Michael Janofsky / Bloomberg News – 2006-11-07 08:09:58
Diebold Inc. demanded that cable network HBO cancel a documentary that questions the integrity of its voting machines, calling the program inaccurate and unfair.
The program, “Hacking Democracy,” is scheduled to debut on Nov. 2, five days before the 2006 US midterm elections. The film claims Diebold voting machines aren’t tamper-proof and can be manipulated to change voting results.
“Hacking Democracy” is “replete with material examples of inaccurate reporting,” Diebold Election System President David Byrd said in a letter to HBO President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Albrecht posted on Diebold’s Web site. Short of pulling the film, the Oct. 30 letter asks for disclaimers to be aired and for HBO to post Diebold’s response on its Web site.
Inaccuracies in the film include the assertion that Diebold, whose election systems unit is based in Allen, Texas, tabulated more than 40 percent of the votes cast in the 2000 presidential election, according to Byrd’s letter.
Byrd’s letter said Diebold wasn’t in the electronic voting business in 2000, when disputes over ballots in Florida delayed President Bush’s victory for more than a month and raised questions about the reliability of electronic voting machines.
“We stand by the film,” HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson said in an interview. “We have no intention of withdrawing it from our schedule. It appears that the film Diebold is responding to is not the film HBO is airing.” HBO is a unit of Time Warner Inc.
David Bear, a spokesman for Diebold, said the company bought another firm, Global Elections, in 2002 that served about 8 percent of balloting in 2000, including voters in Florida. The company, which hasn’t seen the film, based its complaints on material from the HBO Web site, he said.
This is Diebold’s second defense of its system since last month. On Sept. 26, Byrd wrote to Jann Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone, saying a story written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., “Will the Next Election Be Hacked?” was “error- riddled” and that readers “deserve a better researched and reported article.”
The documentary is based on the work of Bev Harris of Renton, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, which monitors election accuracy. Harris says on the HBO Web site that she found “secret program files” used by Diebold for its electronic voting machines.
Harris copied them and distributed the programs to others as a way to show the vulnerability of a system designed to safeguard voting, according to the Web site.
Byrd’s letter didn’t question how Harris found the material. He said the filmmakers’ “material errors and material misrepresentations are so egregious that HBO should pull the documentary.”
Shares of New York-based Time Warner, the world’s largest media company, gained 7 cents to $20.01 by 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Diebold, based in North Canton, Ohio, fell 14 cents to $43.68.
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