Irresponsible Reporting 'Spins' Downhill Quickly From There!
Paper Helps Voting Machine Vendors and Elections Officials Blame Poll Workers --- Inappropriately --- for Their Own Failings!
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2006, 2:31pm PT  

The coverage of Voting and Electronic Voting issues is increasing exponentially at this point due to 1) the impending November election (read: coming train wreck) 2) the fact that an electoral meltdown occured in last Tuesday's Maryland primary (they've been happening in every primary so far this year as BRAD BLOG readers know, but now that they've occured in Montgomery County, MD, where the DC media and politicos live, the problem suddenly "exists"!) and, of course, 3) the news of the VelvetRevolution.ussponsored Princeton University Diebold Virus Hack.

I'm doing my best to keep up, but there is now much to cover and as well, I'm now being asked to do many media events which are time-consuming but also necessary. So, expect much more cover here shortly on all of the latest, even if some of that coverage must (necessarily) be a bit more abbreviated than in "the old days" when none of this stuff actually "existed".

One such new story worth covering is on the front page(!!!) of today's Sunday Washington Post. It begins this way:

Major Problems At Polls Feared
Some Officials Say Voting Law Changes And New Technology Will Cause Trouble

An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat --- this time on a national scale --- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said.

...That's a good start --- if it took Maryland for WaPo to "notice" what's been going on now for months (in fact, years!), I'll take it! But the "truthiness" of the WaPo coverage goes quickly downhill from there.

Little wonder it's linked from Drudge Report right now!

The framing of the problems as mostly "human error" is exactly the type of coverage that Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, Hart InterCivic and friends are no doubt delighted about. The facts of the matter, however, are far different from the incredibly "Fair and Balanced" (read: uneven playing field, levelled inappropriately to the advantage of bad guys who don't deserve it, so WaPo stays out of trouble) spin given to the story. Even the WaPo's own coverage defies their own attempted spin, bias or failure (whatever you wish to call it)...

One example. In a sidebar-graphic included with the story, WaPo reports:

Activists have questioned whether new electronic voting machines, which most voters will use this fall, can be tampered with. So far this year, though, the trouble has been with poll workers learning to use the new machines, which often have arrived only weeks before the election.

However, as BRAD BLOG readers well know, that's simply and wholly untrue.

In state after state, primary after primary, electronic failures with the new machines have caused one meltdown and train wreck after another. WaPo's own story details several of them!

In Prince George's County, computers misidentified some voters' party affiliation and failed to transmit data to the central election office.
In Ohio, results from the May primary election were delayed for nearly a week in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) when thousands of absentee ballots were incorrectly formatted for electronic scanners and had to be counted by hand.
[A]n analysis of Cuyahoga County's paper trail by the nonpartisan Election Science Institute showed that a tenth of the receipts were uncountable.

We'll add just a few more such mechanical failures that occurred --- at no fault of poll workers --- beginning with the very first 2006 primary on March 7th in Texas and continuing virtually every week and in every state since then!

  • 100,000 votes added to totals on Hart InterCivic and ES&S machines in Tarrant County, TX
  • As many as 9 races reversed in Iowa after hand-counting reveals the optical-scan results were wholly incorrect.
  • Machines made by ES&S, Sequoia and Diebold that fail to start up at all, or freeze entirely during Election Day (in Philadelphia, in Pittsburgh and all over the country!)
  • Touch-screen machines that record votes for opposing candidates in GA, in FL and elswhere.
  • E-Poll Books, made by Diebold, that lose synchronization in MD.
  • That's just a few, of course, of the scores of such problems The BRAD BLOG has already reported this year, and doesn't even include malfeasance by Elections Officials such as San Diego County's Mikel Haas, who defied both state and federal law by sending pre-programmed, election-ready Diebold voting machines home with poll workers for days and weeks prior to the election --- which means other "mechanical problems" (such as the virus Princeton University recently demonstrated can be added easily and undectably implanted during such voting machine "sleepovers") were likely introduced that voters (and WaPo) may never know about (since WaPo never bothered to investigate the problem!)!

    WaPo even goes so far as to print quote after quote from such officials, backing up that same horseshit with long-ago debunked points from officials who have a personal stake in making such disprovable claims. Like this one:

    "We know the equipment works because it's been qualified to federal standards," said Kevin J. Kennedy, executive director of the Wisconsin State Elections Board and president of the National Association of State Election Directors. "The real challenge is to make sure our poll workers are trained and make sure voters have been educated so that we don't have an experience like Maryland had."

    WaPo doesn't bother to mention that it's Kennedy's own organization (NASED) who is responsible for putting that "federal" stamp of "qualified" approval on the machines in the first place. Sort of a conflict of interest, it would seem to me. Yet they didn't bother to call me, or any of the other hard-working folks who know better and could have given them quotes to the contrary. We would have quickly shown them that the equipment doesn't work, that NASED knows it, and yet they approved them anyway because they were responsible for giving such federal approval to the very machines they'd already purchased and planned to use!

    Instead, they just blame the poll workers for their own failings.

    Look...If you manufacture and sell a shitty car --- let's say a Ford Pinto --- that blows up during the course of its normal use when predictable things happen to it --- let's say a rear-end collision --- you don't blame the drivers for the failure!

    Blaming the poll workers, as is now the de facto, last desperate excuse of America's Electronic Voting Machine Vendors --- and the Elections Officials who have disastrously staked their careers on backing them by believing their horseshit and unsupported claims that their systems were safe and accurate for use in elections --- is reporting of the worst and most irresponsible kind.

    The media --- especially one such as The Washington Post --- should damned well know better!

    (Hat-tip to BRAD BLOG reader Ryan D. for the heads up!)

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