John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle! For an Unbelievably Clueless Report on CA SoS Debra Bowen's Recent Decision to Restrict Use of Touch-Screen Voting Systems
Wait Until You See What He Reported!...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2007, 12:49pm PT  

Filed by Brad Friedman from Diebold Country (Plano, TX)...

There have been some first class examples of horrendous journalism in the wake of CA SoS Debra Bowen's historic attempts to begin righting the e-voting wrong late last Friday Night. (You can see a bunch of them for yourselves linked in John Gideon's 'Daily Voting News' yesterday.) In story after story, Election Officials --- most ubiquitously Steven Weir, Registrar of Contra Costa and President of the California Assoc. of Clerks and Elections Officials (CACEO), but many others as well --- and Voting Machine Spokesliars are directly quoted making one demonstrably false statement after another.

The majority of the journalists covering the beat don't seem to have a clue that they are being lied to, or how to counter it. A good start, however, would be to improve the ratio of Vendors/Elections Officials quoted to the number of Election Integrity advocates quoted. In many of the stories, there is barely a peep from the EI folks, who actually know what's going on (versus the Journalists who don't, and the Election Officials and Company Employees who are willing to lie to them). There is also a dearth of reporting on the opinions of actual voters and how they feel, since they are the ones who will be most notably affected by Bowen's long overdue changes to the Golden State's voting system.

Of all the stories we've reviewed since Friday, however, this Sunday piece from John Wildermuth in the San Francisco Chronicle easily takes the cake for the most atrocious reporting, perhaps ever.

In his incredibly unbalanced, anti-Bowen article --- featuring the biased, misworded, and unsupported headline "Touch vote machine ban hurts counties" --- Wildermuth offers an astounding bit of "reporting" on Bowen's new restrictions for Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting devices made by Diebold and Sequoia. In order to marginally meet federal requirements for a single disabled accessible voting device in each polling place (even though Bowen found that these systems do not meet such requirements), she's ordered no more than one such DRE device be used per polling place in counties who wish to deploy them for disabled voters.

Hold onto your hats, because Wildermuth, incredibly, mis-reported the point this way (emphasis added)...

But for Napa, Santa Clara and the 20 or so other California counties that use only the touch-screen machines in their polling places, Bowen's decision is a potential disaster. While the machines can still be used, each polling place will be limited to a single machine and every vote cast on a touch-screen machine must be recounted by hand after the election.

That's not a major problem for the counties that use touch-screen machines simply as a way to meet the federal requirement that disabled voters be able to cast ballots unassisted. But forcing every voter at a polling place to use a single machine could cause voter gridlock on election day.

You read that correctly! Wildermuth is suggesting that Bowen's ruling would require "every voter at a polling place to use a single machine"!

He follows up with this point, apparently as mis-directed by the reprehensible John Tuteur, Registrar of Voters for Napa County, this way...

While Napa could run an election with one voting machine per polling place, it wouldn't be easy, Tuteur said. And if the county is required to recount every vote cast on those touch-screen machines by hand, it could take weeks.

Who should be more ashamed of themselves, Wildermuth or Tuteur? Tough call.

We've come to expect Tuteur to be willing to say absolutely anything, to lie and mislead any time he opens his mouth, as he demonstrated last week in Sacramento when he gave a statement at the Public Hearing held by Bowen concerning her "Top-to-Bottom Review" of voting systems. Puked Tuteur at that hearing:

The top to bottom review has no relevance to the real world conduct of elections within the framework I have just discussed and has wasted almost one million dollars of scarce federal funds. This top to bottom review deserves the same admonition that I gave to former Secretary Kevin Shelley after his decertification fiasco. Secretary Bowen, you should know better than to erode the public's confidence in California's fair and accurate elections process for crass political purposes. [He turns to face Secretary Bowen] Shame on you.

No, sir. Shame on you, Mr. Tuteur for your willingness to deceive voters, media, and the public at large about your willingness to deny them their right to a fair, accurate, secure, reliable, and transparent democracy.

But we expect that from him. On the other hand, we expect the media to deconstruct such nonsense, instead of reporting it as fact as Wildermuth incredibly did in his SF Chronicle article yesterday. For that, Wildermuth easily wins The BRAD BLOG's "Most Atrocious Reporting of the Moment" award.

Wildermuth did not respond, so far, to our emailed query for comment or explanation of his "report," but we'd certainly welcome an explanation as to what the hell he thinks he must have been talking about. We didn't bother to contact Tuteur, as we've heard more than enough bullshit out of him by now.

You can, however, contact either of them yourselves, right here...

John Wildermuth, Staff Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle
jwildermuth@sfchronicle.com

John Tuteur, Napa County Registrar of Voters
707-253-4321 or elections@co.napa.ca.us