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By Alan Breslauer on 10/20/2006, 11:34pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Lou Dobbs and Kitty Pilgrim report on the frenzy to hire computer science graduate students by state officials fearing an e-voting machine disaster on election day. Dobbs also has a brief report on the Supreme Court decision upholding (for now) the new Arizona law requiring photo IDs of voters.

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

DOBBS: With midterm elections now less than three weeks away, a mad scramble to hire technicians and experts who can troubleshoot e- voting machines in these upcoming elections. University computer departments reporting a frenzy to sign up their graduate students and ads are appearing on job Web sites like Monster.com. It's difficult to understand why such efforts are being made just now, so late.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the campus of the University of California at Davis, e-mail flyers try to recruit graduate students from one of the top computer security programs in the country. The job pays $350 a day to troubleshoot electronic voting computers at local polling places in Yolo County, California on Election Day. Most poll workers are volunteers, and many are senior citizens with limited knowledge of advanced technology. So, election officials decided to go to the experts for help.

FREDDIE OAKLEY, YOLO COUNTY ELECTION OFFICIAL: Every single day something pops up, and we discover that there's a little software glitch here or a little hardware glitch there.

So I figured graduate students in computer science, they are pretty capable of fixing just about any kind of hardware or software issue that might arise during the day that would cause a delay at the polls. I'm really looking to avoid delays for my voters and to keep these machines secure from tampering.

PILGRIM: California's been on the forefront of working to avoid a disaster, with some of the most extensive rules on electronic voting security. But because of the size and complexity of the election, California is also among the top 10 states expected to have difficulties with new e-voting machines this Election Day.

In past elections and primaries, computer crashes of machines and electronic poll registration have left workers frustrated. In many cases, voters were turned away, and told to come back later. Now, many states are recruiting troubleshooters for Election Day.

On the job search Web site Monster.com, listings entitled extra money working on elections. There are several job postings for positions in counties throughout Maryland. Monster.com tells us there's been a steady increase in postings for computer technicians since September.


PILGRIM: The election jobs come with eight hours of paid training and the advertisement on the flier in California also reads "it ain't rocket science, but it's too complicated for mere mortals." And the real mystery is why after months of electronic voting problems, all this was left until the final weeks before the election, Lou.

DOBBS: If anyone is not worried about what's going on happen in this election, I admire their confidence. Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.

The U.S. Supreme Court today said the state of Arizona can require voters to present photo IDs at polling places. Now, the justices caution they were not ruling on the constitutionality of Arizona's election law. That ruling simply allows the elections to take place with the ID law intact.

The high court justices noted that the facts in this case are hotly contested, and that federal courts still have to resolve other lawsuits challenging Arizona's election law, leaving open the possibility that the will of the people might well be expressed in the state of Arizona.

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