Hey Diebold: Cease and Desist This

October 30th, 2003

[ UPDATE 12-2-03: Diebold backed down and withdrew its legal threats against people who published the memos. ]

I’ve jumped on Berkeley’s latest truth-and-democracy bandwagon. Election machine manufacturer Diebold wants to steal a page from the Church of Scientology playbook: they’re bullying people who speak out against them, trying to silence criticism via threats of frivolous yet expensive lawsuits. Students and indy-media Web sites that criticize the firm have been slapped with cease-and-desist orders from Diebold lawyers.

Now people are slapping back. We’ve turned this into a game of whack-a-mole — if Diebold shuts us down, others will pop up to host this information in our place.

Join the good fight; download a copy of the memos that Diebold doesn’t want you to see:

  • here from my Berkeley server space,
  • here from my Stanford server space,
  • here from my personal Web site, or
  • here from

    You may also browse through the memos in HTML format here (at least until Diebold lawyers tear them down.) There are a ton of memos here; you can check out a list of particularly disturbing outtakes here.

    Why you should care: The mainstream American press is fast asleep, and what little it says about Diebold almost completely misses the point. Unless you look elsewhere for your news (in The Independent or on The BBC, for instance), you probably don’t know what the fuss is all about. Here are a few things you should know about Diebold, the leading manufacturer of touch-screen voting machines in the United States:

  • Diebold voting machines are insecure, buggy, and prone to foul play.
  • Diebold keeps the software inside these machines secret; you and I and the security experts aren’t allowed to look at the source code and see what goes on in those black boxes, to verify that they work fairly and properly. What goes on in those boxes is a key part of our electoral process.
  • Diebold and its executives are closely tied to the U.S. Republican Party and over the past two election cycles the firm made unilateral donations of more than $200,000 to the Republican Party. Whether or not you support the Republicans, this presents a blatant conflict of interest when you consider that Diebold makes our voting machines.

    Now Diebold is taking cheap litigious pot-shots at people who bring these facts to light.

    Computers offer a superior way of counting votes. The design of a computerized voting system that’s simple, secure, reliable, inexpensive and open to public scrutiny wouldn’t be a very difficult task. But as I wrote a year ago, if we keep hiring corrupt and incompetent firms to build our voting tools, we will turn this opportunity into a curse.

    Spread the word: we cannot trust Diebold with our votes.

  • When Life Gives You SARS

    October 10th, 2003

    “When life gives your SARS, make sarsaparilla.”

    – Cory Doctorow