A note on data

I’ve come into possession of some UC election voting statistics, which I’ll be throwing up here over the next couple of weeks (mainly because Cliff and a couple other people thought it sounded interesting).

First, however, I need to list some caveats. The statistics and charts I put up are derived from backups of the UC’s election software database. After some finessing, I was able to piece together the various bits of data to recreate anonymous voters. Each individual is identified by a unique encrypted string and has a known dorm or house affiliation. Additionally, each individual is attached to his or her complete voting history, including candidate rankings.

Despite my best efforts, I cannot decrypt the unique identifier, and I have no way of identifying the real people who correspond to the individuals in the database. Furthermore, the data is not flawless. Voting histories are (nearly) perfect, and are (nearly) perfectly attached to correct individuals. Due to the design of the voting system, however, individuals’ dorm or house affiliations are overwritten each time an individual votes. This poses two problems: we cannot determine how individual dorms vote in any given election, and (more importantly) we cannot perfectly determine an individual’s class year. (Continued)