By John Gideon on 11/2/2006, 3:30am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.Org

This segment of "Democracy at Risk" was a head nod to the activists and it's about damn time too. As Kitty points out, voting activists have had to step up and try to ensure the voters' votes are counted correctly because elections officials have failed, in large part.

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

Tonight, voting activists, not our government, leading the battle for voting security. They have been calling for action to fix the problems while the government is remaining silent and in denial.

Chief among the correspondents working on this story, Kitty Pilgrim. She has the details for us tonight --- Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, these citizens are really the real heroes. Now, across the country they are demanding audits, they have mobilized groups. They have insisted on paper records of electronic votes. They have sued state governments for tighter rules. They've called out lax election officials, and they are making a difference.


PILGRIM (voice-over): Who makes sure that your vote counts? In this election it's most likely a citizen activist group. For example, the Chicago Office of People for the American Way Foundation are training 3,000 students to troubleshoot problems on electronic voting machines on Election Day.

JULIE SWEET, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: These kids are going to be there for us, just to kind of look over the election judges' shoulders. And if they have problems, then the kids step in and they figure out how to make it work.

PILGRIM: Groups that have spearheaded the effort include VoteTrust USA, Common Cause, Mainstreet Moms, Voter Action,, Voting Integrity Alliance, Florida Fair Elections Coalition, Cleveland Center for Election Integrity,,, Accurate, and academic researchers at Johns Hopkins and NYU's Brennan Center.

They inspire each other. One of the founders of Florida Fair Election Coalition talks about going to the polls with Bev Harris of Black Box Voting, one of the early critics of security flaws in electronic voting.

SUSAN PYNCHON, FLORIDA FAIR ELECTION COALITION: They were taking buckets of paper trash out the back door of the elections office as they were talking to Bev inside, telling her that they didn't have the records. So I rescued those with another woman from Broward County. We rescued all those records from the trash.

PILGRIM: Activists appear on Capitol Hill wearing "Got Paper?" T-shirts, demanding a voter-verified paper trail.

At Princeton, a computer science professor, Edward Felton (ph), and two graduate students demonstrated security flaws in Diebold's computers, becoming the unofficial gold standard of safety.

This week, owners of Sequoia voting machines were asked if they would submit their equipment to Princeton for a test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you supply them with a machine and some software to look at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we'll take it under advisement.


PILGRIM: Now, why do activists have to take action on their own? Many elections officials fell down on the job, they simply trusted the voting machine companies to fix any flaws. That leading to elections that are not sufficiently transparent.

If the voting machine manufacturer declares the results and election officials blindly accept them, someone has to --- has to cast a critical eye on this entire process --- Lou.

DOBBS: Citizen activists, thank god for them, because this is another case where government is just simply failing, failing the people and putting the integrity of the election at risk.

And terrific job as always. One of the principal people covering this story.

Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.

And this Thursday night at 9:00 p.m., tomorrow evening, the documentary "Hacking Democracy" premieres on HBO. The documentary exposes the vulnerability of our country's electronic voting systems. It's certainly important to watch, Thursday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, on HBO.