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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Interview With Rick Hasen

Aired September 15, 2003 - 14:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: On the phone with us now, Rick Hassan (ph), a law professor at Loyola University there in California. He is one of the individuals that filed a brief behalf of the ACLU. And I hope that I'm saying your name correctly is it Rick Hassan?
RICK HASEN, PROF., LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: It's Hasen.

PHILLIPS: Hasen, Hasen. Thank you so much. So, Rick, why don't you first of all tell us what you put in this brief?

HASEN: Well I did not file the ACLU brief. I filed an amicus (ph) brief. And in this brief I argued that if we take the Supreme Court discussion in the Bush v. Gore case back in 2000 seriously, then the only thing to do here is to postpone the election until everyone could be using a system that doesn't have a serious error rates.

The punch card system, we know which is going to be used by 44 percent of the voters in California, has a much higher error rate and it would systemically disadvantage those people, particularly the people in Los Angeles who want to cast a vote. If you have a close election like this one, both part one and part two, should Governor Davis be recalled and if so who should his successor be? Both of those are polling now as pretty close.

If you have the close election, what's going to happen if 40,000 votes get lost because of the punch card errors that we know are going to happen?

PHILLIPS: So, Rick, you've addressed the error rate within your brief. Did you offer any solutions, any proposals beside what you think the problem would be?

HASEN: Well, what we know is the California secretary of state in settling earlier litigation agreed by the March 2004 primary, punch card balloting would not be used in California. So at the very latest, the recall election would take place in March.

But if it's possible to replace the machines earlier, there's nothing to prevent it from taking place earlier. The only contention was that the punch cards could not be used because they systemically disadvantage people by geography.

PHILLIPS: So how do you know the punch card systems would be replaced by March? How do you come to that determination?

HASEN: Well, back, this was about two years ago, the then California secretary of state Bill Jones was sued by Common Cause and some other plaintiffs, and in settling that lawsuit, the secretary of state agreed to that he decertified the machines. He says the machines were unacceptable.

And that played a big part in the court's decision today saying why should we accept unacceptable machines? He agreed that by March 2004, all punch cards would be decertified for use in California. They cannot be used. And other systems must be used that are approved technologies.

And all of the technologies when there's a bunch of them have lower error rates and they don't systemically advantage or disadvantage one group of Californians over another.

PHILLIPS: Who makes the decision and how do you decide, Rick, which voting machine would replace the punch card? I mean, how (UNINTELLIGIBLE) touch screen voting system is better from some other sort of high-tech system?

HASEN: Yes, that's an excellent question. What happens is the secretary of state -- this is how it happens in California. The secretary of state evaluates the voting technologies, you know, various ways of voting. And then it certifies which voting technologies are acceptable for use in California.

And then the local county registrars, they make the determination as to who's going to -- which machine is going to be used under what circumstances.

PHILLIPS: So I'm just curious, has the money been allocated for these new machines, or are we talking about know about additional cost to what the whole situation is, even costing taxpayers to this point?

HASEN: Well, I think the money was allocated long ago once this earlier case settled. And if I recall correctly, Los Angeles County before it moved completely to touch screen voting is going to be using an interim system that's going to be something like an optical scan system. I think it's going to use similar technology, similar machines to but instead of punching out a chad, people will be marking their ballots with pencils. I believe that's what's going to be in place in March.

PHILLIPS: All right, Rick Hasen, law professor at Loyola University, thank you so much.

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