By John Gideon on 9/1/2006, 7:54pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

Tonight we had two segments on voting issues. The first on the lawsuit in Ohio against Ken Blackwell, will help to ensure the 2004 voting records are saved for longer than may be the whim of Blackwell. The suit also asks that Blackwell be removed from the ability to oversee his own election for governor. Also HR-550 is discussed by Congressman Rush Holt and a representative of Election Science Institute.
Note: While they reported that the bill has 159 co-sponsors the number is actually 211 or 209 when you discount one co-sponsor who is now a Senator and the District of Columbia delegate who has no real vote.

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

PILGRIM: Almost two years after the 2004 presidential election, important questions remain over the integrity of the vote count in Ohio. Activists who insist the Ohio ballots were sabotaged and favor President Bush have won an important victory in this dispute.

Christine Romans reports.

ROMANS (voice-over): Those now-famous paper ballots from the 2004 presidential election will be preserved a little longer. Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell instructing county election boards to hold onto those ballots.

Ohio election rights activists demanding as much in a federal lawsuit filed this week. They continue to question the outcome of the 2004 presidential election and say they are still uncovering irregularities in the ballots.

CLIFF ARNEBACK, VOTING RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Because there have been so many issues raised and we are finding evidence of tampering, both sides in this court proceeding need to have the opportunity to look at the real evidence.

ROMANS: Federal law requires ballots from a presidential election be saved for 22 months, and these could have been destroyed starting next week.

The press secretary for Ohio's secretary of state said, "To the extent that the conspiracy theorists out there are wanting to continue to suggest that there was some sort of coordinated or concentrated effort to have an unfair election in Ohio, it doesn't match up with the facts."

ROMANS: But this sweeping federal lawsuit filed by voter rights advocates disagrees. They want a judge to appoint someone other than Blackwell to oversee this November's election since he himself is running for governor --- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much.

Christine Romans.

Well, we have covered the threat that electronic voting poses to our democracy extensively in this broadcast. With the November elections just a few months away, activists are pushing for reliable and auditable elections. And now proposed legislation is calling for federal standards on all electronic voting machines.

PILGRIM (voice-over): Regulations for electronic voting are a mess. Each state has its own rules, and there are no nationally mandated standards. Congressman Rush Holt is sponsoring a bill to change that.

REP. RUSH HOLT (D), NEW JERSEY: In this day and age on federal elections, with our mobile society, with people moving from place to place, I think it's not at all inappropriate that there be federal standards. You know, under the Constitution, the states will administer the elections. That's the way it works, but the standards can easily be established across the states that will allow for reliability, accessibility, and auditability.

PILGRIM: H.R. 550 calls for a voter-verified paper trail for every vote, $150 million in federal funding to pay for it, audits for two percent of precincts, no wireless or Internet connections for voting machines, with full implementation of the new rules this year in 2006. But many election watchdog groups say the mere introduction of the new machines into this fall's election is problematic.

TRACY WARREN, ELECTION SCIENCE INSTITUTE: You want to be able to implement these new systems in smaller elections, and I know some jurisdictions are going to be having the first run of these new systems in a general election, which is a very perilous enterprise. I think you're going to see a lot of meltdowns.

PILGRIM: H.R. 550 has bipartisan support, 159 co-sponsors. Activists held a lobby day for the bill earlier this summer, organized by Common Cause, verifiedvoting.org, and VoteTrustUSA.

PILGRIM: The main concern about Congressman Holt's bill is the November mid-term election deadline. However, nearly everyone involved believes federal standards for electronic voting should be implemented as soon as possible.