Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Recount

As you may or may not have noticed, today is Election Day. Yesterday, Diebold Incorporated (DBD) bragged in the notes to its third quarter 10-Q that it's finally fixed some problems at its famed voting machine subsidiary, Diebold Election Systems, Inc. - or DESI, as they call it. No, not those problems.

Diebold was referring to a flaw in its internal controls that, as noted in last year’s annual report, caused it to botch - materially - the reporting of DESI’s revenues. The company's excuse, repeated yesterday, was that it "did not have personnel with sufficient technical knowledge to analyze complex revenue contracts to ensure that such transactions were accounted for in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles."

I consider myself a connoisseur of apologies and excuses, but this one confuses my palate. What they're saying is: "We didn’t know what we were doing and we didn’t bother to hire anyone who did." On the one hand, this is utterly lame and contains not a shred of legitimate justification. On the other hand, it's disarmingly honest and I find myself beguiled by its offbeat charm.

Sadly, when the next Presidential contest rolls around we may not have Diebold to kick around anymore. As Fortune Magazine reported last week, the firm may soon declare defeat at the polls and exit the voting biz. So before it's too late, check out the inspiringly patriotic ad on the DESI page of the Diebold website, which has it all: flags, Mount Rushmore, New York City firefighters, multiethnic children. Too bad they had to ruin the good mood with a picture of the Capitol dome.