Cover Graphic Shows Exploding Voting Booth with 'WARNING' Label: 'Your vote may be lost, destroyed, miscounted, wrongly attributed or hacked'
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2008, 2:50pm PT  

The entire debate over e-voting may well be just about to change. Hopefully for the better. Big time.

Editor & Publisher's editor Greg Mitchell, has tipped off The BRAD BLOG late this afternoon, that the New York Times Magazine is set to run a "massive" cover-story this Sunday, on the entire e-voting disaster titled "The Bugs in the Machines."

Better late than never?

Mitchell describes the story as "quite chilling" in the exclusive preview he's just posted to his new personal blog. Here's the first coupla grafs from his scoop...

Coming between the Iowa and New Hampshire tallies, this Sunday's cover of The New York Times Magazine ought to strike a chord. It shows a man inside an exploding voting booth with a WARNING label over it and the words: "Your vote may be lost, destroyed, miscounted, wrongly attributed or hacked."

The massive Clive Thompson article, titled "The Bugs in the Machines," is quite chilling. "After the 2000 election," it opens, "counties around the country rushed to buy new computerized voting machines. But it turns out that these machines may cause problems worse than hanging chads. Is America ready for another contested election?" One key passage: "The earliest critiques of digital voting booths came from the fringe --- disgruntled citizens and scared-senseless computer geeks --- but the fears have now risen to the highest levels of government."

One expert says that "about 10 percent" of the devices fail in each election.

UPDATE 1/5/08: The entire, nearly 8,000 world article, is now out, and posted right here. It looks very good on first glance. But more later as we get a chance to review it in full.

And no, for those who've asked, The BRAD BLOG was neither consulted for, nor mentioned in the Times lengthy story (unless you consider "fringe...disgruntled citizens and scared-senseless computer geeks" to be a mention. Though we guess it's better than the Times original take on us, from November 20, 2004, which referred to election integrity issues as "the conspiracy theories of leftwing bloggers," just after we began investigating and reporting on the very issues which make up the basis of today's 8,000 word, better-late-than-never, New York Times report.)

We accept your apology.

One quick inaccuracy in the story, for now, which is small, but we feel important to correct for the record: Once again, Prof. Ed Felten of Princeton University has misled the NY Times about the origins of the Diebold touch-screen system his team used for their landmark virus hack in the summer of 2006.

He is interviewed in the story, in relation to the study, in which his team was able to easily implant a virus. It's reported, in the story, that the machine was "anonymously donated" to him. It was not. Which he well knows...

The continuance of Felten's behavior here, and his refusal to acknowledge the correct source for the system, without which his work could not have occurred, is highly unethical. Particularly for a scientist.

The machine was loaned to him and his team, by, an election integrity watchdog organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG, after we received the machine from a Diebold insider source, with whom both VR and The BRAD BLOG have cultivated a relationship for years. Despite the good work that Felten's team did on the virus report, Felten has been dishonestly misleading reporters, and the public, about the source of the machine that we loaned him, retrieved and transported and delivered to his team at our own expense, since the time that he leaked the study --- in violation of our agreement with him --- back in 2006. He needs to stop misleading on that point, recognize VR's contribution to his work, and the New York Times needs to issue a correction.

The provenance of the system Princeton used in its first-of-its-kind, landmark study, was well-established and publicly reported when I originally broke the story at both The BRAD BLOG and at Salon, on September 13, 2006.

It's a small point, but a notable one to folks like us who rely on recognition of our work in order to be able to try to continue it --- a fact that Felten understands well, since achieving the well-deserved notoriety he has in the wake of his team's Diebold Virus hack, which was made possible by our non-anonymous "donation". I'm sorry to even bring it up. I've tried to avoid doing so until now, because it's a distraction from the far more important points, and in hopes that Felten would begin doing the right thing on his own. But it's now more than clear that he won't do so, unless publicly called to task on this.

Beyond that, so far, Clive Thompson's NY Times Magazine story looks very good and will hopefully make an important difference in this years long, ongoing scandal/debate.

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