As Tom Elias Writes the Single Best MSM Article We've Ever Seen on the Current State of E-Voting!
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2007, 2:34pm PT  

Syndicated California columnist, Thomas D. Elias, has written the single best MSM article we've ever read on the problems with the current state of our electoral system. Period.

In covering changes planned by incoming CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Elias --- for the first time, at least that I've ever seen anywhere in the MSM --- squarely places the blame for the entire fine mess we're in exactly where it belongs: On the voting machine companies and the elections officials who have been their enablers and apologists...

An anxious time is just about to begin for the two interest groups that have done more than anyone else in recent years to make Californians feel uncertain about the integrity of their elections.

Those two groups: The makers of electronic voting machines of various types, many of whose devices have been shown to be both hackable and problematic in other ways. And county voter registrars who bought those machines largely with many millions of dollars derived from the federal Help America Vote Act, which was more concerned about speed of conversion to new technologies than whether they were trustworthy.

BOOM! Outta the park!

Those two grafs alone are enough for us to nominate Elias for a Pulitzer. Yes, the reporting on this matter in the MSM has been so indescribably horrible from the get-go that we're willing to give it all up just for those two grafs which finally tell the story correctly.

But Elias doesn't stop there. While we recommend you read his entire piece in full we'll highlight a few of the most notable grafs just to make sure as many eyeballs as possible actually get to see them --- for the good news they offer about a possibly brighter future for elections in California (and thus, the rest of the country) and for the fact that they have actually been printed in a fairly major metropolitan newspaper.

On Bowen's plans for full 'top to bottom review' of outgoing SoS McPherson's rubber-stamp certification of all electronic voting machines...

"We are going to do a top to bottom review of every voting system in use anywhere in California," Bowen said in an interview. "Yes, I would consider decertifying machines that my predecessor approved. Unfortunately, we've spent a lot of money on equipment that's not ready for prime time. Any Fortune 500 company would have sent those machines back with a letter saying they just don't do what they're supposed to."

On the truth (finally!) about the feckless and incompetent McPherson...

Her appointed predecessor and defeated autumn opponent, the former Republican State Sen. Bruce McPherson of Santa Cruz was anything but a skeptic, certifying virtually any machine any county registrar wanted to buy and imposing questionable checks on their performance.

On the infamous voting machine "sleepovers" (as first revealed by The BRAD BLOG)...

"I believe the sleepovers are illegal," said Bowen, an attorney. "If a system is designed so it can't be used without sitting in someone's garage for two weeks, we should not be using that system. We could fix this by using a bonded delivery service like Brinks to deliver machines to polling places at a set time."

In short, the voting machine status quo will not be lasting long in the nascent Bowen era.

On the worthlessness of so-called "paper trails" and the difficulty candidates face in paying exorbitant costs for recounts as capriciously and arbitrarily priced by Registrars...

Bowen recognizes that a paper trail is worthless unless it's usable. "I think $50,000 to do a recount where it might be merited is a tiny price to pay for democracy and to keep people from saying ‘forget about the election, they'll never count our votes anyway.' " So she'll support at least a partial public subsidy of recounts, where they appear justified.

NOTE: The BRAD BLOG covered the cost quoted for a recount in last summer's Special U.S. House Election in CA-50's Francine Busby/Brian Bilbray race. The cost, capriciously and arbitrarily quoted for that recount in order to make it impossible by the horrendous San Diego County Registar of Voters Mikel Haas: $150,000!

Elias also speaks of Sequoia's yellow button "feature" (also first revealed on these pages, but who's counting?) and more. All of which, apparently, forces the Ventura County Star to label the piece, regretablly, as "opinion." But so be it. We'll take what we can get.

If you'd like to send a thank you note to Elias and the VCS Editors, please click here!