As AP Reports on Devasting Leon County, FL Diebold Voting Machine Hack
PLUS: Only One Class Action Fraud Complaint Has Been Filed Against Diebold So Far, Not Two as Mis-Reported Elsewhere...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2005, 2:52pm PT  

AP has finally taken note of the Leon County, FL hack test. The extraordinary test election which was entirely flipped last Tuesday as reported here previously.

In the bargain --- in light of that devasting test, after which the Elections Director of Leon County reportedly vowed to never allow Diebold's machine to be used in another election and has requested funds to replace all of Diebold's voting machines --- and along with the Securities Fraud suit that was filed against Diebold on the same day, Diebold's PR machine has kicked into overdrive. Though their normal spokesman, David Bear, normally in charge of lying about things having to do with their Voting Machines has been notably missing in action, Diebold has been issuing press releases and sending letters in an attempt to counter and distract from the devastating news of late. And the State of Florida is similarly scrambling to find someone else to blame as well.

From AP's report today on the Leon County hack, Diebold goes on the offensive and conjures up the gall to send a letter attempting to place blame for the incident on Ion Sancho, the Elections Director in the county who was wise enough to let the test move forward in hopes of determining if the machines were as vulnerable as many of us have been charging forever...

The voting system maker, Diebold Inc., sent a letter in response that questioned the test results and said the test was "a very foolish and irresponsible act" that may violated licensing agreements.

Company spokesman David Bear did not return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday. Diebold's letter was written by its senior lawyer, Michael Lindroos, and sent to the state of Florida, Leon County and the county election supervisor, Ion Sancho.
In one of the tests conducted for Sancho and the non-profit election-monitoring group, the researchers were able to get into the system easily, make the loser the winner and leave without a trace, said Herbert Thompson, who conducted the test.

He also said the machine that tabulates the overall count asked for a user name and password, but didn't require it.

In the other test, the researcher who had hacked into the voting machine's memory card was able to hide votes, make losers out of winners and leave no trace of the changes

In the meantime, the Florida Sec. of State's office is also trying to deflect blame for the failure of the machines that the state has certified!

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office said any faults Sancho found were between him and Diebold.

"If Ion Sancho has security concerns with his system, he needs to discuss them with Diebold," spokeswoman Jenny Nash said.

In other words, their seems to be a whole bunch of panicked ass-covering now underway in both Florida and at Diebold, with each of them trying to find someone else to blame for their failures. (The very ones that folks like The BRAD BLOG have been yelling and screaming about for at least the past year!)

It should be noted that Leon County was one of those counties who, after the 2000 Election Debacle had scrambled to bring in a replacement for the punch cards system. Going from bad to much much worse, they went with these crappy Diebold machines and after millions have been spent, they now finding themselves needing to spend millions more to replace the junk they shouldn't have bought in the first place.

It should similarly be noted that until-recently Florida Sec. of State Glenda Hood (who replaced the lovely and infamous Kathrine Harris) announced her resignation suddenly and without explanation just days before the '05 elections. A very unusual move for a Sec. of State just prior to an election.

Paul Craft, the director of Florida's Bureau of Voting Systems Certification also announced his resignation at almost exactly the same moment, just before the last November election.

Neither resignation has been adequately explained in coming so shortly before an election, just a little over a month before the Jan 1, 2006 Help America Vote Act deadline to certified all new voting machinery, and less than a year before the big 2006 elections.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has since named Sue Cobb, a Bush Family friend, crony and major donor to take Hood's place as Secretary of State. Cobb will be in charge of assuring that Florida continues its great tradition of free, fair, open and accurate elections.

Joseph Cannon has a good round-up of the various states now fighting on behalf of, or against the Diebold "E-Revolution", including some good contact addresses for officials in St. Louis County (my home town!), North Carolina, California and elsewhere.

One piece of disinformation that I see both Joe and even the Akron Beacon-Journal have fallen for is the so-called "second fraud litigation" brought against Diebold yesterday by law firm Stull, Stull and Brody. In fact, they didn't file a second complaint, but rather issued a press release that made it appear as though they had. Presumably in order to collect plaintiffs for a copycat filing down the road. In fact, to the best of knowledge, all they did was announce that "a class action has been commenced". Which is true. But if you look a bit closer at their release, you'll see that they didn't actually commence one themselves! Only the original one filed by Scott+Scott has actually been filed. Stull, Stull and Brody, however, did seem to try and make it look as if they filed one and have been asking for plaintiffs to contact them instead of Scott+Scott.

A call to Stull, Stull and Brody for comment has not yet been returned. Though we have been contacted, as mentioned in our original report on the Diebold complaint, by other firms who are investigating the possibilities of filing their own complaints against the company.

UPDATE: Please see this new item on the exceptionally good detailed coverage today on all of the above from the Miami Herald. Had I seen their article first, I'd have used it instead of AP's coverage for the above piece.