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‘Gouging’ memo leaves Diebold red-faced

Paper trail? Sure, that'll be $1200 for a printer

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The archive of internal correspondence from the politically-connected ATM giant Diebold - which is bidding for many electronic voting contracts across the US - is a gift that keeps on giving. Diebold has its own answer to critics who want a verifiable paper trail. Incredibly, the e-voting terminals don't leave behind such information.

It plans to make the modifications so expensive that city and state officials balk at the cost.

Steven Dennis at the Maryland Gazette last week unearthed correspondence from a Diebold engineer who advised that "any after-sale changes should be prohibitively expensive."

Diebold had told the Gazette that printers - required for the paper trail - would cost between $1,000 and $1,200 per machine. Given that printers can be found at Best Buy for as little as $50, voters are justified in questioning what makes a Diebold-approved printer quite so expensive.

Explains support technician 'Ken':

"There is an important point that seems to be missed by all these articles: they already bought the system," he wrote: "At this point they are just closing the barn door. Let’s just hope that as a company we are smart enough to charge out the yin if they try to change the rules now and legislate voter receipts."

Ken later explains what 'yin' means.

The State of California recently mandated that its electronic voting machines produce an auditable paper trail, although not before 2006.

Although paranoia is rife, comments by Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell have done little to allay public confidence. O'Dell is a top tier fundraiser for the GOP, and eleven of the top Diebold executives have also made Republican donations. Earlier this year, O'Dell wrote: "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Diebold recently used the DMCA in attempt to oblige ISPs to take down the archive of internal correspondence, which surfaced this year after it was left on a public ftp server. ®

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