A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, drove campaign coverage last week:
John McCain is exploiting Wurzelbacher’s celebrity, such as it is. His campaign is plumbing the depths with an “I’m ‘Joe the Plumber’” video contest. The best video could end up in a TV ad.
In one respect, though, Wurzelbacher is average. His name is misspelled in the voter database. He's been registered to vote since 1992 so he's not at risk of being challenged on Election Day.
Some states will not register voters or will purge them from the voter rolls if election officials cannot match their voter registration information against information in other government databases. The problem is the computer match processes states use are inherently unreliable. Between 15% and 30% of all match attempts fail because of typos, other administrative errors, and minor discrepancies between database records, such as a maiden name in one record and a married name in another or a hyphen in one record and not another. No match, no vote policies can block hundreds of thousands of voters through no fault of their own.
If the U.S. Supreme Court had not quashed Republicans' efforts to challenge voters whose name did not match with government databases, a lot of average Joes and Josephines would have been left standing in long lines – again.