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Diebold spins off voting machine division

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

This morning, Diebold, Inc. – which manufactures ATM machines and other security-related software and hardware – announced they are spinning off Diebold’s election division and renaming it Premier Election Services. Diebold Election Systems says it has 25,000 optical scan and 126,000 touch screen voting machines “deployed” in the United States.

Diebold wanted to sell its elections division, but couldn’t because of “the rapidly evolving political uncertainties and controversies surrounding state and jurisdiction purchases of electronic voting systems,” they said in a prepared statement. Just last weekend, Diebold machines were involved in a delayed vote count at the Iowa Straw Poll.

A quick overview of Diebold’s controversial history as a voting machine manufacturer, courtesy of the Associated Press:

Diebold Election Systems has had steady growth in sales and profits, but has become a lightning rod for critics of the reliability of e-voting devices. Critics [link inserted by Why Tuesday?] questioned whether Diebold software running those devices could be manipulated.

Diebold often defended its voting machines and its own business intentions, even after its former chairman and chief executive, Wally O’Dell, sought with little success to convince critics his Republican politics and fundraising for President Bush were not the motive for the company’s involvement in elections.

What does this mean for election reform? Or voting more generally? Stay tuned for updates.

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