03 August 2005

Diebold's problems worsen


Diebold's latest electronic voting machine, desired by dozens of counties nationwide, fared worse in the nation's first mass testing than previously disclosed, with almost 20 percent of the touch-screen machines crashing.

Those software failures are likely to send Diebold programmers back to work and perhaps force the firm into weeks of independent laboratory testing.

With 17 California counties — including Alameda, Marin and San Joaquin — considering purchase of the Diebold AccuVote TSx, as well as dozens of counties in Ohio, Utah and Mississippi, the delay could put at risk tens of millions of dollars in sales and throw open the door to Diebold competitors. In Alameda County, Diebolds first large customer on the West Coast, local officials are eyeing other manufacturers products and mass-mailing county voters to promote the virtues of absentee voting — no need to come to the polling place and use an expensive voting machine.

For years, the county was considered Diebold territory. Other vendors, such as Sequoia Voting Systems with Oakland headquarters less than five miles from county offices, figured a sales pitch was wasted time. But Keith Carson, president of the county supervisors, suspects those days have to be more at an end than not.

"As far as the other supervisors," he said, "I cant believe they would continue down this dark path with Diebold when there are more problems with each testing."


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