With the midterms just a week away, and concerns in the air about electronic voting systems, Diebold Election Systems has gone on the offensive against an HBO documentary called “Hacking Democracy” that debuts on Nov. 2.
In a letter to HBO Chairman Chris Albrecht, Diebold President David Byrd charges that the documentary “contains significant factual errors and does not meet HBO’s standards for accuracy and fairness.” Among other things, he asks for a rebuttal on the HBO web page, and that a disclaimer be shown by HBO immediately before, during and after the doc is shown.
“The material errors and material misrepresentations are so egregious that HBO should pull the documentary,” Byrd writes. An HBO spokeswoman says that the cabler “stands by the film” and has “no intention of withdrawing it.” She added that she had doubts whether Diebold officials had seen the film that is scheduled to be shown. “Of course, [the film] went through a lot of vetting,” she said.
Diebold spokesman David Bear says that they have not seen the doc but got their information from HBO’s website and from the accounts of reporters who have seen the doc, asking for a response.
Among the errors that Diebold cites is a scene depicting computer expert Harri Hursti hacking a Diebold machine in Florida. Diebold charges the attack was a “complete sham,” and that Hursti himself has raised doubts that a system could be hacked. According promotional materials on HBO website, the doc focuses on a Seattle grandmother Bev Harris’ quest to find out more about electronic voting, and what she discovers is that “the top-secret computerized systems counting the votes in America’s public elections are not only fallible, but also vulnerable to undetectable hacking, from local school board contests to the presidential race.”
The doc is produced by Sarah Teale. Diebold also raised questions about the doc’s partisanship. In their letter (read the letter as a pdf file), Diebold also raises concerns that “Hacking Democracy” was “directed by the directors of ‘VoterGate’ and contains much of the same material. ‘VoterGate’ was produced with special thanks to Susan Sarandon and The Streisand Foundation.'”