Filed by Miriam Raftery
In an exclusive interview with RAW STORY, a whistleblower from electronic voting heavyweight Diebold Election Systems Inc. raised grave concerns about the company’s electronic voting technology and of electronic voting in general, bemoaning an electoral system the insider feels has been compromised by corporate privatization.
The Diebold insider, who took on the appellation “Dieb-Throat” in an interview with voting rights advocate Brad Friedman (BradBlog.com), was once a staunch supporter of electronic voting’s potential to produce more accurate results than punch cards.
But the company insider became disillusioned after witnessing repeated efforts by Diebold to evade meeting legal requirements or implementing appropriate security measures, putting corporate interests ahead of the interests of voters.
Previous revelations from the whistleblower have included evidence that Diebold’s upper management and top government officials knew of backdoor software in Diebold’s central tabulator before the 2004 election, but ignored urgent warnings—such as a Homeland Security alert posted on the Internet.
“This is a very dangerous precedent that needs to be stopped—that’s the corporate takeover of elections,” the source warned. “The majority of election directors don’t understand the gravity of what they’re dealing with. The bottom line is who is going to tamper with an election? A lot of people could, but they assume that no one will.”
California decertified Diebold TSX touch screen machines after state officials learned that the vendor had broken state election law.
“In California, they got in trouble and tried to doubletalk. They used a patch that was not certified,” the Diebold insider said. “They’ve done this many times. They just got caught in Georgia and California.”
The whistleblower is also skeptical of results from the November 2005 Ohio election, in which 88 percent of voters used touch screens and the outcome on some propositions changed as much as 40 percent from pre-election exit polls.
“Amazing,” the Diebold insider said.
Diebold is headquartered in Ohio. Its chairman Wally O’Dell, a key fundraiser for President Bush, once promised in an invitation to a Republican fundraising dinner to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes for Bush. The staffer said the company has a deep conservative culture.
“My feeling having been really deep inside the company is that initially Diebold, being a very conservative and Republican company, felt that if they controlled an election company, they could have great influence over the outcome,” the source, a registered independent, said.
The insider described a systematic process Diebold uses to woo election officials via cash doled out by lobbyists or attorneys and favors to assist budget-strapped public officials. “They promise the election directors the moon and deliver things to them that really aren’t legitimate parts of the contract.” Those promises range from providing personnel to equipping warehouses with electrical systems to recharge batteries in voting machines.
“The corporation pretty much takes over. That’s how they capture so many of these people. Diebold is making them look good and they’re not going to bite the hand that feeds them.”
Diebold creates a “monetary incentive” to stay involved via future servicing contracts after selling election equipment, the whistleblower noted, adding, “The machines are purposely complex and poorly designed.”
Diebold consultant convicted for embezzlement
The Diebold insider noted that the initial GEMS system used to tabulate votes for the Diebold Opti-scan systems was designed by Jeffrey Dean, who was convicted in the early 1990s of computer-aided embezzlement. Dean was hired by Global Election Systems, which Diebold acquired in 2000. Global also had John Elder, a convicted cocaine trafficker, on its payroll. Diebold spokesman David Bear told Citybeat that Dean left shortly after the acquisition and that Elder also left “long ago.” Black Box Voting reported that Diebold gave Elder a “golden parachute” in 2004 and that he was let go only after his criminal past was revealed by BBV and mainstream publications.
But the Diebold whistleblower told RAW STORY that Elder remained working for Diebold “as recently as the summer of this year… [Elder creates ] the paper ballots for absentee voting…They were making the ballots for the November election for sure, for all over the country.”
Bear denied that Elder is still on Diebold’s payroll as either an employee or independent contractor.