BradBlogger Steve Viele provides details and photos
By Winter Patriot on 7/18/2006, 12:53am PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

Brad panel 1Steve Viele has sent me a nice email containing his account of Saturday morning at DemocracyFest and a few pics of Brad there. Way cool.

The following is from Steve...

Just got back from a Saturday morning at Democracy Fest on the campus of San Diego State University in San Diego. I got to listen to Brad's panel on Election Integrity (more on that in a moment) and I also got to meet and shake hands with both Congresswoman Maxine Waters (who is being awarded the "Backbone" award there, among other activities she'll be involved in) and California State Senator Debra Bowen (hopefully, the next California Secretary of State).

Brad was on a discussion panel called "Voting Integrity and Election Reform" that also included the aforementioned Debra Bowen and Alan Dechert, Co-founder and President/CEO of the Open Voting Consortium. It was moderated by Craig Elsten from the San Diego Air America affiliate who, incidentally, did a great 45 min. plus interview with Brad on his show the Sunday before last (July 2) that Brad never even posted or linked to on BradBlog (guess he's getting so busy and popular and making so many appearances that he has to pick and choose which ones to post on his blog!). This panel was one of the first (five different panels occur simultaneously during each session) that started the day's main activities at 9:30 AM and took place in the largest venue at the event, Montezuma Hall, an auditorium that I believe I heard seated 800 people and was about 2/3 full.

Those of us who have heard Brad on his (late?) radio show or on other radio, TV or personal appearances know that he is a remarkably articulate spokesman and performer. I've had a chance to hear him in person a couple of times now and while there were obvious similarities in what he had to say on each of these occasions, he brings in elements unique to the circumstances as well and he did an absolutely great job at this appearance, receiving the only standing ovation among the panelists after he gave his presentation. It is obvious that, although he would likely cringe at this, he is gaining a following and even a bit of a "star" persona among the progressive and election integrity crowd. Anyone who regularly reads his blog would not have been surprised by anything he said during this panel although it is very entertaining to see his "performance" of the words we read at his blog. He has a stage background and it certainly enhances his live presentations.

The next speaker, Mr. Dechert, was very brief, mainly deferring to the other panelists and briefly engaging the audience in a repetition of chants about our right to know that our votes are being counted.

Debra Bowen was the last of this panel to speak. She is bright, articulate and a very good speaker who has a greater grasp of the serious electronic voting issues than ANY politician I have come across. She definitely has the usual politician's reserve in avoiding taking a firm stance on certain controversial issues and refused to state a strong position about the ongoing CA-50 Busby/Bilbray election debacle, other than to say that the State Senate Elections Committee that she chairs is in the midst of holding hearings regarding this and other election irregularities that occurred in the recent (June) Primary Elections in California. She did say that if e-voting machines cannot be secured at all times, before, during and after elections, they simply should not be used. She also talked about visiting a warehouse in North Carolina where she saw large numbers of electronic voting machines hanging in storage, like sides of beef in a slaughterhouse, and had to ask herself how this country had come to make choices that made our voting system so complicated and unwieldy. She is a strong advocate that the simplest, accurate vote counting system is the best-- obviously, a wacko liberal stance that no right(wing)-minded Republican would take!

During a brief break, just outside Montezuma Hall and shortly before the next panel in that same Hall (titled "Wedge Issue Politics" and including CA-50 candidate Francine Busby on the panel) and which I attended only briefly, I got into a slightly animated discussion with a person wearing a Francine Busby for Congress t-shirt. I stupidly asked if he was still as enthusiastic about her candidacy (given that she had been mildly excoriated during the previous panel). It turned out he was one of her campaign workers and he pointed out to me that she was standing only a few feet from me. I still tried to quietly engage him with the idea that her failure to stand-up against the way in which her election was run or to join in the call for a full hand count could not be justified, either by ignorance (I didn't use that word) or expediency and that the integrity of our voting process was more important than any single candidate's political aspirations. He had a rejoinder for everything and it was quite obvious to me that Busby and her people cannot understand the greater issue, and, like too many spineless or brainless Democrats will NOT be leaders or even close followers in the election integrity movement.

I'll be attending the evening "Beach Party Blowout" later, which will be MC'd by Al Franken and feature live music and a keynote address by Howard Dean with appearances by Maxine Waters, Paul Hackett, and a few lesser lights. I expect that Brad, if he can find the time, will later report on all of this in much more compelling fashion than I can.