Diebold Caught Again in Politics of Technology

Oct. 1.08 | About: Diebold Inc. (DBD)

A blogger on TechRepublic has started the quadrenniel complaint by the open source fringe that U.S. elections are won or lost because of the politics of technology.  A common whipping boy is Diebold (NYSE:DBD).

What the open source fringe needs is a good old Boston ward-heeler political fight song:

"Now you citizens of Boston,
Don't you think it's a scandal
That the people have to vote and vote

"Vote for Walter A. O'Brien
And fight closed-source software
Get poor Charley off the Diebold machine."

(Apologies to Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes, songwriters, and Walter O'Brien's heirs. O'Brien was the Progressive Party candidate for Mayor of Boston in 1949, dead last in the election best known as the real life version of The Last Hurrah of James Michael Curley. The popular Kingston Trio version of the song in the 1950s changed the words to George O'Brien because of Walter O'Brien's radical leanings. This of course is another conspiracy the bloggers can work on.)

I personally don't really care what kind of software is used inside U.S. voting machines but I hope people from outside the U.S do not get the impression from these conspiracy theory wackos (the name of another great Boston political figure by the way) that software -- open or closed source -- caused the voting problems in the U.S. in 2000 and 2004.

Just to refresh everyone's memory:

-- the problem in Fla in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 (to the extent there really was a problem in Ohio) was a turn of the century (as in 1900) technology called punched cards, not software.

-- In New Mexico, the problem was allegedly a matter of ballots not being counted at all, not in their being misread by embedded software.

Of course, to really buy into the Diebold conspiracy theories you have to assume one of two things happens. Either all the Diebold voting machines are rigged by Diebold executives in the middle of the night after the working stiff programmers go home, or you have to assume that the working stiff programmers are also Republicans.

(Maybe because they write closed source software, they must be, huh, Jack?)