Investigation Into Refusal by Companies to do Business with Leon County, FL Election Supervisor Who Discovered Diebold E-Voting Security Flaw!
UPDATE: Diebold Agrees to Talk to Sancho Again!
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2006, 1:28pm PT  

Just out from AP, the Florida state Attorney General has subpoenaed the three Electronic Voting Machine companies who have all refused to do business with Leon County, FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho since he discovered that Diebold's optical-scan voting system was vulnerable to hackers.

Sancho's discovery, revealed via a mock election test last December, showed in no uncertain terms that Diebold's systems could be hacked, the results of an election flipped, without a trace being left behind.

Since then, as The BRAD BLOG has previously reported, all three Voting Machine Vendors certified to do business in the state have all refused to sign contracts with the heroic elected official (even though sales reps from both ES&S and Sequoia had initially promised to do so).

According to AP...

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --- Florida's attorney general said Wednesday his office has issued investigative subpoenas to the three companies certified to sell voting machines in Florida as he reviews a dispute between the firms and Leon County's elections supervisor.

Diebold Inc., Election Systems & Software Inc., and Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. have refused to sell equipment to let disabled voters cast ballots without help in Leon County.
...
"It is critical for our democratic process to work efficiently and effectively, but of most importance, fairly," Attorney General Charlie Crist said. "These subpoenas are to ensure that the rights of our voters with disabilities as well as all Florida voters are secured."

Crist wants to see copies of documents relating to sales of voting machines by Diebold, Election Systems & Software and Sequoia in Florida since January 2003. Crist's office began the investigation in early February.

At this time, it's still unknown whether the companies refusal to do business with Sancho is due to collusion on their part, or simply because ES&S and Sequoia are concerned that Sancho may actually examine their machines with the same rigor previously applied to Diebold's machines. Sancho, though we've asked him on several occassions (one of those occasions was live on The Young Turks radio show, the MP3 of that interview is here) refuses to speculate.

The now infamous "hack test" has had repurcussions around the nation, including in California where it caused the Sec. of State to momentarily pause, commission a panel of experts to analyze situation and independently confirm the gaping security hole along with finding at least 16 others, before going ahead and certifying the hackable machines in the state anyway. A group of 25 state voters recently filed a lawsuit to prevent the purchase and use of Diebold machines in the state.

In Maryland, one of Diebold's original "showcase states", the Republican Governor has called for a ban of Diebold's machines and the State House of Reps recently voted 137 to 0 to do exactly that.

For its part, the state of Florida's Sec. of State --- while recognizing the problem exposed by Sancho and warning all state Elections Officials about the matter --- has nonetheless attacked and threatened the elected Sancho with removal from office if he's unable to strike a deal with one of the vendors certified to do business in the state. That, despite wide support from around the country, and in his own county of Leon which is home to the state's capitol of Tallahassee --- otherwise known as JebVille.

UPDATE 8:09pm PT: Looks like the heat from the AG, coupled with Sancho's previous threat of legal action for breach of contract against Diebold are causing some movement. According to Tallahassee Democrat tonight:

Officials of Diebold Election Systems have agreed to meet again with Leon County officials to discuss the possibility of selling their voting equipment for handicapped voters to the county.

Whether that's a good or bad thing, we'll leave to someone else to determine. But, never a dull moment.

UPDATE 3/30/06: Jim March of BBV posts the actual subpoenas and interrogatory questions sent to all three companies by the AG. Looks like he means business and seems to be building a case for collusion and anti-trust violations amongst the companies. (Hat-tip to commenter "Catherine A")