Bush-Appointed Soaries: 'The Republican-led Congress and the Republican White House have failed...The public should be outraged.'
By John Gideon on 10/24/2006, 8:22am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org


In this segment Lou interviewed two ex-Commissioners of the Election Assistance Commission. Ex-Chairman Deforest Soaries and Ex-Assistant Chairman Ray Martinez. As revealed in an earlier interview reported by BradBlog, Chairman Soaries is speaking out and speaking out loudly.

Of note in tonight's interview is this exchange:

Well, I think we're worse off because in 2000, at least we knew what we didn't know. And the hanging chad became center stage in 2000. Today six years later after spending $2.5 billion, we don't know what we don't know. We don't know about security, we don't know enough because the EAC never got enough money for research. The Congress passed a law that authorized $30 billion for research. EAC to this date has received zero of those dollars. The Republican party...

DOBBS: Zero.

SOARIES: The Republican-led Congress and the Republican White House have failed. And what Ray and I were invited to do was really a charade. And I think the public, as Ray said, should be outraged and demand results from the local to the federal level.

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

DOBBS: Joining me now, two former members of the Election Assistance Commission, an agency set up in response to the Florida debacle in the 2000 election, part of the Help America Vote Act.

First meet Deforest Soaries, he's a Republican, former chair of the Election Assistance Commission.

Good to have you here.

Ray Martinez, Democrat, former vice chair of the commission.

Ray, good to have you with us, all the way from Austin, Texas. Thank you.

Let's begin with a third of --- and if we can show these stats. It's sort of interesting, one third of voters this November will be using new voting equipment. Thirty-eight percent will be using electronic voting equipment.

Deforest, what do you think is going to happen?

DEFOREST SOARIES, FORMER ELECTION COMMISSIONER: Well, I think we're going to have frustration at the polls. Many poll workers will be inadequately prepared for the use of this equipment. And if there's a close race, there will be tremendous frustration because there will be difficulty confirming what the real results were, given the lack of any paper to verify what happened at the polls.

DOBBS: And Ray, looking at another statistic that everybody might as well start getting comfortable with, the 2000 voting machines, they malfunctioned in 25 states. I mean, are we going to see that --- something that widespread, do you think, in this election, or will it be even worse?

RAY MARTINEZ, FORMER ELECTION COMMISSIONER: Well, I certainly hope it's not anything to that magnitude, Lou. And I think the American public ought to demand that election officials around the country do their due diligence to ensure that we don't see problems like that. You know, election administration is comprised of three essential parts, Lou, the technology we use, the processes that we have in place and the people that run our elections. And we've seen a lot of problems when it comes to the technology, but we've also seen equal amounts of problems when it comes to the people aspect of election administration. We have to emphasize that as well.

DOBBS: Lots of wonderful people volunteer, Deforest, around this country to work in polling booths and work for the election offices all across this country. As part of the Help America Vote, billions of dollars put into play here, jurisdictions all over the country buying these machines. Are we better off, in your judgment today, than we were in 2000?

SOARIES: Well, I think we're worse off because in 2000, at least we knew what we didn't know. And the hanging chad became center stage in 2000. Today six years later after spending $2.5 billion, we don't know what we don't know. We don't know about security, we don't know enough because the EAC never got enough money for research. The Congress passed a law that authorized $30 billion for research. EAC to this date has received zero of those dollars. The Republican party...

DOBBS: Zero.

SOARIES: The Republican-led Congress and the Republican White House have failed. And what Ray and I were invited to do was really a charade. And I think the public, as Ray said, should be outraged and demand results from the local to the federal level.

DOBBS: Ray?

MARTINEZ: Well, I think that's right, Lou. I mean, I certainly agree with my friend and former colleague Buster Soaries, who was an outstanding leader for the EAC.

Look, I think that it's time for us to make our elections work in this country, Lou. I mean, that's the bottom line. And obviously we have a great deal of work to do to make that happen. It's time for us to bring together the best and brightest from the high-tech industry, Lou, the business industry, election officials, et cetera, for us to make things work. You know, Friday, this coming Friday, we'll celebrate --- or actually mark, I suppose some people might scorn the passage --- it's the four-year anniversary of the passage of the Help America Vote Act this coming Friday, of Congress passing that historic law.

It's time, four years later, Lou, six years removed from Florida in 2000, it's time for us to achieve a consensus on exactly what we have to do to really improve the process of election administration.

DOBBS: Deforest Soaries, thank you very being here. Ray Martinez, we thank you as well. I hope you will come back over the next couple of weeks because you make me want to cry. And we have to deal with this issue and come up with a solution as you gentlemen are suggesting. And even with just two weeks remaining before this election, we've got to focus on it. And we thank you for your part, gentlemen.

MARTINEZ: Thank you for having me.

SOARIES: Thank you.