rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Webloggy Entry: Die, Diebold, Die!

It appears that Diebold, the company which makes a large percentage of the electronic voting machines now used in the United States, as well as automatic teller machines, is in serious trouble. Just a few days after the resignation of its former CEO Walden O'Dell, two groups of investors have filed lawsuits against the company, claiming that Diebold's misleading comments about its products artificially inflated share values, which have since declined alarmingly. In fact, the company's stock has fallen 30% this year, and there is speculation about an investigation by the Department of Justice.

Meanwhile, the results of a test of Diebold equipment by Leon County (FL) Director of Elections Ion Sancho has provided such damning evidence of the susceptibility of diebold machines to undetectable manipulation of election results that even Jebby Bush is tucking down his tail to cover his highly vulnerable ass. The connection between the now-disgraced former CEO O'Dell and George W. has been known to many since the questions about possible Diebold machine-related election fraud in Ohio in 2004 were quickly buried by the supposedly liberal media. Then, not only buried, but completely ignored by the mainstream media was this story about still more questionable Ohio election outcomes in November of 2005. All of this comes back to Diebold, too.

One of the more disturbing things I've seen about Diebold's malign influence on the electoral process comes from Volusia County, Florida, whose County Council recently rejected a Diebold proposal in favor of a (perhaps) more reliable, though more costly, voting machine system produced by a competing company. The disturbing part is that, last July, the National Federation of the Blind filed a lawsuit against the Volusia County Council, demanding that they adopt Diebold machines. It turns out that Diebold has a long relationship with this non-profit charitable institution, and has apparently earned the organization's gratitude for its generosity.

As much as I'd like to think that Diebold made its large donations to the NFB out of genuine concern for the blind and the visually limited, the historic behavior of the company leads me to suspect an ulterior motive. After the possibility of such a motive on Diebold's part was raised in a New York Times editorial on June 11, 2004, NFB's President, Marc Maurer, included in his annual report a defense of its relationship with Diebold (relevant passage archived behind the cut below.) I know nothing of Mr. Maurer, or what he might say now that the flaws of the Diebold system are at last being widely exposed, but I find it disgraceful that Diebold would use a charitable organization as a footpad in its campaign to sell its highly questionable product, which I now believe was the company's real motivation.

Some are now comparing the Diebold meltdown to the similar disintegration of Enron. I think Diebold's crimes were more serious. I have no doubt that Kenny Lay and his minions stole billions of dollars from energy consumers. I no longer doubt that some group within Diebold consciously and deliberately stole elections. Enron damaged our bank accounts. Diebold subverted our Democracy. I want the whole story to come out, in every detail, even if it means that the Republican Party is exposed as being hopelessly riddled with corruption, and the Democratic Party is exposed as being dominated by hopelessly cowardly fools. I think most of us already believe these things to be true, anyway.

NFB President's 2004 Defense of Diebold, Archived:

"In 2002, at our urging, Congress adopted requirements for nonvisual access to polling places as part of the Help America Vote Act. Every polling place in America must have at least one system equipped for nonvisual use by January 2006.

"Accessible direct recording electronic computerized voting machines are now on the market. Every polling place in Georgia has this equipment, and the government of Maryland voted to buy them for almost every polling place in the state. However, a controversy has been created to block the use of direct recording electronic voting devices. One of the manufacturers of these machines is Diebold Incorporated, the multi-billion dollar ATM manufacturer that has committed itself to producing accessible electronic machines. Several years ago we entered a partnership with Diebold in which Diebold contributed a million dollars to the construction of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, and we agreed to work with the company to assist it in making bank machines accessible to the blind. Diebold later pledged to produce equally accessible voting machines.

"An editorial which appeared in The New York Times on June 11, 2004, tried to paint the relationship between Diebold and the National Federation of the Blind as devious and underhanded--The Times sought to imply that the good opinion of the National Federation of the Blind was available for sale and that Diebold was buying. The New York Times asserts that "a handful of influential advocates for the disabled" opposed electronic voting machines that produce paper receipts because the requirement that these machines be provided will slow the installation of accessible voting devices. "The National Federation of the Blind, for instance, [says The Times] has been championing controversial voting machines that do not provide a paper trail. It has attested not only to the machines' accessibility, but also to their security and accuracy--neither of which is within the federation's areas of expertise. What's even more troubling is that the group has accepted a $1 million gift for a new training institute from Diebold, the machines' manufacturer, which put the testimonial on its Web site."

"These are the words from the editorial in The New York Times, and many of them are inaccurate. Furthermore, the tone of the article is completely false. We have worked with Diebold for several years, and we have examined their machines. We believe their machines are accessible. We have talked with officials who run boards of elections, and they tell us that the Diebold electronic voting machines are as accurate and safe as any on the market. We have not insisted that paper receipts be produced, but neither have we insisted that they be avoided. If they are produced, we want them to be accessible to us, and we insist that blind people get the right to a secret ballot along with everybody else. Too often we have been told that later is good enough for the blind and that accessibility is just too hard.

"In Maryland we participated in a court battle a few months ago to secure the right for the blind to have a secret ballot. Now, the state is being sued by so-called experts like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Campaign for Verifiable Voting to abandon its commitment to a statewide accessible system of voting because of alleged newly discovered security flaws. The National Federation of the Blind demands that the promise made in the Help America Vote Act be kept. The right to vote is fundamental in democracy, and the blind must have equal access to it. Furthermore, it is reprehensible that a newspaper would misrepresent our purposes and our statements. I have written an editorial response and submitted it to The New York Times. I have corrected the misstatements in The Times article, and I have pointed out that supporting accessible electronic machines that give blind people equal access to the same information that sighted people take for granted is not dubious but laudable. Furthermore, we will not permit trumped up charges of inadequate security to keep us from having equal access to the polling places. Electronic voting machines are going to be installed in the United States. The technology exists to make them accessible to us. We insist that this technology be used and that they be accessible. Our right to vote is no less important than the right of every other citizen, and we will protect it. One other thing should be said: when you have influence, you get criticized. The New York Times was right about at least one thing, the National Federation of the Blind is an influential organization."

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