For those who have followed the recent yet storied history of Diebold in North Carolina, The BRAD BLOG has just received word that there has been yet one more late-breaking twist! We can now confirm that, in fact, Diebold is removing their company from contention for the lucrative election systems contracts in the state in light of a state law which requires Voting Machine Companies to submit their full source-code to the state for inspection. At least for now.
A letter just obtained by The BRAD BLOG, sent from Diebold to the NC State Board of Elections, confirms that indeed, the company which had previously fought a state law requiring the submission and inspection of their voting equipment's software source code has decided they'd rather quit than fight, and is withdrawing their bid to contract with the state of NC for the time being, pending their ability to convince NC to change their laws!
According to the letter, dated Dec. 20th, 2005 and sent by a Diebold attorney to NC's State Board of Elections Executive Directory, Gary Bartlett, Diebold has decided they cannot comply with the current state law requiring full source code submission. The letter claims that Diebold is prepared to submit their own source code, but not that of third parties which is used by Diebold in their voting systems, including Operating System software and pre-packaged third-party tools.
Diebold, however, in the letter written by attorney Charles R. Owen, and apparently sent via Email on Diebold stationery, says that Diebold "is prepared to work closely with the North Carolina State Board of Elections ('SBE') in drafting a modification" to the law which they contend neither they nor other vendors can meet. It goes on to say that such a modification to the state law would be one "that meets the true intent of the legislature while at the same time imposing reasonable requirements on all vendors that are capable of being met."
Owen adds, however, that they will be "unable to comply with the deadlines imposed by the SBE in addition to the requirements of state law."
-- Here is the full 12/21/05 Letter from Diebold [PDF] to the NC State Board of Elections.
This is what I was talking about in my post yesterday, but I couldn't be too specific.
Thank GOD! We did it. This has been one hell of a battle.
The email was a follow up to word Gideon received late last night from the source who was reportedly waiting to get "the official word" on the matter.
The back and forth between Diebold, North Carolina, and Election Integrity advocates has been an intense roller-coaster ride over the last several weeks as reported in several BRAD BLOG stories which followed all the various ups and downs.
Several weeks ago, Diebold had attempted to receive an exemption from the state court for submitting their complete source code into escrow. They were denied that exemption by the court and announced that they would therefore be unable to do business with North Carolina. Just a day or so later, the state announced they were going to go ahead and certify Diebold anyway based on a partial submission of source code even though that appeared to violate state law. That became known as the "Immaculate Certification" since it came just a day or so after the Ohio-based company had said they'd submit some of their source code to the state after all. Election integrity advocates had argued that their was no way the state could have complied with state law for inspection of the code in the short between the company's submission, and the states certification. The decision to certify at that point, was apparently led by the former Diebold employee, Keith Long, who had recently left the company to join North Carolina's commission advising the State Board of Elections.
Several days later then, a lawsuit was filed by NC citizen, Joyce McCloy, to challenge the state's decision to certify Diebold, contending that it was done against state law. And now, apparently, even Diebold agrees.
North Carolina passed their new, tougher state elections laws, after at least 4,500 votes were entirely lost in Carteret County on a single electronic voting machine made by UniLect, Inc. during the 2004 Presidential Election.
Where things will go from here, we can only guess. But, as ever, we will do our best to stay on top of the story as it moves forward...or backwards...or sideways...as the case, when dealing with Diebold...may eventually be...
UPDATE: AP now has the story, reports that only one vendor is left in NC willing to meet the state law requirements. ES&S. More more on the problems of ES&S, and a few other remarkable items, see this BRAD BLOG story from earlier today.