Second Time in 9 Days!
God Bless Us, Everyone!
By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2004, 10:46pm PT  

Precisely seven weeks after Election Day 2004, and exactly one week after the Electoral College met to cast their votes, The New York Times has filed what, by my count, is their second serious article on Voting Irregularities in the 51 days since our last terribly flawed election.

Their first landmark effort was an article just last week by Tom Zeller, Jr. on which we also commented with our recognizably snarky, but always-lovable, demeanor.

Today's outting --- also inked by new BRAD BLOG best friend, Zeller (and others) --- finally puts the paper of record on record as admitting there were "Voting Problems in Ohio". They even go so far as to admit, "Certainly there were problems on Election Day."

Luke-warm, and a good nominee for the BRAD BLOG "Understatement of the Year Award", but for now, in the generous spirit of Christmas, we'll take it!

After a few quotes from an Ohioan who's vote failed to count this year because the provisional ballot he was given when his name didn't appear at the precinct to which he'd recently moved, was rejected because it wasn't dropped into the bucket at the precinct where he used to live, the Times piece mentions what they should have mentioned --- in spades --- on the morning of November 3rd:

From seven-hour lines that drove voters away to malfunctioning machines to poorly trained poll workers who directed people to the wrong polling places to uneven policies about the use of provisional ballots, Ohio has become this year's example for every ailment in the United States' electoral process.

Dead-on sentiment. Wish they had joined the party earlier. But again, it's Christmas, so in the spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (well, not mine, I'm Jewish...but, hey, it's Christmas!) we'll turn the other cheek.

Back to The Times...

[A]n array of voting rights groups contend that Ohio has underscored shortcomings in the law, including one of its centerpieces, the provisional ballot. Now those groups are pushing for a re-examination not only of the law, but also of other voting issues, including the role of partisan secretaries of state in overseeing elections, electronic voting and the elimination of the Electoral College.

Yes. We are. And some of us are not even a group at all! We're just Americans. And expect damn-well better than what we've now seen over the last two Presidential elections!

I hope that this isn't just a holiday diversion for The Times, but that they are seriously planning to continue to investigate and report on these issues.

The last few grafs, however, don't bode well...

"There are no error-free elections," said Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican whom Democrats have accused of worsening the state's voting problems in the way he interpreted state law.

But Mr. Blackwell acknowledged that the election spotlighted the state's outdated voting system, with 68 of 88 counties still relying on punch cards. In an interview, he called for updating voting machines, and also for early voting, multiple-day voting and other changes that he said would shorten lines and encourage people to vote.

"I don't think it's wrong to have high expectations," he said.

(Okay...I'm fine...Back up off the floor now...)

We'll try to be brief, but where to begin?

1) Any reporter (and there were three that contributed to this short piece!) that mentions Blackwell in anyway --- much less in a way that actually paints him as someone who gives any kind of a damn about solving election problems in Ohio! --- and yet doesn't point out that he was also THE OHIO CO-CHAIR OF THE COMMITTEE TO RELECT BUSH/CHENEY should have their Journalist License immediately and permanently revoked, and sentenced to a lifetime of writing 24/7 on a green blog for no money at all.

2) To quote Blackwell, without offering context, as caring in even the smallest way about shortening voting lines after he presided over an election in which thousands were disenfranchised and hundreds of thousands (almost exclusively in Democratic-dominated areas only) were forced to wait in the rain up to 7 or more hours precisely due to decisions that Blackwell himself instigated, oversaw, and approved, is again worthy of sentence to a lifetime of blogging and begging for donations via PayPal on Christmas Eve eve!

3) "Outdated punchards" aren't the problem, and if we've learned anything, it's the punchcards --- being recountable and all --- that remain the last vestige of verifiable confidence in a system that has finally lost almost all remaining credibility for millions of American voters. (See the previous article on recountable Washington state if you have any questions about that.) No, the problem was not the punchcards, the problem was BLACKWELL (and friends)!

4) Read items 1 through 3 again, memorize them, and give extra charitable Christmas Spirit emphasis to that PayPal link in #2.

But in that same charitable spirit, we'll thank the Times for covering the topic at all, and save our last slice of Christmas venom cheer for the Republican Party, about whom the Times story says...

It is far from clear that Republicans in Congress will have any appetite to revisit voting issues, and many Republicans here argue that the system suffered only minor glitches, even with high voter turnout.

With all due respect to the "Republicans in Congress", I don't give much of a damn what they have an appetite for today. If we have anything to say about it --- and, as it turns out, we do! --- they will soon find themselves very hungry, very soon, for complete Election Reform overhaul.

Otherwise, by 2006, we hope they will have become as comfortable as we have with begging shamelessly for PayPal donations on a website, because they're gonna have to figure out a new way to make a living...and we hope that it won't be pretty.

God bless us, everyone.

(Thanks John of Crooks & Liars for the tip!)

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Due to an embarrassing oversight by yours truly, it appears that the Times article --- snarkily, but lovably commented on above --- was in fact 2 pages longer than we had initially noticed!

In fact, it should be noted that Blackwell was (on Page 2) referred to as "co-chairman of Mr. Bush's state campaign".

Also notable (and appreciated) is that the story ran on Page 1 (above the fold!) of Friday's print edition. And perhaps most notable (and appreciated) of all, is that The BRAD BLOG's new best friend (or at least until we posted the above article), Tom Zeller Jr. actually travelled all the way to Cleveland to cover this important story.

We stand by our comments that Blackwell was let off much easier than he deserved for his partisan transgressions, should have been noted in the first instance as Co-Chair for the Bush/Cheney campaign, and that The Times took far too long in reporting these items on behalf of the American voter.

However, our oversight in missing the two extra pages of the article, leading to our flip "three writers for such a short piece" comment, is deserving of spanking as well, and at least a one-day revocation of our Bloggers License. As it's Christmas anyway, we'll serve our time today. (Barring breaking news, of course.)

The BRAD BLOG regrets the oversight and supports The Times continuing coverage of the growing confidence crisis amongst America's voters.