The Democratic candidate for Secretary of State in Washington state has released what he says will be the first of a series of campaign spots, satirizing the well-known "Mac v. PC" commercials, to highlight the differences between touch-screen voting machines and paper ballots.
Jason Osgood, a long-time election integrity advocate and opponent of unverifiable electronic voting systems, is running against the incumbent Republican Sec. of State, Sam Reed. Osgood joins several other citizen advocates across the country --- inlcuding Susan Rose Pynchon in Volusia County, FL, and Ellen Harriet Brodsky in Broward County, FL --- who have stepped up and decided to run this year against incumbent election officials who, they allege, have not been as responsive or transparent, in regard to voter concerns and citizen oversight, as they should be.
The 60-second spot released today by the Osgood campaign is seen below (text transcript is posted at the end of this article). It features two men standing in front of a white background, one who identifies himself as "Paper Ballot" and the other, dressed in a slick white leisure suit with sunglasses and headset, who declares, "I'm a high-tech, touch-screen votin' machine!" It quickly becomes apparent, as the spot begins, as "Voting Machine" searches through his pockets, that he's lost something --- "a few thousand votes is all"...
The comical ad, Osgood tells The BRAD BLOG, is to be the first of several in a series, highlighting the differences between electronic voting systems and paper ballots. "These videos are funny," wrote Osgood in an email this morning. "Each spot highlights just one problem with the voting machines. This is a very effective way to explain a complicated issue."
Osgood believes the ads may also help the issue of election integrity nationally, as they serve to simplify the concerns that advocates, as well as computer scientists and security experts, have been trying to share with the public.
"We're steeped in the arcana of computers and election administration," Osgood, who is himself a software engineer, told us. "When we talk to others [about these issues], we quickly lose them. Which is a shame, because counting votes should be simple! To be effective, we need to tailor our message to reach the broadest audience. We need to engage every voter in the fight to reclaim our democracy and restore integrity to our elections," he said...
Osgood has been critical of the Republican Reed, the state's chief election official, charging that he's "made many bad decisions that threaten democracy." The Democratic candidate, a co-founder of the watchdog group Washington Citizens for Fair Elections, cited bar codes added to ballots in the state which "allow government officials to determine exactly how you voted," as well as Reed's support of new high-speed mail-in-ballot tabulators made by Diebold, as reasons he's opposed to the current administration.
The bar codes are "a gross violation of our voter privacy," he charges. "We've recently protected voter privacy in King County by banning unique bar codes on our ballots. If we don't get a new Secretary of State, these bar codes are going statewide, and possibly nationwide," he warned.
Osgood says that Reed "continues to certify voting equpiment that makes it impossible to verify our votes are counted correctly."
"We all know about the notorious DREs, like Diebold's touchscreens," he says. "But there's new systems on the way. The incumbent champions new Diebold highspeed mail ballot tabulators. We need to stop these new systems now, before they go nationwide."
He said that more spots are coming soon. "My campaign has more of these videos coming. They're terrific! They'll be released every few days. If the idea catches fire, we'll make more."
Given the breathtaking scope of failures and concerns that have been revealed with electronic voting systems across the country over the past several years, Osgood and company say they have no shortage of ideas for new spots in the series.
"With all of the problems with voting machines, we could be making these videos for a long time."
The text-transcript for the campaign's first spot, follows in full below...
Fade up on Voting Machine (VM), a man dressed in snazzy threads, and Paper Ballot (PB), a likeable Everyman.
The two characters are standing in front of a white background, as gentle music plays, ala the PC/Mac series of commercials.
PB: (To camera) I'm your trusty paper ballot.
VM: (While searching through his pockets for something.) And I'm a high-tech, touch-screen votin' machine!
PB: Voting machine, did you lose something?
VM: (Continuing to search.) Just lost a few thousand votes is all. They'll show up. It's no big deal...
Cut to art card
"Ohio sues voting machine vendor over lost votes..."
- Columbus Dispatch, August 7 2008
"Company admits voting machine error..."
- USA Today, August 21 2008
"...Voting Machines Contained Error That Dropped Votes"
- Washington Post, August 21 2008
VOICE-OVER: Across the country, touch-screen voting machines lost thousands and thousands of votes, due to software glitches and error.
Cut to Jason Osgood
JO: I'm Jason Osgood. As Washingtons Secretary of State I'll use technology but use it responsibly. I'll demand accountability and citizen oversight of our elections. Well verify every vote.
Cut back to VM & PB. VM still searching through pockets...
VM: Hey, uh, Paper Ballot, maybe you can show me how to do a recount...I don't know where they are...
PB: Voting Machine, you're a disaster.
Fade to art card
Democrat for Secretary of State
Paid for by Friends of Jason Osgood
VOICE-OVER: Integrity. Accountability. Responsibility. Jason Osgood for Secretary of State. Paid for by Friends of Jason Osgood.
Fade to art card
VOICE-OVER: Please donate.