Lawsuit against Diebold unveiled

Black Box Voting

An activist against e-voting has unsealed portions of a lawsuit she filed against Diebold Inc.'s Diebold Election Systems last year, making public allegations that had previously been barred from broad dissemination.

Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, filed the suit last November. She accuses Diebold officials of financial fraud and seeks to recover damages on behalf of California. Harris filed the suit as a whistleblower, meaning Diebold could be forced to pay a bounty to Harris' organization.

Such a suit, called qui tam, is normally secret, and plaintiffs are barred from releasing evidence to the public. Black Box Voting's attorney, however, found legal precedent to argue that in the presence of overriding public interest, the case can go forward even if evidence is not withheld from the public. Harris unsealed parts of the case late last week, she said in a written statement.

"All California counties attempting to use Diebold's equipment now have the option of joining in the qui tam action and receiving up to triple their costs for the fraud committed against them," Harris said in the statement. "Taxpayers in any county trying to remain with Diebold while this option is now publicly on the table should be asking harsh questions of their local officials."

She said she had previously aired some of the case's weaker elements when it became clear that the seal would hold through the March 2 Democratic primary in California. Harris said that state and county attorneys are still officially undecided as to whether to join the case.

Diebold officials could not be reached for comment.

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