Scientific Report Commissioned by County says Numbers Don't Match Up: 'The current election system, if left unchanged, contains significant threats'
OH Sec. of State's Response: 'The machines work. There is nothing wrong with the machines.'
By John Gideon on 8/16/2006, 5:22pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Tonight Lou revisits the world of electronic voting in Ohio, where the evidence points to voting machine problems, but the vendors, especially Diebold, and the state want everyone to believe that the poll and election workers are just too dumb to do the work and all of the problems are their fault. For more on this story see the recent BRAD BLOG article regarding the Cuyahoga County investigation.

Here's a quick sample from the text transcript:

PILGRIM: The report found the machine's four sources of vote totals, individual ballots, paper trail summary, election archives, and the memory cards, did not all match up. The totals were all different.

The report concludes, "These shortcomings merit urgent attention. Relying on the system in its present state should be viewed as a calculated risk."

But the secretary of state of Ohio, Kenneth Blackwell, is still in denial. His office saying today, "The machines work. There is nothing wrong with the machines."

That is not what the report concludes.


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The text-transcript of tonight's segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight follows in full...

DOBBS: This broadcast, as you know, has been reporting extensively on what is being called an electronic voting machine debacle in the Ohio special election. A new report shows problems with e-voting machines in that election were even worse than election officials first thought. And amazingly, some election officials still believe the machines actually performed well.

What's worse? Those machines and ones like them will be used all over again all around the country for the upcoming midterm elections in just 12 weeks.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The May primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, using Diebold electronic voting machines was a debacle. The Election Science Institute, independent researchers commissioned by the county, found damning evidence that the electronic voting machines had major problems.

STEVE HERTZBERG, ELECTION SCIENCE INSTITUTE: We're missing data. We're missing critical components within the election. The board of elections cannot find it, and we believe that that is probably the greatest issue we're facing in this election. What are equivalent to what might be ballots in ballot boxes in the old days now turned into ones and zeroes.

PILGRIM: The report found the machine's four sources of vote totals, individual ballots, paper trail summary, election archives, and the memory cards, did not all match up. The totals were all different.

The report concludes, "These shortcomings merit urgent attention. Relying on the system in its present state should be viewed as a calculated risk."

But the secretary of state of Ohio, Kenneth Blackwell, is still in denial. His office saying today, "The machines work. There is nothing wrong with the machines."

That is not what the report concludes. "The current election system, if left unchanged, contains significant threats. One likely result is diminished public confidence in a close election."

Cuyahoga County has, at last count, more than 1.3 million people, the most populous county in Ohio, including the city of Cleveland. It represents a critical mass of voters. But the report says the situation may not be resolved by the November election this year or even the 2008 presidential election.

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: There's a lot of work to be done in Cuyahoga County. I hope that it can be accomplished. But we have to be very, very careful, because everybody expects that their vote's going to count.

PILGRIM: The secretary of state's office today blamed poll workers for not carrying out procedures properly. Diebold has said the same thing, blaming human error.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: The county board of elections says they need to get to the bottom of this. They want the authors of the report, the scientists to sit down with Diebold and agree on what went wrong. They will then take measures to fix the problems.

And the scientists welcome that opportunity. They say it's important for the entire country that this issue is resolved --- Lou.

DOBBS: For the entire democracy. And just about 12 weeks remaining in which to do so.

Kitty, thank you very much.