Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Quality Databases

Don’t worry; I know this is a database commentary and not a political one. I’ll make sure that my political biases, if I have any at all, won’t show through. Oddly enough, my technology biases won’t show through either because I’m not going to mention SQL Server. Well, except for that once. It’s not every day when database technology is front page news, and I feel the need to sound off on it because I’m a bit mad.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s likely that you remember a bit of debate over who actually won the US presidential election a few years back. Well, that election led to new laws about how votes would be counted and how voter registration would be tracked. Guess where all the registration information is stored. They’re stored in a database system, of course, although I shudder to actually call them databases based on what I’ve been reading in the news. It almost sounds more like a giant file cabinet in the sky.

I don’t want to go off on a tangent blaming any one group, but the whole one person one vote concept doesn’t work very well if the databases that track voter information are horribly flawed and can’t provide data integrity, reliability, and accuracy. From what I’ve read in the news, there are as many as a dozen swing states predicted to be won or lost by narrow margins in which there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of voters who are potentially disenfranchised or voting illegally. I suspect the people who are making the laws around voter registration systems would be less than happy if the databases that ran their bank accounts, or the many other systems that govern modern society, were randomly wrong to the point in which courts decide they can’t be trusted.

Is it really that hard to build a modern database system that would ensure accurate voter integrity? I’d be willing to bet that a smart class of undergrad computer science students, as well as most of our readers, could architect something better than what we have right now. No, I’m not going to suggest any one solution. However, I suspect we’re in for some interesting TV over the next few weeks, and regardless of who wins, there will be folks on the other side claiming that votes didn’t count that should. Don’t we deserve better

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