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Diebold Sues Massachusetts for "Wrongful Purchase" 422

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the better-lawyers-instead-of-better-products dept.
elBart0 writes "Diebold has decided to sue the commonwealth of Massachusetts for choosing a competitor to provide voting machines for the disabled. Diebold wants to force the state to stop using the machines immediately, despite the upcoming municipal elections in many towns. The commonwealth chose the competitor based on an open process that included disabled groups. Diebold executives appeared confused when encountering election officials who made an intelligent choice."
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Diebold Sues Massachusetts for "Wrongful Purchase"

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  • Good move! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vengeance (46019) on Monday March 26, 2007 @12:53PM (#18489459)
    I know nothing will motivate me to use a company's products like having them SUE my ass. Is Diebold kidding or something, here? I want to see them get smacked down, and HARD.
  • Biased Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by setirw (854029) on Monday March 26, 2007 @12:53PM (#18489461) Homepage
    Although I don't support Diebold either, please keep personal opinion out of the summaries. Quotes like "diebold executives appeared confused when encountering election officials who made an intelligent choice" don't belong in objective news reporting.
  • Insane. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teddy Beartuzzi (727169) on Monday March 26, 2007 @12:55PM (#18489477) Journal
    It's as if I'm reading the Onion when I read that article.

    I'm speechless.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday March 26, 2007 @12:59PM (#18489535) Homepage Journal
    but wasn't one of Diebold's main selling points on using computerized voting over paper ballots that computerized voting systems help disabled people vote?(I do believe at some point they invoked the Americans with Disabilities act as a rationale for deploying these systems). So now disabled people actually help pick out a system and Diebold sues? (I guess according to Diebold disabled people aren't able enough to choose a system wisely :P)

    Words fail.
  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trails (629752) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:00PM (#18489561)
    Joke's on you! Objective news reporting has no place in Slashdot!

    In all honesty though, a bit of editorialising is warranted here. What if Coke sued you because you bought a Pepsi? What if AMD sued you because you bought an Intel chip?

    Diebold's premise is moronic and it invites speculation as to how closely related the parents of their board members are, and which particular brand of crack their counsel are smoking.

  • Apparently... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jdschulteis (689834) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:02PM (#18489599)
    Diebold's lawyers went to school with SCO's lawyers.
  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HarvardAce (771954) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:03PM (#18489611) Homepage
    don't belong in objective news reporting.

    Are you reading the same slashdot as I am? Since when has slashdot been about "objective news reporting"?

  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:03PM (#18489613) Homepage Journal

    Quotes like "diebold executives appeared confused when encountering election officials who made an intelligent choice" don't belong in objective news reporting.

    First, there is no such thing as objective reporting. Everything is biased. Period.

    Second, Slashdot is not about journalism. It's the offspring of a news aggregator (why the hell is "aggregator" not in the Firefox 2 US English dictionary?) and a forum. Slashdot doesn't report the news, Slashdot reports that someone else has reported the news.

  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timster (32400) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:07PM (#18489651)
    Though (as others have pointed out) the /. editors are not journalists, the quote you used seems quite objective to me. I read the article, and the Diebold people do in fact seem confused. Just because there are two sides doesn't mean that one of the sides isn't obviously being stupid.
  • Re:Good move! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by couchslug (175151) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:10PM (#18489699)
    "I want to see them get smacked down, and HARD."

    So do many of us, and now we have a nice example of corporate conduct to bring up should our local governments want to buy their stuff. :)
  • by necro81 (917438) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:10PM (#18489711) Journal
    Devil's Advocate: One key difference in this case is that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, public entity, isn't quite the same as Greg Norton, private citizen, when it comes to purchases. When it's the taxpayer footing the bill, there's an imperative to have an open bid process without room for bias (positive or negative) or personal preference.

    Not that it matters much. Diebold's claim is bullshit. Sour grapes.
  • by Toby_Tyke (797359) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:21PM (#18489863) Journal
    If it's not an issue of impropriety, then what's the legal basis for the suit? Any lawyers out there who can shed some light on this?

    I would imagine the rational goes something like this:

    "The secretary of state's office set their requirments for a voting machine contract, and invited bids. We have looked at the bid they accepted, and looked at ours. We believe our bid meets the criteria far more closely than the bid that was accepted, and we think any objective observer would agree. We don't think anything improper went on, but we do believe that the state has not selected a vendor in line with the rules they laid out. There for, the process has not treated us fairly"

    In a nutshell, they're saying the state did not fairly apply their own rules. If they had, Diebold believe they would have won.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:21PM (#18489865)
    It would amaze me if there weren't foul play involved with the selection process. Massachusetts is a very blue state, and I expect that the choice was more motivated due to Diebold having Republican ties than anything involving their actual product.

    Unfortunately there aren't much details available (open selection process my ass), but I expect that Diebold had the cheapest offering that matched the selection requirements, but were decided against anyway. Private enterprise is allowed to make selections based on secret criteria, but public government isn't: they have to come clean on why they selected a more expensive offering than Diebold even though Diebold met the criteria.

    But I highly suspect the refusal to select Diebold is more related to Diebold's Republican ties than any merits of their competitors. Either that, or the Diebold voting machines had a blinking light somewhere, and the state mistook their voting machines for bombs.
  • by tgd (2822) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:23PM (#18489909)
    Yeah heaven forbid an important decision could be made via non-verifiable means with no paper trail...
  • Well obviously.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sdo1 (213835) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:26PM (#18489977) Journal
    If they can't force their product into polling places, how on earth do you expect them to be able to manipulate the election results?

  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by curunir (98273) * on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:28PM (#18490003) Homepage Journal

    What if AMD sued you because you bought an Intel chip?
    That's not exactly what's going on here. There's obviously a bit of history here. It's more akin to asking:

    What if some large entity produced a long list of selection criteria and then asked suppliers to submit bids and supporting documentation, no doubt costing real man hours of the companies submitting bids? At that point, the large entity chose one supplier without any feedback to either the chosen supplier or those suppliers not chosen.

    That's more what's going on here. I doubt Diebold has any reasonable expectation that the purchasing decision will be overturned. What they really want is access to the state's documents explaining why the state chose their competitor so they can address their weaknesses before they're asked for bids on other contracts. Given the effort that goes into the bidding process for these kinds of Government contracts, what they're asking for isn't all that unreasonable. But thanks to the screwiness of the US legal system, they can't just ask for something reasonable and expect to get it. They must ask for something entirely unreasonable and then demand the reasonable request as a means of supporting the unreasonable request. My guess is that Diebold's discovery motion will either be granted or denied at which point the suit will be dropped.
  • by Mick Ohrberg (744441) <mick...ohrberg@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:32PM (#18490067) Homepage Journal
    Wait a minute. I RTFA, and it actually does look like Diebold is suing because they're sore losers? No breach of contract, but just because they didn't win the bid? Am I missing something here? Does that mean Ford can sue me if I buy a Chevy?
  • by phoenixwade (997892) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:45PM (#18490269)

    You, me, and any other private-sector entity do not have to explain our whims and caprices when (not) buying something (which may, actually, be unfortunate) to any one other than, perhaps, family members or stock-holders. The government, however, is legally obliged to pick the best — all of us are the stock-holders...

    If, by best, you mean "lowest Bidder" you Might be correct, assuming the job isn't a "no-bid" contract. But I've yet to see a "Best" win a government bid, except maybe by accident. it's all about the lowest bid that will conform to the spec.

      I bid a lot of government contracts, I get some, I lose some. The ones I've lost have occasionally been to better concepts the ones I've wons have occasionally beaten some better work... in all cases the wins were based on who came in the lowest.

    I understand the basis of your remark - The process needs to be open, so we the taxpayers, know that our civil employees are doing their job correctly and spending our money they way we expect them to. Diebold should have the right to see if there was some back room hankey pankey going on, and the bidding process was fair. A lawsuit may be the only way to prove what they think they already know. Or, they could just be sore losers, trying to make the state pay for having the audacity to use a competitor. I guess we'll find out.... unfortunately, the tax payers in Mass. are the ones who will ultimately pay for this......
  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fordiman (689627) <fordiman.gmail@com> on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:50PM (#18490363) Homepage Journal
    Most accurate would be if Microsoft sued, say, the India for switching their government offices to Linux.
  • by soft_guy (534437) on Monday March 26, 2007 @01:52PM (#18490395)

    could I sue someone, possibly, for using too many commas in the summary?
    Yes, you can. Also, I implore you to do so immediately.
  • W T F ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swschrad (312009) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:01PM (#18490537) Homepage Journal
    that one cries for a summary judgement from the bench.

    "Well, let's see here, Diebold... you have no permanent record, you have a litany of hacks, your top management has a strong candidate bias on record, you act like assholes and sue everybody you don't like. Case dismissed with prejudice, get out of my court and stay out of my state. Diebold to pay all legal bills, back to the founding fathers."
  • by FuzzyDaddy (584528) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:02PM (#18490545) Journal
    Diebold is, obviously, acting in its own best interests, but that's how life in this country is

    If they lose this case (which seems likely) and their reputation is tarnished (are they saying the disabled testers opinions are wrong?) than how is this in their best interests?

    Being a jerk, either as an individual or a corporation, isn't only about agressively promoting your self interest. Sometimes it's just being a jerk.

  • Re:Biased Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:12PM (#18490653) Journal

    Given the effort that goes into the bidding process for these kinds of Government contracts, what they're asking for isn't all that unreasonable.
    Sure it is. Why should government have to bear the expense of giving feedback to bidders? The costs of the bidding process are a business risk that is taken care of if they get the bid. Failure to get the bid does not mean that they are absolved of the risk they took.

    My guess is that Diebold's discovery motion will either be granted or denied
    Good guess.

    at which point the suit will be dropped.
    Not so sure about that. They'll scruntinize the docs and look for anything that could enable them to challenge the decision. Massachusetts represents a threat to them nation-wide, since they are setting a precedent for other states. They've got to nip this in the bud or they'll potentially lose contracts all over the US.

    The last thing Diebold wants to see is a new major competitor enter the field, who will gain valuable experience and expertise from a successful deployment.
  • by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:18PM (#18490731) Homepage
    That's not always the case. If you bid a lot lower than the other proposals submitted it could show that you have a supreme misunderstanding of the work to be preformed. As such proposals can and are lost be bidding too low.
  • by Mikkeles (698461) on Monday March 26, 2007 @02:59PM (#18491259)
    Certainly the government's selection process and criteria should be available for judgement of its fairness. However, evaluation of whether it was properly applied requires that the competitors' proposals are also made public. I have found that bidders frequently do not want this, usually claming proprietory or confidential information. Unless the bids are made public, the bidders should be told to bugger off.
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Monday March 26, 2007 @03:36PM (#18491719) Homepage Journal
    Diebold? Someone should just shoot these bastards, or stick 'em in barrels of ready-set concrete, and dump 'em into Chesapeke bay.

    C'mon. More was done for less, on the same ground in 1776. To bad you Yanks pissed away freedom and principle, killing the hard-won Republic.
  • by greginnj (891863) on Monday March 26, 2007 @03:50PM (#18491891) Homepage Journal

    In any case, this kind of thing cannot be allowed. Companies should not be able to sue the government every time they lose a bid for a contract.
    You are exactly wrong. This kind of thing must be allowed. Companies (or persons) should be able to sue the government, or whoever else, for whatever reason they wish. Then, when their frivolous lawsuits come up before a judge, the suits are dismissed with prejudice, and the plaintiffs have to pay the defendant's costs.

    That will just create chaos and we will get even less accomplished through the government than we already do.
    Your implication being that selectively denying access to justice (according to principles chosen by whom? you?) will not create chaos? And that 'getting more accomplished' is a a value we should place higher than justice? I'm no lover of Diebold, but show me a place freer than the US that accomplishes that freedom via restricting access to the courts.
  • Re: grammer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AndersOSU (873247) on Monday March 26, 2007 @03:53PM (#18491957)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the role grammar to accurately reflect the tone and meaning of what one types? The proper use of punctuation should convey the tone. The problem is that everyone has started typing like they speak, when the written word is conveys emotion differently - i.e. not better, not worse - than spoken English.

    This is especially true of irony and sarcasm. Every day some slashdotter complains about leaving off the irony tags - as if they didn't exist pre-internet. The problem isn't that sarcasm translates badly to text, the problem is that the poster hasn't learned to properly write sarcastic statements.

    We should really be learning how to write better, rather than forcing spoken English into text. :)
  • by RollingThunder (88952) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:04PM (#18492129)
    No, I believe he means the parallels to people who want to see the source code for the Diebold voting machines (proprietary scoring format), and who wins the elections (contract).
  • by fishbowl (7759) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:21PM (#18492383)
    >That being the case I doubt that Diebold has much of a case.

    Given that it's Mass, I doubt that Diebold could find a jury that would
    even pretend to be sympathetic to their cause.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:52PM (#18492827) Homepage
    People in government agencies occasionally select vendors on preference over criteria.

    Yes, we know this. That's how Haliburton and Diebold became leaders in their respective fields.
  • by Lonath (249354) * on Monday March 26, 2007 @05:48PM (#18493747)
    Isn't it ironic that Diebold wants to investigate the paper trail for how certain goverments did things? Wouldn't it be great if having paper trails was the standard for all things governmental, including voting, so that people could check voting machines' accuracy after an election. And isn't is cool how Diebold opposes those paper trails for their voting machines? Maybe the good peeople of the Commonwealth can just go up to the judge and say their internal procedures were followed correctly, and Diebold doesn't need to see any evidence other than the word of the officials? What do you think that chances of that are?
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday March 26, 2007 @06:37PM (#18494377) Homepage Journal

    C'mon. More was done for less, on the same ground in 1776. To bad you Yanks pissed away freedom and principle, killing the hard-won Republic.

    I'm sorry, but can you provide for me a list of developed countries that value freedom?

    We don't need to even talk about the US, of course. The UK is the current world leader in development of a surveillance society. Sweden just announced they've been tapping everyone's phones at will for years and wants it to be legitimized. Australia is currently bending over forwards and backwards to do everything the US wants it to do.

    Can you tell me what country actually protects your privacy? And is accepting immigrants?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2007 @07:20PM (#18494891)
    Canada
  • by RallyDriver (49641) on Monday March 26, 2007 @09:42PM (#18496207) Homepage
    You've worded it gently, but this sounds like your former boss was a little corrupt :-)

    When I worked for Mrs Queen, even with the most ehtical of intentions, we did have the issue that the open procurement system would result in unsuitable tenders (the process was run by procurement people who knew nothing about technology) and would cheerfully saddle you with nonsense to save a quid.

    So, we would tend to do an informal market survey first, talk to vendors, make a buying decision based on normal commercial business criteria (is this vendor competent? Is the product any good?) then load the RFP in favour of the best solution.

    The other issue that made things hard was that some procurements are inhrenetly single vendor - for example, what about renewing a maintenance contract for Sun servers? Sun's own Platinum maintenance is very well priced, so you'd be an idiot not to use them, but government procurement left unfettered will end up hiring Joe PC shop down the street.

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