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Diebold Civil Disobedience Campaign Continues

Diebold Electronic Civil Disobedience Campaign Continues Despite Swarthmore College Opposition

Swarthmore, Pa., Oct. 23, 2003 -- After announcing that they were rejecting Diebold Elections Systems' cease and desist orders and initiating a campaign of legal electronic civil disobedience, Why War? and the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons (SCDC) held a public meeting yesterday. In attendance were representatives of Swarthmore College, where both organizations are based and the site of the first hosting of the documents in this campaign. Overnight, word had spread of this action and Dean Bob Gross had received over 250 emails of support from individuals throughout the world including "tech celebrities" and Swarthmore College alumni.

Swarthmore College, unfortunately, is not willing to take a strong stand against Diebold, and is systematically disabling the network access of any student who hosts or even links to the files or information about them. "We can't get out in front in this fight against Diebold," Gross said during the meeting with over fifty students, staff, and faculty. Gross, apparently, did not see that by taking an active stance against Why War's actions, Swarthmore was aiding Diebold's suppression.

Why War? had hoped that an institution once praised for allegiance to the pursuit of truth would have taken a more forceful stance in defense of information. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the college would be under no liability after informing a student that s/he should not be hosting the file, yet Swarthmore is choosing to act counter to the spirit of both its traditions and rules. Why War? is deeply distressed by Swarthmore's inability, or unwillingness, to understand that the magnitude of this situation: a fair presidential election.

"There's so much in here that we haven't found yet that it's a necessity that we keep them up, so people can look through them," Why War? member Micah White said. The documents are over 13,000 pages long; due to this most recent campaign more than 40,000 individuals have viewed at least some of the documents and hundreds have offered to mirror the files.

The content of the documents "seriously calls into question democracy in America," White explained, demonstrating that Diebold knew about security flaws in their software and consistently refused to fix them. The memoranda show that Diebold recognized a flaw in the 2000 presidential election in Florida in which one precinct gave Al Gore over 16,000 negative votes -- a flaw that only came to light due to the mandated recount. They show that Diebold broke voting laws in applying patches to their machines during the course of the 2002 elections in Georgia. They show that Diebold knowingly left open a "back door" security hole after it was exposed in county elections in Kansas. Under Diebold's systems, voting records can be tampered with at every step of the way, from the machines themselves to the databases in which the totals are stored.

"The process of creating and maintaining electronic voting machines should be a public process. The counting of votes should not be controlled in the back rooms of a for-profit company; it should be a fully transparent process that is able to be checked by citizens at every step of the way," Why War? member Ivan Boothe said. Diebold has consistently opposed every attempt at making the process public or keeping a verifiable record of the elections systems themselves. Diebold's lack of security and lack of transparency means that anyone of any political persuasion could change voting totals without being detected. "If states continue to use Diebold and Diebold continues to engage in 'black box' voting, we will never know whether our elections are free and democratic or not," Boothe said.

After consultation with SCDC, the two groups have decided to pursue different courses of action. Although Why War? and SCDC are no longer working together, we are confident that the actions of each group will independently result in continued access to the Diebold documents. SCDC has decided to comply with a cease and desist request and take legal action against Diebold. Why War? is confident that SCDC's counter-complaint will result in Diebold being forced to stop its campaign of suppression; in the meantime Why War? will continue to provide access to the memos by listing mirrors provided by individuals worldwide on its website, why-war.com.

Press contact: Ivan Boothe, 267.496.6819, media@why-war.com, http://why-war.com/

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