At least TRY to have your vote counted

I wrote a story the other day about tonight’s Bay Area premiere of “Uncounted,” a new documentary which claims to expose “how Americans were cheated during the 2004 and 2006 elections and how enraged voters have turned their anger into citizen activism … to safeguard the vote,” according the filmmaker’s synopsis.

It includes a segment about how my friend and former Tribune colleague Ian Hoffman published stories based on leaked documents detailing illegal activities by voting-machine manufacturer Diebold Election Systems Inc. The Texas-based international law firm Jones Day sued MediaNews Group — the Tribune’s Denver-based parent company — and Hoffman in April 2004 over Hoffman’s article detailing how the firm had warned its client, Diebold, in 2003 that its use of uncertified vote-counting software in Alameda County violated California election law and its $12.7 million contract.

Well, I heard back from Ian after the story had gone to print. Here’s what he had to say:

Plenty of writers and bloggers have argued that the 2000 and 2004 elections were ”stolen.” The one place to find the best arguments for fraud is in this movie. Personally, I think the record suggests voting-machine vendors and elections insiders are too inept to orchestrate a hack of a national election. But “Uncounted” does reaffirm that there’s motive and abundant opportunity for malfeasance.

Where the movie shines, I think, is in revealing how ordinary Americans became shocked at the vulnerabilities in their voting systems and began fighting for sometthing better, especially here in California. I’d like think our reporting brought those vulnerabilities home and started telling a reform story that still is far from over.

The movie’s Bay Area premiere, sponsored by Green 960 AM, will be at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Jan. 17, in the Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave. in Oakland. Tickets cost $10, and the screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Hoffman, writer/producer/director David Earnhardt, and Brad Friedman of Bradblog.com. Tell Ian I sent ya.

Meanwhile, Tuesday, Jan. 22 is the deadline to register or re-register to vote for the Feb. 5 presidential primary election. Voter registration cards can be obtained from your county elections office, any public library, city hall, post office or the DMV, or can be downloaded from the Secretary of State’s Web site. Voter registration cards require an original signature and must be submitted in person or through the mail; a card postmarked on or before Jan. 22 will be accepted as meeting the registration deadline.

Whether or not you’re confident in the security of your county’s election equipment, the only way you’re sure not to be heard is to not vote at all, so get off your butt, register and vote.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.