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Flaws in the Campaign Finance Search Engine's Database
- Bad dates: When our conversion programs detect an invalid transaction date in the
data we're loading, they assign that record a date of January 1, 0001.
See all of the transactions that are dated January 1, 0001.
Some datasets have notoriously bad date information.
- $0 transactions: We've noticed that some of the records that we
load into the database claim to be transactions involving zero dollars.
We don't really know what these mean.
Some of them appear to indicate refunded contributions;
some of them indicate bad data entry;
some of them are probably typos.
See all of the zero dollar transactions.
- "Test" records: Some of the databases that we load into our system
have records in them that seem to have been inserted for testing purposes.
Unfortunately, our data providers did not remove these records before they
sent us the data. We noticed the "TEST TEST ONLY" records
in the Ohio 1990-1997 Board of Elections dataset:
See all of the transactions involving "TEST TEST ONLY".
- Refunds: Tracking down refunded contributions can be tricky.
One good place to start is by looking for
transactions explicitly marked as refunds, but this list is not complete,
since some of our incoming datasets have no "refund" record type, and data
entry is often inconsistent on those datasets that do. So you'll also want
to look at
transactions with negative amounts
(some of which appear to be expenditures) and
transactions with "REFUND" in one of the name fields.
- Double entries: There are certain conditions under which contributions are entered twice into our source databases. For example, in the
Washington State PDC data source, contributions of stock appear in the database twice: once as an in-kind contribution when the stock is contributed, and
once as a cash contribution when the stock is sold.