Targeting Diebold with Electronic Civil Disobedience

This is the campaign archive of the Diebold "Electronic Civil Disobedience" Organized by Micah White and Why War?

For background, read Wired's article "Students Fight E-Vote Firm"

Campaign Updates

Dec. 2, 2003: We won!  Diebold has backed down from its legal threats.  Future updates will be posted on the new, independent coalition website.  An analysis of the campaign is also being written.

Day Seventeen, Nov. 6, 2003: Please refer to the new, independent coalition website for this campaign.  All future updates will appear on that page and we will begin moving content from this feature onto that server.

Day Sixteen, Nov. 5, 2003: Off-year elections occurred in a handful of states and municipalities yesterday, and the results for electronic voting machines were decidedly mixed. In Northern Virginia, Republicans are filing a lawsuit after electronic voting machines manufactured by Advanced Voting Solutions malfunctioned and were removed from polling sites.

Diebold, on the other hand, was having more legal problems than anything else. In Alameda County, Calif., Diebold once again installed software that had never been certified by election officials, violating elections law:

State and county officials were dismayed last week to learn that Diebold Elections Systems Inc. altered the software running in Alameda County's touchscreen voting machines yet neither submitted it for state testing nor even notified state authorities of the change.

Diebold broke election law in a similar situation during the 2002 Georgia elections.

Speaking of Georgia, Diebold election officials in Macon apparently forgot to program the election computers to accept more than one write-in candidate:

The new touch-screen machines were counting the total number of votes for write-in candidates ... but were not breaking down that number by individual. ... Caldwell attributed the problem to officials with Diebold, the maker of the machines, who programmed the voting machines this week but were unaware there was more than one write-in candidate.

Are you comfortable trusting your vote to this company?

Paul Roberts at IDG News Service explains what the EFF lawsuit could mean for colleges and universities:

According to the DMCA, ISPs must address allegations in a copyright claim immediately, regardless of whether the person or persons responsible for the alleged violations have had a chance to respond to the charges ... [but] the problem gets even thornier when the information universities are being asked to suppress is contributing to an intellectual or political debate, as the Diebold documents are, said [John Palfrey, executive director for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School]. "Universities are struggling with the question of whether they are ISPs first and universities second, or whether its the other way around," Palfrey said. "At some point we need to stand up in support of academic freedom."

Day Fifteen, Nov. 4: The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s suit against Diebold will go forward on Nov. 17 (press release). This means that further takedown notices from Diebold could be issued before then. Also see this coverage from the Associated Press.

Following the national media attention of the campaign and the subsequent lawsuit, Swarthmore College is now publicly supporting challenging Diebold’s suppression. We hope this will mean ever greater exposure of these documents. SCDC will be sponsoring a symposium at Swarthmore, “Choosing Clarity,” about the controversy surrounding electronic voting.

Max Keiser, the founder/chairman of KarmabanQue, writes:

No balance sheet is immune to dissent-risk. Diebold’s shareholders should start thinking about how this hot-button topic of voting fraud could negatively impact the price of the stock.

The business community is watching Diebold. Which makes now a perfect time to join the KarmabanQue campaign against Diebold.

We’d like to thank Jim March for his efforts which led to California suspending certification of Diebold’s machines.

We continue to receive more offers of mirroring from educational institutions, including our first international education mirror from Monash University in Australia. Thanks again to everyone who is participating.

Day Fourteen, Nov. 3: Read our most recent press release: Diebold Documents Spark International Campaign: Will Your Vote Count?

Students from the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons and the San Francisco Indymedia ISP Online Policy Group have filed suit against Diebold Elections Systems for abuse of copyright law (press release).

"Diebold's blanket cease-and-desist notices are a blatant abuse of copyright law," said [Electronic Frontier Foundation] Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "Publication of the Diebold documents is clear fair use because of their importance to the public debate over the accuracy of electronic voting machines."

A list of counties that use Diebold voting machines is available thanks to Compare it with the list of presidential election primary dates.

The campaign has broken into two major venues today. The first article, from the Christian Science Monitor, has a good overview of the controversy from its beginning. In it, David Dill, a Stanford computer science professor, explains why the issue is so important:

"If you look at the consequences for democracy, it's terrifying. If we had a way to make [computerized voting] safe, believe me, we would. There's no way to run a reliable election without a verifiable paper trail — that's what these machines don't have."

(You can, of course, ask Congress to change this.)

The second article, by John Schwartz of the New York Times, includes this choice quote from computer scientist Rebecca Mercuri:

"Are these companies staffed by folks completely ignorant of computer security, or are they just blatantly flaunting that they can breach every possible rule of protocol and still sell voting machines everywhere with impunity?"

Day Thirteen, Nov. 2: Stephen Ansolabahere, a voting analyst at MIT, is quoted in an Associated Press story as saying:

The computer science community has pretty much rallied against electronic voting. A disproportionate number of computer scientists who have weighed in on this issue are opposed to it.

This is certainly borne out by this campaign — we now have 50 schools involved, including recent additions from Stanford, Grinnell, Princeton, Georgetown, Chicago, Rensselaer and two high schools. The mirrors are staying well ahead of Diebold’s takedown requests.

Why War? will soon be moving this information to a new website in order to allow the electronic civil disobedience campaign to prosper under its own momentum, and in acknowledgement of the vast number of students beyond our own group now engaged in this activity. Check back here for more information in the near future.

Day Nine, Oct. 29: The following is a statement by Why War? member Micah White, a senior in philosophy and a minor in interpretation theory at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa.:

Diebold can’t win! Each takedown request is simply met with more mirrors. We are willing and able to continue this campaign until the 2004 presidential elections. We will not allow Diebold’s faulty voting machines to replace democracy.
Why War? has now received a second takedown request (first letter, second letter). Diebold’s use of the DMCA is absurd and their actions are irrelevant. Nearly 100,000 people have now read this website. We estimate that at least 30,000 people have downloaded the entire collection of 13,000 memos directly from just three of the mirrors above. The memos are on peer-to-peer file trading systems. They are in Freenet.
Diebold is, by its corporate nature, providing proof for the suspicions of millions of people world wide who are now beginning to hear about this controversy. Diebold, we will not stop until there is an open examination of your misdeeds. (Will they put that line in their next takedown request?)
What will Diebold do when they cannot stop the movement from posting their memos? How will they retailiate?
The response thus far has been amazing. If Why War? doesn’t respond immediately to your e-mail we apologize, but we do need your mirrors. Directions are available.

Day Eight, Oct. 28: Amherst and MIT have received takedown requests  (copy of MIT takedown request). New mirrors are now up at UNC, Duke, Berkeley, NCSU and U Penn.

Diebold has publicly admitted that leaked memos do not meet DMCA standards for copyright infringement. In the Associated Press article, a Diebold representative declares:

... the fact that the company sent the cease-and-desist letters does not mean the documents are authentic — or give credence to advocates who claim lax Diebold security could allow hackers to rig machines.
"We're cautioning anyone from drawing wrong or incomplete conclusions about any of those documents or files purporting to be authentic," Jacobsen said.

Ernest Miller explains that the DMCA requires that documents be authentic; if the documents aren’t authentic, it isn’t copyright infringement. Our position is that even if the memos are authentic (which we believe they are, or Diebold would be pursuing a libel campaign), they are not copyright infringment as they are covered under DMCA fair use guidelines.

Since some of you have been asking, yes, Swarthmore College is still enforcing its policy of cutting off network access to students who link to information about the memos (or the memos themselves). There have been many discussions of this absurd policy — see, for instance, LawMeme’s analysis — and we appreciate the letters that are being sent to Dean Gross and The Phoenix (e.g. Seth Finkelstein’s). We hope that by expanding to other colleges and universities we can broaden the campaign while minimizing the impact of our own institution’s refusal to take a stand. (If other educational institutions encounter such policies, this script may be of help.)

Day Seven, Oct. 27: The movement is winning. The story is spreading (Associated Press).   Diebold’s actions are being thrust into the light. How long can they pursue the sepression of evidence that links them directly to election fraud? Every lawsuit is simply another admission of guilt. Thus, we are pleased to announce that students at Indiana University, Harvard, and Berkeley have now joined this campaign against Diebold.

Today Andrea Foster authored an excellent article about this battle in the Chronicle for Higher Education. She writes:

[A spokesperson] said Diebold will continue to send copyright-infringement notices to Internet service providers that host the company documents, including the four other institutions — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue University, the University of Southern California, and the University of Texas–Pan American. The materials were first obtained by Bev Harris, who is writing a book about modern-day ballot-tampering. According to published accounts, she found the materials on an unprotected Web site while doing a Google search.

Why War? asks that the movement call their bluff.  Together, we can create a permanent, public, and easily accessible location for these memos. Those unable to mirror should use their talents in other ways. We need people to be deep-reading these memos and sharing exerpts. Others need to be calling their election officials and demanding that they address your concerns (one request could be this bill). And, of course, others need to be sharing with us all how to short sell Diebold’s stock so that when its price decreases the movement will prosper. Investors, now is your chance to join the struggle.

Day Six, Oct. 26: Three additional schools have been added to the list. There are now eleven .edu mirrors.

Day Five, Oct. 25: Students from four more universities, along with a second mirror at MIT, have joined the campaign.

Day Four, Oct. 24: Students from four American universities have joined the civil disobedience: MIT, USC, Purdue and the University of Texas–Pan American. Check out Black Box Voting for a startling expose on Diebold’s connection to the debacle in Florida. This is from the individual who broke the whole story about Diebold.

A visitor wrote an e-mail of support and noted:

While doing some research about electronic voting and the Diebold machines in particular, I came across this story alleging widespread vote skimming by Diebold systems in the recent California Recall election.
I think these allegations merit wider distribution and further investigation. It is important to note that these allegations include Diebold optical scan results, allowing for the possibility of a manual recount to substantiate or refute the claims made.

More information is available here.

Day Three, Oct. 23: Just as the civil disobedience campaign is starting to break into the mainstream press, Swarthmore College has decided to further their suppression of the Diebold memos. College policy is now that any links to with the intention of providing information about Diebold will result in termination of that student’s Internet connection. Therefore, it is now a punishable offense for any Swarthmore student to link to the page you are now reading! Because of the wide support that this issue is receiving from the students, faculty, and staff of Swarthmore — including many e-mails of support and a positive editorial in the campus newspaper — we are confused by Swarthmore’s refusal to take a pro-democracy stance on this issue. Swarthmore’s latest repression turns this act of civil disobedience into one protecting both fair elections and free speech — the ability to link to websites.

We encourage you to send letters voicing your opinions directly to Swarthmore’s student newspaper, The Phoenix (  You may want to reference some of the excerpts we’ve selected from the college’s literature (see below).

The good news is that the civil disobedience continues and we are receiving massive amounts of support from both the press and the Internet-at-large. This is in addition to reports that have already appeared in Slashdot, Wired News, Philadelphia Daily News, Infoshop, The Inquirer and elsewhere.

We thought it might be informative to reference Swarthmore’s own stated mission. The following are quotes from their “Mission Statement”:

Foremost among these principles is the individual’s responsibility for seeking and applying truth and for testing whatever truth one believes one has found.
A college draws strength from tradition and energy from the necessity of change. Its purposes and policies must respond to new conditions and new demands. By being open to change, Swarthmore tries to provide for its students, by means appropriate to the times, the standard of excellence it has sought to maintain from its founding.
The purpose of Swarthmore College is to make its students more valuable human beings and more useful members of society.

The following quotes are from the admissions website:

The purpose of Swarthmore’s liberal arts curriculum is to help students fulfill their responsibilities as citizens and grow into cultured and versatile individuals.
Swarthmore is about making a difference in the world. There’s a real emphasis on making things better—not just identifying problems or theorizing about solutions, but actually rolling up your sleeves and improving some corner of your community.

Day Two, Oct. 22: Today Why War? and the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons held a public meeting with Dean Bob Gross of Swarthmore College.  Overnight, word had spread of this action and Gross had received over 250 emails of support from individuals throughout the world including “tech celebrities” and Swarthmore alumni.

Demonstrating massive concern about fair elections, over 42,000 people visited Why War? to read Diebold’s memos.

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 the files. “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.

Although Why War? acknowledges Swarthmore’s position, we will continue to explain the importance of this issue to the administration. We 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, the latter of which requires that students be given three days to take down work challenged as an infringement of copyright. There is no provision under either the DMCA or Swarthmore’s own rules to allow for shutting down a student’s network access when no challenge has been made against that specific student. Why War? is deeply distressed by Swarthmore’s inability, or unwillingness, to understand that the magnitude of this situation: a fair presidential election!

After consultation with SCDC, the two groups have decided to work independently of each other.  SCDC will now issue statements on their website.  Why War? will continue to provide access to the memos by listing mirrors provided by individuals worldwide.

If you would like to join this campaign of electronic civil disobedience by hosting the memos please e-mail For those unable to host the documents, we encourage you to send letters expressing your disappointment about Swarthmore’s lack of principle directly to the college newspaper, at (and please cc your letters to us).

Representatives of the media should contact

Why War? believes that what we are doing is legal; though we see it as an issue of electronic civil disobedience we believe it is Diebold which is abusing copyright law in an attempt to shut down free speech and the democratic process. The four criteria of “fair use” copyright law are the purpose of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the substantiality of the portion used and the effect of the use upon the potential market of the copyrighted work. We believe the publication of these documents is integral to the function of the democratic process. The memoranda themselves are not marketable products, and in this case we believe the nature of the work, which threatens elections occurring in 37 states, outweighs the need to selectively excerpt portions of the documents. If there is anything the American people have a right to know, it is how their votes are being counted.

Read our earlier press release.

Excerpts from the Diebold Documents  

“Elections are not rocket science. Why is it so hard to get things right! I have never been at any other company that has been so miss [sic] managed.” [source: ]

In response to a question about a presentation in El Paso County, Colorado: “For a demonstration I suggest you fake it. Progam them both so they look the same, and then just do the upload fro [sic] the AV. That is what we did in the last AT/AV demo.” [source: ]

“I have become increasingly concerned about the apparent lack of concern over the practice of writing contracts to provide products and services which do not exist and then attempting to build these items on an unreasonable timetable with no written plan, little to no time for testing, and minimal resources. It also seems to be an accepted practice to exaggerate our progress and functionality to our customers and ourselves then make excuses at delivery time when these products and services do not meet expectations.” [source: ]

Diebold voting machines are used in 37 states and provide zero security against election fraud.

“I feel that over the next year, if the current management team stays in place, the Global [Election Management System] working environment will continue to be a chaotic mess. Global management has and will be doing the best to keep their jobs at the expense of employees. Unrealistic goals will be placed on current employees, they will fail to achieve them. If Diebold wants to keep things the same for the time being, this will only compound an already dysfunctional company. Due to the lack of leadership, vision, and self-preserving nature of the current management, the future growth of this company will continue to stagnate until change comes.” [source: ]

“[T]he bugzilla historic data recovery process is complete. Some bugs were irrecoverably lost and they will have to be re-found and re-submitted, but overall the loss was relatively minor.” [source: ]

“28 of 114 or about 1 in 4 precincts called in this AM with either memory card issues "please re-insert", units that wouldn't take ballots - even after recycling power, or units that needed to be recycled. We reburned 7 memory cards, 4 of which we didn't need to, but they were far enough away that we didn't know what we'd find when we got there (bad rover communication).” [source: ]

“If voting could really change things, it would be illegal.” [source: ]

“I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16022 when it was uploaded. Will someone please explain this so that I have the information to give the auditor instead of standing here "looking dumb".” [source: ]

“[...] while reading some of Paranoid Bev’s scribbling.” [source: ]

“Johnson County, KS will be doing Central Count for their mail in ballots. They will also be processing these ballots in advance of the closing of polls on election day. They would like to log into the Audit Log an entry for Previewing any Election Total Reports. They need this, to prove to the media, as well as, any candidates & lawyers, that they did not view or print any Election Results before the Polls closed. However, if there is a way that we can disable the reporting functionality, that would be even better.” [source: ] (emphasis added)

“4K Smart cards which had never been previously programmed are being recognized by the Card Manager as manager cards. When a virgin card from CardLogix is inserted into a Spyrus (have tried CM-0-2-9 and CM-1-1-1) the prompt "Upgrade Mgr Card?" is displayed. Pressing the ENTER key creates a valid manager card. This happens in Admin mode and Election mode.” [source:


Why are these memos controversal? Read the excerpts and see for yourself, then read the campaign update or the most recent press release. You may also want to see where Diebold machines are used (pdf) and find out why they’re getting sued. The latest information about the suit itself is available at the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons. Also check out Black Box Voting, now out in print.

How to get the files:

  • BitTorrent:
  • EDonkey/Overnet: [ed2k://|file|list.tar.bz2|7762005|c53855d1c5da1fec2da1548905bc689f|/]
  • Freenet:
  • Newsgroup postingsHelp us do this
  • Archived file (tarred and gzipped):
    here (checksumsig)
    On a Windows PC, use WinZip or WinRAR; on a Mac just double-click the file
  • .edu hosts of the documents (both archived and full-text):