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Scott Rosenberg on Reporting About Election Fraud
Scott Rosenberg is the managing editor of Salon.com; he writes a weblog about the online magazine he runs. A few days ago, he posted a note about how they covered the reports of possible election fraud, and I really agree with one of his points:
The worst case is that the more gullible and misinformed wing of the Democratic left will turn into our side's version of the gullible and misinformed legions of Republican voters who believe that Saddam had WMDs and worked with al-Qaida. We're not there yet, but if we keep going down this road of crying "fraud!" at the drop of a dubious e-mail tip, we're in for trouble.

We need to become smarter, more skeptical consumers of the information we get online. All the information, including -- no, especially -- the information that confirms our preconceptions and prejudices. If we (here at Salon, or in the blogosphere, or even on CBS or Fox!) find real evidence of the sort of significant voting problems that could affect the election's outcome, then I will join the charge. But I won't leap to the barricades on the basis of me-too forwards from people who are desperate to believe and unwilling to face facts.

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I don't believe widespread fraud occurred in this election, but I do believe there were some serious problems...the main one being, the lack of a paper trail for auditing purposes. There's just no excuse, in my mind, for not implementing that before the election. And when discrepancies have occurred, how the hell are we supposed to double-check the results?

Well, there is one excuse -- people don't take potential problems seriously until they can see the effects of a problem. This is especially true in a political system where there are so many interests: status quo, local election boards, political parties, equipment makers, and state and federal government. I think we're getting momentum on the side of voting reform, but we've also got a very complex system.

Fortunately, almost everyone has something to gain from better systems. Having election cycles where numbers aren't doubted helps both sides. There's plenty of good thinking out there on this issue; the real obstacle now are companies like Diebold that have an investment in non-transparent technology.

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