Some Nice Press Coverage --- Including the Obligatory Lies from an Election Official --- Out of My Old Hometown...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2007, 8:41am PT  

Blogged by Brad Friedman from Salina, KS...

There was some pretty decent press coverage of my speaking event last week in St. Louis as sponsored by Missourians for Honest Elections.

The full front-page feature article "Voter Beware", by Fran Mannino of the Webster Times, was the most complete in describing the "packed house" event, offering a very good description of some of the issues we face, and featuring a bunch of good quotes from myself and other sources as well.

It also offered a pathetic and shamelessly untrue quote (an out and out lie actually) from St. Louis County Election Director John Diehl, who was invited to share the podium, as were St. Louisans Thor Hearne of the GOP voter-suppression front-group ACVR and Paul DeGregorio, the former chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) who parlayed the gig into his next one as chief of an Internet Voting Company. All three were no shows, but that didn't stop Diehl from trying to bullshit the voters he's supposed to be serving, as revealed in Mannino's report...

Diehl, reached after the presentation for comment, was adamant in his defense of the ES&S voting machines used in St. Louis County, and was dismissive of Friedman's claims.

"We would hear some of the same conspiracy theories, and we thoroughly checked those out and found them not to be the case," said Diehl. "In November, we had hundreds of thousands of people vote on these machines on multiple ballot issues – a few million touches on the screens – and didn't receive a single complaint on election day that the machine didn't register their vote as intended."

As an Election Official, we understand that he's either under contract, or sworn oath of fealty to his bosses as the Voting Machine Companies (they use ES&S in St. Louis County), and thus legally required to use the phrase "conspiracy theory" in at least one sentence when speaking to anybody in the media, so we'll forgive him that. The rest of of his lying and disservice to his voters we won't overlook quite as easily.

Diehl did not and could not have "thoroughly checked...out" anything and "found them not to be the case." Had he bothered to check anything, other than the delivery orders for his ES&S voting machines, he'd have found --- beyond a scientific shadow of a doubt --- that his machines are susceptible to tampering and impossible to use transparently.

As to his claim that he "didn't receive a single complaint on election day that the machine didn't register [votes] as intended"...well, he's just lying. Or derelict in his duty as Election Director. He can take his choice. The "Issues Reported" section [PDF] of MO Sec. of State Robin Carnahan's Report on the 2006 Election in the Show Me State lists several complaints by voters using ES&S touch-screen systems in St. Louis County showing votes registered for Republican Senator Jim Talent when the voters were attempting to vote for the Democratic challenger, Claire McCaskill. For example, "Voter reported he touched screen for McCaskill and it registered as a vote for Talent," and "Voter attempted to vote for McCaskill, but touchscreen registered vote for Talent," and "Touchscreen was registering vote for Talent rather than McCaskill."

McCaskill eventually won the election in a squeaker, helping to give the majority in the U.S. Senate to the Democrats, even while there were no complaints in the MO SoS report describing the reverse situation of attempted votes for Talent flipping to McCaskill. As well, the folks from Mo Honest had told me they had received stacks of complaints, via public records records, collected by the County themselves which Mr. Diehl, apparently, didn't see fit to share with the SoS.

UPDATE: It's been pointed out to me that the SoS report also includes an entire series of snail mail letters [PDF] sent to St. Louis County Elections Officials, right from the SoS office, passing on some of the complaints received from voters concerning touch-screen voting machines flipping votes, showing them incorrectly on the confirmation screen, and other related problems. Thus, further confirming the fact that Diehl is simply out and out lying to the media when he says he "didn't receive a single complaint on election day that the machine didn't register their vote as intended."

He knows he did. And if he doesn't, he should be out of a job for dereliction of duty.

As well, we've been told on very good authority that of Missouri's 116 counties, St. Louis County --- the state's largest --- is the only one in the state which has more DRE touch-screen systems than paper-ballot op-scan systems and that they're hoping to go all touch-screen in the future...unless someone stops them. Hardly a surprise for the county where democracy-hater Thor Hearne resides and pulls his vote-suppression strings behind the scenes.

And beyond that, as Diehl knows well, it is strictly impossible to know whether or not any of the county's DRE touch-screen systems registered a single vote "as intended," since nobody can ever know one way or another. Except for Diehl via his Amazing X-Ray Electronic Vision apparently.

I had hoped Diehl would be one of those rare Reality-Based Election Directors interested in democracy and assuring voter confidence and accurate elections. I am disappointed, though unfortunately not surprised at this point, that he does not appear to be. Good luck, St. Louis County.

But thanks for the good coverage nonetheless to Mannino and the Webster Times.

Over at the Riverfront Times, on their blog, Aimee Levitt filed a short but decent piece the day after the event, comparing me, oddly enoughly, to Barack Obama (the resemblance is obvious!)...

With his sleeves rolled up, Barack Obama-style, Friedman paced the front of the chapel with a portable microphone, exhorting the crowd (mostly comprised of senior citizens) to take action. “Let’s count these damned elections accurately for once!” he cried, to much applause.

The puzzling part of her item though, was its headline: "Elections and Self-Promotion: The American Way."

For those who know me or this blog, it wouldn't be difficult to make the case of "Self-Promotion," even if those who really know me and this blog understand both the necessity and the satirical elements built into the The BRAD BLOG's "Self-Promotion." Yet beyond the headline, Levitt didn't even mention, much less make a case for, the "Self-Promotion" mentioned in the headline. That, even while I had mentioned during my remarks that I have no book and nothing to sell, other than hopes of supporting the Mo Honest folks and democracy in Missouri. I sent Levitt an inquiry on the headline, asking for specifics or explanation, but she hasn't bothered to write back. So it's a mystery for the ages, I suppose.

At least she showed up to report on the event, which is more than I can say for the folks at the big boy St. Louis Post-Dispatch, whose editorial board I had met with, upon their invitation, the day before. That meeting went very well, I believe, so either they didn't come because they'd heard enough, or they didn't come because it didn't go as well as I might have thought. I believe it's the former.

I should add that one reporter from the Post actually did turn out, but when he introduced himself to me after the event --- mentioning that he agreed with a few of the shots I'd taken at his once-great paper during my remarks --- I believe that he pointed out he was not there to cover the event, but simply because he was interested in the topic. So I'm much obliged to him for both coming and saying hello afterwards. As I am to the Mo Honest folks for inviting me, and to the loads of folks who turned out.

As the Governator of my current home state famously said: I'll be back...

(ADDENDUM: Wow, just noticed this is article number 5000 here at The BRAD BLOG! And yet, I'm still scrounging to pay the rent each month. Perhaps I should do more self-promotion.)