'What kind of idiot would proceed with these e-voting machines when there's no paper trail, no plausible way to count these votes?'
By John Gideon on 10/7/2006, 8:43am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org

"In Friday's Democracy at Risk segment Lou and Kitty look into the story from New York state where counties are beginning to question whether their voters should be forced to vote on electronic voting machines. Why should they not be able to keep the machines that have served them well for decades?

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

DOBBS: Tonight, election official the all across the country, most of them alarmed about the threat that electronic voting poses to our democracy, many are deciding to simply reject e-voting technology altogether. These officials say it's safer to use decades-old voting machines than to risk a free and fair election in which you can't count votes. Kitty Pilgrim has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: The crank of a voting machine lever has a solid sound, and Suffolk County officials don't want to give them up. They are asking the courts to rule counties have the right to use lever machines that have worked perfectly, and ignore state rules that call for them to be replaced.

The Help America Vote Act called for new election equipment across the country after the disastrous election in 2000.

STEVE LEVY, SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We do not believe that because a couple of counties in Florida had problems with hanging chads that we should have to spend tens of millions of dollars in new systems that are susceptible to fraud and are intimidating to many in our voting public.

PILGRIM: It would cost the county $14 million to buy machines that have not proved reliable. Neighboring Nassau County also wants to keep the old system in place, saying Nassau County doesn't have the space to store the electronic machines properly, in proper climate- controlled conditions.

Clinging to the old technology, only about 6 percent of the country will still use lever machines in this November election, mostly in New York and Connecticut. And with the recent electronic voting mess, many counties are printing and storing paper ballots, just in case the new electronic touch-screen systems fail.

LISANNE ALTMANN, NASSAU COUNTY LEGISLATOR: There's experience all across the country that these DRE machines have been a complete disaster, with some counties actually having spent a lot of money and then returning them and going over to the optical scanning machines.

PILGRIM: For that reason, 48 percent of voters across the country will use optically scanned paper ballots in November. That way if there is a recount, the paper record still exists.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, in recent Suffolk county polls, 96 percent of the residents say they want to continue to use the lever machines, and there really is no reason to switch. It doesn't make sense.

DOBBS: You know, the country has done very well with paper ballots for a very long time. What kind of idiot would proceed with these e-voting machines when there's no paper trail, no plausible way to count these votes? What's happening in the state of Maryland, for example, is just --- it's absurd.

PILGRIM: It's really resisting the facts to continue to insist on technology without a voter verification trail.

DOBBS: And we're just about a month away from a very important midterm election. Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.