Diebold Election Systems

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Diebold Election Systems (ref. parent Diebold Inc.) is a provider of "direct recording electronic (DRE) voting solutions" [1], or voting machines. In August 2007, the Diebold subsidiary's name was changed to Premier Election Solutions. [2]

New name, same owner

Following a year-long failed attempt to sell its e-voting subsidiary, the parent company renamed the subsidiary Premier Election Solutions. While still Diebold-owned, PES "will have its own management team and board of directors," and is based in Allen, Texas, while Diebold headquarters are in Ohio, reported O'Dwyer's PR Daily. The PR firm Edelman "is handling the recasting of Diebold Election Systems to Premier Election Solutions," reported O'Dwyer's.[3]

Diebold blamed the lack of buyers on "rapidly evolving political uncertainties and controversies surrounding ... electronic voting systems." Diebold also lowered its e-voting revenue expectations by $120 million, according to Crain's Cleveland Business. A Diebold spokesman "acknowledged that the highly charged attention paid to the subsidiary ... has been a distraction to Diebold," which hopes to "concentrate on its core ATM and security segments." [4]


Bob Urosevich, the first CEO of Diebold Election Systems was also the founder of ES&S, a competing voting machine company now owned by the McCarthy Group. Together these two companies are responsible for tallying around 80% of votes cast in the United States. The current vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

It is reputed that the software architecture common to both is a creation of Mr Urosevich's company I-Mark and is easily compromised, in part due to its reliance on Microsoft Access databases; and that the I-Mark and Microsoft software each represent a single point of failure of vote counting process, from which 80% of votes can be compromised via the exploit of a single line of code in either subsystem.

Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

"Delivering" votes

Walden O'Dell or 'Wally" O'Dell, the current chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." He was very active and visible as a Bush supporter:

"Wally O'Dell, CEO of Diebold Inc., this week [27 August 2003] sent out letters to central Ohio Republicans asking them to raise $10,000 in donations in time for a Sept. 26 Ohio Republican Party event at his home. ... [Ohio State] House Minority Leader Chris Redfern ... and Senate Minority Leader Greg DiDonato ... petitioned Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to drop O'Dell's company from the list of potential suppliers [of new electronic voting machines], saying his presence could undermine Ohio's entire election system." [5]

Note: According to the AP (August 29, 2003), the letter was actually dated [6], more than two weeks prior to news stories about it. This is supported by an August 28, 2003 [7] news story.

Allegations of illicit interference with an election

On October 13, 2003, it is reported that a former worker in Diebold's Georgia warehouse says the company installed patches on its machines before the state's 2002 gubernatorial election that were never certified by independent testing authorities or cleared with Georgia election officials. If the charges are true, Diebold could be in violation of federal and state election-certification rules.[8]

Online battles

Attempts to prohibit publication of hackability evidence

On October 10, 2003, Diebold sent a cease-and-desist letter to the nonprofit Online Policy Group (OPG) ISP demanding that OPG remove a page of links published on an Independent Media Center (IndyMedia) website located on a computer server hosted by OPG.

Diebold sent out dozens of similar notices to ISPs hosting IndyMedia and other websites linking to or publishing copies of Diebold internal memos. OPG was the only ISP to resist the takedown demand from Diebold. [9]

On October 16, 2003, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced that it would defend the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and news website publisher against claims of indirect copyright infringement from the electronic voting machines' manufacturer. [10]

On October 21, 2003, defending the right of a fair, democratic election, Why War? [11] and the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons (SCDC) [12] announced that they would reject Diebold's cease and desist orders and initiated a legal electronic civil disobedience campaign to ensure permanent public access to the controversial leaked memos. Thus, through active, legal electronic civil disobedience, Why War? and SCDC will bring to light the usually silent acts of suppression and censorship. The result will be a permanent and public mirror[13] of the memos: documents whose public existence challenges the assumed presence of democracy in America. [14]

On October 22, 2003, the two groups have decided to pursue different courses of action, confident that the actions of both groups will independently result in continued access to Diebold's memos. SCDC has decided to comply with any cease and desist requests and subsequently take legal action against Diebold.[15] Why War?, on the other hand, will continue to provide access to the memos by listing mirrors provided by individuals worldwide.[16]

Wiki wars

Spin on Wikipedia On November 25, 2005, an anonymous poster from a Diebold IP address deleted extensive references to the controversy surrounding Diebold's electronic voting machines. This edit was picked up by the Wikiscanner tool. [17]

PR campaigns

"Diebold Election Systems (DES) has hired Ogilvy PR to burnish the company's image and the benefits of electronic voting in California," PR Week reported in August 2005.[18] The state had decertified one of DES' e-voting machines the previous year [19], and the company wanted to ensure that their "story is told" and that voters "understand the technology," said Ogilvy's Michael Law, who heads DES' California work. According to PR Week, Ogilvy was researching public perceptions of DES, with an eye to developing messages "about the ease of electronic voting, particularly for voters who do not speak English, as well as for handicapped voters."

The same month, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported that DES' California PR is part of a national campaign headed by former Democratic National Committee chair Joseph J. Andrew. Andrew has been praised for his "grassroots organizing" and "golden rolodex" of CEOs and labor leaders, according to O'Dwyer's. [20]

DES has worked with numerous other PR firms and consultants to burnish its public image nationally and in various regions of the country. These include Public Strategies, Inc. and the Compliance Research Group. [21] [22] See the SourceWatch articles on the firms, as well as A Short but Tragic History of E-voting Public Relations and e-voting PR for more information.

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


External articles

External resources

Bev Harris



  • Hacking Democracy (HBO, 2006)

Other Websites

  • "In response to the 2000 Florida debacle, Congress passed a law, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which mandates voting process reform in all the states."
  • "Mr. Darryl R. Wold, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) believes that HAVA requires a voter-verifiable paper trail."