Homeland Stupidity

Diebold tries to evade North Carolina election law

Diebold, a company which manufactures voting systems among other things, is trying to argue in court that it shouldn’t be required to comply with a new North Carolina law designed to facilitate election transparency.

The company has already obtained a restraining order exempting it from requirements to place its voting software source code in escrow with the state and identify programmers who worked on the voting software.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a brief (PDF) arguing that the company should be held to the requirements of the law.

“The new law was passed for a reason: to ensure that the voters of North Carolina have confidence in the integrity and accuracy of their elections,” said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. “In stark contrast to every other equipment vendor that placed a bid with the state, Diebold went to court complaining that it simply couldn’t comply with the law. Diebold should spend its efforts developing a system that voters can trust, not asking a court to let it bypass legal requirements aimed at ensuring voting integrity.”

On November 4, the day that voting equipment bids to the state were due, Diebold obtained a temporary restraining order from a North Carolina superior court, exempting it from criminal and civil liability that could have resulted from its bid. EFF, with the assistance from the North Carolina law firm of Twiggs, Beskind, Strickland & Rabenau, P.A., intervened in the case on behalf of McCloy, the founder of the North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting. In a brief filed Wednesday, EFF argued that Diebold had failed to show why it was unable to meet various new election law provisions requiring source code escrow and identification of programmers. North Carolina experienced one of the most serious malfunctions of e-voting systems in the 2004 presidential election when over 4,500 ballots were lost in a voting system provided by Diebold competitor UniLect Corp. Local officials were forced to re-run a portion of the election. The new transparency and integrity provisions of the North Carolina election code were passed in response to this and other documented malfunctions that have occurred across the country.

The North Carolina Board of Elections is scheduled to announce winning voting equipment vendors on December 1, 2005. — Electronic Frontier Foundation

Diebold’s Opti-Scan voting system has been shown to be vulnerable to fraud and tampering, and in response the company ordered its employees to keep quiet, while failing to address the security problems.