After years of looking for a buyer, Diebold Inc. said Thursday that it has sold its U.S. electronic-voting machine business to Election Systems and Software Inc.

The unit was sold for $5 million in cash plus payments representing 70% of cash collected on outstanding accounts receivable as of Aug. 31 for five years, the North Canton, Ohio, automated teller machine company said.

Diebold also said it expects to book a pretax loss of $45 million to $55 million because of the sale.

It entered the U.S. elections market with the January 2002 purchase of Global Election Systems.

However, the unit proved to be a public relations headache for Diebold after watchdog groups criticized election machines as unreliable.

Those concerns were exacerbated in 2003 when Walden O'Dell, then its chairman, president and chief executive, wrote in a fund-raising letter to Republican voters that he was committed "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to" President Bush, fueling fears that Diebold's machines could be rigged. O'Dell left the company in 2005.

Diebold had been trying to sell the unit since 2006; in 2007 it separated the unit from its other businesses by placing the election machine operations into an independent entity, Premier Election Solutions Inc.

Diebold will continue to sell touch-screen voting machines in Brazil.

Premier Election Solutions of Allen, Texas, posted revenue of $88.2 million in 2008, or about 2.8% of the company's total sales.

Diebold's share price was up 1.13% by Thursday afternoon, to $30.37.

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