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December 3, 2005
Diebold and the Miracle of the Immaculate Certification
'Tis the season for miracles, and it looks like Diebold, the company that tried to gag college kids with specious copyright claims for revealing potential flaws in its voting machine technology, is the happy beneficiary. In less than 24 hours, the North Carolina Board of Elections inspected and chose to certify Diebold equipment for use in real elections. That's after the Electronic Frontier Foundation, my beloved former employer, dragged the company, kicking and screaming and grabbing desperately onto door frames, into the courtroom. Where company lawyers insisted, repeatedly, that Diebold could not possibly meet the basic requirements for such an inspection.
Explains e-voting superhero Matt Zimmerman at Deep Links:
Diebold pleaded with the court for an exemption from the statute's requirement to escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system" and to release a list of all programmers who worked on the code because... well... it simply couldn't do it. It would likely be impossible, said Diebold, to escrow all of the third-party software that its system relied on (including Windows).
What a difference a few days make.
Despite Diebold's asserted inability to meet the requirements of state law, the North Carolina Board of Elections today happily certified Diebold without condition. Never mind all of that third-party software. Never mind the impossibility of obtaining a list of programmers who had contributed to that code.
And never mind the Board of Election's obligation to subject all candidate voting systems to rigorous review before certification...
It's not sexy these days to talk about the battle over transparency and accountability in voting technology. It's the wrong November, and there's no "rootkit" in e-voting. But this kind of outrage continues to happen. If you value hearing about things Diebold and other companies
really wish you wouldn't, pass the word along and join EFF today
Update: Here's another way you can help safeguard future elections, via Danny O'Brien: sign this petition urging Congress to pass H.R. 550.
Update #2: On a lighter note, here's a great collection of parody ads for Diebold voting machines: "Diebold technology: It's a secret. Get over it."
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