In North Carolina and California, officials are pressing Diebold to prove their machines are really tamper-proof. And Diebold doesn't much like this game. In North Carolina, they're threatening to withdraw from the state entirely if strict "escrow" provisions are enacted. Isn't it amazing that the entire election system was ready and willing to trust but not verify (to paraphrase Ronald Reagan's favorite Russian proverb) private vendors with our most treasured rights?
In North Carolina ... toughened requirements _ which include placing the machines' software code in escrow for examination in case of a problem _ have already led one top supplier, Diebold Inc., to say it may withdraw from the state, where about 20 counties use Diebold voting machines. Diebold executives said Wednesday they have not yet made a decision.
Other states have similar rules, but Diebold argued that North Carolina's law was too broad. The company said that to comply, it would have to disclose proprietary code behind Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system, which is used in its machines.
While rival machine vendors say they can meet those standards, Diebold sought to be exempted, asking a judge to protect it from criminal prosecution if it didn't disclose the code. The judge, Wake County's Narley Cashwell, declined to issue such a blanket protection.
For once its not a partisan issue:
"There's a long way to go _ making our elections truly trustworthy in this country is a multifaceted problem," said David Dill, a Stanford University computer scientist and founder of the Verified Voting Foundation.
But he added that he expected a "much better situation in 2006" and noted that improving electronic vote methods has become "a delightfully nonpartisan issue."