtitled: Instant Election Results, Fast Reassessing Possible

The first line goes: "Government in Allegheny County is on the threshold of automation.  Then it gets into what the implications are for property assessments in Allegheny County. You gotta read this:
"Allow the County assessors to reappraise every property in the 129 municipalities here in two months time.
"The significance of the assessment speedup is ready discernible as experts explain that computers will replace reappraisal procedures that now take anywhere from nine to 18 years.

It takes so long to reappraise taxable property in Allegheny County under present methods that rolls cannot be kept up to date.
The inability o the assessors to keep tax valuations in line with current market values causes lossesin revenue to every taxing body in Allegheny County. It also produces inequities which dooms property owners in areas where assessments are current to pay higher taxes than those in communities where reappraisals are pending.
By William Pade, Pittsburgh Press, January 15, 1963.

I do think they kind of overlooked human factors eh? 'Nine years' it mentions.... kind of the cycle we are still going on in a way.  Godspeed John Glenn.


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