[UPDATED with No Word from OC Registrar of Voters:] E-Vote System Breaks Down in Front of Blogger Critical of It

Categories: Elections
UPDATE, AUG. 17, 5:08 P.M.: I've swapped a couple emails with Brad Friedman today, and it's clear my original post about the Los Angeles-based blogger's encounter with an Orange County Registrar of Voters electronic voting machine at the OC Fair deserves some clarification.

First, while Friedman did ridicule the deep-fried "food" served at the fair, he did not actually eat it nor suffer a tummy ache as I snarkily implied. Hell, outright stated. There I go again, projecting my own fair nightmares on others.

Meanwhile, I wrote that Friedman was "best known for examining (and damning) ballot-counting machines in the U.S. from a progressive perspective." That was my shorthand for pointing out that progressive news sites and sources often lean on Friedman for context and expertise. He made it clear to me that he examines (and damns) ballot-counting machines in the U.S. irregardless of progressive politics. As one who's often called a liberal hippie hack (and that's at the polo club!), I totally understand.

But more than over my transgressions, the Fried Man is more incensed that no one from the Orange County Registrar of Voters has gotten back to him about the Hart Intercivic E-Vote System pooping out on him. In fact, he wondered if we might get him in touch with county registrar Neal Kelley.

We're giving it a go. Stay thirsty, my friends.

ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 17, 7:10 A.M.: Brad Friedman is a Los Angeles-based blogger, journalist, actor, radio broadcaster, film director and software programmer best known for examining (and damning) ballot-counting machines in the U.S. from a progressive perspective. The Fried Man is also a glutton for things dipped in scalding fryers, which brought him to our own Orange County Fair before the 2011 run ended on Sunday.

Nursing what must've been a sour tummy, he wandered into an Orange County Registrar of Voters display booth and gave a sample ballot a spin through the Hart Intercivic E-Vote System. Guess what? Damn thing didn't work. Oopsie . . .

This is akin to making an illegal U-turn in front of a motorcycle cop, or pulling the "Do Not Remove" tag off the mattress in front of Larry Miller, or letting it slip to "Woodstein" that Tricky Dick audio taped everything in the Oval Office.

Writing on his The BRAD Blog, Friedman observed:

It was all fun and games and sassy social observation until we had the good fortune to chance upon a booth being run by the Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, where two delightful representatives of the office where on hand to help folks register to vote and to offer a demonstration of the country's 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system.

As I would come to learn, the two delightful representatives of the office had no idea that their own e-voting system was actually 100% unverifiable until I explained to them how that was the case. Equally as troubling, as I was testing out one of the Hart Intercivic eSlate demo systems set up for voters to try and learn how to use them, it failed on me while I was running through the demo ballot created for fair goers...one of my selections disappeared entirely...or at least appeared to...

Friedman goes on to report that Orange and San Mateo counties are the only two among California's 53 counties to still use 100% unverifiable DREs for all elections, even though DREs by other manufacturers such as Diebold and Sequoia were largely de-certified by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

The blogger also describes the peculiarities that allowed the Hart eSlate to remain certified. He noted that Dan Wallach of Rice University and his colleagues studying California machines found Hart systems were "unacceptably insecure," and he provides a PDF link to an international study that backs up the bad reviews.

"Nonetheless, voters in the very-Republican Orange County are, shamefully, still presented with these 100% unverifiable voting systems at the polling place each Election Day, years after we've learned about the problems and vulnerabilities in the systems," writes Friedman, who went on to cast a ballot that showed him first hand the problems and vulnerabilities in the Hart system.

In the end, neither Friedman nor the friendly Registrar of Voters reps could determine if his vote had gone through.

Orange County Fair? Not so much.

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