Sunday, May 13, 2007

David Broder Done Pissed Me Off This Time

David Broder has a column today that dismissed the idea of election reform. He states that Zoe Lofgren and Rush Holt's bill will be a disaster. He has a non partisan expert to back him up on this fact. If a man with decades of experience in the elections business says the bill is bad, you know that there are problems.
As a non-expert, I turned to the man who knows more about the conduct of elections than anyone else in the country, the director of the Houston-based Election Center, Doug Lewis.

"I have no problem with the objective of creating paper receipts," Lewis said, "But they have rejected every idea we've offered them to show what might work. I've been at this 40-some years, and I have not seen a piece of legislation worse than this. It is overly prescriptive, overly detailed, a cumbersome monstrosity to deal with."

But it is a high priority for the House Democratic leadership -- so watch out.

So watch out. The top expert Doug Lewis thinks this bill is bad. But, who is doug Lewis? I did a google search of "doug lewis election center republican". I was playing a hunch. Here is what came from the first listing from a group called Source Watch.

Until recently, very little information has been available about Lewis's career prior to joining the Election Center. What little information was available from biographies sanctioned by Lewis appears to have been spun to talk up his extremely slim Democratic credentials (he worked for Democrat defector John Connally), and has neglected to mention his very solid Republican credentials (he was executive secretary of the Republican Party in Kansas, executive director and finance director of the Texas Republican Party, and ran the 1976 Gerald Ford reelection bid in Texas).

Hmmm, that kind of makes him look like a partisan, not an independent observer. David Broder doesnt' tell us that. Broder has been around enough to damn well know Lewis' credentials too. By offering him up as the final authority on this bill while at the same time hiding the man's credentials is dishonest, plain and simple.

Broder doesn't like the bill fine. Argue that point. Don't tilt the deck by putting on a journalist hat when you are in editorial mode.

Update:There is also this from an article on election reform from MSNBC. (H/T FSchmitz1 from the WP comments board)
The Election Center has come in for criticism after reports that the nonprofit, nonpartisan group accepts contributions from voting machine manufacturers. Two members of the task force are former local election administrators who’ve formed their own election-related businesses.

Update 2:This is from an article by Jim Hightower three years ago
The corporate and governmental officials saddling us with these paperless touch-screen systems say that the rising public concern is nonsense—" pie-in-the-sky paranoia," as one state official scoffed. They assert that the machines are perfectly secure because they are tested and certified by professional technology labs. Yes, but these certifying labs are not public entities working for you and me—they are for-profit corporations that are hired (and, of course, can be fired) by the very companies that make the machines!

And these "certifiers" refuse to discuss their testing methods, much less reveal publicly the flaws that they find in their clients' computerized voting systems. They've turned voting into a closed and cozy corporate fiefdom. "Oh, fiddle-faddle!" exclaims an outfit called the Election Center, which is made up of state and local election officials. That might be cute, except that the center is substantially funded by the three largest makers of e-voting machines—Diebold, Electronic Systems & Software, and Sequoia Voting Systems.

The relationship is so tight that the center's national conference for election officials, held last month, featured a welcoming reception sponsored by Diebold and a dinner cruise on the Potomac sponsored by Sequoia. The conflicts don't stop at the center. For example, the National Association of Secretaries of State (whose members usually are the top overseers of elections in their states) gets 43 percent of its budget from voting-machine companies and other vendors. The current president of the association says of the machine purveyors: "Personally, I've known a lot of these people for a long time, and we've become a family."