In a hopeless attempt to overthrow or cast suspicion on an American election, a ridiculous cast of characters has heeded outgoing President Donald Trump’s call to misadventure — including, now, the inventor of one of the worst gadgets of all time. His name is Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, and yesterday he gave a poor imitation of a TED talk before the Georgia state senate, claiming that he has the ability to prove whether ballots from the 2020 election were real or fake. He introduced himself to a subcommittee of state senators as an “inventor and pattern recognition expert,” just before implying that he’s a titan even bigger than Apple and Google combined. “I’m on approximately about 12 billion devices globally,” he said.
We’ll definitely grant that Pulitzer does have some credentials in the world of technology. He’s responsible for the CueCat: a cat-shaped barcode scanner that is widely regarded as one of the worst gadgets ever made. In a 2000 Wall Street Journal review, renowned technology journalist Walt Mossberg wrote that the CueCat was “unnatural and ridiculous.” Rob Beschizza of BoingBoing calls it “one of the classic crap gadgets.” And TIME named it one of “the 50 worst inventions.”
The idea of the CueCat was this: millions of the things would be shipped all over the country, and then people would use them to scan barcodes from ads in magazines… thereby opening deep links to content on their computer. We probably don’t have to explain why a giant barcode scanner that attached to a computer’s PS/2 keyboard port simply for the purpose of opening websites failed, but since its inventor is now meddling in American election integrity, we can’t take anything for granted. (It was a bad idea to manufacture millions of cat-shaped barcode scanners to compete with the functionality of typing a URL into a browser and pressing “return.”)
Anyway, Pulitzer now appears to be trying to cash in on Trump’s election grift before the lights go out. (Thanks to Christina Warren for putting us on the case with this Twitter thread.) The day before Pulitzer testified in Georgia, he posted a video on Twitter talking about Chinese inks, paper fibers, and “fake squiggles,” making sure to tag anyone on Fox News who might bite on insinuations of foreign election interference. (While he wasn’t tagged, Fox News’s Lou Dobbs fell for it.)
Trump’s election fraud campaign is making Republicans especially uncomfortable in Georgia, whose governor and secretary of state are both members of the Republican party. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp should resign, adding that Georgia’s GOP leadership are “fools.” Pro-Trump conspiracy theorists have also targeted voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion, falsely alleging that they have ties to antifa and Venezuela. The companies responded aggressively to the attacks, forcing — you guessed it — Lou Dobbs to refute his own conspiracies with fact-checking segments.
So, will the 2020 election be overturned by the guy who made the CueCat? It seems unlikely. Before wading into politics, Pulitzer reportedly became a “full-blown treasure hunter” in an apparent quest to find fame on The History Channel. But, unable, to locate the biblical Ark of the Covenant, Pulitzer is back to search for something just as improbable: widespread election fraud.