Says Lou: 'We are beginning to behave like a Banana Republic, this great superpower of ours.'
Featuring Interviews with Bev Harris, Computer Scientist Hugh Thompson...But Nobody from Diebold...
By John Gideon on 11/1/2006, 5:24am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org

Tuesday's segment of "Democracy at Risk" was about the increasing incidence of problems in Florida during early voting. After discussing the problems encountered by some voters, Gov. Bush was quoted and showed that he is no smarter than his brother:

"We're a model for the rest of the country and we're a model on how we certify equipment as well."

Bush needs to open his eyes and look at what is happening around him. Of course, he might find out there are problems and that would mean doing something to fix them, which would mean making decisions, which would mean....Oh never mind! As Lou said in closing the segment: "Idiotic. Idiotic. Unbelievable. It's just --- it's incredible."

And in the "Hacking Democracy" segment we learn that although Diebold is protesting the fact that HBO is going to air the documentary all month beginning on Nov. 2, Diebold is protesting a different documentary than the one HBO is airing.

It is no wonder that no one from Diebold has agreed to appear on Lou Dobbs. They might have to get the facts right.

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

DOBBS: Florida the scene of one of this country's worst election breakdowns ever. Already a series of e-voting glitches have plagued early voting in the state of Florida. It could be a debacle there all over again.

Kitty Pilgrim has the report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Voter activists are warning there have been problems with electronic machines in Florida in early voting. They are worried about Election Day.

Some of the most populous counties, Broward, Pinellas and Volusia counties, have reported serious problems. In Pinellas County the machines malfunctioned. In seven percent of precincts, the number of votes didn't match the tally of registered voters.

PAMELA HAENGEL, VOTING INTEGRITY ALLIANCE: In Pinellas County in the primaries we found over 150 calibration errors from precinct workers' logs. That's when a voter goes to touch the screen and it hops to a candidate that they didn't necessarily vote for.

PILGRIM: Today, Governor Jeb Bush gave his full vote of confidence to the machine.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: We're a model for the rest of the country and we're a model on how we certify equipment as well.

PILGRIM: The Florida hanging chad debacle of 2000 is what really launched the Help America Vote Act and the funding for most of the country to switch to electronic voting. But even now, Florida does not have a voter-verified paper trail.

REGINALD MITCHELL, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Despite all the problems that are going on all over the country and all of the reports and all the tests verifying that it's possible to rig a system, we have nothing in place for a paper trail in Florida.

PILGRIM: Volusia County has 300,000 registered voters. Last Saturday during early voting, seven churches mobilized buses to take voters to the polls.

SUSAN PYNCHON, FLORIDA ELECTION COALITION: The voting started at 8:00. At five minutes before 10:00, the power failed. It's probably coincidental, but one of the surefire ways to disenfranchise voters with electronic voting machines is a power failure.

PILGRIM: That power outage kept the electronic voting machines down for hours and hundreds of voters were turned away.


PILGRIM: Another problem, in some places representatives of the voting machines company are in charge of running the software that tabulates the votes. And that's because not enough election officials could be trained in time --- Lou.

DOBBS: This is one troubling, concerning report on top of another. This country --- we are beginning to behave like a Banana Republic, this great superpower of ours.

PILGRIM: It's unbelievably shocking this close to the election we're dealing with this.

DOBBS: Idiotic. Idiotic. Unbelievable. It's just --- it's incredible.

Thank you very much.

And in a separate segment:

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf. E-voting machines will count at least three out of every four votes cast in next week's election.

But the e-voting machines may not be reliable, they may not be safe from tampering. If the voting process is not secure, then our very democracy is at risk.

A new documentary, "Hacking Democracy" is set to air on HBO Thursday evening telling the story of writer turned voter activist, Bev Harris, she joins us now and along with Bev, Hugh Thompson, chief security strategist at the firm Security Innovations. Good to have you both here.

Bev, we have been reporting here - I know you've been working on this issue for years. How dire do you think the threat is come Tuesday?

HARRIS: I think Tuesday's going to be pretty rough. It may look okay on Tuesday, but in the 10 days following, I think we're going to find a lot of records that don't match up. And there's going to be a lot of confusion. DOBBS: A lot of confusion. Do you think --- we hear from our viewers all the time concerned in a partisan way about what will happen with these machines manufactured by four basic manufacturers. They view these machines not only suspiciously in terms of the software that they use, the way in which they're designed and operated, but they think there's true partisan influence. Do you agree?

HARRIS: Well, I think on both sides. The problem with the machines is whoever has custody of the machines has a tremendous advantage if they choose to manipulate the election.

DOBBS: I cannot imagine how we got to a situation where the federal government is spending billions of dollars to buy machines that can be opened with mini bar keys, that can be tampered with.

HUGH THOMPSON, SECURITY STRATEGIST: It's kind of scary when you take the analogy of electronic voting machines with other machines that have huge consequences of failure that people put their trust in. Like when I get in an elevator to come to this interview, right, or when I go on an airplane, I believe that somebody that knows a lot about airplanes and knows a lot about elevators has checked these things out for safety and security. But the kind of flaws we've found show that that checking really isn't being done.

DOBBS: In the documentary, one example of the way these machines can fail is the case of Susan Bernecker, a Republican candidate from New Orleans as you well know who ran for city council. Let's take a look at what happened.


SUSAN BERNECKER, "HACKING DEMOCRACY": This is where I came the day that the warehouses opened to the candidates to inspect. So I came here with an old college buddy, he grabbed his camera and I asked them to show me how the machine worked. So I just started fooling around with the machine. And it's when I pressed the button next to my name and then I looked down and I see Mr. Gambaluca's (ph) name in the display when I pressed Susan Bernecker.


DOBBS: What do you think?

HARRIS: All too common, unfortunately.

DOBBS: She obviously wasn't too pleased about that. As I can imagine. Yes, as we all can imagine. This is already happening early voting down in Florida as Kitty Pilgrim reported here tonight. How do we get to the point that four basic manufacturers making these machines, using laboratories to test and verify their equipment, that the companies pay rather than independent federal agencies doing so or even state agencies, how did we get here, Hugh?

THOMPSON: It's interesting that the folks that are actually verifying the machines, it's kind of like asking me. So my Ph.D. is in mathematics and like asking me to verify the flight worthiness of a Boeing 737. And I don't know anything about planes or avionics but I can say, well it's got a couple of engines. It's got a big fin on the back. Looks like it's good to go. There's somebody sitting in the front seat.

That's what's happening with voting machines. You have people don't understand software security saying OK, it adds two votes together, let's push it off. So we really need new standards.

DOBBS: And the idea that these companies with their proprietary software --- this is the part I really love --- are basically in control of the election because no one can verify what they're doing, except their own employees. What are we going to do?

HARRIS: Well, one of the things --- it's too late for this election to really do any fundamental changes. So one of the things we need to do is really document the heck out of this situation. And in 2004, we had people telling stories, this time we need to be out there with video cameras and get public records so that we can really tell the story of what happens. Then we're going to need to solve it long term.

DOBBS: Well, the Diebold Corporation is not happy about this documentary.

HARRIS: Really.

DOBBS: And they issued this request to HBO. They said, "The material errors and the material misrepresentations are so egregious that HBO should pull the documentary. Failing that, a pre-airing rebuttal and disclaimer are not only appropriate but also in the best interests of HBO and its subscribers."

We talked with the representatives of HBO earlier and they said they plan to stand by the documentary and they have no plans to withdraw it. I'm sure that pleases you and it does anyone interested in free speech and expanding the public's knowledge and the public's right to know.

They also say that the documentary Diebold refers to isn't the same one that HBO will air. What's going on?

HARRIS: Here's a good thing. If you're going to make a letter like that, it would be good to actually watch the documentary.

THOMPSON: That would be advisable.

HARRIS: That would be a start.

THOMPSON: But the interesting issue is the documentary really isn't about a particular company or a particular voting system. It's more about, we don't have standards to verify these things?

DOBBS: And we should point out we have been doing intensive reporting on this broadcast. We want to point out that Diebold has not ever accepted my invitation to join me here to talk about it, which we find remarkable. We thank you both. We wish you good luck. Bev, Hugh, thank you very much.

THOMPSON: Thanks so much for your coverage.


DOBBS: Thank you.