Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lou Dobbs - private companies running voting

DOBBS: For more than two years here, we've been reporting on the serious threat that electronic voting poses to this democracy. As a result, some states have begun to scrap their e-voting machines altogether. But a third of the nation will still be using e-voting machines in November. And more disturbing a new report says election officials often are outsourcing their responsibilities to the very companies that make the e-voting machines, even trusting those companies to count the votes. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ellen Theisen has been a software writer for more than two decades. Living in Washington State, she was disturbed by electronic voting problems across the country, so she formed a nonpartisan citizen's activist group to investigate voting irregularities. A new report by that organization, VotersUnite.org, says that private companies now run many elections.

ELLEN THEISEN, VOTERSUNITE.ORG: Elections should be accountable to the people and run by public officials who are selected by the people to run them. So when that's handed over to private vendors, these public elections are no longer public.

PILGRIM: According to the report, many jurisdictions in the country are entirely dependent on the voting machine companies. The companies also tabulate results. State officials have to take their word for the results. The company owns the software and equipment and doesn't have to share it. It's proprietary. Election officials often can't do a recount without help. One state that rejected that arrangement is Oklahoma. In 1992, Oklahoma put in its own optical scan system, which is still owned and operated by the state.

MICHAEL CLINGMAN, OKLAHOMA STATE ELECTION BOARD: Election night, it's really all public officials dealing with the election and nobody else.

PILGRIM: Oklahoma wasn't tempted by new federal funds in 2002 when many other state and local governments used the Help America Vote Act money to buy touch screen machines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was really nothing on the market we would buy then and there's still nothing we would want to buy today.

Lou Dobbs Tonight - August 20, 2008

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