Friday, December 2, 2005

North Carolina illegally certifies Diebold e-voting system

The Electronic Frontier Foundation issued this news release today about important developments in North Carolina, where Diebold has been awarded certification despite failing to comply with the state's election law requiring the company to provide source code and the names of all its programmers.

EFF was an intervenor in a court case that was decided earlier this week, in which Diebold lost a lawsuit against North Carolina's disclosure laws. Excerpts from the EFF news release are featured below.


The North Carolina Board of Elections certified Diebold Election Systems to sell electronic voting equipment in the state yesterday, despite Diebold's repeated admission that it could not comply with North Carolina's tough election law.


"The Board of Elections has simply flouted the law," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "In August, the state passed tough new rules designed to ensure transparency in the election process, and the Board simply decided to take it upon itself to overrule the legislature. The Board's job is to protect voters, not corporations who want to obtain multi-million dollar contracts with the state."

Last month, Diebold obtained a broad temporary restraining order that allowed it to evade key transparency requirements without criminal or civil liability. The law requires escrow of the source code for all voting systems to be certified in the state and identification of programmers. Diebold claimed that it could not comply because of its reliance on third-party software.

Monday, responding to EFF's arguments, a judge dismissed Diebold's request for broad exemptions to the law and told Diebold that if it wanted to continue in its certification bid, it must follow the law or face liability. Diebold had told the court that it would likely withdraw from the bidding process if it was not granted liability protection. But instead, Diebold went forward with the certification bid.

Diebold's certification now means it is permitted to sell e-voting equipment in North Carolina. But Zimmerman says that any county that buys from Diebold is taking a risk.

"If Diebold's certification is revoked, counties using their equipment could be left holding a very expensive bag," Zimmerman said.

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