"One reason we find ourselves in the mess we do today is because the media have so dreadfully fallen down on their jobs over the last 10 years. It's beyond sad. It's damned dangerous. For the last 10 years there just has been nobody home. Yes, there were corporate takeovers of the public air waves and mergers in the news business that meant investigative staffs were let go, but still the folks who were left simply became stenographers for the powerful and it has literally killed us. The failure of the media to do their job helped lead to wars where thousands are dead for absolutely no reason that anyone can identify today."
"There are a few of us reporting on this (electronic voting manipulation) and there are some great election integrity advocates around the country, but too often they don't become advocates until it's too late," Friedman said. "Take Wisconsin, for example. There are some great folks in Wisconsin who I suspect this time around (if there is a recall of Gov. Scott Walker) who will do a lot more work in advance. But during the Supreme Court elections (in April), a lot of people in Wisconsin were just caught off guard. They had no idea that their voting system was so easily manipulated and lacked so much transparency, that they became election advocates after the fact. After 14,000 votes were announced to have almost appeared out of thin air.
"And that's the same for candidates. It's only after they are literally screwed by these voting systems that they realize just how dangerous they are. And that's for Democrats and Republicans alike. I find myself working with Joe Miller (Tea Party candidate) in Alaska because he found out just how bad the electronic systems are in Alaska. He doesn't use the words 'conspiracy theory' any more."
As we head into 2012, does Friedman see a light at the end of the tunnel on these dangerous, untransparent, electronic voting systems used in our country?
"We're slowly moving past preaching to the choir," he said. "But people still don't seem to understand that even with optical scanning, those systems are still computers and they are still secretly counting your votes. Unless you count the actual ballots, you'll never know whether a computer system is doing it correctly or not. And if you're going to do that, it then begs the question as to why we don't do that to begin with.
"It drives me crazy when people say we need a paper trail. No, we need paper ballots. And the paper ballots have to be counted by human beings, at the polling place, on election night, in front of the public -- all parties and video cameras -- in order for us to know that the ballots were counted and counted accurately. It's not rocket science to add 1+1+1. But that's what we do now. We apply military grade encryption (if you're lucky) and we use insane expensive systems that fail and that can be gamed. It's just crazy."
Perseverance and a sense of responsibility is what keeps Friedman focused. Breaking down the barriers to a story as deep as electronic voting manipulation presents a unique set of challenges, even for the strong of heart. "For my generation, there was not a lot asked of us. We didn't have to go off to war, so this is where I can find myself being useful. I have a responsibility to the country"so to that end if I can report something that is not being reported or won't be reported, that's my responsibility. I try to cover as much as I can and cover only things that matter.
"I don't cover the "horse races' (presidential elections) very often, but I do cover the track conditions for those races, because no one else does. You can have the greatest horse in the world, but if they're running on a muddy track, they may not win. And very few people cover that."