Diebold announced yesterday that they were dropping out of consideration for selling voting machines to North Carolina counties, citing their inability to meet the current transparency standards required by the State. Their claim is that they cannot reveal all of their code because some is owned by a third party; however, the company has never shown an effort to get the third-parties to allow release of the code to the State.
The decision of Diebold leaves only one company vying to sell equiptment in the state, Electronic Systems and Software. Now Counties are trying to get the laws changed. From the Durham Herald Sun:
The company's pullout prompted the N.C. Association of County Commissioners -- the lobbying group for the state's 100 county governments -- to ask Gov. Mike Easley to call a special session of the General Assembly to revise the regulations passed in August.
The association is targeting the section of the law that forced the state Board of Elections to decertify all existing voting systems and make counties do business only with companies willing to meet a set of demands that went beyond those required by federal law, said Paul Meyer, the group's assistant general counsel.
Among other things, the law insists that all voting systems general a paper record of every ballot, that manufacturers post a bond large enough to cover the cost of a new election if their machines fail, and that systems sort the votes of absentee and early voters into their home precincts.
I do not believe Diebold's claim; they have been trying to jerk around the state over this law. And I do not want a company running our election equiptment if they are not willing to divulge their code. In fact the Counties are not worried that the machines left are inadequate are too expensive in any way. The concern is their ability to be delivered on time:
The association also isn't happy with the idea that counties might be able to buy from only one vendor, ES&S. It believes the company can't deliver all the machines in time for county elections boards to train on them and be ready for the May primary, and says a few counties are making plans to use and hand-count paper ballots.
I think we should wait to see if ESS can fulfill the needs of the state while following the law before we start reducing the requirements of the law.