Thursday, January 26, 2006

Diebold: "No! It's My Ball. Go Away!"

From Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Democrats are being refused their request to examine the raw 2004 election data by state election officials and... ta da!.... Diebold.

The state Division of Elections has refused to turn over its electronic voting files to the Democrats, arguing that the data format belongs to a private company and can't be made public.

The Alaska Democratic Party says the information is a public record essential for verifying the accuracy of the 2004 general election and must be provided.

The official vote results from the last general election are riddled with discrepancies and impossible for the public to make sense of, the Democrats said Monday. A detailed analysis of the underlying data could answer lingering questions about an election many thought was over more than a year ago, they say.

"Basically what they say is they want to give us a printout from the (electronic) file. They don't want to give us the file itself. It doesn't enable us to get to the bottom of what we need to know," said Kay Brown, spokeswoman for the party. "At this point, it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004." The private contractor hired to provide Alaska's electronic voting machines is Diebold Election Systems. It has told Alaska officials it owns the "structure of the database" though the data itself is public.
In a Jan. 6 e-mail, Diebold's lawyer, Charles R. Owen, told (elections director Whitney) Brewster that "the structure of the database file ... is proprietary information."

Perhaps, but it's not secret. Anyone can examine Diebold's format on a Web site set up by activists who have been raising questions about the company, the Alaska Democrats said.

"Copies of these kinds of files have been sitting on the Internet for over two years, with Diebold's knowledge," said Jim March, an investigator with Black Box Voting, a private organization that calls itself a national consumer protection group for voters.

Read full story...
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Related follow-up: The Brad Blog comments on The Washington Post finally reporting about the hacked Diebold machines in Leon County, Florida test.

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