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Of special note, Lou Dobbs Tonight interview of David Dill

Aired February 17, 2004
Punch card voting is being phased out around the country. Electronic voting is being phased in. But will it prevent another Florida 2000 or will it create possibly something even worse?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's certainly a lot of inner workings with the electronics where they could go wrong.

DOBBS: "Exporting America." Nearly two dozen states are considering laws to limit the massive exodus of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A real outrageous activity to be getting this work to be done outside of the country.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT for Tuesday, February 17. Here now, Lou Dobbs.
...Still to come: Millions of Americans will vote electronically in this presidential election this year, but will it prevent another Florida 2000? Or will it create something worse? We'll have a special report coming up here.

...Coming up next, "Exporting America." Nearly half of all state governments say they are working to keep American jobs in this country. But most of those states are already sending those jobs to overseas cheap labor markets. We'll have a special report.

Also, the exporting of America is threatening American innovation. Tonight, I'll be talking with the president of the Electronic Industries Alliance, Dave McCurdy.

And American textile workers are losing their jobs because illegal foreign imports are flooding the American market. We'll have a special report on a disturbing issue not often discussed.

Also ahead, electronic voting machines designed to make voting easier, but many critics say not having a paper trail is too risky in this difficult political age and uncertain web. A leading expert on e-voting, Professor David Dill of Stanford, is our guest -- that and a great deal more coming right up.

Please stay with us.

DOBBS: That's an improvement, at least. Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester, reporting from Washington. Thank you.

Coming up next, John Kerry heads to the Wisconsin primary with a solid lead. We have just about -- a little less than two and a half hours before the polls close in Wisconsin.

His Democratic rivals say this race isn't over. There is some suggestion of momentum talk.

We'll be talking with three of the nation's leading political journalists about what we can expect tonight and in the weeks ahead.

And many states have switched to electronic voting to avoid another presidential election debacle as in Florida 2000, but some critics say that relying on electronics is asking for even more trouble. We'll have that story for you, coming right up.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The hanging chads of Florida 2000 inspired several states to switch from paper ballots to electronic voting machines. More than a quarter of all voters are expected to be using those new machines, e-voting in this year's presidential election.

But that doesn't mean that the problems have been solved.

Kitty Pilgrim has the story.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just touch the screen. Fifty million people are expected to vote electronically in the 2004 elections. The problem of hanging chads generated an outcry for a less complicated system, but some say electronic voting may not be it. KIMBALL BRACE, PRESIDENT, ELECTION DATA SERVICES: From the voter's standpoint it appears to be less complicated. But there's certainly a lot of inter-workings with the electronics where they could go wrong.

PILGRIM: Worries about electronic voting include software mall function, vulnerability to hackers and a lack of paper trail or paper records of votes.

In California, 14 of 58 counties are using electronic voting in the primary in two weeks. Some watchdog groups are concerned.

KIM ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA VOTER FOUNDATION: One of the main reforms that my organization and a number of groups are calling for is a requirement that there be a voter verified paper ballot that's produced at the time the voter votes. The voter can verify and make sure that the machine captured their votes accurately.

PILGRIM: In Ohio, a state funded study found problems with four of the main electronic voting manufacturers. And another report in Maryland, the Rava (ph) report said there are, quote, "considerable security risks in electronic voting" and made recommendation to ensure the election will be accurate.

Diebold, one of the main manufacturers, today said many of the concerns raised in these studies have been addressed and electronic voting in this election will be, quote, "safe, secure and accurate," unquote.

The problematic punch cards are being phased out. By the fall election, they will have disappeared in 11 of the states that used them in 2000. Still, some 32 million people will vote that way in November.


PILGRIM: With all the talk of change, many states have held back on changing systems. And federal funding to improve voting systems has lagged. Some districts are simply waiting for better answers on security before making the switch -- Lou.

DOBBS: And they're waiting on about three and a half billion dollars in help.

PILGRIM: That's exactly right.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you. Kitty Pilgrim.

That brings us to the subject of tonight's poll. Do you trust e- voting without a paper trail? Yes or no?

Please cast your vote at We'll have the results later here in the show.

My next guest is simply, many people's consideration, this country's foremost expert on electronic voting. David Dill is professor of computer sciences at Stanford University. He joins us now from Mountain View, California.

Professor, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: A lot of talk, a lot of concern about electronic voting as simply being moved into our electoral process much too early to assure security, reliability, even verifying -- the ability to verify the results.

What is your take?

DILL: Well, I'd like an analogy. Suppose you had a bank, and your bank told you that it was going to reduce costs by getting rid of records of transactions. And in particular, they were going to have more efficient audits by just printing out the account balances when anyone wanted to see what was happening inside the bank.

People wouldn't have confidence in a bank like that, because they've lost accountability. We're pretty much doing the same thing for our election system.

For a couple of hundred years we've been able to do manual recounts to audit the system and when we went to computers, there was paper involved, so that we could go back and check that the computer did the right thing.

DOBBS: But what you're really saying is that people, if in these states where we're using electronic voting this year, may be in point of fact begging for those hanging chads?

DILL: I don't know how other people feel about it, but I can speak for myself, that I don't have a lot of confidence in the systems.

They may appear to be working perfectly, but if the voter can't see that the electronic ballot is what they intended, and if nobody else can check that later, we've got a system we really ought not to be putting so much trust in.

DOBBS: Not so much trust, paper verification, a paper trail of the vote, that seems at least to me a practical solution. Is it one that is also pragmatic, feasible and sufficiently timely to put it into place this year?

DILL: Well, that's a very difficult question. What we certainly can do, is go back to tried and true voting technologies, particularly the marked sense, you know, otherwise known as optical scan systems.

Even most places that have touch screen machines will have an absentee ballot system in place based on paper ballots. And it certainly would be feasible in most places to have people fill out those paper ballots in the polling place, and they could be counted just like all other absentee ballots. DOBBS: Professor, several people are pointing to the success in Brazil of a vote there involving 10,000 people that went off without a hitch, suggesting great success. Your thoughts?

DILL: Well, how do we really know? We don't -- you know, there's no way to go back and check those machines, except that apparently three percent of them. I have trouble getting exact information about what's going on in Brazil, but apparently three percent of the machines had printers attached to them, due to the efforts of Dr. Rebecca Mercury, who I consider to be the foremost expert of this, independent of the election officers.

DOBBS: Professor David Dill, Stanford University, we thank you for being with us. We'll be talking as we move through this and hopefully talking about solutions that are available soon. Thanks.

Coming up next, the polls closing in Wisconsin in just over two hours. We'll be talking with our political panel, three of this country's leading political journalists, next. Stay with us.