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FROM THIS EPISODE

Electronic voting is the latest device to make sure that elections are free and fair, but new technology means new opportunities for rigging the outcome. Is partisanship a worse threat than incompetence and mismanagement?  Are ID cards needed to prevent voter fraud? Plus, an update on the Esperanza Fire in California’s Riverside County, and the New Jersey Supreme Court gives gay rights new prominence on the campaign trail.

Producers:
Frances Anderton
Christian Bordal
Vanessa Romo

Reporter's Notebook NJ Ruling on Gay Marriage Fuels Election Campaigns

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that same-sex couples have the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual couples, but said legalizing gay and lesbian marriage is for the legislature to decide. Nevertheless, the ruling has energized opponents of gay marriage in this year's campaigns. In Iowa yesterday, President Bush reiterated that marriage is "a union between a man and a woman," and denounced what he called "another activist court" for threatening a "sacred institution."

Guests:
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times (@sherylstolberg)

Making News Arson Becomes Murder in Southern California's Esperanza Fire

Four firefighters are dead and another is fighting for his life combating the so-called "Esperanza Fire" in Southern California's Riverside County. Officials say that makes arson a case of murder. Meantime, high winds are pushing the fire into mountain communities west of Palm Springs.

Guests:
Scott Gold, Reporter for the Los Angeles Times

Main Topic The Integrity of the Ballot Box

After Florida's contested presidential election in 2000, Congress mandated a transition to electronic voting.  In 2004, new technology caused confusion and controversy, as hundreds of different counties struggled with new machines and programs. Next month, some experts are saying, the electoral process will be more chaotic than ever. New technology means new opportunities for rigging the outcome, a tradition as old as democracy in America.  Both Democrats and Republicans are braced for battle.  But is partisanship as great a risk to an accurate vote count as incompetence and mismanagement?

Guests:
Andrew Gumbel, journalist and author
Tom Wilkey, Executive Director of the US Election Assistance Commission
Tova Wang, Fellow at the Century Foundation
John Fund, Columnist for the Wall Street Journal

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