North Carolina Certifies Voting Machine Vendors

The state's Board of Elections certifies Diebold to continue selling electronic voting machines in the state and conditionally certifies Election Systems & Software and Sequoia Voting Systems.

The same week that a North Carolina judge refused to shield Diebold Inc. from criminal liability if it fails to comply with a new electronic voting system requirement, the states elections board certified Diebold to continue selling its machines in the state.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections on Thursday also certified Election Systems & Software Inc. and conditionally certified Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., according to Brooks Garrett-Jones, an elections technician with the board.

Under a new North Carolina law, voting system suppliers must place their software code—including that of third-party developers—in escrow. Passage of the law followed the loss of more than 4,000 votes in a 2004 election when machines accepted more ballots than their memories could hold.

Diebold requested, but failed to receive, a court shield from the new law, arguing that it could not turn over the code that belongs to third-party developers. The North Canton, Ohio vendor currently has voting machines in place in approximately 20 North Carolina counties.

To comply with the law, the certified vendors will not have to turn over third-party code directly but they will have to inform the board where third-parties have placed their own code in escrow, Garrett-Jones said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifThe ACLU is challenging an FCC ruling that allowed the FBI to expand its wiretapping authority to online communications. Click here to read more.

"All of the vendors which use any third-party software in their systems at all will have to notify us where those third parties have their source code in escrow," he said. "Microsoft [Corp.] and Adobe [Systems Inc.] and all the other third-party manufacturers already have their own source code escrowed. Ultimately everything is going to have to be escrowed somewhere."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which had challenged Diebolds court request for protection against criminal liability, called the boards action certifying the company illegal.

"The Board of Elections has simply flouted the law," said Matt Zimmerman, attorney with EFF. "The Boards job is to protect voters, not corporations who want to obtain multi-million dollar contracts with the state."

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