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Democracy at Risk Transcript July 11, 2006 PDF  | Print |  Email
By CNN Transcripts   
July 11, 2006
Transcript, July 11, 2006:


DOBBS: And most Americans will be casting ballots on electronic voting machines. But what happens when electronic voting machines fail? A special report on our democracy at risk.


PILGRIM: New fears about the integrity of our democracy tonight. Voter activists worry that standards for electronic voting machines breaking down are dangerously lax.

Now, federal officials say they're working on tighter standards, but those new standards may not be ready for years.


PILGRIM (voice over): Electronic voting machines, fast, easy, but what happens when they break down or fail? Federal guidelines permit one failure every 163 hours, which means one out of every 11 machines may break down on Election Day.

Critics say that's not acceptable.

JOHN WASHBURN, VOTETRUSTUSA: The reliability quotient for the hardware is too high. It allows too many machines to fail in any given election day and also be down for too long during that given day.

PILGRIM: Congressman Jerrold Nadler says voting machines have a higher failure rate than ATM machines and VCRs.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: No machinery should be allowed to be purchased or used for voting that don't have a guaranteed mean time between failures of at least several thousand hours -- 70,000 would be good. That's what a VCR is. An ATM machine will go thousands of hours.

Do we care less about our voting machines than our ATM machines?

PILGRIM: The election assistance commissioner defends the current standards.

PAUL DEGREGORIO, CHAIRMAN, ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMM.: We believe that it is very important that these guidelines and any kind of standards be improved all the time, and we're working on spending federal money to do that because we want voters to have trust and confidence in the voting process in America.

PILGRIM: DeGregorio says a federal advisory board is currently examining options for tighter reliability guidelines, but it's not clear if those standards could be implemented in time for the 2008 election.


PILGRIM: Now, federal law says machines may not have more than one error per 500,000 votes, but critics say that tough standard doesn't mean much if the machines fail altogether.

And that brings us to our poll tonight. Do you think it's an acceptable standard that electronic voting machines can fail almost a tenth of the time?

Cast your vote at We'll bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast. . . .
PILGRIM: Now the results of tonight's poll. 95 percent of you do not think it's an acceptable standard that electronic voting machines can fail almost a tenth of the time.

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