HBO pic irks voting firm

Diebold questions docu's accuracy

HBO rejected a call by Diebold Election Systems to pull the documentary "Hacking Democracy" from its schedule or air company disclaimers questioning the accuracy of the film.

In a letter to HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht, Diebold seeks to have 30-second disclaimers before, after and during the docu that is critical of the computerized election systems that are used in most precincts nationwide. The film is scheduled to air Thursday.

HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson said the company "stands by our film and has no intention of withdrawing the film from its schedule."

Diebold contends that previews of the docu contains serious "material errors" that make the film inaccurate.

"The material errors and material misrepresentations are so egregious that HBO should pull the documentary," Diebold president David Byrd wrote. "Failing that, a pre-aring rebuttal and disclaimer are not only appropriate but also in the best interests of HBO and its subscribers."

In particular, Diebold is upset about claims made in promotional materials provided on HBO's Web site that problems with Diebold machines caused widespread errors in the 2000 election. In its letter, Diebold points out that the company entered the electronic voting business in 2002.

While Diebold spokesman David Bear said company officials had yet to see the film, he said the firm was never contacted by the filmmakers when they were making the docu.

"There's been a lot of discussion of this issue across the country," Bear said. "We're easy to contact."

Diebold also writes that the film is "directed by the directors of 'VoterGate' and contains much of the same material. 'VoterGate' was produced with special thanks to Susan Sarandon and the Streisand Foundation."

According to HBO.com, "Hacking Democracy" was directed by Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels and produced by Ardizzone, Michaels and Robert Carrillo Cohen.

The official "VoterGate" site lists Jeremy Manning and Stanley Weithorn as that film's executive producers. The Internet Movie Database listed Ole Schell as its director. IMDb also lists "VoterGate" as "Hacking Democracy's" working title in the U.K.

HBO contends that Diebold has confused the two films.

"It appears the film Diebold is responding to is not the film HBO is airing," Cusson said.
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