Carnegie Mellon University

Algorithms of Deception: A Case for Nuanced Election Data

Friday, February 26, 2021
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST
Register for the event. Registration for direct participation in the Zoom talk and discussion is reserved for the Carnegie Mellon community. We encourage others to watch the live stream of the event on our YouTube page

The 2020 elections demonstrated how voters of color can shift the electorate. Predicting any voters’ behavior or political attitudes involves processes that are part art and part science. While it is assumed that the science of elections is more stable than the art of elections, this is not the case. It is easy to state – algorithms are neutral, they are just code.

In "Algorithms of Deception: A Case for Nuanced Data," Dr. Clark draws upon her social science and civic engagement experience to investigate how the data science of campaigns can replicate the biases of the humans who create them.

This presentation will use the Nov. 3 elections in Florida and the Georgia Senate runoff races to illustrate how culturally competent messaging impacted the voter turnout efforts (GOTV) in the 2020 elections.

  • Are election algorithmic systems flawed?
  • If so, how do election algorithms based on flawed data impact voter engagement?
  • What measures can be taken to avoid these pitfalls?

This lecture is presented in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society.

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About Allison Clark

Dr. Allison Clark (She, Her, Hers) is a social scientist and civic engagement professional with over fifteen years of digital access advocacy and analysis experience. She has supervised advocacy campaigns in the areas of healthcare, the environment, and voter education and registration.

As an African American cisgender female, she recognized the traditional systems and methodologies used to micro-target members of the Black and African American communities failed to provide context for a deeper understanding of the members of these communities. Towards this end, she founded Black & Blu Research, LLC, a boutique research agency specializing in the intersectionality of data, race, gender, and politics.

Prior to establishing Black & Blu Research, LLC, Dr. Clark was the Deputy Director of State Voices’ Florida 501(c)(3) Table, where she successfully oversaw the voter registration of over 300,000 people of color.

In 2016, she led Faith In Florida Action’s education and field organizing efforts for the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s race. This educational campaign led to the defeat of the sixteen-year incumbent.

Her new voter engagement program combines her expertise in the areas of information communications and technology with popular culture as a strategy to teach (digital) civic engagement literacy. TurnUpTurnOut.org is a voter education program that celebrates the voting traditions of Black and African American citizens. Participants follow the adventures of the TurnUps, a civic minded-multigenerational family as they educate us on the power of the ballot. For the TurnUps, Voting IS Black Culture! and is a family affair. 

She is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Advertising, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Media from Michigan State University. She has enjoyed experimenting with gluten-free cooking and dancing to DJ D-Nice during the COVID-19 lockdown.