Electronic Voting Critics Sue Company Under Whistle Blower Law

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Mon Jul 12 2004 - 00:01:02 CDT

I have a surprising quote in this article that needs clarification. I
wasn't thinking specifically of Bev Harris and Jim March when I said that.
However, the way the quote is positioned, it appears to mainly apply to
them. I have had several long conversations with Rachel Konrad, and I
consider her one of the best writers.

I believe I said this to Rachel in the context of the many people I've met
over the last 3.7 years in this campaign that seemed to be more interest in
getting attention for themselves than offering a real alternative. I don't
think my comment belonged following, "Some people are critical of the use of
the whistleblower statute with its reward system for plaintiffs." I wasn't
talking about that. I think the reward system for whistleblowers is
appropriate.

I was not thinking of Bev Harris and Jim March at that point since Bev and
Jim are talking in favor of open source with a paper ballot--and even go so
far as to specifically plug the OVC when the situation calls for it. I wish
them success in their whistleblower suits, and I'm sure they will use the
money well if they get it.

Alan D.

http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBHERZJJWD.html

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Critics of electronic voting are suing Diebold Inc.
under a whistleblower law, alleging that the company's shoddy balloting
equipment exposed California elections to hackers and software bugs.
California's attorney general unsealed the lawsuit Friday. It was filed in
November but sealed under a provision that keeps such actions secret until
the government decides whether to join the plaintiffs.

Lawmakers from Maryland to California are expressing doubts about the
integrity of paperless voting terminals made by several large manufacturers,
which up to 50 million Americans will use in November.

The California lawsuit was filed in state court by computer programmer Jim
March and activist Bev Harris, who are seeking full reimbursement for
Diebold equipment purchased in California.

Issues cited by the case include Diebold's use of uncertified hardware and
software, and modems that may have allowed election results to be published
online before polls closed.

They are asking California to join the lawsuit against Diebold. The state
has not yet made a decision.

State election officials have spent at least $8 million on paperless
touchscreen machines. Alameda County, for one, has spent at least $11
million.

Under the whistleblower statute, March and Harris could collect up to 30
percent of any reimbursement.

"This is about money now - a case of the capitalist system at work," said
March, of Sacramento. "The laws on voting products and processes are
unfortunately unclear. But the law on defrauding the government is really,
really clear. Going after the money trail is cleaner than going after proper
procedures."

Diebold spokesman David Bear said Saturday the company has not been served
with the lawsuit and would not comment until it reviewed the case.

Election officials have until Sept. 7 to decide whether to join the lawsuit,
said Tom Dresslar, spokesman for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

Alameda County also has not yet decided whether to participate, said Elaine
Ginnold of the county's registrar of voters office. She said Diebold has
been "extremely responsive" in addressing problems with its system used in
the March primary, which forced at least 6,000 of 316,000 voters to use
backup paper ballots.

"I think we avoided a major crisis - it would have been much, much worse had
we not had those paper ballot backups," Ginnold said.

Earlier this year, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley banned one
Diebold voting system unless counties met a host of conditions, including
precautions to prevent tampering and giving paper ballots to voters who
prefer them.

In the March primary, 573 of 1,038 polling places in San Diego County failed
to open on time because of computer malfunctions. A software bug in North
Carolina's 2002 general election deleted 436 electronic ballots from six
paperless machines in two counties.

Some people are critical of the use of the whistleblower statute with its
reward system for plaintiffs.

"I would like to see people support a real solution rather than just try to
cash in," said Alan Dechert, founder of Open Voting Consortium Inc., whose
voting system relies on nonproprietary software. "There are a lot of people
who could be a tremendous asset, but they're grandstanding and reveling in
the expose."

AP-ES-07-11-04 1522EDT

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Received on Sat Jul 31 23:17:09 2004

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