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After EFF Litigation, Diebold Pulls Out of North Carolina

PRESS RELEASE
December 23, 2005

Raleigh, North Carolina - After a series of lawsuits led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to defend North Carolina's election integrity laws, controversial electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold Election Systems finally withdrew from the state's voting machine procurement process on Thursday.

In November, Diebold filed suit against the North Carolina Board of Elections to try to avoid a state requirement that vendors place into escrow all source code "that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system." Under a strong new state law, this code is to be available to the Board of Elections and the chairs of the state political parties for review so that they could look for security vulnerabilities. EFF intervened in the case on behalf of local voter integrity advocate Joyce McCloy and succeeded in convincing the judge to dismiss the case and require Diebold to comply.

Despite Diebold's open admission that it could not meet the state requirements for voting machine integrity, the Board of Elections later agreed to certify Diebold. EFF filed suit against the Board of Elections last week, arguing that the Board had violated its own obligations to perform extensive security-related tests of all of the code on all certified systems prior to certification. The court denied EFF's motion, but Diebold was nonetheless forced to withdraw from the North Carolina procurement process because it did not escrow its code.

In a letter to the Board of Elections on Thursday, Diebold indicated that it is still unwilling to comply with the law. Instead, it offered to help the state "revise" the law so that "all vendors will be able to comply with the state election law."

"The purpose of election integrity law is to ensure that votes are accurately counted, not to ensure that all equipment vendors can comply," said Matt Zimmerman, EFF's Staff Attorney specializing in electronic voting issues. "The law requires voting machine transparency for good reason. All vendors must realize that the public will not and should not accept a process that forces them to simply trust, but not verify, their votes are accurately counted."

By withdrawing from North Carolina's electronic voting contract, Diebold cedes the market to competitor ES&S. The rival company has stated that it will comply with all state escrow requirements.

Contacts:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org

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