By John Gideon on 10/26/2006, 9:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org

In what may be the most revealing of all of the "Democracy At Risk" series Lou and Kitty discuss the broken system of certifying electronic voting systems for use by the voter. Lou correctly points out that the system represents a conflict of interest between the manufacturers and the Independent Test Authorities (ITA) who are paid by the manufacturers to test and approve the manufacturers products.

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

Note for the transcript: There are four unidentified males mentioned below. The four are representatives of the manufacturers and the ITAs.

Turning now to our special series, "Democracy at Risk", it's a case of special interest over the national interest. The laboratories testing and certifying e-voting machines are paid, paid by the manufacturers of e-voting machines. It's an outrageous conflict of interest that is putting our democracy, tonight, at risk.

Kitty Pilgrim reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With only 12 days before the November election, the Election Assistance Commission was begging manufacturers and testers of electronic voting machines to reassure them the election would work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is my vote going to count? Your comment, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you go to the polls, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 100 percent.

PILGRIM: But at this hearing in Washington, a clear demonstration of just how cozy manufacturers are with the labs who test their machines. Executives sat elbow to elbow on the same panel and testified together.

Electronic voting machines have proven reliability and security flaws. But the labs who test and certify those machines are actually hired and paid by the manufacturers themselves.

WARREN STEWART, VOTETRUSTUSA: The manufacturers contract directly with the laboratories and pay for the testing that is done. So the manufacturers essentially are the clients of the testing labs.

PILGRIM: Sure enough, testing labs at today's hearing refer to the manufacturers as their clients.

FRANK PADILLA, WYLE LABORATORIES: Independent test labs normally do not release test report data to any other source but the client and who the client directs us to release them to.

PILGRIM: Shouldn't the testing labs be more independent of the manufacturers? The government panel ducked the question.

BRIAN HANCOCK, ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMM.: If there are other ways of trying to do that, we would be more than happy to hear from anyone out there that would like to talk to us. Virtually every other governmental program does it that way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM (on camera): Manufacturers say their electronic voting machines are proprietary and the labs can't release the information publicly. But voters are demanding to know why the entire process is so secret, why the manufacturers and the testing labs are defending their relationship and most importantly, why voting machines are failing in elections all across this country --- Lou.

DOBBS: These manufacturers --- the entire government must think that the American people are the biggest fools on this planet. This is absolutely --- there's no other word for it. It is scurrilous, disgusting. It is ridiculous. Why in the world is anyone tolerating this relationship and this entire process?

PILGRIM: Well, many of the voters activists we've been talking to are delighted that some of this is coming to light, because the relationship has been so secret and so quiet that the public has not been aware.

DOBBS: Well, Kitty Pilgrim, thanks for making them so.

Kitty Pilgrim, reporting tonight from New York.

Thank you, Kitty.