This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," August 13, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Do you know what Dan Rather is doing these days? The legendary news anchor is hard at work investigating voting machines. He has a new report called, "The Trouble with Touch Screens."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just a little example of what we saw. If you select the first box, if it is often enough, it would make another selection. It is not exactly where you make your selection at. As you see, I am selecting the top box, and the second box is highlighting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Dan Rather joins us.
Dan, watching that clip from your show that is going to air tomorrow night, it is scary.
DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Well, it is scary, which is one reason we are doing the program.
I think most people are concerned but do not know a great deal about who makes the voting machines — not just the big companies, and there are some very big companies involved — but they do not know the workers, they don't know where they are made.
For example, the touch screen machine is made in Manila in the Philippines with components from other places, mainly China. That is not an indictable defense, but I think most people do not know that.
And let us remember that we got, as a nation, by and large, we got to the touch screens because the punch card system, everybody said after the Florida election of 2000, no more punch cards. So we did go back and also look into punched cards.
And, by the way, it is very interesting what the workers who actually made the punch cards that were made in Florida say. I'll tell you that basically what they say is that the company started using, in some cases, inferior paper, and the whole key with punch cards with paper.
But the same company said, well, you don't want the punch cards, do we have a deal for you. We have these touch screens.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, the touch screens — you touch the screen, obviously, we saw the mistake on that particular example. Is that an anomaly, or is that just one vote out of a million, or what is the statistical estimate on this?
RATHER:: What we did in the program is go to the people who know, or think they know, or have an idea. And it is not an anomaly. It does not happen with all touch screens. But it happens with them a lot.
And what impressed me, and it will surprised if it doesn't impress those who watch the program — whether they are Democrat or Republican, or whatever, we all care about the integrity of the voting process — is the workers who make the machines say, as we were making the machines, we were — I won't use the word "appalled," because they didn't — we were concerned because there wasn't quality control.
But, say the workers, we were under pressure to get the machines out. And we told people that a lot of these machines probably won't work. They had no humidity testing, in the workers' opinion, that was worthy of the name.
So they just got out the door. So it is not every touch screen, but it is enough to be concerned about.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think even one, and we are all entitled to our one vote, so even one is profoundly bad. And I didn't mean by the question to minimize even a mistake.
But who is using these touch screens, who is going to use these in 2008? Which states are beholden to these?
RATHER:: They have been used in Florida, Texas, Arkansas. The have been used a lot of places around the country.
Some jurisdictions are gong with something called "optical scan." And, by the way, the same companies that couldn't get it right with the punch cards haven't gotten it right touch screen say go to optical stands.
The optical scan, some serious questions are raised about those as well. But I think that the Republican Governor Crist in Florida has said, in effect, enough questions have been raised about touch screens. We do not want to use touch screens in Florida anymore.
But we're right on the edge of the 2008 presidential election.
VAN SUSTEREN: He just elected, you can't blame him. Crist just got in there.
RATHER:: I give him credit that he took a look at some races, including the race were the Democrat lost by a few hundred votes, and there was something like 15,000 votes where people did not vote in the race. So I give credit. He said, "Look, this is not a partisan issue that we need more transparency about who makes these machines, why they are made this way." And the second thing is accountability.
VAN SUSTEREN: What are we going to do? None of us wants to live through the fight of 2000. But if somebody using these touch screens, and if they are so unreliable, and they do not have a paper trails, at least most of them don't have paper…
RATHER:: They do not have paper trails, most of them.
VAN SUSTEREN: …we are cooked.
RATHER:: That is the reason that the Governor Crist in Florida, and I think other people may well follow it, don' want to go to touch screens.
We are cooked unless we, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Muslims, whatever, say, wait a minute, we want more transparency from the companies — these are huge companies that make these machines — and we want more accountability.
And the big thing — there are people, as I know you know, who are people who are concerned about the potential for hacking into voting machines. That is a problem.
But the experts that we talked to said the bigger problem is one of reliability. It is not a matter of somebody setting out saying we want to sway the election one way or the other. It is a case, so the workers say, of pushing out the machines and saying, well, if they are not all reliable, we will deal with it when we get on the scene.
Do if we do not deal with this problem now, we will have some of the same problems in 2008.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is not like we don't have notice. Even with your report tomorrow night, it is not like we have not known since the year 2000 that things can go awry. But they can count gallons at the gas station with a credit card, but they cannot count one vote, which is astounding.
RATHER:: It is astounding.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Dan, thank you.
RATHER:: Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: And be sure to check out "The Trouble with Touch Screens" premiering tomorrow night on HDNet at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
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