Voting Fiasco Wasn’t Our Fault, Diebold Says

     CLEVELAND (CN) – Diebold and two other touch-screen voting companies have sued Cuyahoga County, disclaiming responsibility for problems with new electronic voting systems used in the May and November 2006 elections.

     Lead plaintiff Premier Election Solutions says its predecessor – Diebold Election Systems – signed a series of contracts under which Cuyahoga County bought more than 5,400 touch-screen voting machines to replace the county’s punch-card system.
     Plaintiffs claim the county’s own poor training caused problems during the May election. Plaintiffs claim poll workers lost 50 memory cards; that the county defectively designed a ballot that forced 17,000 votes to be hand counted; and that the county’s cost-cutting caused other problems, such as one precinct not opening for voting until 1:30 p.m., and machines in another precinct being locked in a closet. Plaintiffs claim the county refused their offers to train poll workers, but insisted upon doing a cheaper, abbreviated version of the training itself.
     Plaintiffs claim the November elections went off without a hitch, but afterward the Plain-Dealer reported that the new system cost the county an extra $17 per vote cast. These reports caused the county to demand the resignation of the entire Elections Board. The county voted to stop using the plaintiffs’ machines, and has threatened to sue the plaintiffs to recover the alleged extra $17 per vote.
     Plaintiffs say they were not at fault; they seek declaratory judgment. The third plaintiff is Data Information Management Systems. They are represented in Cuyahoga County Court by Matthew Kairis with Jones Day of Columbus.

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