Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bloggers and their readers: an unbeatable tag team

Hats off to bloggers like Owen at Boots and Sabers for staying on top of the Milwaukee voter fraud story. Though Lisa Artison, executive director of Milwaukee's Election Commission is saying the charges of voter fraud are overblown (and so is the media), certainly the charge of incompetence on the part of election officials is a valid one.

When 60 Minutes Wednesday produced those questionable memos, it wasn't just the bloggers that helped reveal the fraud; their readers did much of the heavy lifting.

So it may likely be in the case of the Milwaukee voter fraud. Check out the comments section of this post by Owen. Here's one great bit of sleuthing from reader "steveegg."

[U]nless the Milwaukee Election Commission is FAR more efficient at purging addresses than they were when presented with evidence of non-existent addresses (for those that don’t remember, they refused to purge so much as ONE out of more than 5,000 addresses the GOP presented as non-existent), there at least appears to be far more “registered” voters than adults (much less eligible voters) in Milwaukee. In September, there were 385,000 registered voters. Between that time and the end of October, at least 20,000 pre-registered (likely far more than that; the 20,000 is just the number that had to be processed at the last second), and 83,000 registered at the polls. Even after subtracting the 10,000 (which I doubt the Election Commission will do), there would be 478,000 “registered” voters in a city of 430,000 adults (a difference of 48,000).

(Remember, John Kerry won in Wisconsin by only about 11,000 votes.)

It's not just a few thousand bloggers that the mainstream news media needs to worry about. Bloggers are often nothing more than information aggregators. But their readers come from all areas of expertise. And bloggers are far more likely to pay attention to information passed along by readers than newspapers are.

Perhaps that's one thing the mainstream news needs to learn. Their readers and viewers are smart. Pay attention to what they have to say.


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