20 August 2005

Diebold hires top Dem for PR blitz

Former party chairman make the case for voting to California

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER

With a phone call and a retainer, Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell has launched former Democratic National Committee chairman Joe Andrew on a 50-state ambassadorship for electronic voting.

O'Dell said he ``wanted to reframe some of the issues,'' Andrew said.

His first stop: California, the nation's largest market for voting machines and the place where Diebold's fortunes as the largest supplier of electronic-voting machines in the nation could be made or broken.

``Even if you have tremendous success every place else,'' said Andrew, ``if you can't sell technology in California, you're in trouble.''

The rest of the voting industry is selling technology here. Millions in federal dollars sit ready for counties to put at least one high-tech, handicapped-accessible voting machine in every polling place by January.

But in California, Diebold can't sell its touchscreen voting machine, the AccuVote TSx, nor can counties that bought thousands of the machines in 2003 used them in elections.

More than $30 million worth of TSx machines sit in three counties' warehouses, unapproved for actual voting. More than $15 million worth of earlier-generation Diebold touchscreens in Alameda, Los Angeles and Plumas counties cannot be used after January.


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