December 1, 2005 | By Matt Zimmerman

Diebold, North Carolina, and the Immaculate Certification

On Monday, EFF went to superior court in North Carolina in order to challenge e-voting recidivist Diebold and their attempt to skirt the state's strong new election transparency rules. Diebold pleaded with the court for an exemption from the statute's requirement to escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system" and to release a list of all programmers who worked on the code because... well... it simply couldn't do it. It would likely be impossible, said Diebold, to escrow all of the third party software that its system relied on (including Windows).

What a difference a few days make.

Despite Diebold's asserted inability to meet the requirements of state law, the North Carolina Board of Elections today happily certified Diebold without condition. Never mind all of that third party software. Never mind the impossibility of obtaining a list of programmers who had contributed to that code.

And never mind the Board of Election's obligation to subject all candidate voting systems to rigorous review before certification:

"Prior to certifying a voting system, the State Board of Elections shall review, or designate an independent expert to review, all source code made available by the vendor pursuant to this section and certify only those voting systems compliant with State and federal law. At a minimum, the State Board's review shall include a review of security, application vulnerability, application code, wireless security, security policy and processes, security/privacy program management, technology infrastructure and security controls, security organization and governance, and operational effectiveness, as applicable to that voting system."

(See updated 163-165.7(c)).

What's next? As a result of EFF's successful court challenge on Monday, Diebold is still on the hook for criminal and civil liability for failing to meet the escrow and programmer disclosure requirements of the statute. But as today's developments indicate, the North Carolina state government apparently doesn't have the stomach to resist the full-court press of Diebold, even if it means utterly ignoring statutory obligations.

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