Asks, 'Why is any election officer in this country taking a risk with these machines when they could easily move to paper ballots? This is playing with nitroglycerin.'
By John Gideon on 10/6/2006, 12:39pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

"A growing number of communities all across the country are now saying they simply want nothing to do with electronic voting machines. They've decided not to spend a dime of their taxpayers' money on those machines until they can guarantee that the votes of their citizens will count on Election Day and that those votes can actually be recounted with confidence." said Lou Dobbs at the top of Thursday's "Democracy At Risk" segment. The Lou finishes with this understatement, "Cook County [IL] saying it usually takes three or four elections to get it right. You are just writing off three or four elections? That's an insane statement."

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

DOBBS: A growing number of communities all across the country are now saying they simply want nothing to do with electronic voting machines. They've decided not to spend a dime of their taxpayers' money on those machines until they can guarantee that the votes of their citizens will count on Election Day and that those votes can actually be recounted with confidence. Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beset with problems of electronic voting machines, some election officials are reconsidering paying election equipment manufacturers, demanding higher performance.

In Cook County, Illinois, local officials dropped a bombshell Wednesday saying it usually takes three or four elections to get new election equipment right. The March primary was a mess. Results were delayed up to 10 days so Cook County only paid 13 of the $28 million contract to Sequoia and is withholding the rest until after the election.

PETER SILVESTRI, COOK COUNTY COMMISSIONER: We got quicker election results quicker from the Iraqi elections than the Cook County elections. I witnessed some of the problems the voters were having and it really did tick me off because, again, this is the United States of America. We shouldn't be experiencing these types of problems.

PILGRIM: In Boone County, Missouri, the county clerk says the more than million dollar elections equipment contract for ES&S is under review. The county paid $400,000 already but is saying the next payment, $800,000 depends on the voting equipment company helping the county comply with testing standards.

WENDY NOREN, BOONE COUNTY CLERK: We're having trouble making sure that the equipment I got matched exactly what the state certified. And so we're waiting for more information from the state before I pay the bills on this.

PILGRIM: In Arkansas, the May election was also plagued with late delivery of equipment and machines that didn't work. The state withheld payment and even demanded the company, ES&S, compensate the state for money spent on paper ballots and programming during the chaotic election.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM (on camera): Now, there's no time, really left before the election, a little more than a month. Some election officials are now only now taking a very critical look at the equipment they'll be using and those who ignore performance criteria will leave themselves open in November to flawed elections. Lou?

DOBBS: Flawed elections? We're talking about a disaster here. Kitty, as you've been reporting relentlessly, it begs the question, why is any election officer in this country taking a risk with these machines when they could easily move to ballots --- paper ballots so that they could have an audit trail? This is playing with nitroglycerin.

PILGRIM: What we're finding is the people who question it are actually the ones under attack and have to have real spine to stand up to this system that everyone has accepted as ...

DOBBS: Cook County saying it usually takes three or four elections to get it right. You are just writing off three or four elections?

PILGRIM: It's a joke.

DOBBS: That's an insane statement. Hopefully there are more people like those folks in Boone County, Missouri who have got the guts to say this is the way it's going to be. For the sake of the citizens in those jurisdictions. Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.