Everything's Alright, Nothing to See Here People, Keep Moving...
By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2006, 2:59pm PT  

After an otherwise encouraging headline on MSNBC's just posted "Optimism about voting reform wanes: New machines and procedures have been introduced, but problems persist" the article, by NBC News' Huma Zaidi goes curiously downhill thereafter.

Zaidi cursorily mentions early "a group of experts and election officials" who met in DC last month to discuss election reform and "the picture most of them painted wasn't very optimistic". As well, he reports that "Almost a dozen states that have already held primaries this year have experienced problems."

But enough with the facts of the matter. From there, it's time for the Pro E-Voting spin to commence...

Zaidi goes on to quote three different Electronic Voting supporters and not one of those previously mentioned un-optimistic "experts and election officials."

As well, while the article discusses the problems of "a handful of companies who produce voting machines" and who have had trouble fulfilling their contractual obligations to multiple states and counties in primary elections so far this year --- along with a nod to a one or two of the "wrinkles" and "glitches" caused by the machines so far this year --- not a single voting machine company is mentioned by name (not Diebold who has failed enormously, nor ES&S who has failed enormously, nor Sequoia Voting Systems who has failed enormously, nor Hart InterCivic who has failed enormously!)

On the other hand, the pro-electronic voting folks are named, and even have their websites plugged. Go figure.

We guess if you downplay problems by private companies who have access to millions of dollars and teams of attorneys ready to go, and don't bother to mention them or their failings by name, you're far less likely to be sued. Why else would NBC cover the issues this way after all?

As ever, we're glad to see attention finally being given to the most important matter of the legitimacy of our votes in our electoral democracy --- particularly by an outlet as large as MSNBC and NBC News --- but these articles that end up doing little more than saying "there's some problems, but everything will be just fine, nothing to worry about here" are getting absurd.

See NPR's report (text transcript now included) from over the weekend for a far more responsible --- and yes, "fair and balanced" --- report on this issue.

For more thoughts on all of this, see mass media maven Danny Schecter's "Why is the Media Downplaying Our Voting Scandal?" editorial as posted on Monday!