Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Canary in a data mine?

Harold Ickes is known as Hillary Clinton's arm-twister, the guy who's leaning on uncommitted superdelegates to move his candidate's way. Ickes is also the force behind a for-profit data aggregating firm, Catalist, mentioned in a recent TAP piece by Holly Yeager. Catalist provided the data used by Women Voices Women Vote (WVWV), the non-profit group behind troubling robo-calls received by North Carolina voters in the run-up to tomorrow today's primary. (Both the Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns are also using Catalist data to target voters.) The WVWV calls are under suspicion as possible voter suppression tactics and, just days ahead of the North Carolina presidential primary, may have targeted registered African-American voters in that state. (Read Dana Goldstein's TAPPED post here.)

Critics contend that the WVWV calls to voters already registered to vote in the primary -- and the general election -- were seemingly designed to cause confusion, since those receiving the calls were told by a recorded male voice, self-identified on the recording as Lamont Williams, that they would be receiving registration packets in the mail, and that after recipients had filled them out, they could vote and make their voices heard. WVWF claims as its mission an increased voter turnout of single women. (WVWV President Page Gardner answers critics here.)

"We update the files on a schedule we provide to our clients at the start of each year," explained Catalist spokesperson Amy Weiss. "There is always some lag in the data -- and this year the number of new registrants as a result of the exciting primaries is adding names at historic rates." Weiss commented via e-mail.

Women Voices Women Votes spokesperson Sarah Johnson e-mailed, "WVWV and Catalist spend an enormous amount of resources and effort to ensure the lists are of the highest quality." The lists are cross-checked, Johnson said, for maritial status, and against U.S. Postal Service records for change of addresses. The robo-calls did not identify Women's Voices Women Vote as the source of the calls, in apparent violation of state law.

Sphere: Related Content