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Where in the World is democracy?

By Debra LoGuercio?? Fairfield Daily Republic?? 14 November 2005

Everything that's wrong with the mainstream media can be found on ?The Today Show.? The least unwatchable of the three unwatchable morning ?news? programs spent much of its airtime last week answering that mystifying question, ?Where in the World is Matt Lauer?? Could I possibly care less about anything? Jennifer Aniston's post-Brad life, maybe?

Here's the truly mystifying question: Why was there virtually zero coverage of the Sept. 21 General Accountability Office's report on election security on that ?news? program or any other, network or cable? Did print news do any better? A search of the Associated Press website comes up dry.

According to Brad Friedman of www.bradblog.com, which tracks the electronic voting fraud issue like a tenacious bloodhound, only columnist Arianna Huffington, Inside Bay Area and ?The Daily Tar Heel? in North Carolina addressed the GAO report. Now add my name to that tiny list.

Does anyone else find this spectacularly alarming? We're talking about the sanctity of our votes, here - the very foundation of our democracy! Why is there a complete media blackout on this issue? What gives? To make the lack of coverage even more stupefying, the report is posted on the GAO website, www.gao.gov. You can even download a PDF of the entire 107-page report with a simple click of the mouse. If that's too difficult, I'll happily e-mail it to anyone who wants it.

The stunning report confirms the findings of studies done on electronic voting machines by Compuware and RABA Technologies (which I wrote about previously): the machines can be tampered with in various ways. And these machines were used in the 2004 Presidential election.

Bear in mind that the GAO isn't the tool of MoveOn.org or organized by Michael Moore. The GAO describes itself as ?the investigative arm of Congress or the congressional watchdog . . . independent and nonpartisan.? The GAO works cooperatively with our government. This government. Yes, this Bush Administration. And it's reporting significant problems with the electronic voting machines used in the 2004 Presidential elections. Isn't this a tad more important than Lauer sipping lattes in Latvia?

The reports states, ?Studies found (1) some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected; (2) it was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate; and (3) vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level . . . some of these concerns were reported to have caused local problems in federal elections - resulting in the loss or miscount of votes - and therefore merit attention.?

It also notes that election officials, computer security experts and citizen advocacy groups raised ?significant concerns? about electronic voting security, including weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration and poor security management. It further states, ?there is evidence that some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes. In light of the recently demonstrated voting system problems; the differing views on how widespread these problems are; and the complexity of assuring the accuracy, integrity, confidentiality and availability of voting systems throughout their life cycles, the security and reliability concerns raised in recent reports merit the focused attention of federal, state and local authorities responsible for election administration.?

Included on the lengthy list of actual incidents of electronic voting glitches is this: ?A malfunction in a DRE system in Ohio caused the system to record approximately 3,900 votes too many for one presidential candidate in the 2004 general election.?

Remember Ohio's role in the 2004 election?

To make this all even more surreal, Friedman noted that a joint bi-partisan press release issued by three Republican and three Democratic Congressmen - Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Judiciary Committee Chair F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and Science Committee Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) praised the GAO report findings.

So. The GAO report on potential electronic voting fraud is readily available. A bi-partisan Congressional committee has endorsed it. Why isn't the mainstream media tearing into this like piranhas on a pig carcass?

Forget Matt Lauer. Where in the world is our news coverage?


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