A previous blog entry discussed Diebold’s struggles with the latest electronic voting law passed in North Carolina. The situation then was that Diebold said it could not meet the law’s requirements, and its efforts in seeking an exemption had been dismissed. On Friday, December 2, the North Carolina Board of Elections still certified Diebold as one of three approved vendors for the state, despite Diebold’s admitted inability to comply with law.
The EFF, which had fought Diebold’s attempts at an exemption in court, immediately posted its criticism of the board’s decision. An EFF attorney is quoted as saying: “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.” The position of the North Carolina Board of Elections is that none of the electronic voting machine vendors could fully meet the requirements, so the board simply loosened the standards regarding source code escrow. The EFF disputes this claim, however, saying that at least one of the other vendors “has publicly stated that it is capable of meeting the escrow requirement for the code used it its system.”
A C|Net article quotes an advisor to the board as saying that “the Board of Elections decided at the last minute that it would allow the companies to be certified as long as they provided the state with the outside escrow locations of all the codes” – a requirement that must be met by December 22. This advisor to the board further says: “This is an extra step the board has decided to put in to strengthen the law that we have to work with.” I find this statement to be very inaccurate and unfortunate – how can making an exception and an end-run around the law possibly strengthen it?
The Baltimore Sun put up a well-reasoned editorial on the general concerns with electronic voting companies. Their conclusion: “Most nations do not use private companies to count their national election results; if the United States must, it had better make sure the voting, counting and transmission of poll data are as transparent and auditable – at every point – as possible.”