North Carolina's State Elections Board has approved Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems & Software and Sequoia Voting Systems for purchase by the state's 100 counties. A judge heard arguments about the validity of the Diebold recommendation on Wednesday but will not rule before 21 December.
Last week, InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely reported:
After electronic voting booths in North Carolina misplaced 4,500 votes in last yearís elections, the state passed rules requiring voting machine software to be independently tested before approving it for sale. Although Diebold refused to turn over the source code for its Windows-based product, NCís state elections board -- which employs a consultant who happens to be a former Diebold employee -- approved the software anyway. Iím not sure whatís scarier: that election boards can be so easily co-opted, or that we elect people by using machines running Windows CE.
On 8 December, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Board of Elections and the North Carolina Office of Information Technology Services for failure to comply with state law requiring review of all system code "prior to certification." In a prepared statement, EFF said:
This statute was enacted to require election officials to investigate the quality and security of voting systems before approval, and only approve those that are safe and secure. By certifying without a full review of all relevant code, the Board of Elections has now opened the door for North Carolina counties to purchase untested and potentially insecure voting equipment."
North Carolina experienced one of the most serious malfunctions of e-voting systems in the 2004 presidential election when over 4,500 ballots were lost in a voting system provided by e-voting vendor UniLect Corp. Electronic voting systems across the country have come under fire during the past several years as unexplained malfunctions combined with efforts by vendors to protect their proprietary systems from meaningful review have left voters with serious questions about the integrity of the voting process.
Counties have until 1 January 2006 to apply for grants provided by the Help America Vote Act (HVAC). North Carolina has primaries scheduled for May 2006.