Thursday, December 01, 2005

Democracy, Diebold-style

Sooooo....Diebold is afraid of making its code for the election machines open-source, so government agencies can do oversight and require a paper trail of each electronic ballot. After a North Carolina judge refused to give them immunity against prosecution for voting errors pursuant to a law passed by large majorities in North Carolina's General Assembly, they announced they would not be selling machines in that state any longer.

That gives more fuel to the rumors that Diebold machines were rigged in the state of Ohio during the 2004 elections, where all voting errors gave President Bush an advantage. In one case, Bush got 8,000 more votes in one county than there were registered voters. In an election that hinged on a small majority of votes (60,000 in Ohio, where a Kerry win would mean a different president) once again, this sort of thing asks more questions than it does give answers.

Diebold's excuse is that Microsoft provides Windows software to those machines, and they aren't responsible for the alleged numerous authors of Windows. Yet Microsoft says right on their website that they will make their code available to a government agency that is investigating election issues, and would provide all of the authors of the software. In short, Diebold is hiding behind a straw man argument.

If they are unwilling to have a paper trail, if they are unwilling to open their code to the government for examination when they are programming machines to run the most vital part of our democracy, then they should be barred by law from selling election machines until they reveal that code. Until then, they have the power to sway elections in a way that no corporation should ever have the power to influence an election. This might sound paranoid, but they do things that justify the paranoia. It is incumbent upon legislators, congressmen, and judges to all be united on this issue, regardless of political beliefs or affliations. Diebold's CEO promised almost two years ago to help Bush win the election. God help us if he used his influence to deliver that in the most monstrous way.