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Vendors are undermining the structure of U.S. elections: A VotersUnite report on the current situation and how to reclaim elections--in 2008 and beyond" by Ellen Theisen. Watch Lou Dobbs' August 20 coverage:



Lou Dobbs Tonight presented a CNN America Votes 2006 special, Democracy at Risk, Oct. 29, 2006: Transcript; Oct. 26 Video

 

More videos and transcripts of CNN's Lou Dobbs Series: Democracy at Risk at VoteTrustUSA

Copy and paste into your browser:

http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1403&Itemid=1108

 

Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN, Democracy at Risk transcripts, June 2, 5, 6, 12, 13, 15, 20, 26, 27, 28, 29, July 10, 11, 21, 25, 26, 27, 31, . . . September 15,  2006: "The midterm elections just weeks away and new evidence tonight that the integrity of those elections cannot be guaranteed. A new Princeton University study finds hackers can easily tamper with electronic voting machines by installing a virus to disable machines and change vote totals."

 

Videos of June 13, 20, 26, 27 (scroll down), 29, July 11, and 12 segments at BradBlog.com  

 

Questions foreign ownership of U.S. voting machine company Sequoia, lack of paper audit trail, inadequate security standards, and much more.

 

"Electronic voting machines, they can be rigged to erase your vote . . ." 

--Lou Dobbs, June 26, 2006

 

A firm owned by Venezuela could be allowed to take over one of this country's top voting machine firms. Venezuela, of course, led by Hugo Chavez, working to change the views of most South American countries, move to the left. Critics of the deal say our nation's very democracy is now for sale without anyone doing a thing about it.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The use of some 19,000 electronic voting machines in the city of Chicago and Cook County primary on March 21st of this year is now under intense scrutiny. The U.S. company that makes the machine, Sequoia, was bought in 2005 by Smartmatic, a private company primarily owned by Venezuelan businessmen.

When Chicago had problems with the machines, a dozen Venezuelan employees were there to help with the election. Chicago officials are outraged.

EDWARD BURKE, CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: Well, I think that American elections ought to be run by American companies and ought to be run by American citizens, not Venezuelan nationals.

PILGRIM: Smartmatic is technically based in Boca Raton, Florida, but the president of the company, Jack Blaine, testified to the Chicago City Council fewer than a dozen Smartmatic employee work in Florida. The majority of the workers are based in Venezuela.

Watchdog groups question why U.S. voting machines would be under the control of citizens of another country, especially a country whose own election process is highly suspect.

JOAN KRAWITZ, VOTE TRUST USA: We believe this is a national security issue. There is no way that companies belonging to non-U.S. corporations should have access to our elections.

PILGRIM: The Treasury Department is supposed to monitor sales of U.S. companies to overseas investors where there is a question of national security, such as in the Dubai ports deal, the so-called CFIUS review process.

Some in Congress are demanding an investigation.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: In the case of Smartmatic, there are a number of unanswered questions. That's why I wrote to the secretary of the Treasury and asked them to review the ownership. It's offshore, it's murky. No one seems to know who even owns it. Certainly our government should know.

PILGRIM: A potential risk to the democratic process.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, we called the Treasury Department to ask if the sale of Sequoia in 2005 had been reviewed or not. The Treasury told us they were aware of the sale but can't confirm if it's been reviewed or not. And some in Congress and voter watchdog groups also are demanding a better answer than that -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, this Treasury Department is filled with incompetence. They have stopped in over 1,500 reviews only one sale to foreign owners of American assets. But a voting machine company critical to this country's election count, and they can't tell you whether or not the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviewed it or not?

PILGRIM: They have no answer for us. And even...

DOBBS: These are the most arrogant, incompetent, bureaucratic idiots. I mean, the Treasury Department is trying to move ahead of a number of other departments in that -- in that category.

PILGRIM: It's incomprehensible that this would be in any way a question. DOBBS: Have we put a call in to -- I know John Snow's on a short tether and short tenure, but perhaps somebody who works for him would have some basic sense that he owes the American people an answer?

PILGRIM: Lou, we have been trying to get answers, and we have also been calling the Chicago officials. They said they thought it was a Florida-based company. So there are a lot of people...

DOBBS: Unbelievable.

PILGRIM: ... in murky, murky territory right here. And I think it really does deserve some examination.

DOBBS: Great -- it certainly does. We're going continue to do so.

I think we need to tip our hat to the congresswoman. She did a marvelous job in looking into this. And hats off to her. At least somebody is trying to make some sense.

This administration -- call the White House. Let's find out the answer so this audience knows exactly what's going on by Monday evening. And this is ridiculous! It's -- this one...

PILGRIM: We are looking into it actively -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Kitty. An outstanding report. It just burns me up.

 

Transcript, June 5:

 

DOBBS: Tonight, new evidence that the federal government has ignored a threat to the integrity of our elections. A group of Venezuelan businessmen have bought an American company that supplies electronic voting machines and counts the votes. But your government didn't even review the sale. Who should worry about democracy? Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smartmatic, based in Boca Raton, provides voting machine in local elections in the United States, like this election in Chicago in March.

But Smartmatic has only five-to-seven people working in Boca Raton, Florida. Smartmatic is a labyrinth of international holding companies owned by Venezuelan businessmen. Smartmatic Group NV of Curacao, Netherlands, Antilles -- owns Smartmatic International BV of Amsterdam, Netherlands, owns Smartmatic Corporation of Florida, which bought Sequoia Voting Systems of California, USA, in 2005.

When Smartmatic bought the U.S. voting machine company Sequoia in 2005, the U.S. government did not review the sale. In discussions with this program today, Smartmatic lawyers admitted, "We were contacted by Treasury about a week ago, and we have provided documents over the last few days."

The big worry for U.S. elections is Smartmatic and other voting machine companies are private companies. They have proprietary software that they can call a trade secret. Electronic voting experts with extensive experience say it's nearly impossible to verify if a proprietary system is tamper-proof.

DOUGLAS JONES, ASSOC. PROF., UNIV. OF IOWA: All of the voting system vendors in the United States are private companies. The problem is the closed-door proprietary nature of the process. The closed system we have right now makes it extremely hard to find out what's going on, and that means that should a thief get in a position of power, we would never know.

PILGRIM: Some voter watchdog groups and others in congress are calling for a full review and say the ownership of all electronic voting companies should be reviewed to determine if it poses a risk to U.S. elections.

The U.S. Treasury Department today would not confirm or deny if a so-called CIFIUS review is under way on Smartmatic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

The U.S. Treasury Department tells us they can review documents for months, even weeks before a 30-day formal review can begin, and then the agency can decide to extend that for another 45 days. What they say they can't tell us is if they are looking into Smartmatic, but that's something the company itself admitted to us today, Lou.

DOBBS: That they were not reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States?

PILGRIM: When they were bought --

DOBBS: That no one at the Treasury Department, no one in this federal government took one look at this transaction.

PILGRIM: They absolutely did not.

DOBBS: And meanwhile, the election people in the federal government have no concept of who they are doing business with, how in the world it will work, whether or not they can assure us that this election in mid-terms in nearly every state is accurate and verifiable.

PILGRIM: In fact, the Chicago officials admitted to us that they thought they were dealing with a Florida, U.S. company.

DOBBS: Well, we know what we're dealing with, and it is a dysfunctional government that is trying to render our elections precisely the same. Kitty, thank you very much, as we will continue reporting on what is an outright threat to our democracy, to the integrity of our voting system, and to our elections process. Thank you, Kitty.

Tonight, a major setback for Venezuela's leftist president Hugo Chavez and his dream of an anti-American alliance, spawning all of -- spanning all of South America. In Peru, former president Allen Garcia, won a run-off election for the presidency. Garcia, the former president, defeated the radical nationalist candidate backed by Hugo Chavez.

Chavez threatened to break off relations with Peru if Garcia were to win. Well, he won. Peru is now accusing Chavez of unacceptable and systematic interference in the Peruvian election.

 

Transcript, June 6:

 

Also tonight, our special report on the role of Venezuela in our elections, how this nation's very democracy is for sale.

And one of the founders of this nation's conservative movement says President Bush is betraying conservatism. Richard Viguerie is our guest.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The security of our elections and the integrity of our democracy is in jeopardy. Nationwide, there is concern and even alarm that electronic voting machines are simply too easily compromised and vulnerable to fraud. And as we've been reporting on this broadcast for the past several evenings, there is a new threat, and that threat originates in the Venezuelan ownership of one of the country's leading electronic voting machine companies.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice over): In California, New Jersey, and New Mexico, some jurisdictions are using Sequoia voting machines. The voting machine company was bought in 2005 by Smartmatic, which bills itself as a Florida company, but Smartmatic is a private company owned by Venezuelan investors.

Election watchdog groups are alarmed by the fact that a foreign company now has proprietary software that it can claim is a trade secret for counting votes in a U.S. election.

WARREN STEWART, VOTETRUST USA: The broader issue of the fact that the software that counts our votes is considered a trade secret and is proprietary, and no one can review the source code or the ballot programming, not even the election officials, the secretary of state, that's all kept secret from the voters.

PILGRIM: Some e-voting experts and members of Congress dislike the murky corporate structure of Smartmatic, a foreign-owned company, now deeply connected with U.S. elections.

 

AVI RUBIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The problem that we're in right now is that we're using equipment to elect our president and our Congress and our local officials that cannot be audited, that are potentially under the control of foreign enties, and that are almost an ideal platform for rigging an election.

PILGRIM: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney recently wrote to Secretary John Snow demanding the U.S. Treasury investigate the sale of the U.S. company Sequoia to Smartmatic in 2005. "Having a foreign government investing in or owning a company that supplies voting machines for U.S. elections could raise concerns over the integrity of elections conducted with these machines."

Smartmatic was also involved in the 2004 recall election of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, an election in which Chavez clung to power but the results have been questioned by some outside observers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: And because e-voting systems are not entirely tamper- proof, some jurisdictions in the United States have opted to go back to paper ballots until they are more able to be monitored fully. But many election experts say it is right to question the fact that one of the top voting machines company in this country is now foreign owned -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Kitty.

 

Transcript, June 12:

 

DOBBS: The all-important midterm congressional elections are now less than five months away. And nearly one-third of all votes in this country will be cast on electronic voting machines. But rising doubts about their accuracy and integrity threaten to undermine confidence in our democracy.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At the board of supervisors meeting in Alameda County, California, accusations flying against electronic voting systems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you need to do is hire a kindergarten level computer hacker and the votes are yours.

PILGRIM: The county put the electronic machines in place three years ago after the contested 2000 presidential election problems. The Help America Vote Act provided funds for local and state governments to upgrade their voting systems.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: One of the unintended consequences of that legislation was that all over the country jurisdictions, counties, states, and so forth, hurried out to buy electronic voting machines in an effort to get away from hanging chads and butterfly ballots. And they bought machines that are unauditable. And therefore a recount is meaningless.

PILGRIM: A 2005 GAO report on electronic voting confirmed the worst fears of watchdog groups and election officials. "There is evidence that some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."

Lowell Finley is an activist who is suing state and local election officials over the use of e-voting machines.

LOWELL FINLEY, VOTER ACTION: The real danger with electronic voting is with insider fraud, who just need a few minutes of access to a voting machine or to a tabulating computer and they can wreak havoc.

PILGRIM: Twenty-six states now have passed legislation that in one way or another calls for voter verified paper audit trails.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, we talked to election officials in the states of California, New Mexico and New Jersey who defend their recent primary results. But in the case of New Mexico, they've decided to go to an all-paper ballot system for the upcoming election, Lou, just to put to rest any fears that the voters may have about the systems.

DOBBS: Put to rest their fears? I would say those fears are rising right now.

PILGRIM: We talked to election officials today with those three states who had primaries last week. And they said they defend their results, but clearly everyone is re-examining their systems.

DOBBS: This is -- this is becoming a very, very troubling exercise in that we have people defending results who can't even defend the process or the technology because it's proprietary and it's not being shared. And therefore, it's not auditable, as Congressman Holt points out. And without that ability, how do you conduct a recount reliably and transparently?

PILGRIM: And some of this is on the local level, where local officials are just saying, well, they used it, we maybe should use it. So it's sort of not understood fully, I think is the fair way to say.

DOBBS: Not understood fully, and perhaps becoming more understood and more alarming as a result.

Kitty, thank you very much.

 

Transcript, June 13:

 

DOBBS: Well, coming up next here, your ballot may not be counted if you're voting on electronic voting machines. You'll never know. Perhaps neither will we. But some states are awakening to the dangers of those e-voting machines and trying to determine whether they are jeopardizing our democracy.

We'll have that special report tonight. . . .
 
DOBBS: Nationwide, as many as a third of all voters are expected to cast their ballots in the midterm elections on electronic voting machines. But serious questions about those machines' reliability and their vulnerability to fraud are rising. Some election officials in some states are returning to paper ballots in order to assure competence in the election process.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Newark, they are using lever voting machines for a special city council run-off election Tuesday. The local election officials say they went back to the old system for this specific election because voters felt more comfortable and confident in using the old equipment. But last week, for the primary elections, they used electronic voting machines.

The New Jersey State Attorney General's Office says there were no reported problems with the primary last week, but they admit they are discussing moving to a statewide verified paper trail system in the future.

WARREN STEWART, VOTETRUST USA: The real difference with an electronic voting machine like a touch-screen machine or any of the direct record electronic machines is that the votes are counted with software. In the case of a paper ballot that's run through an optical scanner, yes, it is counted by software initially, but there's the possibility of hand counting it.

 

PILGRIM: New Mexico has decided to move to an all-paper ballot system in the future to increase voter confidence, even though they stand by their previous results on electronic voting systems.

REBECCA VIGIL-GIRON, NEW MEXICO SECRETARY OF STATE: We were trying to accomplish uniformity more than anything in the state of New Mexico because we had all these different types of voting machine systems in the state. We decided that uniformity was the best way for us to go.

PILGRIM: According to verifiedvoting.org, a watchdog group, 26 states have legislation or regulations requiring paper ballots. And 13 more have proposed legislation but have not yet enacted it.

Eight counties in Arkansas are not using touch-screen voting in Tuesday's run-off because there was not enough time to reprogram the machines after last month's primary. But officials say they are looking into tabulation problems with their electronic machines in the May 23rd primary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, some in Congress are calling for a bill that would set federal standards for voter-verified paper records and legislation that would also call for election officials to conduct random audits of the systems. And those are audits done by election officials and not the companies that make the machines -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I'll tell you, frankly, I'm no more reassured by the fact that some election official is doing an audit of a machine with proprietary software for which there is not a paper record of that vote cast and for which we have the ability to conduct a recount reliably and accurately. After all, that is the purpose of the recount.

This e-voting machine wave that has taken over about a third of the country I think desperately needs to be re-examined and re- examined with care.

PILGRIM: And many officials are doing that just now.

DOBBS: As you have just recorded. As always, thank you, Kitty.

 

Transcript, June 15:

 

DOBBS: There are very serious questions in this country about electronic voting machines and their vulnerability to fraud, both of which are undermining confidence in our democracy. Now state officials who've bought electronic voting machines are blocking efforts in some cases to independently verify the accuracy of those machines. Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Half of all voters in Florida use touch-screen voting machines, and these machines are at the center of a controversy. State election officials say, "We have confidence in the systems we certify."

Florida wants local election officials to notify the state and the manufacturer before running any tests on the machines. But in 2005, in Florida, a county elections supervisor, Ion Sancho, authorized tests on Diebold voting systems and found security problems. Now he says the state of Florida wants to limit any testing they can't control.

ION SANCHO, LEON COUNTY ELECTION SUPERVISOR: Many elected officials across the country have staked their political careers on this e-voting equipment. Individuals who have made the decision to purchase technology, perhaps not knowing the extent of the vulnerabilities that may exist in that technology.

PILGRIM: Many states face the testing issue.

In California, an April 2004 staff report by the former secretary of state reads, "Some county officials have felt compelled to defend untested, unqualified and uncertified Diebold voting systems, having authorized large capital outlays..."

KATHLEEN WYNNE, BLACKBOX VOTING: It meant that these election officials really were at the mercy of the vendor to maintain the system, to upgrade it, to give them technical support.

PILGRIM: But California took steps to correct the problem. They called in an independent panel of experts to test Diebold equipment. And now the state requires safety seals on Diebold machines, certain system changes to Diebold equipment, and a paper record of each vote.

Diebold replied to concerns over its equipment saying, "There is a limited vocal group of individuals who are either adverse to technology in general or adverse to change in election technology. Unfortunately, a small number of these people have sensationalized very low-risk issues in an attempt to discredit electronic voting technology."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, the real issue is how much proprietary information stays in the hands of voting machine manufacturers. With more rigorous independent testing, states will certainly be able to take some of the risk out of using some of those systems -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, there is a move afoot to have paper trails, at least, involved in this. To what degree is that reassuring, or should we be reassured by that, Kitty?

PILGRIM: We talked to California officials today who have mandatory paper trails and they say that clears up a lot of the issues.

DOBBS: All right. Well, it clears up some of them, certainly. And we're going to clear up the rest with our poll tonight.

The question tonight is: Do you believe we should abandon electronic voting entirely? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll bring you the results later here in the broadcast, as is our custom. . . .

DOBBS: Well, now the results of our poll. Eighty five percent of you say we should abandon electronic vote in this country entirely.

Transcript, June 20:

DOBBS: And more voters are casting their ballots or electronic voting machines. But how election officials are verifying these votes is causing something of an uproar. We'll have our special report on democracy at risk. . . .

Serious questions about electronic voting machines are threatening to undermine confidence in our electoral system. All voters in the State of
Georgia
will cast their ballots on electronic voting machines this year. But watchdog groups say election officials can't verify the accuracy of the count and can't conduct a proper recount. Those groups say our democracy is at risk. Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
Georgia
has a primary in less than 30 days. Voting is 100 percent electronic, except for absentee ballots. Diebold has the contract for 24,000 TSR6 touch screen machines. Some activists are worried there is no proper record on this model.

JOHN FORTUIN, DEFENDERS OF DEMOCRACY: I have 20 years experience programming computers mostly for the financial sector, and the standards that are used in the financial sector are wholly absent from the Diebold voting system.

PILGRIM: At a state election board meeting this week, activists were demanding decertification of the machines. The Georgia Secretary of State office says that electronic voting will be discussed at a later date, adding that we do testing on every unit before the election.

Voting activists say even if machines are certified and tested before the election, the only real way to check results is with a printed paper record that is put into a lock box on Election Day. That will not be done in
Georgia
.

Another troubling issue for watchdog groups is current secretary of state Cathy Cox who championed the transition to electronic voting machines in Georgia and will certify the vote statewide is running for governor in that same election.

AVI RUBIN,
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
: That's a terrible conflict of interest. I think elections need to be run by unbiased, independent parties. And such things do not exist, what we need are very transparent voting mechanisms so no one has to bring into doubt anybody's motives or behaviors.

PILGRIM: Georgians for Verified Voting say their goals have nothing to do with politics.

DONNA PRICE, GEORGIANS FOR VERIFIED VOTING: It is not political. It is not with Cathy Cox. It is about making sure that the election is legitimate for
Georgia
.

Voting in a democracy is not about trusting that behind the curtain individuals will do the right thing. It's about security, transparency and auditability. It's about checks and balances. And
Georgia
's voting system fails on all counts.

PILGRIM: We called Diebold about this model, they did not return our calls.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PILGRIM: The secretary of state's office points out the votes are certified by local election boards first and historically other secretaries of state have run for another office, but activists say this only illustrates the broader concerns that electronic voting systems must have a voter-verified paper trail to establish trust with the voters -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, how in the world can you verify the accuracy of a machine if you don't have an analog, if you will, control for it?

PILGRIM: There really is no question. It's not even debatable.

DOBBS: And the idea -- I love the situation -- I kind of like I guess if I were betting, I'd bet on, is it secretary of state Cox in this upcoming election? She gets to certify the results, decide on the machines, while running for governor.

PILGRIM: They say they're locally certified first, but she signs off on it statewide.

DOBBS: They have a secretary of state that's actually hooked up now with Diebold, right?

PILGRIM: That's exactly right. Their previous secretary of state, Louis Massey has a lobbying firm, Diebold is a client.

DOBBS: Quite a little industry. E-voting. Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

Transcript, June 26:

DOBBS: And the threat to American democracy from within. Electronic voting machines, they can be rigged to erase your vote, so who's guarding the machines? You're not going to like the answers in our special report coming up next. . . .
 
DOBBS: Coming up next here, our democracy at risk, the electronic voting machines that are playing a critical part in our upcoming elections. Just about a third of those elections will be decided by electronic voting, although they're incredibly vulnerable to fraud, tampering, hacking and theft. We'll have that special report. . . .
 
DOBBS: President Bush today called upon Congress to extend the Voting Rights Act, a measure passed in 1965 to assist minorities in gaining access at the polls, particular in the southern states of this country. Congress is now debating whether or not to renew the measure, which is set to expire next year. One of the most contentious issues under discussion is a requirement to provide ballots in foreign languages. Those who favor extending the multilingual ballot requirement argue it protects minority voters. Opponents however point out naturalized citizens are required to learn English, so there should be no need for foreign language ballots and of course only U.S. citizens can vote, at least in most states.

In the upcoming midterm congressional elections, a little more than four months from now, a third of the nation will be casting ballots on electronic voting machines. Tonight, new questions about the extraordinary lack of security that results from the use of these machines. Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In San Diego
county Patty Newton volunteered as an election worker in the June 6th primary. After her training class for electronic voting machines, she got the surprise of her life.

PATTI NEWTON, FORMER POLL WORKER: We were given slips of papers, had them stamped by one of the staff members and we were directed to drive across to the parking lot to pick up our voting machines and take them home. We all felt an ominous kind of responsibility. It was not something that we were told we would be doing.

PILGRIM: She stored the electronic voting machine here, on the floor of her garage for seven days until the election. According to Vote Trust
USA, states with so-called sleepovers for electronics voting machines are California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Florida, but certain counties in other states do it also. Voter activists say while millions have been spent buying the machines, counties don't have the budgets for storing them or delivering them on election day.

SUSAN PYNCHON, FLORIDA FAIR ELECTIONS COALITION: Each jurisdiction has been given money through the Help America Vote Act to purchase the machines, but many of these jurisdictions are strapped when it comes to trying to maintain them, already, and to have this some huge delivery charge on top of that, that money comes directly out of the local taxpayers' pockets.

PILGRIM: In
Florida the Volusia County Department of Elections manual makes it official, "Pick up the voting equipment and ballots at your designated pick-up site prior to the day of the election. As soon as the items are picked up, they must be stored in a secure place." But on March 5th in Dallas County, a 14-pound electronic voting machine was stolen from the home of an election judge. Today the Dallas sheriff's office told us the voting machine has still not been recovered.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, voter activists say this simply reinforces the argument that the only real way to make sure that the machines haven't been tampered with is to have a paper trail record of the machine on election day, so if there are any questions the machine can be audited. Lou?

DOBBS: So often I say, what in the world are we thinking about in this country?

PILGRIM: It's pretty mind-boggling when you start to look at this, that these machines would be in private homes.

DOBBS: What are the companies that make and run and maintain these machines saying?

PILGRIM: They basically made the sale and say they should be secured. But, the definition of secured, as we have just proven is a little bit nebulous.

DOBBS: I think nebulous is a very kind word for it. I mean, this is enough to scare the dickens out of anybody.

PILGRIM: Yes.

DOBBS: Kitty thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

Transcript, June 27:

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

A primary election in
Utah today could help determine the outcome of the congressional battle over illegal immigration and border security. . . . And as voters go to the polls, the most comprehensive study yet of e-voting machines shows those machines are a real danger to the integrity of our elections.

Peter Viles tonight reports from
Provo, Utah, on a primary election that reflects the deep national divisions over illegal immigration and border security. . . .

And Kitty Pilgrim reports on the troubling new evidence that e- voting machines threaten the future of our democracy. . . .

More evidence tonight that an increasing number of elections in this country can be outright stolen. And no one would ever know. It's incredible.

Most Americans will be casting their ballots on electronic voting machines this November, but a new report has found widespread problems with these machines, problems that are placing our democracy at risk.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This year, the majority of the country will be using electronic voting machines. But a new report says the three main types can be hacked.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: All three voting systems have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities which pose a real danger to the integrity of national and state elections.

REP. TOM DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA: Several years ago I realized that new machines purchased by Fairfax County, where I live, were vulnerable to electronic problems and would make it impossible to conduct an effective recount.

PILGRIM: The
NYU Brennan Center report took more than a year to study the issue and found 120 potential threats to e-voting systems. Experts found an attacker could tamper with the software before Election Day or even on the day of the election with a commonly used handheld PDA device, like a Palm Pilot. That kind of wireless attack, a so-called "Trojan horse," impersonates the benign program already in the machine.

The report reads, "... an attacker aware of a vulnerability in the voting system's software... could simply show up at the polling station and beam her Trojan horse into the machine, using a wireless enabled personal digital assistant."

Some scientists say the e-voting machine vendors have not put in routine safeguards found in other interactive computer products.

DAN WALLACH,
RICE UNIVERSITY: Gaming systems like your Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation 3, or what have you, are engineered to resist a wide variety of tampering attacks because they want to make sure that every game that you're playing is legitimate and, you know, not pirated. That level of engineering is entirely absent from voting machines.

PILGRIM: The study recommends paper records for each voting machine, as well as random audits to check the systems.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, the report gives examples of three types of voting systems they studied and includes a list of the main manufacturers. Listing machines that are routinely used in elections around the country -- Lou.

DOBBS: I keep asking this. Where are the companies that manufacture these machines? Why aren't they on this broadcast telling us and you at home how great these machines are, how all of these concerns are misplaced as we move toward November? Where is that reassurance?

PILGRIM: We called three manufacturers today. Diebold did not return our calls. ES&S did return with a reply. They said they put in paper trails, they put in very secure systems. So they're defending it. And Sequoia said they were not targeted exclusively in this report, so they just basically backed away.

DOBBS: And the American people are supposed to take these as reassurances that everything is just fine and that our democracy is not at risk? I mean, this is as feeble a reaction as I've ever heard from a group of companies or any organization that is circling under direct assault on the very essence of their product.

PILGRIM: And this is a very comprehensive report. They should have something a little bit more to say about this report because it took more than a year and it was a very wide panel. So they should have something to say about it.

DOBBS: Or inversely, the American people should be thinking about what we want to say about these e-voting machines. This is -- the level of concern here is so high that something has to be done.

PILGRIM: The more we get into it, the worse it seems.

DOBBS: Oh, gosh. All right.

Kitty, thank you. Appreciate it.

Kitty Pilgrim.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Straightforwardly, do you believe that e-voting machines should be disallowed until their integrity can be assured? Yes or no?

Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here later. . . .

The results now of our poll: 98 percent of you say e-voting machines should be disallowed until their integrity can be assured.

Transcript, June 28:

DOBBS: Taking a look at your thoughts.

Leslie in
Iowa, "of course I believe that voting machines should be banned until their integrity can be assured, but then, I believe the politicians we vote for should be banned from running until their integrity can be assured."

Mike in
Indiana, "I can not believe that we accept lower standards for voting machines than we accept for ATMs or gasoline purchases at the pump. Receipts are standard in the businesses of banking and commerce. They ought to be standard in the business of Democracy."

And Rick in
Florida, "My Lou Dobbs Tonight poll vote is the only vote I'm confident will be counted, unlike my vote in November with the electronic voting machines."

Send us your thoughts to LouDobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here later.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight, as reports were circulating throughout the country. We thought we would ask it straight out. Are you among those saying that they will boycott upcoming elections in protest of these e-voting machines. Yes or no, please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here later. . . .

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 71 percent of you say you will not boycott upcoming elections in protest of the use of e- voting machines.

 

Transcript, June 29:

 

Dobbs: . . . And the lax security of electronic voting machines placing our democracy at risk. We'll show you tonight just how easy it is to hack into those electronic voting machines. You'll find greater comfort with video games. . . .

Coming up next, hackers could erase your vote, they could change your vote, they could swing the next election. Electronic voting machines less secure than video games. Our special report on democracy at risk, next. . . .

DOBBS: Tonight, further evidence of the extraordinary threat to our democracy from electronic voting machines. Many Americans now cast their ballots on electronic voting machines, but security on many machines is, at best, lax. So lax, in fact, that a hacker can change the outcome of an election without even touching the voting machines.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In an election, wireless voting machines are at the biggest risk for voter fraud. According to the recently released Brennan report, someone with a hand-held device like a Palm Pilot or other personal digital device could alter a vote in a computer on Election Day.

Voter activists are concerned.

BRAD FRIEDMAN, BRADBLOG.COM: You can change the software, you can infect the system with a virus. There's all sorts of ways that you can affect these machines using these infrared ports and other wireless devices.

PILGRIM: Some e-voting machines use commercially available computer components that have a wireless feature included. Experts say if that feature is dormant, it could theoretically be activated by a hacker.

AVI RUBIN,
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: The minute you introduce the capability to communicate over wireless networks, now you don't even require the attacker to physically be there. They could be sitting in a car across the street from the polling station and changing the software on the voting machine, possibly.

PILGRIM: The Brennan report, compiled by a panel of computer and election experts, plainly states, "The threat analysis shows that machines with wireless components are particularly vulnerable to software attack programs and other attacks." And adds, "Despite that, vendors continue to manufacture and sell machines with wireless components."

Two states,
New York and Minnesota, have banned voting machines with wireless technology.

Representative Rush Holt and 190 other members of the House of Representatives have signed on to legislation to ban wireless connections for all electronic voting machines.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: All of the kinds of voting systems out there can be tampered with. Votes could be lost or stolen.

Secondly, that there -- that it is an urgent problem. This is not some sort of theoretical problem that might happen some day in the future, but that it is urgent.

PILGRIM: Holt says it is not too late to intervene for the November elections, but time is running out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: The Federal Oversight Committee on Elections allows wireless voting technology, but not all members of that panel were convinced it was safe. Some members of that panel expressed concerns, but still federal guidelines currently allow it -- Lou.

DOBBS: Amazing. Thank you very much, Kitty.

Kitty Pilgrim.

Transcript, July 10:

DOBBS: And most Americans cast ballots on electronic voting machines. Is our federal government doing enough to regulate electronic voting? Is it doing anything? The answers are coming up next. . . .

Next, more than half of all Americans will cast their ballots this year on electronic voting machines. Critics say the United States hasn't even begun to ensure that these votes will be fairly counted in our upcoming midterm elections.

A special report ahead on our democracy at risk. . . .

Tonight, the federal government is failing to protect our democracy from an imminent threat. Electronic voting machines are open to fraud and can be compromised by hackers. But the federal government cannot enforce security standards for electronic voting machines. It hasn't set specific standards yet. Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than half of all American voters will vote on electronic voting machines in upcoming elections. And watchdog groups want the federal government to be more aggressive to prevent fraud.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: The federal government, through the election assistance commission, should be training local officials in how to do the right kind of audits of these voting systems. That can happen right away. That doesn't need new legislation. It should be the job of the federal government to do the kind of threat analysis that private groups and computer scientists have done.

PILGRIM: Federal guidelines for designing and testing electronic voting machines were drafted by a federal advisory board in 2005. But those standards are voluntary and won't be officially into effect until December 2007.

DeForest Soaries was the first chair of the Federal Election Assistance Commission set up after the hanging chad controversy of 2000 to oversee election reform. Soaries resigned April of last year.

DEFOREST SOARIES, FORMER CHMN, ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMM.: Well what's wrong with the standards is they are not standards, they are recommendations at best. I'm worried about electronic voting because we've done such inadequate research that we don't know what we don't know.

PILGRIM: Computer engineers say the guidelines are not enough to actually check the machine that is in place at the polling station.

JOSH WASHBURN, VOTETRUSTUSA: We don't know enough about the system in front of you to know if it is or is not the same as the one that was tested. So any statement about the tested system may or may not apply to your system.

PILGRIM: Also watchdog groups say guidelines allow for an acceptable failure rate for electronic voting machines that is too high.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: The Federal Election Assistance Commission says voting guidelines have always been voluntary and left up to the states. Now the Help America Vote Act sets minimum guidelines, but doesn't say what kind of technology should be used or require how it should be verified. That decision, Lou, is local.

DOBBS: It may be local, but this is a national issue for certain. The idea that we can be a matter of months away from the upcoming midterm elections and not have any assurance whatsoever that these machines work, can't be tampered with or that fraud will occur is just mind boggling.

PILGRIM: No, the people that we talk to who watch this are absolutely in shock over this. And they're very upset that local officials aren't taking the energy to check and connect with people.

DOBBS: Well what in the world is the federal government doing?

PILGRIM: The federal government has basically dropped the ball on this, Lou.

DOBBS: Dropped the ball. Minor thing with our Democratic republic at stake. Not that we don't have enough issues to deal with, the fact that we can't even rely upon a vote. We'll continue with your excellent reporting on this issue, very important issue. Thank you, Kitty Pilgrim.

Transcript, July 11, 2006:

DOBBS: And most Americans will be casting ballots on electronic voting machines. But what happens when electronic voting machines fail? A special report on our democracy at risk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PILGRIM: New fears about the integrity of our democracy tonight. Voter activists worry that standards for electronic voting machines breaking down are dangerously lax.

Now, federal officials say they're working on tighter standards, but those new standards may not be ready for years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM (voice over): Electronic voting machines, fast, easy, but what happens when they break down or fail? Federal guidelines permit one failure every 163 hours, which means one out of every 11 machines may break down on Election Day.

Critics say that's not acceptable.

JOHN WASHBURN, VOTETRUSTUSA: The reliability quotient for the hardware is too high. It allows too many machines to fail in any given election day and also be down for too long during that given day.

PILGRIM: Congressman Jerrold Nadler says voting machines have a higher failure rate than ATM machines and VCRs.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: No machinery should be allowed to be purchased or used for voting that don't have a guaranteed mean time between failures of at least several thousand hours -- 70,000 would be good. That's what a VCR is. An ATM machine will go thousands of hours.

Do we care less about our voting machines than our ATM machines?

PILGRIM: The election assistance commissioner defends the current standards.

PAUL DEGREGORIO, CHAIRMAN, ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMM.: We believe that it is very important that these guidelines and any kind of standards be improved all the time, and we're working on spending federal money to do that because we want voters to have trust and confidence in the voting process in America.

PILGRIM: DeGregorio says a federal advisory board is currently examining options for tighter reliability guidelines, but it's not clear if those standards could be implemented in time for the 2008 election.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, federal law says machines may not have more than one error per 500,000 votes, but critics say that tough standard doesn't mean much if the machines fail altogether.

And that brings us to our poll tonight. Do you think it's an acceptable standard that electronic voting machines can fail almost a tenth of the time?

Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast. . . . 

PILGRIM: Now the results of tonight's poll. 95 percent of you do not think it's an acceptable standard that electronic voting machines can fail almost a tenth of the time.

Transcript, July 21, 2006: 

DOBBS: Congress may be finally awakening to the extraordinary threat to our democracy from electronic voting machines. But that is conditional. Congress this week began asking tough questions about the lax security of these machines and the risk of voter fraud. But there are more questions.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Congress took a long look at whether electronic voting machines are reliable. Congressman Rush Holt has been pushing for tougher standards.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: There is just too much suspicion, too much cynicism, too much doubt around the country right now about how the mechanism of our democracy is working.

PILGRIM: One of the most upsetting issues, safety standards aren't mandatory. They are voluntary and won't be in effect for years.

REP. SHERWOOD BOEHLERT (R), SCIENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I'm not happy to learn that new standards are not likely to be fully enforceable until 2010 at the earliest, and that's only in states that choose to adopt them.

PILGRIM: Experts testified that virtually every electronic voting study has proven that a voter-verified paper trail is the only way to make sure a ballot is recorded accurately. Activists wore T- shirts that said, "Got paper?"

WILLIAM JEFFREY, NATIONAL INST. OF STANDARDS & TECH.: The new voluntary guidelines takes no position regarding the implementation of such paper audit trails and neither requires nor endorses them.

PILGRIM: So requirements for a paper trail are not even in the federal guidelines.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, the issue of a paper trail was not discussed in detail at the hearing. The House Science Committee chairman said there wasn't time to go into it. That issue will be taken up in September -- Lou.

DOBBS: Just a little less than two months away from the midterm elections.

This country at times -- this Congress, this administration, I cannot fathom what they are thinking. The idea that you would risk the integrity of our -- of our elections after the lessons that we learned presumably over the last six years in this country.

PILGRIM: Citizens groups have filed in nine states to try to challenge some of these provisions. Some people get it. It seems Congress does not.

DOBBS: Well, Kitty Pilgrim, you keep us informed. We appreciate it.

Transcript, July 25, 2006:

DOBBS: After months of this broadcast's reporting on a firm, an e-voting machine maker, Smartmatic, a company controlled by Venezuelan business interests, the sale was completed last year, we've been reporting, as I said, on it for months, the U.S. agency the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is supposed to investigate these kinds of deals that put the security of our nation at risk, let alone our democracy at risk. Tonight, we can report to you that CFIUS is taking notice and conducting an investigation.

Kitty Pilgrim has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sequoia Voting Machine Company likes to point out its long history as an American company. It provides voting machines in hundreds of jurisdictions across the country. But in 2005, Sequoia was sold to Smartmatic, a company controlled by Venezuelan businessmen. Even though the
U.S. voting machine company was sold outright, the U.S. government did not review the sale, even though voting machines are critical to national security.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney wrote a letter to Treasury last May demanding an investigation.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D),
NEW YORK: They have started a preliminary investigation. They are looking into the ownership. They call it a pre-CFIUS review. It is very unusual for Treasury to go back and look at a company that has already been sold, but they are doing it in this case.

PILGRIM: The worry is, if a foreign-owned company had control of election equipment in the
United States, it could be vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, many security experts say the way all voting machines are currently engineered, they may be vulnerable to hacking.

DAN WALLACH,
RICE UNIVERSITY: The federal guidelines don't say enough about security, which means that voting systems aren't engineered to be as secure as they need to be.

PILGRIM: While the Committee on Foreign Investment in the
United States says its review process is secret and can't comment if there's an investigation into Smartmatic, the Treasury Department does admit interest in the deal and is in contact with the company and is taking it very seriously.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, a lawyer for Smartmatic confirmed today they have provided the relevant information to the Treasury Department. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also says she's proposing a bill this week that would tighten up the CFIUS review process -- Lou.

DOBBS: As you know, I think the CFIUS committee and everybody on it are basically dithering idiots, because they do absolutely nothing to protect the interests of this country. If they could assert themselves here, no one would be more shocked nor pleased than me.

But I think we have to give just extraordinary credit to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. She focused on this issue, she brought it to the attention of the public, and our hats are off to her. She's just doing a wonderful job here.

PILGRIM: She's been very vigilant. And until this came to light publicly, there was really no -- absolutely no acknowledgment that there was a problem with this.

DOBBS: It is nice to see our elected officials, when it does rarely happen, doing their job. And again, our compliments and commendation to Congresswoman Maloney.

Venezuela's leader, Hugo Chavez, has formed what he calls a strategic partnership with President Lukashenko of Belarus, Europe's last dictator, some say. Chavez and Lukashenko signed an agreement to increase military ties. Both leaders say the United States is trying to overthrow their governments.

Chavez then traveled to
Russia, where he will sign, we're told, a series of contracts to buy the latest Russian fighter aircraft and helicopters, about $1 billion worth.

Transcript, July 26, 2006 

DOBBS: Coming right up, our democracy at risk. Why some communities across this country are refusing to use paper receipts to verify those electronic voting results and machines.

We'll have that report for you. . . .

And many people are fighting to protect our democracy from possible e-voting fraud, but some elected officials think -- you won't believe this -- that they know better. We'll have a special report. Stay with us. . . .

Still ahead, we'll have more of your thoughts, your e-mails and why are communities all across this country still refusing to use paper receipts to verify electronic votes? imagine that. We'll have that special report on our "Democracy at Risk," next. Stay with us. . . .

DOBBS: More evidence tonight that many of this nation's elected officials remain somewhat out of step or just completely in the dark as far as their constituents are concerned. At least half the states in this country are now requiring a paper trail for electronic voting machine ballots. But in Maryland, that kind of common sense and concern about our democracy has hit a roadblock. Kitty Pilgrim has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After 2002,
Maryland switched to all electronic voting machines. But this year the governor became worried about voting security and decided the state needed to move to a voter verified paper system for the upcoming midterm election. The House voted to switch from the Diebold all electronic touch screen system to a system with a paper trail. The governor set aside $20 million to switch. But the measure was killed by the state Senate.

ANDREW HARRIS, MARYLAND STATE SENATE: The governor put money in the budget. Everything was lined up to go, and it just failed in the last few days of the session because I think the Senate leadership and the committee leadership didn't want it to pass.

PILGRIM: Many
Maryland officials are outraged at Linda Lamone, the state administrator of elections. She gave a litany of excuses for not making the switch. Some voters would find it too difficult to use the paper ballots and using paper ballot technology would stop innovation on a new system in the future.

LINDA LAMONE, STATE ADMINISTRATOR OF ELECTIONS: It's going to stifle and it has already to some extent, the development of any other kind of independent verification technologies.

PILGRIM: The director of policy for the governor charges that Diebold had undue influence of election administrators.

JOSEPH GETTY, MD GOVERNOR'S DIRECTOR OF POLICY: There are two states that started very early with
Diebold, Georgia and Maryland, and those are the marquee states for the Diebold system. Both election administrators, Linda Lamone in Maryland, have a national reputation based upon their quick advancement of e-voting in Maryland.

PILGRIM: He adds...

GETTY: ... In
Maryland politics, strange thing happen all the time. Obviously, the vendor had lobbyists working the issue.

PILGRIM: So Diebold's electronic voting machines will be used for all 24 voting districts in
Maryland in November.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now,
Maryland election officials defend their decision. They say we take machines from Diebold, we run additional tests and as a result we have a high level of confidence in the system. But the rest of the country is more concerned. And 27 states around the country have introduced legislation to require a voter-verified paper trail because of security concerns, Lou.

DOBBS: The House wants it, the governor wants it, the Senate leadership and the committee leadership along with the Lamone, who apparently is very enthusiastic about Diebold voting machines, fighting it. Is this a Republican/Democrat issue?

PILGRIM: They say that politics are involved, but they say really it's more that they're very beholden to the system that's in place.

DOBBS: Is the Senate Democrat or Republican?

PILGRIM: Democrat.

DOBBS: Democrat. Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Kitty Pilgrim. This is incredible, this story on e-voting machines and the impact around this country.

Transcript, July 27, 2006

DOBBS: In our series of reports here we call "Democracy at Risk," we've chronicled the threat to the integrity of our electoral system posed by e-voting. More than half of all voters in this country are expected to cast their ballots on electronic voting machines this November. As we've documented here, electronic voting machines are not only vulnerable to severe malfunction, but to fraud.

In a special election in this past May, one county in Ohio demonstrated just about all that can go wrong in an election with e- voting and just how much of a threat e-voting is to this country.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Cuyahoga County, Ohio, was all geared up to use electronic voting machines for the first time, but the election held on May 2nd turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. Many of Cuyahoga County's e-voting machines just didn't work.

The Diebold voter registration system dropped or displaced several hundred registered voters. Some Diebold touch-screen machines froze up, others crashed. On others, the paper record jammed up.

Cuyahoga County also used optical scanners. The thick black lines on some of the ballots interfered with the system reading them, and even when the machines worked many of the poll workers weren't sufficiently trained to instruct voters or answer questions.

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: At the end of the day, poll workers were supposed to take a card out of the machine, put in it a bag and send to it the board of elections. Well, some of the workers closed down the machine, left the card in the machine. At the end of the day, there were cards that were still in machines and not being counted.

PILGRIM: The so-called ease of electronic voting turned into a nightmare and embarrassment because Ohio accepted $100 million in federal money to buy the machines.

JUDGE RONALD ADRINE, CUYAHOGA SELECT REVIEW PANEL: Absentee ballots could not be scanned by the machines that were designed for that purpose. And so as a result, ended up doing a hand count on those ballots, some 17,000 of them, that took about six days following the election to complete.

PILGRIM: Afterward, a panel grilled election officials. A 400- page damage report identified dozens more problems.

The paper rolls were loaded backwards so they did not print election results. Election results were recorded on so many formats, memory cards, a central computer, internal memory of the machines, and paper rolls, nobody could figure out the tally. Memory cards were lost on Election Day and were never found again.

Security was lax. Sixty people took machines home with them for the weekend before Election Day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, the board of elections refused our interview request. The county won't have to wait until November for another e- voting test. The special election in August has everyone holding their breath. And for November, the county's trying to get as many people as possible to vote absentee ballot to cut down on confusion at the polls.

And yes, Lou, they are sticking with those e-voting machines that the state took $100 million to install.

DOBBS: I mean, that's breathtaking in terms of a failure of the electoral process. I can't imagine why the board of elections in Cuyahoga County didn't want to talk with you. That's just amazing.

PILGRIM: Yes, it's astonishing.

DOBBS: Where is Diebold in this? What does it say about what is happening?

PILGRIM: Yes, we spoke to them and they sent us a statement. They're basically in denial about this.

They said only one county in Ohio had problems with their machines. And the exit polls said that people -- 95 percent of people said that the machines were easy to use. This does not address the problem they had in trying to tally the vote.

DOBBS: A minor, minor consideration when one is holding an election is to be able to count the vote.

Thank you very much.

Kitty Pilgrim.

 

Transcript, July 31, 2006 

 

DOBBS: More evidence tonight that the security of our elections, the integrity of our democracy are at risk from electronic voting machines. A county in Iowa has just come close to putting the wrong candidate in office because of a massive programming error.

Kitty Pilgrim has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On June 6th, in Iowa's Pottawattamie County, the early electronic vote tally showed a popular 23-year incumbent losing to a 19-year-old college student. Highly suspicious, the auditors stopped the electronic count and started counting by hand. The electronic machines made by ES&S, one of the three major voting machine companies in the country, had miscounted every race on the ballot.

LOREN KNAUSS, POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY SUPERVISOR: The discussion that we had afterwards as we started doing our review, the company, ES&S, misprogrammed the computers. And then on our side, the tests were not thorough enough. So it was -- we'll just say it was a 50-50 mistake on their side and ours.

PILGRIM: Knauss was running against 10 people in a Republican primary, and according to the voting machines, he was coming in ninth. After the manual recount, he came in first. He says without a paper trail, the election would been completely botched by the electronic machines.

Electronic voting experts have come to a conclusion over what went wrong with the ES&S machines.

JOHN WASHBURN, VOTERTRUST USA: What happened in Pottawattamie County is that they have a rule that the paper ballots, the names from precinct to precinct, have to rotate. So, while I might be at the top of the ballot in precinct one, I'd be number two in precinct two, number three in precinct three, and so on.

What the machinery did, though, is the programming didn't take into account this rotation on the paper ballots. And so, regardless of whatever name was on the top of the ballot, it would always accrue for a single candidate.

PILGRIM: Computer experts point out in this case how the ballot was programmed was a mistake. But misprogramming ballot tabulation could also be done on purpose if someone wanted to tamper with an election.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: The Iowa secretary of state says the programming by the vendor was done incorrectly. So the state is going to pay more attention to the pre-election testing of the machines.

But ES&S issued a statement saying the issue was not related to the reliability of the machines, rather error in the way the ballots were coded. It was a human error, they say.

All of this goes to prove, you really do need this paper trail.

DOBBS: Went from ninth to number one. If this message is not getting through that's emanating from every corner of the country using these voting machines, I don't know what it will take.

PILGRIM: I know. And when you talk to county after county after county that have these problem, they all come to the same conclusion, you must have a paper record, it seems.

DOBBS: And I love the electoral officials in these counties and districts, and in some cases states, saying we're going to pay closer attention this time. Wouldn't you pay close attention every time?

PILGRIM: One would hope so. It is an election.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.

Kitty Pilgrim.

This is one of those nights in which one has to shake your head. It's just one thing after another.