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Diebold Sues Massachusetts for "Wrongful Purchase"

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the better-lawyers-instead-of-better-products dept.

The Courts 422

elBart0 writes "Diebold has decided to sue the commonwealth of Massachusetts for choosing a competitor to provide voting machines for the disabled. Diebold wants to force the state to stop using the machines immediately, despite the upcoming municipal elections in many towns. The commonwealth chose the competitor based on an open process that included disabled groups. Diebold executives appeared confused when encountering election officials who made an intelligent choice."

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In Soviet Massachusetts... (4, Funny)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489451)

In Soviet Massachusetts, Diebold sues YOU!

Sorry, I cound't stop myself.

MOD ME UP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489785)

Or I'll sue.

Re:In Soviet Massachusetts... (5, Insightful)

Mick Ohrberg (744441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490067)

Wait a minute. I RTFA, and it actually does look like Diebold is suing because they're sore losers? No breach of contract, but just because they didn't win the bid? Am I missing something here? Does that mean Ford can sue me if I buy a Chevy?

Good move! (5, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489459)

I know nothing will motivate me to use a company's products like having them SUE my ass. Is Diebold kidding or something, here? I want to see them get smacked down, and HARD.

Re:Good move! (5, Funny)

sunwukong (412560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489537)

You're right -- based on previous examples we've seen here, the best business plan is not to sue the distributors, but to go after the end users.

Next up: Diebold sues the voters but allows quick settlements of $3000 each.

Re:Good move! (3, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489699)

"I want to see them get smacked down, and HARD."

So do many of us, and now we have a nice example of corporate conduct to bring up should our local governments want to buy their stuff. :)

Re:Good move! (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489719)

"I know nothing will motivate me to use a company's products like having them SUE my ass."

Hey, it worked great for SCO! Oh, wait...

Re:Good move! (3, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489857)

Why? It works for the RIAA and for SCO - uhhh, well...

Re:Good move! (4, Funny)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489993)

If I was purchasing voting machines for another state I would add: "doesn't sue potential customers when it loses a bid" to my list of qualifications. That would clearly put Diebold out of the running.

Every once in a while you read about executives from a company that are so ridiculously inept that it is funny. Diebold certainly fits that description.

Diebold's position (3, Informative)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490011)

To counter the editor's and the submitter's obvious bias against the company, here is their position as reported by a more professional journalist in TFA:

William M. Weisberg , a lawyer representing Diebold, said in an interview yesterday that the company wants a review of the internal records showing how Galvin's office came to select AutoMARK earlier this year.

You, me, and any other private-sector entity do not have to explain our whims and caprices when (not) buying something (which may, actually, be unfortunate) to any one other than, perhaps, family members or stock-holders. The government, however, is legally obliged to pick the best — all of us are the stock-holders...

Knowing the policies and the corruption levels of Taxachusetts, Diebold may well be right suspecting something foul...

Diebold is, obviously, acting in its own best interests, but that's how life in this country is — we don't need people/companies to all be good and exemplary. Our system simply manages to pit the disagreeable qualities of some against such qualities of the others. In addition to the obvious free-market examples, we also rely on one (quite possibly crooked) politician to expose dishonesty of her opponent...

Biased Summary (5, Insightful)

setirw (854029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489461)

Although I don't support Diebold either, please keep personal opinion out of the summaries. Quotes like "diebold executives appeared confused when encountering election officials who made an intelligent choice" don't belong in objective news reporting.

Re:Biased Summary (5, Funny)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489507)

Objective news reporting? You must be new here.

Re:Biased Summary (5, Funny)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489745)

setirw (854029)

I think that says it all ;)

Re:Biased Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489527)

"objective new reporting" on Slashdot! are you high?

Re:Biased Summary (5, Insightful)

Trails (629752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489561)

Joke's on you! Objective news reporting has no place in Slashdot!

In all honesty though, a bit of editorialising is warranted here. What if Coke sued you because you bought a Pepsi? What if AMD sued you because you bought an Intel chip?

Diebold's premise is moronic and it invites speculation as to how closely related the parents of their board members are, and which particular brand of crack their counsel are smoking.

Re:Biased Summary (2, Funny)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489609)

On that note, I really hope this farce doesn't go through...

Last thing I want to see is Sony getting a precident to sue people for not buying their stuff...

Re:Biased Summary (4, Interesting)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489717)

What if Coke sued you because you bought a Pepsi? What if AMD sued you because you bought an Intel chip?

That's not quite the right analogy. It's more like if you were deciding between Coke and Pepsi, and told both companies that you'd be selecting on the basis of taste. Suppose now that Pepsi's research shows that people strongly prefer Pepsi over Coke -- but you choose Coke anyway. That's sort of what's going on here.

That said, as I noted in my other post, I don't understand where the actual legal issue is in all this.

Re:Biased Summary (5, Funny)

vyrus128 (747164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489759)

which particular brand of crack their counsel are smoking.

I can only imagine it went something like this:

Diebold exec: ... so we want to sue them because they went with our competitors, and, uhm, that's not fair. Because we always win. And, like, why should someone else get to win? It's not fair.
Diebold lawyer: *stifling laughter* That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
Diebold exec: We're paying you how much?
Diebold lawyer: ... ... ... we'll get right on it.

Try buying heating oil in CT... (5, Interesting)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489899)

Step 1: Establish a credit account with Oil Company A.
Step 2: Call them and ask the price of oil next time you need some.
Step 3: Get a load of oil from Oil Company B, who happens to have a better prioce that week.
Step 4: Get your credit account cancelled by Oil Company A because they know how often you should need oil and you didn't order form them.

No, it's not a lawsuit, but they're denying you credit for simply buying from their competition.

This is all perfectly legal in the State of Connecticut. It's like driving by a Mobil station to get cheaper gas at Shell, then Mobil cuts up your Mobil card.

Business today seems to run on the notion that if it's not specifically prohibited, we should try and do it, no matter how bad it looks. I get better ethics and learning curves from my third graders.

Re:Biased Summary (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489965)

particular brand of crack their counsel are smoking. Heh, Sweet William might sue Diamond Dave over where they get their bags from.

Re:Biased Summary (4, Insightful)

curunir (98273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490003)

What if AMD sued you because you bought an Intel chip?
That's not exactly what's going on here. There's obviously a bit of history here. It's more akin to asking:

What if some large entity produced a long list of selection criteria and then asked suppliers to submit bids and supporting documentation, no doubt costing real man hours of the companies submitting bids? At that point, the large entity chose one supplier without any feedback to either the chosen supplier or those suppliers not chosen.

That's more what's going on here. I doubt Diebold has any reasonable expectation that the purchasing decision will be overturned. What they really want is access to the state's documents explaining why the state chose their competitor so they can address their weaknesses before they're asked for bids on other contracts. Given the effort that goes into the bidding process for these kinds of Government contracts, what they're asking for isn't all that unreasonable. But thanks to the screwiness of the US legal system, they can't just ask for something reasonable and expect to get it. They must ask for something entirely unreasonable and then demand the reasonable request as a means of supporting the unreasonable request. My guess is that Diebold's discovery motion will either be granted or denied at which point the suit will be dropped.

Re:Biased Summary (1)

HydroCarbon10 (40784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489607)

Uh oh. I think comments from 1998 are leaking into new articles.

Re:Biased Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489869)

It's "per meter squareD". Get it right or don't bother to write.

Re:Biased Summary (3, Insightful)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489611)

don't belong in objective news reporting.

Are you reading the same slashdot as I am? Since when has slashdot been about "objective news reporting"?

Re:Biased Summary (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489905)

Since when has /. been about news, never mind objective or reporting?

Re:Biased Summary (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489613)

Quotes like "diebold executives appeared confused when encountering election officials who made an intelligent choice" don't belong in objective news reporting.

First, there is no such thing as objective reporting. Everything is biased. Period.

Second, Slashdot is not about journalism. It's the offspring of a news aggregator (why the hell is "aggregator" not in the Firefox 2 US English dictionary?) and a forum. Slashdot doesn't report the news, Slashdot reports that someone else has reported the news.

Re:Biased Summary (-1, Troll)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490025)

First, there is no such thing as objective reporting. Everything is biased. Period.
Of course; but there's bias and there's bias. Both "the earth is flat" and "the earth is a sphere" are wrong; but most people can see that one is more wrong than the other. Similarly, it's impossible to escape our biases completely, but the BBC (for example) is probably less biased than Fox News.

Re:Biased Summary (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490075)

"but there's bias and there's bias"

I have never gotten these little statements... "bias" ... "bias" - BOTH THE SAME FREAKING WORD!

Re:Biased Summary (2, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489651)

Though (as others have pointed out) the /. editors are not journalists, the quote you used seems quite objective to me. I read the article, and the Diebold people do in fact seem confused. Just because there are two sides doesn't mean that one of the sides isn't obviously being stupid.

Re:Biased Summary (5, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489657)

In fairness, as a Massachusetts resident, I'd also be confused by one of our officials making an intelligent choice. Next you'll be telling me they won't be bolting the machines into epoxy-filled holes in the ceiling!

Re:Biased Summary (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489673)

The article makes it clear that Diebold had no factual basis for the lawsuit. They were surprised because they outcompeted AutoMARK in other markets (paraphrased from TFA).

So, they asked a judge to prevent MA from using AutoMARK machines already in the state's posession. Diebold admitted they had not developed a case yet. This sounds like confusion to me about both government bidding, and civil law.

Did you read the article? (1)

elBart0 (444317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489775)

Because I did, before I submitted it. They executives really do sound confused.

Here's a quote:

"We compete against AutoMARK around the country all the time," Weisberg said. "Based on the criteria set out by the Commonwealth, we had a fair degree of confidence we'd come out on top, and nothing we heard during the process dissuaded us of that confidence."
Oh, wait! This is /. which is neither an unbiased media site, nor a place where you can expect people to RTFA before bitching about bias.

If you want objective (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489859)

Read the article, hopefully you get it there. /. is a glorified weblog where nerdy stuff gets compiled into one place. It does no research, has no reporters, etcetera.

Other than the motto after its name, it doesn't really pretend to be objective - so you at least know what the angle is (would you prefer it to be hidden?)

Idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18490081)

Idiot.

Next headline: Massachusetts arrests Diebold Execs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489465)

...for fraud and racketeering.

It's a time honored tradition (2, Funny)

itsNothing (761293) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489471)

to sue your customers. Just ask the RIAA.

Re:It's a time honored tradition (1)

Ashe Tyrael (697937) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489555)

or SCO.

Oh wait, that kinda didn't work either.

Re:It's a time honored tradition (1)

KDN (3283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489593)

It's a time honored tradition to sue your customers. Just ask the RIAA.

Or ask SCO, or by proxy, Microsoft. Almost nothing will get me to move faster away from a vendor than that vendor suing because he didn't like what I chose. What would be next? Suing over the car I drive?

Re:It's a time honored tradition (1)

DodgeRules (854165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489891)

No, this is more like the RIAA suing anyone who buys a CD which isn't produced by one of their members. "Obviously the comsumer made a mistake in their decision about the type of music that they like. We just want the court to help convince the consumer that they would rather listen to our client's music, which we have decided is MUCH better than the one purchased."

Insane. (4, Insightful)

Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489477)

It's as if I'm reading the Onion when I read that article.

I'm speechless.

Re:Insane. (1)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490057)

It's as if I'm reading the Onion when I read that article. I'm speechless.

I was totally thinking the same thing. I mean, WTF are they thinking? Why were they "that sure" that they were going to win? Strange behavior like this only gives fuel to the conspiracy theorists.

BBH

What a GREAT business Strategy. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489481)

I am a computer programmer that sells some stuff on the net.

Why, I bet there are tons of people that decided to use some one else's software, even though it is 'worse', simply because it is cheaper.

I could sue them and live off the profit!

Re:What a GREAT business Strategy. (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489709)

Doesnt even need to be chaeper. It's entirely possible that they don't want diebold due to their ties to political parties or because of controversy over sercurity. And now oddly enough, I think Diebold has given states yet another reason to not want to use their machines: they sue their customers to get what they want.

Re:What a GREAT business Strategy. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489739)

I bet Dibold is one of those dastardly fiends that didn't buy your program.

The problem with the Diebold machines (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489487)

They had a flashing LED when a vote was cast. This caused Boston police to shut the city down while the bomb squad went to each polling place to blow up the machines.

Re:The problem with the Diebold machines (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489943)

I sure hope Carl Rove doesn't read Slashdot or next election there will be all kinds of bomb threats called in regarding polling places in democratic leaning areas.

It's about time. (5, Funny)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489489)

It's about time some benevolent large corporation stood up to their customers. Customers left to their own decisions will frequently buy the wrong products. The manufacturer obviously knows far more about their product than the customer, so they are the only ones in a position to make a sensible decision about what other people should use.

Clearly the best product for any situation is the one that the biggest company is pushing. It's not like companies get to be big in the first place by overcharging for their products and using the courts to keep competition down.

Re:It's about time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489779)

The only part of this that has me puzzled is why Diebold would take to a lawsuit, when they know it is setting precedent for others to sue to get THEIR contracts overturned...AND for good reason!

Man of the Year (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489503)

And they didn't sue the producers of Man of the Year? Didn't they realize that the fictitious voting-machine company it portrayed was them? (I'm sure most of the American public didn't realize that, but I digress...)

Re:Man of the Year (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489801)

There was a recent episode of Numb3rs for which this was a topic, as well. It involved scandal and cheating an election by using a collection of voting machines in a 'swing' area of the area which was voting, and for a relatively unimportant role - all in a test to see if it would work for a larger scale fraud.

Re:Man of the Year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489843)

please don't confuse the morons you see on TV with those of us who went to school and learned how to play connect the dots.

This is just...idiotic... (1)

Arceliar (895609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489505)

You didn't buy our flawed, faulty and unsecured product. We've decided to sue you.

Sounds like something a few other choice companies might attempt.

Re:This is just...idiotic... (1)

blakmac (987934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490033)

That's exactly what the RIAA has been saying all along. I believe Kuni was correct. "Stupid! You're so stupid!"

Correct me if I'm wrong (5, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489535)

but wasn't one of Diebold's main selling points on using computerized voting over paper ballots that computerized voting systems help disabled people vote?(I do believe at some point they invoked the Americans with Disabilities act as a rationale for deploying these systems). So now disabled people actually help pick out a system and Diebold sues? (I guess according to Diebold disabled people aren't able enough to choose a system wisely :P)

Words fail.

In other news... (5, Funny)

Wise Dragon (71071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489541)

Area man Greg Norton was sued by multinational corporation PepsiCO for purchasing a competing product, Coca-Cola. Said attorney Mark Wiseguy, "We compete against Coke around the country all the time". "Based on the criteria set out by Mr. Norton, we had a fair degree of confidence we'd come out on top, and nothing we heard during the process dissuaded us of that confidence." Greg Norton is said to have replied, "Dude, where's my country?"

Re:In other news... (2, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489711)

Devil's Advocate: One key difference in this case is that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, public entity, isn't quite the same as Greg Norton, private citizen, when it comes to purchases. When it's the taxpayer footing the bill, there's an imperative to have an open bid process without room for bias (positive or negative) or personal preference.

Not that it matters much. Diebold's claim is bullshit. Sour grapes.

Re:In other news... (2, Interesting)

Stone Pony (665064) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489975)

You know, that's what I thought. I thought "this summary is a predictable Slashdot misrepresentation of a serious case about propriety in public spending".

Then I read TFA, and found that they're not suggesting anything improper happened in the purchasing process, just that they'd have liked to have won and would like the court to say that they did. Their case really does appear to be as eye-rollingly, barking-at-the-moon insane as the summary makes it sound.

Maybe, to save time... (2)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489575)

.. we could get them to partner with SCO, that way we could have both massively stupid and nonsensical lawsuits dismissed in the same day.

I didn't RTFA (-1, Offtopic)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489577)

But... i'll respond anyway...

When creative sued id to include eax in doom 3, some convoluted something or other, i don't know of anybody who used eax instead of the original doom3 sound engine. So the whole "use my products or i'll sue" thing didn't really work out.

Especially since vista nerfed eax like there's no tomorrow.

I wanna see that lawsuit, where creative sues microsoft to make eax work, but alas, no suit, only workarounds.

Apparently... (2, Insightful)

jdschulteis (689834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489599)

Diebold's lawyers went to school with SCO's lawyers.

Wow..... just wow.... (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489627)

Now, I wonder how many places around the country will start deciding not to give Diebold a shot at all by not inviting the company to showcase its products, to avoid the chance of getting sued. Good job Diebold! (And you would think that all the bad news the last years was justification enough not to pick Diebold.)

In other news, a Toyota dealer is suing a man who bought a Honda, because "based on the criteria set out by the purchaser, we had a fair degree of confidence we'd come out on top, and nothing we heard during the process dissuaded us of that confidence." Actually, Toyoto is a decent manufacturer, make it a Yugo dealer.

Catch 22 (5, Funny)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489639)

They voted for the diebold machine, but they cast that vote *on* a diebold machine.

It's easy to see how things got mixed up from there...

Reasons? We don't need no stinking reasons. (4, Informative)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489641)

I RTFAed, expecting to find some sort of explanation for why exactly Diebold is suing.

There isn't one. To save others the trouble, here's the closest thing to a reason they give:

"We compete against AutoMARK around the country all the time," Weisberg said. "Based on the criteria set out by the Commonwealth, we had a fair degree of confidence we'd come out on top, and nothing we heard during the process dissuaded us of that confidence."

Weisberg said Diehold was so stunned it did not get the contract that it now believes "it's worth the time and money" of going to court to challenge the contract's award, even though the company at this stage has no hard evidence of unfair treatment.

I'm a little surprised they think they can sue just based on a gut feeling and expect to get away with it, but then again, it is Diebold. They seem to get away with just about anything.

Makes sense (no, really!) (1, Interesting)

MagicM (85041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489643)

Diebold was so confident they'd win, that they now suspect foul play. If AutoMARK machines were indeed picked not based on superiority but instead based on under-the-table transactions between AutoMARK and the State, then that's not cool. If Diebold wants to invest money into investigating that possibility, then I say let them.

This is win-win: either Diebold wastes a bunch of money, or some corrupt people are exposed. Yay.

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (1)

pahoran (893196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489733)

Unless the "evidence" against AutoMARK originates from underneath some other table.

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (4, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489841)

RTFA. Diebold isn't claiming corruption. They are saying that Massachusetts made a mistake. They are honestly claiming that in a fair competition, there is no way anyone could have possibly picked AutoMARK, and that the people who made the choice were simply wrong and should be forced to pick them. Nothing about corruption at all. In fact, they specifically say it isn't about corruption.

If it were as you say, it would almost make sense.

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489865)

It would amaze me if there weren't foul play involved with the selection process. Massachusetts is a very blue state, and I expect that the choice was more motivated due to Diebold having Republican ties than anything involving their actual product.

Unfortunately there aren't much details available (open selection process my ass), but I expect that Diebold had the cheapest offering that matched the selection requirements, but were decided against anyway. Private enterprise is allowed to make selections based on secret criteria, but public government isn't: they have to come clean on why they selected a more expensive offering than Diebold even though Diebold met the criteria.

But I highly suspect the refusal to select Diebold is more related to Diebold's Republican ties than any merits of their competitors. Either that, or the Diebold voting machines had a blinking light somewhere, and the state mistook their voting machines for bombs.

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (1)

ElScorcho (115780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489885)

From TFA:
"Weisberg said the company is not alleging any improprieties by the secretary of state's office. Instead, it is saying the office acted in good faith but made a mistake in the selection."

So, basically, they're not saying corruption, they're trying to get a judge to agree with them that their system is better, and then to force the state to award them the contract. Honestly, if this doesn't get thrown out as abject stupidity then I will be speechless.

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489889)

This is win-win: either Diebold wastes a bunch of money, or some corrupt people are exposed. Yay.

Why can't we do both?

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (5, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489909)

Yeah heaven forbid an important decision could be made via non-verifiable means with no paper trail...

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489969)

Diebold was so confident they'd win, that they now suspect foul play. If AutoMARK machines were indeed picked not based on superiority but instead based on under-the-table transactions between AutoMARK and the State, then that's not cool. If Diebold wants to invest money into investigating that possibility, then I say let them.
1- Maybe the reason they were so confident they'd get it was that they give under-the-table money to make sure that happens.

2- The reason for picking the other machine was that it did not discriminate between disabled voters and others, whereas Die(all your votes are belong to us)bold had different ballots for real people and the undermench.

They're not investigating a wrong, they suing to enforce their monopoly.

Re:Makes sense (no, really!) (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489979)

This is win-win: either Diebold wastes a bunch of money

Huh? How is "Massachusetts spends a lot of money defending a baseless lawsuit by a bunch of sour losers" any way a definition of "win"?

Seems reasonable to me (4, Interesting)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489653)

I'd love it if someone would do this in every state where someone agreed to buy Diebold voting machines.

Wrong actor, right technique. Based on security issues alone, we know Diebold is always the wrong choice. Just by a knee jerk methodology, we could keep the machines out of people's hands for another few months each time. It would generate some press, if nothing else.

LBJ wanted his opponent accused of having sex with barnyard animals. It wasn't that he thought the charge would stick -- he wanted people to hear the candidate deny it. In this case, the response will be "well, your software is a joke -- completely insecure." We'll get to hear Diebold deny the charge. Any suit brought to force reopening analysis before purchase of Diebold's stuff would mean that, once again, they'd have to say "No, our software isn't laughably insecure. No the fact the our code showed up on the Internet isn't a problem. No, our keys are not from a hotel minibar and orderable over the Internet, and no, they're not all the same. No, we didn't miscount this race in this way or that race in that way." If they deny it enough, everyone will know that it's true. Oddly, though, in this case it actually WILL be true.

So I think we should also allege that they have sex with barnyard animals.

Re:Seems reasonable to me (1)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489781)

wokavader writes:
So I think we should ... have sex with barnyard animals.

News break: wokavader wants to have sex with barnyard animals! You heard it here, right from the horse's mouth!

It's a few days early... (2)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489661)

...for April Fools, isn't it? I mean, this isn't serious, is it? It's a joke, right?

What's the legal basis for the suit??? (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489667)

Initially, I thought, "Oh, well they must be accusing Mass. of some impropriety, like taking a bribe or something."

But no. From TFA:

"Weisberg said the company is not alleging any improprieties by the secretary of state's office. Instead, it is saying the office acted in good faith but made a mistake in the selection."

If it's not an issue of impropriety, then what's the legal basis for the suit? Any lawyers out there who can shed some light on this?

The basis for their suit is... (4, Insightful)

Toby_Tyke (797359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489863)

If it's not an issue of impropriety, then what's the legal basis for the suit? Any lawyers out there who can shed some light on this?

I would imagine the rational goes something like this:

"The secretary of state's office set their requirments for a voting machine contract, and invited bids. We have looked at the bid they accepted, and looked at ours. We believe our bid meets the criteria far more closely than the bid that was accepted, and we think any objective observer would agree. We don't think anything improper went on, but we do believe that the state has not selected a vendor in line with the rules they laid out. There for, the process has not treated us fairly"

In a nutshell, they're saying the state did not fairly apply their own rules. If they had, Diebold believe they would have won.

Re:What's the legal basis for the suit??? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489973)

Well, I'm not a lawyer, but I've worked for various government departments and publically held Crown Corporations for a lot of years, though admittedly in Canada, which may have slightly different rules in place. When we're choosing a vendor for a product or service, its a very formal process. By making the process open, by developing requirements, going through an RFC and RFP, you are forced to objectively choose the best product or service for your needs. As there are public dollars at stake, the process is to make sure that there are no unfair dealings (bribes and such) going on under the table. The non-successful vendors can then review the documents if they feel they were passed over unfairly, though I've never actually seen this happen.

As a longtime MA resident ... (0)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489729)

why is it I suspect there may be a little more to the story? Massachusetts is a 1-party state with virtually *no* oversight (see Big Dig). Cronyism runs rampant and unchecked. I am not defending Diebold in any way, but frankly I find it hard to believe Diebold would waste time and money suing for a measly $9M contract unless they knew a little more about the "selection process". It would not surprise me in the least if it turned out somebody had connections. In fact, it *would* surprise me if the selection was indeed on the up-and-up.

Re:As a longtime MA resident ... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489903)

Well, I'm not an MA resident, so I wouldn't know about the corruption. But according to the article, Diebold specifically says there was no corruption involved, that someone just made a bad choice and should be forced to pick them.

Re:As a longtime MA resident ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489917)

One party state? Huh?

Since you live there (I used to), why don't you go over the list of recent governors and say that again.

That lack of oversight you are referring to is the lack of oversight by a Republican governor.

It's a two party state. It's just that the Republicans are so inept that they can't get anyone elected except for the governor, who usually turns out to be the most inept of them all.

This situation looks like there WAS oversight. The rubber-stamped, 'obvious' choice was not chosen, and the thoughtful alternative was chosen.

Re:As a longtime MA resident ... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490071)

why is it I suspect there may be a little more to the story? Massachusetts is a 1-party state with virtually *no* oversight (see Big Dig). Cronyism runs rampant and unchecked.
Which is probably why they were so confident they'd get the contract in the first place.
Obviously, with all the money they shoved in those brown envelopes, the people mde the wrong choice when they didn't pick them.

[end unsupported accusations]

I won't use Diebold! (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489735)

That's it! It's time to boycott Diebold by not using any of their products! Oh wait, then we can't vote... Nice "democracy" we have in place here, huh?

Re:I won't use Diebold! (1)

Holi (250190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489927)

You could always use an absentee ballot.

I have now switched sides (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489737)

I was all for letting the market forces expose Diebold for the idiots they are. And the market forces were doing that. Now, Diebold is suing because Massachusetts chose a competing product, one built on well-considered design and usability principles.

Suing because the market has a better product?

EAT SHIT AND DIE, DIEBOLD!

Seriously, do us all a favor and just go away. It'll make the world a better place if you do.

The modern voice of corporatism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489763)

Buy our products or we'll sue!

See also RIAA, MPAA, BSA...

Diebold doing themselves no favors (2, Informative)

Dan Stephans II (693520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489783)

I was just reading the other day that Diebold (which is a very old company) is looking at possible exit strategies from the electronic voting arena because of the "bad name" it is giving them. (read more here [betanews.com] )

Not only are their machines vulnerable (which is what gives them a bad name) they then exacerbate the situation with a ridiculous lawsuit like this? "We didn't win the contract and there is no evidence of wrongdoing but we either want the court to award us the contract or re-open the competition." It's even more absurd because the selection process in the public sector is very open and very documented. While 9 million is a lot of money, I don't think it's worth the rep hit they are going to take, yet again.

Key Mass. Elections? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489795)

Anyone have the scoop on any key elections Diebold might have sold in Mass. that they can't deliver if they don't get their machines there in time for the vote?

Business as usual in government purchasing (3, Informative)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489807)

Many slashdotters seem surprised this is happening, comparing it to any company that sues its customers. They are ignoring the fact that government purchasing is different from a private customer purchasing a product. Whereas, a private customer can make a decision based on any arbritary criteria (heh, that sales lady sure is cute...), government agencies are suppose to be neutral. They define the criteria, and pick the best alternative, i.e., the one that best satisfies the criteria. The criteria must be fully disclosed to all participants, and all participates must be given the same information. Any deviations from this process can lead to a lawsuit. Right or wrong, that is what Diebolt is claiming.

Vote counting (3, Funny)

Lord_Ultimate (1049752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489829)

Rumor has it that the state voted twice - on AutoMARK machines the result was a unanimous win for AutoMARK. The second vote used Diebold machines and resulted in several votes for Pat Buchanan.

How much will this suit cost Diebold? (3, Interesting)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489833)

When I heard this story on the morning news here in Boston, my first reaction was, "why are they suing over losing a measly $9 million contract?" My guess is their legal bill if they were to pursue this to the end would easily run to seven figures. According to the article, Diebold's attorney stated that "the company is not alleging any improprieties by the secretary of state's office. Instead, it is saying the office acted in good faith but made a mistake in the selection." MA Secretary of State Galvin doesn't think there's any reason to re-open this matter; I doubt the courts will either.

What's especially surprising is that this move comes after a recent Diebold SEC filing suggested that Diebold is considering leaving the voting machine business [arstechnica.com] because the bad PR the company has received is starting to affect its much more important ATM business. Banks don't want to put a machine in front of its customers whose manufacturer gets accused of building shoddy voting equipment every time an election is held.

All the Sec. of State has to say ... (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489853)

These voting machines can be opened by, and the contents tampered with, any voter who happens to have a certain type of minibar key. Other voting experts have also demonstrated a number of instances of weak security with Diebold voting machines. As a voter, that lack of security is completely unacceptable for my vote and the votes of others.

Just got my lawsuit from GM! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489855)

I bought a Prius, and now I'm being sued because I didn't buy a Hummer!

Of course they'll sue... (1)

Eric Damron (553630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489861)

This lawsuit makes perfect sense. How can any Diebold executive promise to deliver the State to the Republican party if that State refuses to use Diebold voting machines? The fact that the machines are verifiably flawed be damned!

I think, people don't know, how to use commas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489915)

That summary, was almost as poorly punctuated, as the People who Randomly Capitalize words, Are annoying.

Think of the case law... (3, Interesting)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489935)

...that could potentially be affected by this. Imagine Microsoft suing you because you bought a machine with Linux instead of Windows: "You made the wrong choice in your OS...please install Windows or we'll sue."

I suppose *that* particular situation is taken care of by the fact you get a machine with Windows whether you want to or not, for the most part, but if this were actually allowed, and actually went for Diebold (God forbid), then this litigenous society will have been taken to a whole new level:

"You made the wrong choice flying SouthWest. Buy a ticket on United now or we'll sue."
"You purchased Fords for your fleet vehicles when Chevy is the obviously better choice. Switch or we'll sue."

etc.

Now that I think about it, consider the NEW Pepsi challenge:

"I like the taste of cup A."
"You've made the wrong choice. Say you like what's in cup B or we'll sue."
"Um...I like the taste of cup B?"
"Great! Tell us why!"

Well obviously.... (2, Insightful)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18489977)

If they can't force their product into polling places, how on earth do you expect them to be able to manipulate the election results?

yuoq Fail it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489987)

No fair! (2, Funny)

s1lentslayer (949661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490001)

You changed the results by measuring them!

The Full Picture (1)

MakyoDetector (943246) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490005)

Diebold would've helped deliver the disabled votes to the right candidate. Now it's gonna be a crapshoot between Douche and Turd. I'd be just as concerned.
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