The teaser in Thursday, August 12�s Dispatch proclaimed �Diebold
deal helps counties.� It should have read, �Diebold settles lawsuits by offering
free and discounted shoddy election hardware and software.�
This is the equivalent of the Ford Motor Company settling
the lawsuit against its incredible exploding Pintos by offering the dead driver�s
family free leases and discounts to buy cars that blow up.
So, Diebold gets caught not counting people�s votes -- the
solution: allow them to destroy democracy on a grander scale.
In the bizarre settlement, more than half of Ohio�s county
boards of elections will receive free and discounted voting machines and
software from Premier Election Solutions (formally Diebold). This is a result
of an August 2008 lawsuit against Diebold by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer
Brunner. In the counterclaim filed by Brunner, she alleged that Diebold voting
equipment �dropped votes in at least 11 counties.� The failure to count votes
occurred when Diebold memory cards were uploaded to computer servers.
Diebold voting machine malfunctions during the 2008 primary
election prompted Cuyahoga County election officials to accuse the company of
breach of contract, negligence and fraud. Diebold filed the original suit
against Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) in May 2008 seeking payment and claiming
that it had satisfied its contractual obligations in providing touchscreen
Brunner intervened by filing a counterclaim in Franklin
County, the state capitol, arguing breach of contract, warranty violations, and
misrepresentation by Diebold representatives.
Brunner was elected as an election reformer after the
debacle of the 2004 Ohio presidential election. In that election, the then-CEO
of Diebold, Walden �Wally� O�Dell, pledged to deliver Ohio�s electoral votes to
George W. Bush. O�Dell was a major donor to the Bush campaign and a visitor to
the president�s Crawford ranch.
In Lucas County, Diebold optiscan machines malfunctioned in
the mostly Democratic inner city wards during the 2004 presidential election.
Thousands of ballots rejected by the Diebold voting machines were never
The settlement that affects 47 counties offers less than
half a million dollars in payments, but Diebold is eager to give away and
discount its software and hardware. Diebold�s General Election Management
Software (GEMS) has come under attack for being designed in a way that allows
for two sets of databases independent of each other. Diebold has agreed to give
up to $2.4 million of free software licensing to Ohio counties over the next
Along with the suspect Diebold software, the company will
give away nearly 3,000 free voting machines in Ohio, up to 15 percent of a
In the 2004 election, Diebold, Election Systems &
Software (ES&S) and Triad all were criticized for partisan IT maintenance
of election software and hardware. Specific charges made by voting rights
activists were that maintenance workers helped rig the recount in Ohio. A
Hocking County election official sent an affidavit to U.S. Rep. John Conyers
noting that a Triad company worker had installed a new hard drive and had
visited several other counties prior to the recount.
An ES&S worker, Sam Hogsett, was also accused of
inappropriate behavior during the recount.
Diebold is discounting its maintenance fee by 50 percent if
the counties continue to allow them to service their equipment. Diebold is now
owned by the Nebraska-based ES&S and the two companies are estimated to be
involved in the counting of 80 percent of the nation�s ballots using their
secret proprietary software.
If counties no longer trust the non-transparent touchscreen
Premier machines, the company is offering a 50 percent discount on new optiscan
voting machines. The Free Press documented election tampering in the 2004
election in Miami County (Ohio) involving optiscan machines.
The net effect is that the notorious malfunctioning Diebold
machines will be able to drop even more Ohio voters. County boards of elections
have 75 days to decide to accept Diebold�s partisan hardware and software.
Since Diebold�s equipment has historically purged Democratic voters, including
its infamous purging of nearly 10,000 voters in Cleveland just prior to the
2004 election, you can count on most rural Republican-dominated counties to
accept Diebold�s offer.
Bob Fitrakis is Editor & Publisher of The Free Press where this article first appeared.