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Some 33,000 Diebold voting stations are being used simultaneously in locations across the United States to assist voters in exercising their most fundamental constitutional right: The right to vote.
Diebold website (www.diebold.com/dieboldes)

Diebold Elections Systems is one of the leading companies in the recent demand for electronic voting standards. Holding over 50 patents for voting machines and electronic tallying systems, Diebold appears poised to corner the market as touch-screen voting and other novelties become the norm.

However ...

Diebold is owned by Bob Urosevich, who formerly worked at Election System & Software, which is right now the current majority owner of voting systems in America, with roughly 55%. His brother, Todd, is the current owner and president of ES&S. Together, these two companies control about 80% of the voting machines.

This might not be such a problem, except the Urosevich brothers are some of the Republican Party's largest contributors. Which in itself might not be a problem, except for the following statement by Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell on August 14, 2002:

I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.

What does this cryptic comment mean, coming from a documented Bush crony (they've spent time at his Crawford, Texas ranch together on two occasions)? One can only speculate, but it certainly doesn't smack of impartiality and science.

Is Diebold's source code impervious to manipulation then? If they're as good a company as they claim, any sort of rogue person wishing to do malicious harm to the voting machines would be locked out, right?

Not so fast.

In late 2003, the actual source code to the Diebold voting machines was leaked onto the Internet. What fiendish culprit would do this?

Why, none other than Diebold itself. Diebold's FTP site not only allowed anonymous access, but lent itself to easy downloading of the sensitive code in question. When the code was examined by various programmers, it was deemed "wanting" in terms of both security and efficiency. There is an excellent scholastic paper on the general security issues with electronic voting in general and Diebold's source code in particular at http://avirubin.com/vote.pdf.

I personally have no interest either way in who wins the election, but I would say to those who think that electronic voting is the panacea to political woes like those of Florida in 2000: dream on.

2004 UPDATE: Told you so.

For further reading

  • http://why-war.com/features/2003/10/diebold.html
  • http://math.berkeley.edu/~jesse/diebold.html
  • http://www.orgsites.com/fl/dwcstjohns/_pgg7.php3