April 22, 2004
Diebold apologizes for device flaws
Critics of electronic voting and voting
By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER
It is an uncommon day when the nation's second-largest provider of voting systems concedes that its flagship products in California have significant security flaws and that it supplied hundreds of poorly designed electronic-voting devices that disenfranchised voters in the March presidential primary.
Diebold Election Services Inc. president Bob Urosevichadmitted this and more, and apologized "for any embarrassment."
"We were caught. We apologize for that," Urosevich said of the mass failures of devices needed to call up digital ballots. Poll-workers in Alameda and San Diego counties hadn't been trained on ways around their failure, and San Diego County chose not to supply polls with backup paper ballots, crippling the largest rollout of e-voting in the nation on March 2. Unknown thousands of voters were turned away at the polls.
"We're sorry for the inconvenience of the voters," Urosevich said.
"Weren't they actually disenfranchised?" asked Tony Miller, chief counsel to the state's elections division.
After a moment, Urosevich agreed: "Yes, sir."
Flanked by most of California's local elections officials and advocates for the blind and speakers of minority-language, Diebold executives and attorneys pleaded for one more chance.
"There's still not any evidence of electronic voting sys- tems anywhere in this country counting votes inaccurately," said Conny McCormack, the Los Angeles County registrar of voters.
But critics of electronic voting and Diebold said enough is enough.
Seattle journalist and BlackBoxVoting.org leader Bev Harris took a microphone two feet in front of Urosevich and said, "What we have is a company that lies. Yes, I'll say it -- lies."
"You have got to vote them off the island," said Jim March, a Sacramento lobbyist for the right to bear arms and see a paper ballot. March waved an especially harsh state report on Diebold's poor compliance with California election law.
"After this report, doubts will always remain not only about their credibility but their sanity," he said. --Tri-Valley Herald Online
It's so remarkable to see a corporate CEO in a mea culpa at all about anything that, well, it's refreshing. I'll give him that. It's less refreshing that the anti-e-voting crowd comes off as a little nutty, or at least are presented that way.