There's a recommended diary making all kinds of nasty charges about Bev Harris. I was planning to comment in it when I saw this:

Calif. settles electronic voting suit against Diebold for $2.6M

(11-10) 15:31 (AP) --


California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced Wednesday a $2.6 million settlement with Diebold Inc., resolving a lawsuit alleging that the company sold the state and several counties shoddy voting equipment.

According to the settlement, the North Canton, Ohio-based company must also upgrade ballot tabulation software that Los Angeles County and others used Nov. 2. Diebold must also strengthen the security of its paperless voting machines and computer servers and promise never to connect voting systems to outside networks.

The original lawsuit was filed a year ago by Seattle-based electronic voting critic Bev Harris and Sacramento-based activist Jim March, who characterized the $2.6 million settlement as "peanuts."

My frank opinion about the Bev bashing is that it's just another case of left-liberal cannibalism.

Bev has been the most important single source of electronic voting investigation. She did all the original research long before anyone else even realized the issue existed. I carried an item about her in 2001 on my newsroom-l journalism discussion list when she was still working from her old public relations website. Since then, her publisher, Dave Allen, and some of the university researchers have been subscribers to the list.

I am not going into all the details, but I think that Bev is a giant when it comes to the electronic voting fraud. Maybe others would have eventually come up with this, but she's the one who did the original research, uncovered the most important evidence and put this right out front in the nation's consciousness. She gave it credibility and respectability when it was still considered mere conspiracy theory.

If she is now saying that there was fraud and that it can be proved, I am inclined to believe her, because she's been right all along for the past three years. She's not just talking. She's filed the biggest FOI request in history. I am tired of those who play into the hands of the enemy by worrying about others being shrill.

As a very experienced journalist, I try to use a professional tone in everything I publish. As a former publicist who worked simultaneously in the campaigns of JFK and Nixon in 1960, I know that no one ever made much headway with a controversial cause by being shy and self-effacing. Given her track record, Bev is entitled to raise her voice in the manner that she sees fit and thinks will be most effective.

She deserves our full support. Got that? Now please go ahead and recommend this diary so that it can get up there as balance to the Bev bashers. I never put up a tip jar, but I feel that this is one time when I want to make a direct appeal for your votes.

Many thanks if you got this far. If not, go to the top and begin again.

Update [2004-11-11 9:9:16 by Jules Siegel]: I've received some private correspondence from a source that I trust who knows Bev very well and has many complaints about the way she deals with people who help her. I've asked permission to publish the remarks here, but haven't heard back yet.

Meanwhile, I will say that Bev began as a publicist and her main skills are publicity skills, not programming. In general, I've found that people who come to the head of movements often have many disagreeable personal and professional characteristics. Even beatified saints aren't human saints when you examine their lives. Jealousy goes both ways. Leaders can be as jealous of their followers as vice versa. The drive for success often stems from very painful personality problems. Driven people may accomplish noble acts at the expense of others who help them. The fact is, however, that Bev Harris did make electronic vote rigging a national cause.

We don't always get the leaders we prefer. We get the leaders we get. The right is going to do its very best (worst, actually) to discredit the entire vote rigging theme. They will seize on Bev's flaws and the accusations against her to undermine the credibility and free discussion of why America is not entitled to an honest vote count. I'm sure they will do a very good job on their own. We don't have to help them.

At the same time, I fully agree that no one should try to suppress criticism. Even what appears to be unfair criticism frequently turns out to be not unfair at all. We have to try our best to be honest, even when it uncovers some inconvenient truths. I was one of the first experts on the liberal side to declare the National Guard memos a hoax. I did that on the basis of very sound advice from other people I trusted, whose methods I verified for myself, and credited fully.

Telling Bev to shut up and calm down because she embarrasses you is not very useful. Examining her personal character flaws may or may not be useful. Dismissing her accomplishments because of her tone or her personality flaws is simply destructive.

Originally posted to Jules Siegel on Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04:38 PM PST.

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