The decision by a House task force to have the GAO probe the election in Florida-13 where 18,000 votes ‘went missing’ is good as far as it goes. Which is not far enough.
Florida State officials rejected a request by attorneys for defeated candidate Christine Jennings to be able to examine the machines and the software that controlled them. Their justification: this was proprietary information belonging to the manufacturer.
The notion that this nation is going to put the profit-making of a private corporation ahead of the right of any citizen to inspect voting machines, no less the defeated candidate, is mind-boggling. But it was the phrase “proprietary information” that caught my attention. I can’t tell you how many labor negotiations and lawsuits I have been part of where the other side claimed “proprietary information.” This is so common there is a standard procedure for dealing with it:
It’s a “non-disclosure agreement.” Our side would put forward a few individuals who have to sign a legally binding agreement not to reveal the information before examining the material. It is also used routinely in U.S. trade negotiations with other countries, most recently in the “Open Skies” agreement and the U.S.-Korea trade agreement.
The absolute right to inspect any voting machine should be part of any new election law. Any manufacturer who want to sell voting machines for U.S. federal, state or local elections should be required, as a condition of receiving a contract, to open up their machines and software to representatives of all candidates.
Don’t want to allow access to your “proprietary information?” You don’t have to. Just take your machines and shove them.