Sunday, July 11, 2004
Electronic Voting Critics Sue Company Under Whistle Blower Law
By RACHEL KONRAD
AP Technology Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Electronic voting critics are suing Diebold Inc., alleging that the hardware and software company's shoddy equipment exposed California elections to hackers and software bugs.
California's attorney general on Friday unsealed the lawsuit, among the first e-voting cases to rely on an obscure legal provision for whistle blowers who help the government identify fraud.
Computer programmer Jim March and activist Bev Harris, who filed the case in November, are asking the state and counties to join the lawsuit. They're seeking full reimbursement for Diebold equipment purchased in California.
The obscure legal provision is called Qui tam:
Qui tam - often used to find fraud involving Medicare or defense contracts - is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act. Some states have similar acts.
Individuals tip off the government to embezzlers or shoddy contractors - and the whistle blowers get up to 30 percent of the reimbursement.
This raises an interesting question: would another crooked election with an uncertain outcome enable us all to join a class action suit? I ask this only partially tongue in cheek. Of course I'm not interested in seeing a lawsuit or another botched election. But if the No Confidence Movement does not build to a tipping point by November, it is relevant to consider how our cause will adapt to unfolding events.