By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2008, 2:50pm PT  

After virtually ignoring the issue for some six straight years, our hometown newspaper, The Los Angeles Times, has run a two-part, 2,800-word "series" on concerns about voting machines, right on schedule, just in time to do absolutely no good at all before next week's upcoming Tsunami Tuesday election in the state. Waytago, LATimes!

The series reports absolutely nothing that has not already been reported over the last several years here at The BRAD BLOG, which is why the LATimes folks makes the big bucks and we don't.

They do, however, include an important point at the very end of the second article, in quoting from one of the country's most notable long-time voting machine apologists, Kimball Brace...

"Trying to defend electronic voting machines is becoming harder and harder," Brace said. "Election administrators see the tea leaves and recognize the battle has been fought and won by the activists."

While that's good to read, especially coming from someone like Brace, who has been working for such administrators and voting machine companies for years, the news comes as little comfort, most likely, for those "activists" (read: citizen voters who believe their elections should be transparent and verified) who are now, have been, and will most certainly be on the ground fighting that good fight in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

And in the bargain of having "won" that battle with no money and no resources --- other than having the truth on their side from the get-go --- in the fight against those who both own the power structure and have some $3.8 billion dollars of our own money in their pockets to use against us, how many such "activists" did the LATimes bother to quote in their two-part, 2,800-word series?

Exactly zero.

Voters don't apparently exist to the LATimes. Only "experts" who know what is best for them.

We don't wish to discourage the LATimes from reporting on this issue, of course, we'd just like to see them do it with more frequency (a step up from "almost never" would be good), and include those who are actually affected by these things, like any of the hundreds of exhausted, hard-working Election Integrity advocate voters --- many of whom, like us, happen to live in the LATimes' own state of CA and/or in and near Los Angeles --- who have been toiling for years, without title or remuneration, simply because it's the right thing to do for America.

Since there is really nothing in the two articles that BRAD BLOG readers don't already know, we'll do you the favor of quoting just the few notable snippets from each one, along with some value-added snark and facts for your reading pleasure, below...

From Part 1: "A paper jam roils California vote"

Not news, but worth remembering:

[California Secretary of State Debra] Bowen said about the electronic machines. "You only have one chance to get an election right."

On the notion that counting paper ballots will take longer than receiving unverifiable numbers from touch-screen voting machines:

In San Bernardino, a test run of paper ballots in November found that optical scanners could count only 10,000 votes per hour. That means it could take more than 17 hours, starting at 10 p.m., to handle the 175,000 votes expected, said Registrar Kari Verjil.

How those poor San Bernardino voters will possibly survive through the night, waiting until 3pm the day after the election to find out who won is currently unknown. Please send blankets, water, and other emergency disaster supplies to them just in case, ASAP.

The Coward of Riverside County, Supervisor Jeff Stone, sticks his head up from behind a rock to take a cheap shot at Bowen having decertified Riverside's 20 million dollar, unverifiable, inaccurate, hackable voting system, that he approved time and again, without any concern for the pure waste of taxpayer money, to say:

"This was a shoot-from-the hip political maneuver to help her gain name recognition," said Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone. "This is purely a waste of taxpayer money. When the times are lean, this doesn't help."

Speaking of "shoot-from-the hip political maneuvers," if you're not already aware of Stone's pathetic, and historically ignominious, "1000 to 1 bet" that Riverside Election Integrity advocates could not hack the county's voting system --- a bet he would quickly welsh out of --- see BRAD BLOG's Special Coverage page devoted to it.

Former Sequoia and Diebold salesperson Deborah Seiler, who was recently and inappropriately installed as Registrar of Voters in the People's Republic of San Diego, offers her own ironic quote after having recently failed --- and failed miserably, even on appeal --- in her wasteful-to-the-taxpayers lawsuit against Bowen's new requirement for counting 10% of ballots by hand in elections found by the machines to have been decided by less than one-half of a percentage point...

Seiler sued Bowen over one new requirement that counties increase audits in close races, even though victory margins often change as more absentee ballots are counted. "We have no idea how we are going to be running our elections week to week," she said. "What is at risk is voter confidence."

We suppose there would be more "voter confidence" in elections if no ballots were checked by hand when the machine-reported results offered a .5% or less margin?! Good luck, San Diego. You're gonna need it with this genius, and her equally inappropriately installed and discredited assistant Michael Vu, formerly of Cuyahoga County, in charge this year.

And a note to Mr. Stone of Riverside: If you're suddenly so concerned about a "waste of taxpayer money," after wasting millions on shitty voting machines you should never have used in the first place, why did you and your county waste still more taxpayer money by joining Seiler's embarrassing and failed lawsuit and failed appeal against Bowen?

From Part 2: "Electronic voting is facing a recall"

And speaking of inappropriate and ironic, the LATimes' cavalcade of quotes from discredited election officials/voting machine company reps and apologists continues in Part 2, with this from the now-thankfully-resigned Conny McCormack:

"This is a singular moment," said Conny McCormack, former registrar of Los Angeles, who quit last year after disagreements with Bowen. "Politics have bled into this. It reminds me of a Third World country when their elections administrators get politicized."

Golly gee, really Conny? It reminds us of Third World countries where election administrators work in cahoots with the corporations who have interests in the specific outcome of elections. You know what we're referring to, dontcha, sweetie?...

By the way, the LATimes didn't bother to disclose either McCormack or Seiler's inappropriate relationship to the voting machine companies in either of their two articles.

The oft-quoted Doug Chapin, who actually makes a living at this stuff, unlike all of those Election Integrity advocates the Times didn't feel it was worth interviewing, hits on the point many of us have been trying to make for years...finally...

"We are at a high-water mark, but what is extraordinary is that the water has already been high for years," said Doug Chapin, director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan group funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts that has tracked voting technology since 2001. "The $3 billion of federal money has created more problems than it solved."

No. Ya think? Any reason you weren't hollering about that years ago, before the money was spent, Mr. Chapin?

The good David Jefferson is finally quoted near the back of the second piece, and offers a welcome relief from so much of the pro-vendor, pro-election official, anti-transparency rhetoric written up to this point:

"It is really a mess at the federal level," said David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who has advised California on electronic voting for years. "And neither states nor counties have the technical expertise that computerized voting technology requires."

Keeping voting secure is far more difficult than tracking money in the banking system or keeping control of U.S. nuclear weapons, Jefferson said. With secret voting, the government must know who voted but cannot know how they voted. As a result, it is impossible to prove that any individual's vote was actually counted.

Thank you, Mr. Jefferson.

But, of course, Diebold stooge Kimball Brace, mis-identied only as "a longtime Washington consultant on voting issues," is quickly brought in to counter Jefferson's independent, knowledge-based comments...

Kimball Brace, a longtime Washington consultant on voting issues, said Electronic voting provides for the most accurate and efficient tabulation possible, free from arguments over voter intent and flawed ballots.

True. If there is no evidence available of voter intent, and no ballots --- flawed or overwise --- it becomes very difficult to argue over them.

And just for last kicks, out of the ashes of Sequoia Voting System shame and her recent hibernation, comes company spokeshole Michelle Shafer to mislead the LATimes' still-underinformed readers at the very end...

"There has never been a case of an electronic voting system being tampered with in a live voting environment," said Michelle M. Shafer, vice president for communications at Sequoia Voting Systems in Oakland, one of the four major equipment makers.

You'll notice she says "live voting environment", since her own company's machines have been hacked accidentally, hacked on purpose, hacked during testing, and even provide a hack-at-will yellow button on the back of each one of them, for use during a "live" election, just in case.

And that's only what we know, and only on Sequoia's machines. Shaffer and the LATimes fail to offer explanation for the extraordinary undervote rates on Sequoia machines in New Mexico and Washington state in 2004.

As well, they also fail --- along with all the other apologists most-recently using the "no proof of e-voting machines being hacked in an election" line --- to explain things like the still-unexplained 18,000 missing votes on ES&S machines in Sarasota's FL-13 Congressional election in 2006, or the equally-unexplained -16,022 votes (that's negative 16,022 votes!) registered for Al Gore on a Diebold tabulator in Volusia County, FL, in the 2000 election.

We could go on. But we won't. You're welcome.

Hey LATimes: It's just a local call if you wish to reach us next time. We'll be happy to offer facts to counter your "experts'" spin. We'll also be happy to put you in touch with a few of those "activists" who have "fought and won" the "battle" you've finally decided to write about.