Brad Quoted Almost Accurately in Decent Coverage of Woeful Tale...
By Brad Friedman on 7/5/2006, 6:51pm PT  

Sacramento Bee columnist Peter Schrag runs a decent article on Busby/Bilbray election mess in today's paper.

I recommend you read it in full, as it's mostly balanced (in the honest way, not the Fox "News" way) and gets most of the elements of the story close enough for government work. In other words, it's a legitimate article, even with a few quibbles I have. But the legit effort is certainly appreciated in contrast with the lazy piece of disinformation disguised as a news article which ran last week in San Diego Union-Tribune on this matter.

Schrag's focus throughout is largely on the uber-matter in question; The looming threat we face to the legitimacy of American elections across the board. The article starts this way...

Last month's race in California's 50th Congressional District in San Diego County between Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Francine Busby was regarded by many observers as an indicator of whether the Democrats could recapture the House in November.

But the response to the election may foretell as much or more about the level of confidence Americans will have in the reported results in November as they do about who controls the House in January. If you Google the words Bilbray, Busby and Diebold, you'll get 67,000 hits, most of them casting doubt on whether the reported results --- 78,000 votes (49.5 percent) for Bilbray, 71,000 (45 percent) for Busby, according the San Diego registrar of voters --- could really be trusted. Diebold's electronic voting machines are the X factor.

Schrag then goes on to slightly misrepresent my comments to him last week when he called, when he writes:

Even Brad Friedman, the liberal blogger primarily responsible for touching off this new round of doubt, doesn't say the machines were fiddled with or that the election was stolen. But with support from Tribune Media Services columnist Bob Koehler, CNN's Lou Dobbs and some liberal vote-watch groups, neither the doubts nor the doubters are likely to go away.

The misrepresentation, accidental as I'll presume it to be, is that yes, I've said we currently have no specific evidence that "the machines were fiddled with," as he put it. But we simply cannot know whether they were "fiddled with" or not, given Regisrar Mikel Haas' complete disregard for the new state and federal security mitigation requirements which were invalidated when the voting machines in question were sent home with poll workers for days and weeks prior to the election. In doing so, they were all rendered decertified, and thus illegal for use in the election.

Where I will take exception to Schrag's article is when he avers that "Bilbray almost certainly won the election."

Of course, Schrag has absolutely zero evidence with which to back up that assertion, so I really don't know where he gets it, other than by general knee-jerk habit that the media have of simply trusting elections officials and whatever they report to be the "results" of any election. (See Ohio 2004, et al.)

His closing sentence then, repeats again his earlier unsupported assertion, but closes on the right note:

The doubters about Bilbray-Busby are probably wrong; the threat to democracy is very real.

Please read the article in full yourself so you can make up your own mind. He makes several good points worth reading in any case.

Oh...and one last point. Schrag writes:

Last week, the doubters held public meetings in Los Angeles and San Diego demanding hand recounts of the results. They're not likely to get them, but that will only reinforce the questions, not necessarily about Bilbray-Busby, but about the results elsewhere if the GOP retains control in Washington in November.

The last part is true enough --- doubts about election results this November will plague this country no matter who wins or loses (see this earlier article today on that) --- but I'm not sure where he gets the idea that the "doubters" won't get that hand "recount" (of course he means hand count, not recount, since the ballots have not actually been counted) if they want it.

Those "doubters," however, will likely have to pay for it themselves, unless a judge orders otherwise. And, we're learning that, apparently, the registrar himself gets to determine just about any number he wants to charge for that manual hand count.

You can contribute to help defray legal costs to fight this battle over at VelvetRevolution.us for the time being. More on all of that tomorrow....