Diebold "hack" — not so fast?

Reliable information on the Diebold “hack” that was reported on late last week in a number of major media outlets has again become elusive. I wrote about the media reports in a recent blog entry, but over the weekend received a number of email messages from folks noting that new coverage of this story indicates that the “hack” is still under negotiation, and may be on hold for some time.

Writing in the Oakland Tribune yesterday, Ian Hoffman noted that the “hack” was planned for this coming Wednesday, “but is likely to be delayed until mid-December.”

Hoffman’s story also provided some details:

…there have been extensive, ongoing negotiations between Black Box Voting and the California Secretary of State’s office, which also is talking to Diebold, over conditions of the test, confidentiality of the results and measures of success. Those talks continued this weekend, but state officials said they remain committed to performing the test.

“Secretary (Bruce) McPherson takes testing these systems very seriously,” said his spokeswoman Nghia Nguyen Demovic. “He wants safeguards in place so that every vote cast is secured. He’s doing his due diligence to assure voter confidence.”

Still no official word I can find on the California Secretary of State’s website on this “hack”. Many questions remain, especially about the precise nature of the “hack”, who will be involved, what methods will be used, whether voting systems other than Diebold’s will be tested, and most importantly, what information on the results will be released. I’m also curious as to why the Secretary of State’s office isn’t soliciting proposals from academic groups and from other organizations that routinely undertake projects like this (i.e., “tiger team” testing); might a better approach be to open this up to competitive proposals from all interested and knowledgeable groups and organizations?