The 2012 election year is nearly here and the right to vote, the cornerstone of our democracy, is once again under attack in many states which have passed recent legislation trying to limit access to the polls. But an even deeper corruption of our most basic democratic right remains firmly implanted in our electoral process, ready to rear its ugly head once again in 2012.
"If you look at some of the Republican debates we've had, you'll see Mitt Romney and others have brought up the problems we face because China is hacking into our corporate computers," said Brad Friedman, publisher and executive editor of The BRAD BLOG. "And it's an issue of national security they say . And so while China is hacking into our computers Mitt Romney wants to say, now go out and use one of those computers that he's complaining about -- and correctly so -- to vote for me.
"The systems we use for voting are absolutely insane and the fact that it's not considered a problem is insane. And if you look back to Watergate, which was an undermining of our system of democracy, it is so much easier now than it was during Watergate to do just that. You now have one person, who with a few keystrokes on a computer can flip the results of an entire election with no possibility of ever being detected. It's just that easy."
Friedman has won numerous awards for his writing, reporting, and political commentary on a variety of topics. But perhaps none is more close to his heart and exhibits his passion more clearly than the work he has done to expose electronic voting manipulation and the threat it posses to our democracy.
"People used to use the words "conspiracy theory' to discuss this," Friedman said. "But it's not a conspiracy because it takes only one person to do this and it's certainly not a theory anymore because we've seen scientific studies in state after state show how easy these voting systems are manipulated."
Nonsense, you say? Check out Clay County, Kentucky, where 8 election officials were sentenced to a collective 150 years in jail because they were changing the votes on electronic voting machines. "These were high ranking officials"and they'd been doing it for decades," Friedman said. "The electronic voting system just made it easier for them to do so. And those very same electronic voting machines will be used in more than a dozen states in the 2012 presidential election."
Just how easy is it to manipulate the electronic voting system? Friedman's report/interview with Dr. Roger Johnston of Argonne National Lab's Vulnerability Assessment Team illustrates that with less than $30 and an 8th grade computer lab education, remote control "flipping" of votes is as easy as a push of a button.
"We worry about access to the polls, but we don't much worry about what happens when they get into the polls"whether the votes are counted accurately or even counted at all," Friedman said.
Friedman, a St. Louis native, did not hone his "nose for news" in a traditional journalism school environment, but his muckraking instincts would make Edward R. Murrow proud. Friedman is a living example of what Bill Moyers said recently:
"While it is important to cover the news, it is more important to uncover the news. As one of my mentors said, "News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity."
"I didn't originally start The BRAD BLOG to do what I ended up doing," Friedman said. "But I started to notice things that simply were not being covered by the main stream, corporate media. I started looking into them, asking questions, and doing actual reporting and I found my reports were being picked up the Washington Post, the AP, and the New York Times. I was doing a lot of their work for them.