Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cheese It. The Coders! 

Diebold drops out of North Carolina rather than expose its software code to state scrutiny as required by law:
Officials with Diebold Election Systems announced their decision to the state Board of Elections on Wednesday, and the board passed the word along to election managers in Durham and other parts of the state Thursday afternoon.

Diebold's decision likely means that Durham County officials will buy new voting machines from Election Systems and Software, the company that built the county's current system . . . .

[A] lawyer for the company told The Associated Press that it can't comply with the state's demand for copies of the source code of all the software used in its systems.

Diebold is worried it could be charged with a felony under the law if state officials later determine the company didn't share its software, and says it doesn't have permission to provide code owned by third parties like Microsoft. Diebold's machines use the Windows CE embedded operating system.
Intriguing, because it was only yesterday that Diebold received the stamp of approval from Judge Ripley Rand and the NC Attorney General's office, and the third-party software issue had been specifically addressed:
Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand denied a preliminary injunction request by the foundation to prevent the three firms from selling voting equipment until all the software is reviewed.

The software review "was pursuant to a reasonable reading of the statute," Rand said in denying the foundation's motion to block the board's certification of Diebold Election Systems and Election Systems & Software. A third firm certified, Sequoia Voting Systems, has since withdrawn.

The board required the winners to place a copy of their own software with a special holding company based in Raleigh for review by Thursday. The companies also must tell the board where third-party software is held for safekeeping . . . .

The law required that the state review software source code each vendor candidate made available to the board largely to examine security issues before certifying certain machines, said Karen Long with the state Attorney General's Office. But that doesn't mean all software had to be reviewed ahead of time, as McCloy contends.

"The statute simply does not compel a source code review of third party software," Long said in court. An independent testing group and a special team of experts assembled by the board reviewed the vendor applications and followed the law.
AP coverage is framing the story thus:
The effort to upgrade voting equipment in North Carolina by next spring took a hit when an approved vendor pulled out of the running.
We respectfully disagree. If the voters of North Carolina truly wish to "upgrade" their equipment, they will revert to paper ballots, counted by hand in the presence of witnesses.

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