(Will Someone Please Tell the Headline Writers at the New York Times and the Associated Press?)
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2006, 3:27pm PT  

ComputerWorld has just posted the following article of mine in full. Here's the first few (pre-CW-edited) grafs to whet your appetite...

ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE SLAYS NINE!
Terrorizes Florida in Thrill-Kill Rampage

That headline was from a satirical column written by Andy Borowitz and published last Monday, the day before Tuesday's mid-term election.

Unfortunately, given the post-election coverage by some of the nation's leading media --- or at least their headline writers --- it seems that only an event such as a Diebold voting machine becoming "unmoored from the floor and...trampling everyone and everything in its path," as Borowitz wrote, would qualify as anything more than a "glitch," "hiccup," "snag," or "snafu". At least if you gauge the coverage from the headline writers at NYTimes or Associated Press.

"Voting System Worked, With Some Hiccups," declared the AP headline on Wednesday. "Polling Places Report Snags, but Not Chaos," echoed the Times.

"Hiccups"? "Snags"? Try telling it the thousands of voters around the country who were unable to simply cast a vote last Tuesday because new, untested electronic voting machines failed to work. Monumentally. Across the entire country.

"Not Chaos"? Apparently the Times headline writers failed to check with the folks in Denver who were lined up around the block for hours to vote. They didn't even bother to read the the Denver Post, who headlined the problem as a "Voting Nightmare" during the day on Tuesday and quoted voter Lauren Brockman saying "We will not get to vote today," after he had showed up before work to vote at 6:45 a.m. at the Botanic Gardens only to wait in line for an hour before giving up.

They didn't check with Colorado's Gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter, who had to wait almost two hours to vote, or with Sean Kelley, a Denver resident who said to the Post, "I can't believe I'm in the United States of America," before he gave up and went home without voting after waiting three hours in line when electronic machines broke down.

The courts in Colorado refused to allow the city's new consolidated "Election Centers" to remain open for extra hours that night. And yet this was only a mid-term election, with far lower turnout than we can look forward to in 2008.

Similar problems led slighly more responsible officials to order polls to be kept open longer than scheduled in at least eight other states due to voting machine problems. In a NY Times story published the day before (which apparently the headline writers of the previously mentioned piece failed to read), it was reported that in Illinois "hundreds of precincts were kept open...because of late openings at polling places related to machine problems" and in Indiana "voting equipment problems led to extensions of at least 30 minutes, in three counties."

Other states where polls remained open late due to the inability of legally registered voters to vote when they showed up earlier in the day include Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio.

But the list of problems and, yes, meltdowns (not "glitches" "hiccups" "snags" or "snafus") is still pouring in from around the country. My inbox has been beyond readability since polls opened on Tuesday morning, and my ability to keep up had already been near the breaking point in the weeks prior just from similar reported disasters that occured with these failing, flipping, and flimsy new pieces of junk during the Early Voting period in Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and California, just to name a few.

On Election Day, the Electronic Frontier Foundation had received about 17,000 complaints on their toll-free hotline by 8pm. Common Cause received 14,000 calls by 4 p.m. John Gideon at VotersUnite.org performed the Herculean task of logging as many news reports as he could in a searchable online database of reported election problems that day.

One big fat bullet seems to have been dodged when George Allen conceded in his Virginia Senate race Thursday. Had he chosen not to, America would have found itself smack-dab in the middle of another Florida 2000 crisis with the balance of the entire United States Congress depending on voting machines in a state which offer absolutely no way to recount ballots to achieve any form of accuracy or clarity in the race. The battle of the forensic computer scientists trying to figure out what happened would have been another long national nightmare.

But that didn't happen, so everything's cool...

For the complete story, including other bullets barely dodged this week --- from the Santorum Senate race in Pennsylvania to innumerable U.S. House elections currently uncountable and unrecountable due to the failures of these god-forsaken machines --- and the ravages of an American electoral system in tatters no matter how the headline writers at the major national media and the Voting Machine Apologists are hoping to spin things...see my complete piece just published at ComputerWorld...

(Oh, and find out how that Diebold Voting Machine Killer Rampage in Florida comes out too!)