And in doing so, it failed to do its homework about a group it describes as "non-partisan" but is in reality a wacky left wing organization.
The story recounts a dispute between the DuPage County Board of Election Commissioners and a bureaucrat from the Illinois Secretary of State's office. DuPage officials say they are following the law by disposing of elections tapes months after the election. The SOS officials say DuPage has to ask permission of their office first.
Driving the story is criticism from a group called the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project.
Melissa Urda and Jean Kaczmarek, co-chairwomen of the DuPage Chapter of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, a non-partisan election watchdog group, came across the issue as they sought "poll tapes" for the November 2004 election. They were hoping to check the accuracy of optical scan voting machines made by Diebold Inc., a lightning rod for controversy because its former chairman is a supporter of President Bush. They have not been permitted to do so.
Poll tapes are the printouts made from the machines the evening of an election after the machine has read all the ballots and tallied the votes on its internal computer.
"The illegal destruction of records is a breach of public trust," Kaczmarek said. "If the commission has not been following the rule of law, how can we trust how they're conducting elections, particularly when the process is not transparent to the public?"
This "non-partisan election watchdog group" calls itself non-partisan but is far from it.
I found that Urda and Kaczmarek have been speaking guests at DuPage County Democratic party events, and that the Naperville Township Democratic organization describes Urda as "one of our precinct committeemen."
A look at the group's national and state websites shows links to myriad books, articles and websites espousing theories of stolen national elections and an extreme fascination with Diebold Inc., as some sort of diabolical election apparatus run out of Karl Rove's basement.
Here's an example of what the group is promoting:
ELECTIONS IN CRISIS - WHO'S CHEATING
AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT!
Harvey Wasserman, noted journalist, author, activist and historian will be in Chicago on Saturday, September 17th to speak on Election Fraud in 2004 and democratic reforms that are necessary to restore the integrity of US elections nationwide. Among his numerous publications, Harvey most recently co-wrote with Bob Fritakis: How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 identified as a "Most Censored" story by Project Censored.
Ron Baiman will also be speaking. He is Senior Economic Researcher at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at UIC, Asst. Professor at the University of Chicago and Vice President of US Count Votes. He holds a Ph. D. in Economics and a BS in Mathematics and Physics. Following the 2004 elections he has been involved in studies of exit polls in comparison with official vote tallies in Ohio.
These events are sponsored by Illinois Ballot Integrity Project and by US Count Votes. To contact us call Larry Quick at 630-460-0857, Melissa Urda at 630-357-0744, or Ron Baiman 708-445-9052.
Oh, and if someone is still doubtful about my characterization of the group's politics, look at the national website. It links to moveon.org. And it asks people to sign a resolution loaded with sentiments from the moveon crowd.
WHEREAS, the U.S. Federal Elections of 2000, 2002, and 2004 were fraught with disreputable conduct and evidence of steadily increasing malfeasance; and
WHEREAS, the impact of such dishonorable elections has been the progressive undermining of the health, well-being and liberties of Americans, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; and
With important statewide elections coming up in November and a red-hot congressional race in the 6th, we expect to hear more overheated rhetoric from the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project.
Let's hope the media starts properly labeling the group.