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A Sacramento Judge has nixed an attempt to prevent Diebold's electronic voting terminals from being used in a crucial State election next month.

The challenge, from campaigners including Bev Harris, argued that the machines were vulnerable to tampering. Diebold's terminals don't leave a verifiable paper trail, and according to an expert security audit, transmit voting totals in plain text over the Internet.

The machines are being used in at least 14 California counties on March 2, and pose "a grave threat to the security and integrity," according to the plaintiffs, who in turn, were mocked by Diebold's defense attorney labeled the "conspiracy theorists".

However Diebold's CEO, Wally O'Dell, one of many GOP fundraisers amongst the company's executive staff, has done more than anyone to stoke mistrust. "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year," he said in 2003.

Diebold has argued that adding a paper audit to each PC would cost between $1000 and $1200 per machine; and in leaked correspondence a Diebold support technician explained how the company could profit from such calls for accountability:

"There is an important point that seems to be missed by all these articles: they already bought the system… 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."

Diebold recently stopped sueing ISPs for hosting the leaked material.

California has mandated that all electronic voting terminals must have produce a paper audit - but not until 2006. ®

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