By Alan Breslauer on 11/3/2006, 12:47pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

Kitty Pilgrim covers a myriad of e-voting problems pouring in from across the country during early voting. Sequoia gets the lion's share of the coverage with the newly discovered large yellow button that, when pressed, allows voters to vote as many times as they want. Dobbs: "I keep expecting the country to just sort of go into a group scream over these e-voting machines."

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

DOBBS: Election workers are scrambling all over the country trying to deal with an avalanche of last-minute problems with e-voting machines. With this information just pouring in, it's difficult to understand how the electorate can feel any sense of confidence in our upcoming election.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You really can't miss it, the yellow button at the back of the Sequoia voting machine. Tens of thousand of machines used in 16 state and Washington, D.C. That button puts the machine in manual mode so anyone can vote and repeatedly cast as many votes as they want.

Activists say it's a major problem.

TOM COURBAT, SAVE R VOTE: I worry about the poll captains having access. They're temporary workers. In many cases there aren't background checks done on them. And it's easy for them to go back there, make those changes, and vote repeatedly and not be noticed.

PILGRIM: Sequoia says this button is a standard and deliberate feature. The California Secretary of State's Office says they have security guidelines to alert poll workers to keep a close watch on the button and any tampering. All across the country, activists have called attention to vulnerabilities on all kinds of electronic voting machines, but few of those vulnerabilities have been fixed.

LOWELL FINLEY, VOTER ACTION: We're at the 11th hour and it's too late to do anything to stop the use of these e-voting machines, but it's not too late for voters to do something about it, and we're here to train volunteers so that they can get out there and observe the process and document, shine a light, on the problem that e-voting is causing in this country.

PILGRIM: All sorts of electronic glitches are showing up, screens display the wrong candidate when a button is pushed. Today in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, large print options didn't work properly, cutting off candidate names and election officials struggled with other electronic snafus.

MICHAEL VU, CUYAHOGA CO. ELECTION OFFICIAL: We just got notice from the Secretary of State's Office today that some voting units will not be reflective of Daylight Savings Time. PILGRIM: Potentially causing the machines to close down early. Technicians from the voting companies are working to sort out the last-minute problems.


PILGRIM: Today, activists pointed out that Sequoia will again have Venezuelan nationalists as support workers on the electronic machines. That's in Cook County, Illinois. Now, the workers are project managers from Smartmatic, the Venezuelan company that bought Sequoia.

Election officials say they have no way of knowing how many Venezuelans will be there but they've seen some around. Sequoia today said eight to 10 Venezuelan nationals will help with the voting machines during the elections --- Lou.

DOBBS: Hugo Chavez is sending observers and monitors for our election, I take it?

PILGRIM: I --- you know, Venezuelan nationals taking a look at our machines.

DOBBS: Well, that's wonderful. I mean, there are times I keep expecting the country to just sort of go into a group scream over these e-voting machines because it does not make any sense that we could be in this kind of vulnerable, absurd position this close ...

PILGRIM: Activists are in a group scream, and I think it's important that everyone document anything that goes wrong so that it can be known.

DOBBS: Is there a sense among those activists, in particular, we're going to have enough people monitoring these elections to be aware in time that something has happened?

PILGRIM: They are trying to set up hotlines and volunteer organizations.

DOBBS: All right, thank you very much. We'll continue here in just one moment. Stay with us.

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