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How can voters deal with lazy media coverage on voting matters?

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Bev Harris
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One method of attacking inappropriate or lazy media coverage is to
write letters -- and also to request corrections or redress.

KPBS "Full Focus" aired an interview with an elections official (and
former Diebold salesperson), asked no meaningful followup questions,
and permitted no input from those with an opposing point of view. The
result? The public was misinformed by the media.

Psephos is a nonprofit organization founded by some of the best voting
rights minds in the nation.

Here is how Psephos has attempted to redress the misinformation spread
by KPBS:

quote:On Friday June 22 KPBS Full Focus listeners heard Deborah Seiler
respond to questions concerning the testing, certification and auditing of San Diego's electronic voting systems. Unfortunately Ms. Seiler is either misinformed or ignorant about the facts concerning recent San Diego elections. While we all realize Ms. Seiler is new to her job, she has yet to look into the facts. Until she has, she is simply misleading KPBS listeners. If she doesn't know the answer to a question she should just say so.

Instead, Ms. Seiler's practice of answering questions with well-practiced talking points is only making matters worse. She must be held accountable for her lack of candor with voters. KPBS listeners have yet to hear the truth, and the election integrity community thanks KPBS for the opportunity to set the record straight.

Case in point: When asked whether in the last election all machines had been federally-tested or certified by the state, Ms. Seiler said "absolutely yes, no machine can be use in California unless it's certified by the state."

That statement is at best a guess. Ms. Seiler does not know this for a fact. In fact, the registrar's office has been responding since mid-February to an active investigation being conducted by the Secretary of State concerning reports that the tests required for certification were not performed. She cannot claim ignorance due to short tenure because she was told by citizens about the reports in a meeting on June 15, 2007.

Ms. Seiler was also questioned about whether she thinks the People should be confident in the machines. She answered with confidence, saying that, "there is a verified paper trail. used as part of the recount. Following the election. we do a recount 1% of precincts which we select at random." What Ms. Seiler neglected to mention is that the audit was done before all the precincts were counted, which is illegal, and that there are still more that 400 audit discrepancies from the November 2006 elections that have yet to be explained. These discrepancies are also the subject of an active complaint to the Secretary of State.

What I find astonishing is that Ms. Seiler has no qualms about responding to questions as if there is no doubt whatsoever about the accuracy of what she is saying. For example, she states that the 2006 elections were 100% accurate. Nobody on earth can know whether a computer flips votes from one race to another or simply changes the count. What she really means is that there is no evidence of errors. Voters around the county reported numerous incidents of their votes being flipped in the Diebold TSx.

Ms. Seiler's performance during interviews, while smooth and polished from a PR standpoint, has little to do with the reality of the situation we face here in San Diego.

Fortunately San Diego citizens are gearing up to dismantle the broken system of checks and balances we have when it comes to our election systems. Citizens have formed a formal committee that is working with the Registrar of Voters to take back control of our elections, which is what a true democracy demands. In spite the creation of the committee and citizens' willingness to reach out to Ms. Seiler, we have little reason to think she will act differently than her predecessor Mikel Haas, particularly when you consider the added influence of our new assistant registrar Michael Vu on the integrity of our elections. You may recall that Mr. Vu defended the criminal conduct of two employees he supervised in Cuyahoga County after they were convicted of felons for rigging the 2004 Presidential recount. Between Seiler and Vu we have much to be concerned about, and we will continue to pressure the San Diego Board of Supervisors to do their job and clean up our elections.
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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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