California's state election commission is likely to throw out Diebold's current electronic voting machine, obliging counties to replace them before the November elections. The ATM giant faced a savaging at hearings yesterday, and the company may face civil and criminal proceedings as a consequence of using uncertified software. More importantly, Diebold acknowledges that earlier security problems haven't been fixed yet. The Oakland Tribune [a must-read] discloses memos between Diebold and its law firm Jones Day in which company executives acknowledge that they were breaking State regulations by running uncertified software. However this contrasts with a letter to regulators sent in February in which Diebold vowed that it hadn't made any hardware modifications in the past five years.
In fact, software updates were being sent to the voting machines only two weeks before this March's Super Tuesday elections. The Tribune cites a former Diebold employee who confirms scenes of chaos within the company as March's elections were held. The terminals had failure rates of 24 per cent in Alameda County and 40 per cent in San Diego county. Incredibly, tests were only performed on ten to fifteen per cent of machines before they left the factory. Diebold president Bob Urosevich admitted that thousands of voters had been disenfranchised.
But it isn't over. Diebold has instructed Jones Day to challenge California's procedures on technical grounds, which would prevent the state from throwing out the voting machines. An advisory panel voted 8-0 this week that the state should. Officials may be accused of complacency. Last November Kevin Shelley, head of the states elections office, mandated that voting machines leave an auditable paper trail: but not until July 2006. ®
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