Story on Today's House Hearing Covered by 'Ohio Regional' Reporter Said to Have Left Proceedings Not Long After House Hearing Began...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2006, 3:20pm PT  

An AP reporter, who left early druring this morning's hearing in the U.S. House Adminstrative Committee on Electronic Voting security issues, has filed what would appear to be a remarkably skewed account of the session in an article today headlined, "Lawmaker questions e-voting paper trail."

The reporter, David Hammer, AP's "Ohio Regional Reporter" in DC, who --- according to two different BRAD BLOG sources --- left very early in today's proceedings, covered the hearings from a clearly "anti-paper" angle, as you'll see in his report.

That, despite the first witness of the morning, Dr. Ed Felten of Princeton University, who demonstrated both his team's viral vote-flipping hack of a Diebold Touch-Screen voting system to the reportedly packed hearing room, and then the inability to discover the election stealing malicious code via a machine "recount."

(DISCLOSURE: The machine was supplied to Princeton University by VelvetRevolution.us, a non-partisan election ingegrity organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG.)

Hammer goes on to report almost exclusively on those who testified in today's hearings against the use of paper "trails" and/or "records" with Electronic Voting Systems...

This morning's hearing was originally scheduled in support of a HR 550, a House bill co-sponsored by more than 200 bi-partisan Congressional members, which would require "paper records" and post-election audits of same against the machine reported results. The legislation, originally filed two years ago by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), has been stalled and kept from even coming up for hearings by the former House Administraive Committee chair --- and the lead author/sponsor of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) --- Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). Ney was recently forced to step down from his role as chairman of the commitee in light of the Jack Abramoff scandal, and has since pled guilty to federal charges for which he will likely be facing more than two years of jail time.

Discussion of the new 11th hour Emergency Paper Ballot legislation filed this week in both the U.S. House and Senate was also reportedly a topic of discussion at this morning's hearings and the press conference held afterwards. We hope to have more on today's hearing later tonight or tomorrow.

While The BRAD BLOG has some concerns about the HR 550 legislation --- including its mandate for "paper records" instead of much-needed "paper ballots" and what election experts have described as a woefully insufficient ballot auditing protocol --- the general move towards electoral accountability is one that we applaud.

Hammer's report, however, makes no distinction between "paper records" or "trails" and "paper ballots", and essentially seems tilted hard towards discrediting the use of any paper in any election whatsoever. He goes so far as to fog the issue by highlighting testimony from an official concerning a recent independent report after Ohio's primary election this year showing that machine totals and "paper trail" records did not match. Hammer quotes the official as suggesting that the remedy is to do away with the paper all together, instead of relying on the supposedly "voter verified paper record" as the accurate reflection of the voter's intent.

He also quotes one-time (and apparently still) E-voting advocate, Dr. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon as suggesting that the machines currently purchased by $3 billion in HAVA mandated tax-payer funds should continue to be used --- despite proven inaccuracies, vulnerabilities and massive failures --- in order to save money for the Federal government.

Unforunately, AP's reports are picked up by more national newspapers and media outlets than any others, and so this account of the hearing will likely get wide play despite its apparent bias. Read Hammer's report, decide for yourself.

Hammer did not immediately return our phone calls.

The full hearing will apparently be running on C-SPAN this evening at 12:35am ET (Friday "morning", just after Midnight Thursday Eastern Time).

UPDATE 5:40pm PT: AP has updated the story now several times today after complaints. The latest version posted at the Ohio Beacon Journal is slightly less biased, It has a slightly more "balanced" headline: "Lawmaker, witnesses dispute value of paper records in e-voting" versus the earlier one-sided "Lawmaker questions e-voting paper trail". We're told that the original version of Hammer's report, earlier even than the one we linked in our article above, was even worse and only changed after complaints from those present at the hearings on the Hill today. Of course, the damage was done as papers and websites all over the world immediately linked up to the initial version.