Unfair 'fun'

August 11, 2010 

The News & Observer had great fun with a gotcha story about state elections director Gary Bartlett and with a follow-up Aug. 7 about all the Democrats and Republicans who denounced election officials. You cited only three denouncers who had quotes that fit your story line; you avoided people like me who might ask more probing questions.

People eager to bash the governor or electronic voting machines were ready to use the damaging factoids and insinuations in the initial story to their advantage. A more careful reader would likely remain confused by the mysterious relationships between a machine vendor and a ballot printer, a boat ride in 2002 and a contract in 2006.

Through the muddle, there was enough information to see that neither Bartlett nor Bev Perdue selected the vendor and that counties are free to buy ballots from other printers. Ironically, the push by citizen advocates (and N&O editorialists) to avoid a Florida fiasco by enacting rigorous equipment and ballot standards had the most influence on which company supplies our voting machines.

Nobody's perfect, but it's important to note that Bartlett's integrity and his reputation for making elections accessible and fair have won national acclaim for North Carolina.

Bob Hall

Executive director, Democracy North Carolina

Durham

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