"Despicable" is not a word that major corporate executives are used to having hurled at them by high elected officials, but the honchos of Diebold Inc. recently got this very word right in their corporate face.
The hurler was Kevin Shelley, California's Secretary of State, and he was referring to Diebold's electronic voting machines in California's March primary elections. Computer glitches plagued that election, jeopardizing its outcome. For example, thousands of San Diego voters were turned away from the polls because Diebold machines malfunctioned.
A subsequent investigation by a state panel of experts on electronic voting found that this company -- the second largest purveyor of touch-screen voting machines in the country -- had violated state law by installing untested and uncertified software in its machines... then lied about it. "Their performance, their behavior, is despicable," Shelley bluntly said. He also put action behind his words, banning the use of more than 14,000 Diebold machines for this November's election, saying that the machines are not secure and reliable. He also has recommended that criminal charges be filed for what he called "fraudulent actions by Diebold."
Shelley had earlier ruled that, by 2006, touch-screen voting machines in California must produce a paper receipt so voters can verify the electoral choices they make on these corruptible computers. But, after this year's unpleasantness with Diebold, Shelley says he's now exploring ways to speed up this requirement.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, a voters group has filed suit to block the use of all 16,000 of Diebold's virtual voting machines in their state unless a paper-verification system is installed on each of them. It's all a part of the growing grassroots rebellion to prevent the electronic theft of our elections. To join the fight, go to verifiedvoting.org.
Publication date: 07/22/04