CNN October 21, 2004 Thursday

LOU DOBBS: Election officials across the country have trumpeted extensive efforts to secure our national voting system in the four years since the 2000 election. However, a number of issues from voter intimidation to technical glitches and fraud are still threatening to undermine the election on November 2nd.

Joining me tonight from Washington, D.C., is Edward Hailes. He is senior attorney for the Advancement Project. He believes our national election system is broken, and has been for some time.

And John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who says there is no evidence of voter intimidation or voting booth fraud.

And both gentlemen, I want to say thank you for being here.

And let me turn to you first, Mr. Hailes, and ask you, how broad a problem do you think this is going to be?

What is your -- your group is working there a number of state, all of them critical battleground states.

What is the sense -- or the proportion of the problem you see?

EDWARD HAILES JR. THE ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Well, we are working in a number of states where there's been a substantial increase in voter registration, activity in states where African-American, Latino, Native American, and Asian-American, voters can really make a difference in the outcome of the election based on their ability to express their voices in our democracy. And so rather than being concerned, we're actually encouraged by the number of people who want to participate in our democracy, and there are a number of nonpartisan coalitions around the country who are going to do everything they can to protect voters and to make sure their voice is heard in the ballot box.

DOBBS: John Lott, you say there's not a problem.

What's the real deal in your view?

JOHN LOTT, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, I think there's some differences here. I mean, I think a lot of the concerns that people have raised about punch cards or about electronic balloting, I think a lot of those are misplaced and greatly exaggerated. I think there are concerns about issues like provisional ballots and the fact that we have a lot of counties in urban areas in this country where we have more registered voters than we have citizens that can live in those areas. Issues of whether you can go and check I.D.s or not, or whether they're properly checked. Whether people are going to be allowed to vote in places outside their own precincts. Those can create some problems.

DOBBS: Well, are we talking in code here, and let's get to it. I mean are we talk ago when we talk about voter intimidation and disenfranchisement, are we talking about a liberal perspective when we say there is an orderly system involved, are we talking about a Republican and a conservative viewpoint, John Lott, your response first?

LOTT: Well, probably no way you can get around that. Different people gain and lose as a result of how well I think the system can operate in different places. I think a lot of the discussion about disenfranchising African-American voters, in particular I think it's been fairly sad, because I think there have been a lot of myths in Florida, for example. I mean, you have the Commission on Civil Rights did an extensive set of hearings, they weren't able to identify even one person.

DOBBS: Not one?


HAILES: Lou, that's absolutely false. And Mr. Lott is actually in the minority of people around the world to really believes nothing bad happened in Florida and in other places around the world. We did see systemic irregularities, problems with identifiable victims who were disenfranchised and we're going to do everything we can this time to make sure that citizens of color in particular are not disenfranchised the way they were during the 2000 election. So Mr. Lott simply wrong.

LOTT: Even the Democrats on the Civil Rights Commission were not able to point to a single case of voter intimidation in Florida. They had possibilities that might have existed. But the only cases that people could even point to that were even remotely were similar would be like a police officer's car who was a mile from the polling place. Nothing that the police officer intimidated people or talked to people or threatened them and he was a mile from the polling place. And no evidence, not one case where they could point to somebody who, because of intimidation, didn't vote.

HAILES: Well, let's look to the future. Our concern is that there may be make-believe, wanna-be law enforcement, fraud cops showing up in minority precincts claiming that fraud is an issue and intimidating voters. And we're not going to let that happen. We have a cadry of well-trained lawyers who will make sure that our communities are not disenfranchised.

DOBBS: John Lott, you get the last quick word if you were.

LOTT: I think it is sad to me, because I think these have real long run repercussions by making people think there is some systemic effort to try to prevent people from voting. And I think there's been lots of people in the government who have a big -- would like to find this and have looked for these types of claims and haven't been able it find it. And I think it is sad that these charges are keep on being made.

DOBBS: John Lott, Edward Hailes, we thank you both for being here. And I know you agree, both of you at least on one issue, and that is everyone should be casting their vote on November 2. Thank you, both.

HAILES: That's correct. Thank you.

LOTT: Thank you.

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