Latest News

Voter Purge Project Report

0 1
Read Time:19 Second

On October 1, we released Unnecessary Disenfranchisement: Voter Purges Around the Country, a report detailing our work to monitor and organize against wrongful purges across the country.

Read the full report below for background on the project, our methods, and what we are doing to ensure eligible voters are informed of their voter status as November’s elections draw near.



Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Surprise! There’s No Voter Fraud. Again.

0 0
Read Time:7 Minute, 9 Second

By Jesse Wegman

For those who spend their days operating within the constraints of empirical reality, the long-running voter-fraud scam peddled by right-wing con artists poses a dilemma: Respond to their claims and give them the veneer of legitimacy they crave. Ignore them, and risk letting transparent lies spread unchecked.

I used to err on the side of responding as often as possible, in the belief that persistent fact-checking and debunking was the best way to inoculate the American public against a virulent campaign of deception. But it became clear to me, probably later than it should have, that this was always a fool’s game. The professional vote-fraud crusaders are not in the fact business. While they pretend to care about real election crimes, their purpose is not to identify whether voters are actually committing such crimes; it is to concoct a world in which the votes of certain people (and it always seems to be the same people) are presumptively invalid. That’s why they are not chastened by data demonstrating — again and again and again and again — that there is essentially no voter fraud anywhere in this country.

Thanks to their efforts, about three quarters of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen, and they won’t be convinced by evidence to the contrary.

That evidence continues to grow. Earlier this week The Associated Press released an impressively thorough report examining every potential case of voter fraud in six decisive battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where Donald Trump and his allies challenged the result in 2020. Voters in these six states cast a combined 25.5 million votes for president last year, and chose Joe Biden over Mr. Trump by 311,257 votes. The total number of possible cases of fraud the A.P. found? Fewer than 475, or 0.15 percent of Mr. Biden’s margin of victory in those states.Many of those cases the A.P. identified turned out not to be fraud at all. Some involved a poll worker’s error or a voter’s innocent confusion, such as the Trump supporter in Wisconsin who mistakenly thought he could vote while on parole. (“The guy upstairs knows what I did,” the man said after a court appearance. “I didn’t have any intention to commit election fraud.”)

In the few instances of clear fraud — for example, a Pennsylvania man who cast two ballots, one for himself and, later in disguise, one for his son — local authorities were quick to act. In Arizona, officials investigated 198 cases of potential fraud, most involving double-voting. They invalidated virtually all of the second votes and have so far charged nine people with voting fraud crimes.

That’s the thing about voter fraud: Not only is it rare, it’s generally easy to catch, especially if it happens on a larger scale. In 2019, North Carolina officials ordered a do-over of a congressional election after the winning candidate’s campaign was found to have financed an illegal voter-turnout effort. That candidate was a Republican, as were two of three residents of the Villages, a Florida retirement community, who were arrested and charged with double voting in the 2020 election earlier this month. (The third had no party affiliation.)

Given how much Republicans bang on about the dangers of voter fraud, a little schadenfreude is in order here. But it misses the bigger point: To the extent there is any fraud, it is almost entirely an individual phenomenon. The A.P. report confirmed this, finding no evidence anywhere of a coordinated effort to commit voter fraud. That’s no surprise. Committing a single case of fraud is hard enough; doing so as part of a conspiracy is essentially impossible, once you consider how many people would need to be in on the scheme. “It’s a staggeringly inefficient way to affect an outcome,” said David Daley, the author of “Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy.” “It simply doesn’t work.”

To sum up once more for the folks in the cheap seats: Voter fraud is vanishingly rare. It is virtually never coordinated. And when it does happen, it is often easily discovered and prosecuted by authorities.

I hold no illusions that any of these truths will matter to those who have invested themselves in tales of widespread fraud. After all, they weren’t moved when both Republican and Democratic officials in states around the country reaffirmed, in some cases multiple times, the accuracy and integrity of their vote counts. Even Bill Barr, the former attorney general and one of Mr. Trump’s most reliable bootlickers, could not bring himself to repeat the lie that there was any meaningful fraud in 2020.

Alas, Republican voters don’t listen to Bill Barr. They listen to Donald Trump, who dismissed the A.P.’s report by doing his standard Mafia don impression. “I just don’t think you should make a fool out of yourself by saying 400 votes,” the former president told the news organization, insisting that the true number of fraudulent votes in 2020 was in the “hundreds of thousands.” His evidence? An unreleased report by a source he refused to name.

This is how it goes with the vote-fraud fraudsters. The damning evidence is always right around the next corner, or the one after that. Recall that Mr. Trump established a voter-fraud commission soon after he entered office, with the goal of rooting out the supposedly massive fraud that led him to lose the popular vote by nearly three million votes. (Like everyone else, he knew that true democratic legitimacy comes not from the Electoral College, but from a majority of the American people.) The commission was led by Kris Kobach, the indefatigable vote-fraud warrior whom Mr. Daley once called “an Inspector Clouseau who gazes into his mirror and sees Sherlock Holmes.” In Mr. Kobach’s previous job as Kansas’s secretary of state, he spent years hunting for widespread vote fraud and won only nine convictions, most of them of older Republican men who had double voted. Under Mr. Kobach’s leadership, the Trump voter-fraud commission disbanded after less than a year of chaos and controversy, without having made any findings.

That’s because, as the A.P. report affirms once again, there was nothing to find. American voters aren’t cheating, and certainly not in any coordinated way.

And here lies the deepest irony of this strange, fragile moment we are living in. A very real threat is, in fact, looming over America’s electoral integrity. But it’s not coming from voters; it’s coming from the people braying the loudest about the importance of election integrity.

Donald Trump turned fact-free charges of voter fraud into an art form, but the exploitation of the predictable public fear generated by that sort of rhetoric has been a central feature of the Republican playbook for years. Back in 2013, the then-North Carolina lawmaker Thom Tillis explained why Republicans in the Legislature were passing their strict voter-ID law. “There is some evidence of voter fraud, but that’s not the primary reason for doing this,” said Mr. Tillis, now a U.S. senator. “There are a lot of people who are just concerned with the potential risk of fraud.” Why are they so concerned? Because their leaders have been feeding them a steady diet of lies.

That diet became an all-you-can-eat buffet in the Trump years, culminating in the “Stop the Steal” rallies after the 2020 election and then, horrifically, in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Now the same people who subscribed to the lies about election fraud are running for, and often winning, jobs overseeing the running of elections across the country. They are representative of a new generation of Republicans, raised in the fever swamps of Fox News and other purveyors of disinformation, who believe elections are valid only when their candidate wins.

The goal of the voter-fraud brigade, it turns out, was never to identify fraud that might have happened in the past; it was to indoctrinate voters with the terror of stolen elections, and to pave the way for a hostile takeover of American democracy in the future.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Attempted breach of Ohio county election network draws FBI and state scrutiny

0 0
Read Time:11 Minute, 54 Second

By Amy GardnerEmma Brown and Devlin Barrett November 19, 2021 at 3:55 p.m. EST

Federal and state investigators are examining an attempt to breach an Ohio county’s election network that bears striking similarities to an incident in Colorado earlier this year, when government officials helped an outsider gain access to the county voting system in an effort to find fraud.

Data obtained in both instances were distributed at an August “cyber symposium” on election fraud hosted by MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, an ally of former president Donald Trump who has spent millions of dollars promoting false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

The attempted breach in Ohio occurred on May 4 inside the county office of John Hamercheck (R), chairman of the Lake County Board of Commissioners, according to two individuals with knowledge of the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigations. State and county officials said no sensitive data were obtained, but they determined that a private laptop was plugged into the county network in Hamercheck’s office, and that the routine network traffic captured by the computer was circulated at the same Lindell conference as the data from the Colorado breach.

Together, the incidents in Ohio and Colorado point to an escalation in attacks on the nation’s voting systems by those who have embraced Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud. Now, some Trump loyalists pushing for legal challenges and partisan audits are also targeting local officials in a bid to gain access to election systems — moves that themselves could undermine election security.

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that the bureau is investigating the incident in Lake County but declined to comment further. Investigators are trying to determine whether someone on the fifth floor of the Lake County government building improperly accessed the computer network and whether any laws were violated.

Investigators with the office of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) believe a government official appears to have facilitated the attempted breach of the election network in Lake County, a spokesman for LaRose said.

Asked in a telephone interview whether he knew of the attempted breach or participated in it, Hamercheck said he was advised not to discuss the investigation. “I’m aware of no criminal activity,” Hamercheck said, and added: “I have absolute confidence in our board of elections and our IT people.”

Ahead of the incidents in Ohio and Colorado, county officials in both places — including Hamercheck — discussed claims of election fraud with Douglas Frank, an Ohio-based scientist who has done work for Lindell, according to people familiar with Frank’s role, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.

Frank, who has claimed to have discovered secret algorithms used to rig the 2020 election, has been traveling the country trying to convince election officials that the vote was riddled with fraud — and that they should join the effort to uncover it, he told The Washington Post in a series of interviews.

Frank has told The Post in recent months that he has visited “over 30 states” and has met with about 100 election administrators. He would not say how many local election administrators he has persuaded to join his cause. “I deliberately protect my clerks. I don’t want anybody to know who they are,” Frank said.

Douglas Frank greets Donald Trump supporters before the former president arrives to speak at a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds on June 26 in Wellington, Ohio. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

In an interview Friday with The Post, Lindell said that although he has hired Frank for some projects, he does not fund Frank’s speaking engagements across the country and knew nothing about what happened in the election offices in Mesa County or Lake County. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.

In April, Frank traveled to Grand Junction, Colo., where he made his pitch during a public talk and also privately to Tina Peters, the clerk in Mesa County, and several of her colleagues. He told The Post that his presentation persuDouglas Frank greets Donald Trump supporters before the former president arrives to speak at a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds on June 26 in Wellington, Ohio. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)aded Peters of the need to examine whether fraud occurred, and that he subsequently connected her with someone in Lindell’s circle who he believed could help.

An elections supervisor embraced conspiracy theories. Officials say she has become an insider threat.

Colorado election officials have since accused Peters of sneaking an outsider into Mesa County election offices to copy the hard drives of machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, a company cited in conspiracy theories by Trump and his supporters.

In October, a state judge prohibited Peters from supervising the upcoming local elections, citing her efforts to copy the hard drives. On Wednesday, FBI agents searched her home and that of several of her associates as part of an investigation into possible wire fraud and computer crimes.

Peters has previously claimed that she has been targeted by powerful forces trying to block her from finding the truth. In a statement to The Post this week, a spokesperson for Peters’s legal defense fund said the searches constituted “a level of weaponization of the Justice Department we haven’t seen since the McCarthy era.”

Frank also took part in a discussion earlier this year with Hamercheck, the Lake County, Ohio, commissioner, according to an individual familiar with the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing inquiries.

In an interview with The Post on Thursday, Frank said he did not remember speaking to Hamercheck or have any record of the call. He said he has met so many people in the past six months that he cannot recall them all. But Frank said the version of events described in Lake County sounded “plausible” because it was “exactly the model that we did with Tina.”

“Do I remember that call? No,” he said of the Hamercheck conversation. “Does it sound like me? Yes.”

County records obtained by The Post through a public-records request show that Hamercheck, an engineer and retired police officer, used his security badge to swipe into the fifth floor offices multiple times during the roughly six-hour period when, according to the leaked data, the laptop was intermittently connected to the county network on May 4, the date of Ohio’s spring primaries.

Ohio election officials said they first learned of the attempted Lake County breach after Lindell’s August symposium, where he promised to unveil evidence of widespread fraud across the country.

Copies of the Mesa County hard drive were presented publicly there, and cyber experts in attendance said they also received copies of network data obtained from Lake, Mesa and Clark County, Nev. Lindell told The Post on Friday that the network data were distributed by a rogue attendee without his knowledge or permission.

Officials in all three states, as well as independent cyber experts interviewed by The Post, determined that the network data — known as packet captures, or PCAPs — contained no sensitive information from a protected network.

The data from Clark County — home of Las Vegas — was captured via the county’s guest wireless network, according to county officials. Rob Graham, a cybersecurity expert who attended the Lindell symposium and examined the data, said it was recorded on Dec. 1, 2020, with a laptop that was set up to capture only its own actions, not county network traffic.

Ohio state officials said the attempted breach in Lake County also yielded limited data, a possible sign that the person or people responsible may not have had technical expertise.

Ohio officials examined the data captured in Lake County and quickly determined that multiple layers of security prevented the compromise of election information or equipment. The network cable in Hamercheck’s office is connected to the county government network, but the county’s Board of Elections operates a separate network behind its own firewall that recognizes only authorized devices.

“We are thrilled that our infrastructure stayed strong,” said Ross McDonald, director of the Lake County Board of Elections, who added that the county is awaiting the results of the state and federal investigations.

After his office assessed the attempted breach, LaRose, who oversees election administration across Ohio’s 88 counties, referred the matter to federal, state and local investigators.

“It’s concerning that somebody would — especially somebody in a government office, somebody who is an elected official, or somebody who’s part of county government — would not realize all of those safeguards exist and would try to engage in some sort of a vigilante investigation,” LaRose said in an interview with The Post. “The good news is that our system of cyber security in Ohio is among the best in the nation.”

Officials with the Lake County prosecuting attorney and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation did not respond to requests for comment.

Much like in Lake County, the Mesa County network data were captured in multiple sessions over the course of about four hours in May, nearly three weeks after the attempted breach in Ohio and on the same day a Mesa County voting machine hard drive was copied.

Local, state and federal authorities began investigating the alleged breach in Mesa shortly after Lindell’s symposium in August, when copies of hard drives from county voting machines were presented.

That same month, officials obtained search warrants to examine Peters’s cellphone data, take DNA swabs from election machines, remove Dominion equipment from Mesa County’s offices and obtain records to determine who obtained access to the secure tabulation room following Frank’s visit in April, as The Post previously reported.

This week, the FBI searched the homes of Peters and several of her associates, including Sherronna Bishop, a conservative activist and former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) who introduced Frank at his public talk in Grand Junction.

Lindell described the searches during an interview Tuesday on “War Room,” the podcast of former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon. In a statement to The Post, Bishop accused the FBI of using “brute force” in executing the search warrant at her home, including using a battering ram to open her door and handcuffing her in front of her children. She said she had been “available and transparent to any organization that wanted to speak with me” and accused the Justice Department of “terrorizing parents.”

In a statement, the Colorado attorney general’s office disputed those descriptions, saying that “this judicially authorized search was executed in a professional and lawful manner.” A spokeswoman for the FBI confirmed that the bureau “conducted authorized law enforcement actions . . . in support of an ongoing investigation” and declined to comment further.

The search warrants left at Bishop’s home indicate that the FBI is investigating potential crimes including intentional damage to a protected computer, wire fraud, conspiracy to cause intentional damage to a protected computer and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to details she shared in an interview with right-wing media personality Brannon Howse.

Trump supporters listen to a presentation by Frank about alleged election fraud at the June 26 rally in Wellington, Ohio. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Frank argues that the 2020 election was tainted by an elaborate conspiracy involving inflated voter rolls, fraudulent ballots and a “sixth-order polynomial” — claims that have been repeatedly debunked.

Inside the ‘shadow reality world’ promoting the lie that the presidential election was stolen

One associate of Frank and Lindell is Conan James Hayes, a former pro surfer whom Frank described in an interview with The Post as a “white hat hacker” who has done projects for Lindell and has been responsible for obtaining and analyzing cyber evidence of fraud. Lindell told The Post that he has hired Hayes for several “piecework” jobs this year related to investigating election fraud, but none involved helping local officials obtain data from their networks or machines.

Asked whether he knew if Hayes was involved in gathering data from Lake and Mesa counties, Frank said: “I should probably not say. That’s just me being, I think, prudent.”

Hayes’s name also came up at the Lindell symposium, where Ron Watkins, the former administrator of the 8kun message board, where the QAnon conspiracy theory has been promoted, announced that Hayes may have stolen the hard drives from Mesa County.

A few moments later, Watkins said Hayes “did have permission to take the hard drive, but did not have permission to upload it.”

Watkins’s lawyer told the news outlet Vice that Hayes was Watkins’s source for the hard drives — but declined to discuss the matter in an interview with The Post.

Hayes could not be reached by phone and did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Metadata from the copied Mesa County hard drives show that the copies were made by someone using the identifier “cjh,” according to Graham and Harri Hursti, cybersecurity specialists who attended the Lindell symposium and reviewed the hard-drive copies. Those initials match those of Hayes.

Similarly, the Clark County data was captured by a computer called “cjh’s MacBook Pro (2),” according to Graham.

In both Lake and Mesa counties, the data were captured by the same type of gaming laptop, using the same software and same Windows operating system, metadata shows.

Hayes was one of seven people named in court documents who copied Dominion hard drives as part of a lawsuit filed by a local real estate agent who claimed election fraud in rural Antrim County, Mich., last fall. The hard drives, copied with permission of the court, allegedly showed that Dominion machines were rigged, according to a report submitted by the plaintiff in that case last December.

That central claim of the report was immediately debunked by experts, including by the Department of Homeland Security, but it was cited by Trump and his allies as they sought to overturn President Biden’s legitimate victory. A state judge dismissed the suit in May.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Arizona Vote Review ‘Made Up the Numbers,’ Election Experts Say

0 0
Read Time:7 Minute, 29 Second

An analysis found that a hand recount of votes by Republican investigators missed thousands of ballots, and possibly many more.

By Michael Wines and Nick CorasanitiOct. 1, 2021

The circuslike review of the 2020 vote commissioned by Arizona Republicans took another wild turn on Friday when veteran election experts charged that the very foundation of its findings — the results of a hand count of 2.1 million ballots — was based on numbers so unreliable that they appear to be guesswork rather than tabulations.

The organizers of the review “made up the numbers,” the headline of the experts’ report reads.

The experts, a data analyst for the Arizona Republican Party and two retired executives of an election consulting firm in Boston, said in their report that workers for the investigators failed to count thousands of ballots in a pallet of 40 ballot-filled boxes delivered to them in the spring.

The final report by the Republican investigators concluded that President Biden actually won 99 more votes than were reported, and that former President Donald J. Trump tallied 261 fewer votes.

But given the large undercount found in just a sliver of the 2.1 million ballots, it would effectively be impossible for the Republican investigators to arrive at such precise numbers, the experts said.

Rod Thomson, a spokesman for Cyber Ninjas, the company hired to conduct the inquiry in Arizona, rejected the experts’ claim. “We stand by our methodology and complete final report,” he said.

Investigators went through more than 1,600 ballot-filled boxes this summer to conduct their hand recount of the election in Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state. Both they and the Republican-controlled State Senate, which ordered the election inquiry, have refused to disclose the details of that hand count.

But a worksheet containing the results of the hand count of 40 of those boxes was included in a final report on the election inquiry released a week ago by Cyber Ninjas.

The three election experts said the hand count could have missed thousands or even hundreds of thousands of ballots if all 1,600 boxes of ballots were similarly undercounted. Their findings were earlier reported in The Arizona Republic.

For months, the Cyber Ninjas effort had been the lodestar of the conservative movement, the foundational investigation that would uncover a litany of abuses and verify countless conspiracies, proving a stolen election. But the review was criticized from the start for unprofessional and unorthodox methods and partisan influence.

Now, the experts’ findings on the vote review compound withering analyses debunking a wide range of questions raised in the review about the counting of votes and conduct of the election. Nonetheless, the review has been embraced by Mr. Trump and his followers even as its findings have been overwhelmingly refuted.

Noting that the leaders of the Arizona review had “zero experience in election audits,” the experts concluded, “We believe the Ninjas’ announcement that they had confirmed, to a high degree of accuracy, the election results” of one of the largest U.S. counties “is laughable.”

Laughable or not, none of it changed the fact that Mr. Biden won the state by about 10,500 votes and Maricopa County by roughly 45,000 in several official tallies of the vote.

Katie Hobbs, the Democratic secretary of state in Arizona, said the report’s findings vindicated criticisms about the Cyber Ninjas process.

“It was clear from the start that the Cyber Ninjas were just making it up as they went,” Ms. Hobbs said in a statement. “I’ve been saying all along that no one should trust any ‘results’ they produce, so it’s no surprise their findings are being called into question. What can be trusted are actual election officials and experts, along with the official canvass of results.”

The results of the review were presented to the Arizona State Senate last week.
The results of the review were presented to the Arizona State Senate last week. Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The inquiry into the election has been repeatedly condemned as a sham by election experts and denounced by the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which oversaw the 2020 vote.

Critics note that the chief executive of Cyber Ninjas had spread false allegations that Arizona voting machines were rigged to ensure Mr. Trump’s defeat. The summer-long investigation was financed almost entirely by nearly $7 million in donations from Trump supporters.

The experts based their conclusion on a worksheet containing a slice of the hand-count results that the Republican investigators published in the report on their inquiry. The worksheet shows that investigators counted 32,674 ballots in 40 of the 1,634 boxes of ballots they were reviewing.

But official records show — and the investigators’ own machine count of the 2.1 million ballots effectively confirmed — that those 40 boxes actually contained 48,371 ballots, or 15,692 more than were counted.

The worksheet indicated that nine of the boxes had not been counted at all. But even if those boxes were excluded from the tally, the count of the remaining boxes fell 4,852 ballots short of the correct total, the experts said.

The charge of a ballot undercount comes atop the debunking by experts and Maricopa officials of virtually all of 22 implications of voting irregularities, involving more than 50,000 voters, in the Cyber Ninjas report.

Among them: A claim that 23,434 mail-in ballots may have come from addresses that voters no longer occupied was based on research using a commercial address database that itself did not include 86,391 of the county’s registered voters and, like most lists, relied on sources that are often inaccurate. It also ignored the fact that voters may legally cast ballots and then move. And moving is common: More than 280,000 Maricopa County households moved in 2019 alone.

Another claim that thousands of voters returned more ballots than they received misconstrued a data file that makes a new entry every time a damaged or incomplete ballot is corrected.

Yet another claim that precincts counted 836 more votes than were recorded ignored the fact that the records of some 3,600 voters, such as abused spouses and police officers, are not made public for security reasons. And an insinuation that 5,295 Maricopa County voters may have double-voted because residents of other counties had the same names and birth years was spot-checked by county officials and found baseless; the outsiders were in fact other people.

With similar reviews now set for Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas, it is increasingly clear that Arizona’s partisan review succeeded while it failed — by amplifying baseless talking points while failing in any factual way to back up Mr. Trump’s claims of a rigged election.

The Arizona-style reviews in other states seem likely to follow the same script with the blessing of the Republican political leaders who are promoting them, said Nate Persily, a Stanford University law professor, elections expert and scholar of democracy.

“For those who are pushing the fraud narrative, the actual truth is beside the point,” he said. “The idea that the election was stolen is becoming a tribe-defining belief. It’s not about proving something at this point. It’s about showing fealty to a particular description of reality.”

Indeed, in the wake of the initial Cyber Ninjas report, Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate only furthered their resolve to press ahead with a review of the election, one that includes a request for drivers’ license numbers and partial Social Security numbers of all seven million Pennsylvania voters.

“The historic audit in Maricopa County is complete and significant findings have been brought to light,” State Senator Doug Mastriano, a Republican and leading proponent of the election review, said in a statement last week. “If these types of issues were uncovered in Maricopa County, imagine what could be brought to light from a full forensic audit in other counties around the U.S. who processed mass amounts of mail-in ballots.”

On Friday, Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, signed multiple subpoenas issued to the head of the elections commission in Milwaukee, the biggest city in the state and home to the largest concentration of Democratic voters, with a substantive request for documents, including communication between the city and state elections boards.

Mr. Vos, in an interview this week, reiterated his commitment to investigating the 2020 election, with a presumption that there were mistakes in the administration.

“I think we kind of have to accept that certain things were done wrongly — figure out how to correct them, or else we’re never going to have public confidence,” Mr. Vos said.

Reid J. Epstein contributed reporting.

Michael Wines writes about voting and other election-related issues. Since joining The Times in 1988, he has covered the Justice Department, the White House, Congress, Russia, southern Africa, China and various other topics.  @miwine

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

The I.R.S. Can Register Voters as Well as the D.M.V., and Maybe Better

0 0
Read Time:4 Minute, 39 Second

By Jeremy Bearer-Friend and Vanessa Williamson

Pgiam/iStock, via Getty Images

The authors are experts on tax history and tax law.

Income tax forms are notoriously complicated, but there is one simple question that is missing: “Would you like to register to vote in your home state?” With over 150 million American households filing federal income tax returns each year, our annual ritual of tax filing is a missed opportunity for voter registration.

While Americans are filling out their 1040s and Schedule Cs, they should also be asked if they would like to complete a voter registration form. The form, let’s call it a Schedule VR, would be separate from tax information, and would be available to all citizens, regardless of the amount of taxes paid or refunded. A Schedule VR would be the simplest way to create a national and nearly universal registration system.

There is good evidence that tax-time voter registration would work. In Canada, annual income tax forms already offer voter registration. Overall, 96 percent of eligible voters appear on the Canadian voter registry, thanks in substantial part to the work of the Canada Revenue Agency. Elections Canada suggests that citizens “tick the box” every year on their income tax form to keep their address information up-to-date. By contrast, more than one in five eligible voters in the United States is not on the voter rolls. These unregistered voters are disproportionately likely to be young, to have lower incomes, and to be members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Adding a voter registration option to tax filing has three major advantages: breadth, accuracy and convenience. Americans are conscientious taxpayers who see tax filing as an important civic responsibility; a Schedule VR would help ensure our voter rolls are correct and secure, with less paperwork for the citizenry.

Tax-time voter registration would build on the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which brought easy registration to departments of motor vehicles and other government agencies across the country. Taxes are filed annually, far more frequently than most people’s trips to the D.M.V. About 90 percent of the U.S. population appears on an income tax return each year, and 99.5 percent of us are estimated to appear on at least one federal tax document (like a W2 or a 1099), which is higher than the declining fraction of Americans who hold driver’s licenses. The tax system has played a vital role in Covid relief delivery precisely because few agencies can match the reach of the Internal Revenue Service.

Yes, adding voter registration to the tax filing process would represent a substantial increase in responsibility for the I.R.S. But there are precedents for the I.R.S. assisting tax filers in participating in important civic endeavors. In 1972, 1975 and 1980, Form 1040 included questions on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau. Today, Form 1040 still has a check box allowing tax filers to donate three dollars to public campaign finance via the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. As Congress considers adding $80 billion to the I.R.S. budget, it should not overlook the full potential of tax filing to help shore up our democracy.

Voter registration at tax filing would also conform to President Biden’s mandate for new federal action to promote voter registration and turnout. Mr. Biden’s Executive Order 14019 calls upon the heads of each federal agency to produce a comprehensive plan for how they can “provide access to voter registration services and vote-by-mail ballot applications in the course of activities or services that directly engage with the public.”

For the I.R.S. to collect voter registration information and work with the states to update the voter rolls would require legislative action. But there are still immediate steps that can be taken. Janet Yellen, the secretary of the Treasury, and Charles Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner, can mandate that voter registration services be provided at the nonprofit Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites that work with the I.R.S. to provide free tax preparation to over one million households a year.

We already know that a program like this would reach underrepresented voters. In an experiment one of us conducted in 2018, tax filers at five sites in Dallas and Cleveland were offered voter registration forms. The participants were predominantly Black and Hispanic tax filers with an average household income of less than $30,000. The program doubled the likelihood that an unregistered person would get onto the voter rolls.

In an appalling echo of Jim Crow, some states are weaponizing their voting laws to exclude voters, and especially voters of color, from participating in our democracy. Historically, federal intervention has been essential to the protection of voting rights; now is the time to use tax policy to increase voter access.

Along with other legislation, like the urgently needed John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a Schedule VR would help counteract state efforts to restrict access to the ballot box. But even beyond the current political situation, we shouldn’t overlook a powerful tool we already have in hand to ensure that Americans have a reliable way to register to vote.

New York Times link

Jeremy Bearer-Friend (@bearerfriend) is an associate professor at George Washington University Law School; Vanessa Williamson (@V_Williamson) is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

G.O.P Election Reviews Creates a New Kind of Security Threat

0 0
Read Time:10 Minute, 58 Second
Contractors from Cyber Ninjas examined ballots from the 2020 election in Phoenix in May. The firm, whose chief executive has promoted conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines, has no previous experience auditing elections. Credit…Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

By Nick Corasaniti

Sept. 1, 2021

Late one night in May, after surveillance cameras had inexplicably been turned off, three people entered the secure area of a warehouse in Mesa County, Colo., where crucial election equipment was stored. They copied hard drives and election-management software from voting machines, the authorities said, and then fled.The identity of one of the people dismayed state election officials: It was Tina Peters, the Republican county clerk responsible for overseeing Mesa County’s elections.

How the incident came to public light was stranger still. Last month in South Dakota, Ms. Peters spoke at a disinformation-drenched gathering of people determined to show that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald J. Trump. And another of the presenters, a leading proponent of QAnon conspiracy theories, projected a portion of the Colorado software — a tool meant to be restricted to election officials only — onto a big screen for all the attendees to see.The security of American elections has been the focus of enormous concern and scrutiny for several years, first over possible interference or mischief-making by foreign adversaries like Russia or Iran, and later, as Mr. Trump stoked baseless fears of fraud in last year’s election, over possible domestic attempts to tamper with the democratic process.

But as Republican state and county officials and their allies mount a relentless effort to discredit the result of the 2020 contest, the torrent of election falsehoods has led to unusual episodes like the one in Mesa County, as well as to a wave of G.O.P.-driven reviews of the vote count conducted by uncredentialed and partisan companies or people. Roughly half a dozen reviews are underway or completed, and more are being proposed.

These reviews — carried out under the banner of making elections more secure, and misleadingly labeled audits to lend an air of official sanction — have given rise to their own new set of threats to the integrity of the voting machines, software and other equipment that make up the nation’s election infrastructure.

Election officials and security experts say the reviews have created problems ranging from the expensive inconvenience of replacing equipment or software whose security has been compromised to what they describe as a graver risk: that previously unknown technical vulnerabilities could be discovered by partisan malefactors and exploited in future elections.

In Arizona, election officials have moved to replace voting machines in the state’s largest county, Maricopa, after conservative political operatives and other unaccredited people gained extensive access to them as they conducted a widely criticized review of the 2020 results. In Pennsylvania, the secretary of state decertified voting equipment in rural Fulton County after officials there allowed a private company to participate in a similar review.

And in Antrim County, Mich., a right-wing lawyer publicized a video showing a technical consultant with the same vote tabulator the county had used — alarming county officials who said that the consultant should not have had access to the device or its software.

Tina Peters, the clerk of Mesa County, Colo., during a news conference in June 2020.Credit…Mckenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, via Associated Press

When such machines fall into the wrong hands — those of unaccredited people lacking proper supervision — the chain of custody is broken, making it impossible for election officials to guarantee that the machines have not been tampered with, for example by having malware installed. The only solution, frequently, is to reprogram or replace them. At least three secretaries of state, in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Colorado, have had to decertify voting machines this year.Far from urging panic, experts caution that it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to meddle with voting results on a nationwide scale because of the decentralized nature of American elections.

But experts say that the chain of custody for election machines exists for good reason. Already this year, three federal agencies — the Justice Department, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Election Assistance Commission — have issued updated guidance on how to handle election machines and preserve the chain of custody.“There are some serious security risks,” said J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan who studies election security. “Especially given the constellation of actors who are receiving such access.”

Republicans say they are simply looking for the answers their constituents are demanding about the 2020 election. “This has always been about election integrity,” Karen Fann, the Republican leader of the Arizona Senate, which authorized that state’s election review, said in an interview posted on the state party’s website last month. “Nothing else. Absolutely nothing else. This is about making sure that our votes are counted.”

Security experts say that election hardware and software should be subjected to transparency and rigorous testing, but only by credentialed professionals. Yet nearly all of the partisan reviews have flouted such protocols and focused on the 2020 results rather than hunting for security flaws.

In Arizona, the firm chosen by the Republican-led Legislature, Cyber Ninjas, had no previous experience auditing elections, and its chief executive has promoted conspiracy theories claiming that rigged voting machines cost Mr. Trump the state. The company also used Republican partisans to help conduct its review in Maricopa County, including one former lawmaker who was at the Jan. 6 protest in Washington that preceded the Capitol riot

In Wisconsin, the Republican Assembly speaker, Robin Vos, is pushing for a review of the 2020 results to be led by a former State Supreme Court justice who claimed in November that the election had been stolen. And in Pennsylvania, the Republican leader of the State Senate has announced hearings that he likened to a “forensic investigation” of the election, saying it could include issuing subpoenas to seize voting machines and ballots.

Christopher Krebs, the former head of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said such reviews could easily compromise voting machines. “The main concern is having someone unqualified come in and introduce risk, introduce something or some malware into a system,” he said. “You have someone that accesses these things, has no idea what to do, and once you’ve reached that point, it’s incredibly difficult to kind of roll back the certification of the machine.” Decertifying machines effectively means replacing them, often in a hurry and at great cost. Philadelphia’s elections board rejected an earlier G.O.P. request for access to the city’s election machines, saying it would cost more than $35 million to buy new ones.

In Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told Maricopa County in May that her office would decertify 385 machines and nine vote tabulators that had been handed over for the G.O.P.-led election review. “The issue with the equipment is that the chain of custody was lost,” Ms. Hobbs said in an interview. “The chain of custody ensures that only authorized people have access to it, so that that vulnerability can’t be exploited.” Pulling compromised machines out of service and replacing them is not a foolproof solution, however. The equipment could have as-yet-undiscovered security weaknesses, Mr. Halderman said. “And this is what really keeps me up at night,” he said. “That the knowledge that comes from direct access to it could be misused to attack the same equipment wherever else it’s used.”

Tina Peters, the clerk of Mesa County, Colo., during a news conference in June 2020.Credit…Mckenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, via Associated Press

As an example of his concerns, Mr. Halderman pointed to Antrim County in northern Michigan, where, months after a court-ordered forensic audit in the county, a lawyer involved with the case who has frequently shared election conspiracy theories still appeared to have access to a Dominion Voting Systems ballot-scanning device and its software.

A monthslong campaign. During his last days in office, President Donald J. Trump and his allies undertook an increasingly urgent effort to undermine the election results. That wide-ranging campaign included perpetuating false and thoroughly debunked claims of election fraud as well as pressing government officials for help. Baseless claims of voter fraud. Although Mr. Trump’s allegations of a stolen election have died in the courts and election officials of both parties from every state have said there is no evidence of fraud, Republicans across the country continued to spread conspiracy theories. Those include 147 House Republicans who voted against certifying the election. Intervention at the Justice Department. Rebuffed by ranking Republicans and cabinet officials like Attorney General William P. Barr, who stepped down weeks before his tenure was to end, Mr. Trump sought other avenues to peddle his unfounded claims. In a bid to advance his personal agenda, Mr. Trump plotted to oust the acting attorney general and pressed top officials to declare that the election was corrupt. His chief of staff pushed the department to investigate an array of outlandish and unfounded conspiracy theories that held that Mr. Trump had been the victor. Pressuring state officials to ‘find votes.’ As the president continued to refuse to concede the election, his most loyal backers proclaimed Jan. 6, when Congress convened to formalize Mr. Biden’s electoral victory, as a day of reckoning. On that day, Mr. Trump delivered an incendiary speech to thousands of his supporters hours before a mob of loyalists violently stormed the Capitol.

The lawyer, Michael DePerno, posted a video from a conservative news site featuring a technical consultant who went to elaborate and highly implausible lengths to try to show that votes in the county — which Mr. Trump carried by a wide margin — could have been switched. (County officials said this could not have happened.) The device and its software are only supposed to be in the possession of accredited officials or local governments. “I was shocked when I saw they had a tabulator in their video,” said Sheryl Guy, the county clerk, who is a Republican.

Neither Mr. DePerno nor Dominion Voting Systems responded to requests for comment. Easily the most bizarre breakdown of election security so far this year was the incident in Mesa County, Colo. The first sign of suspicious activity surfaced in early August, when a conservative news site, Gateway Pundit, posted passwords for the county’s election machines, the result of a separate breach in the county from the same month. A week later, the machines’ software showed up on large monitors at the South Dakota election symposium, organized by the conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell.

Jena Griswold, the Colorado secretary of state, said her office had concluded that the passwords leaked out when Ms. Peters, the Mesa County clerk, enlisted a staff member to accompany her to and surreptitiously record a routine voting-machine maintenance procedure. Gateway Pundit published the passwords a week before the gathering in South Dakota. Ms. Griswold’s office is investigating and has said that Ms. Peters will not be allowed to oversee elections in November. Ms. Peters, who has called the investigation politically motivated, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. In an online interview with Mr. Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow, she admitted to copying the hard drives and software but insisted she had simply backed them up because of some perceived but unspecified threat to the data. She also cited unfounded conspiracy theories about Dominion equipment.

“I was concerned that vital statistics and information was being deleted from the system or could be deleted from the system, and I wanted to preserve that,” she said. But she flatly denied leaking the passwords or software. “I did not post, did not authorize anyone to post, any election data or software or passwords online,” she said. Even so, the secretary of state’s office said that Colorado counties had never been advised to make copies of their election machines’ hard drives.“It is a serious security breach,” Ms. Griswold said in an interview. “This is election officials, trusted to safeguard democracy, turning into an internal security breach.”The local district attorney has opened a separate inquiry into the episode and is being assisted by the F.B.I. and the Colorado attorney general’s office. Ms. Griswold, a Democrat, said she had also alerted the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

But Ms. Griswold said she worried that with so many Republican leaders “leaning into the big lie,” the risks of what she called an “insider security issue” were growing.“I think it’s incredibly time-sensitive that elections are set up to guard both from external and internal threats,” she said.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Court rules North Carolina must allow former felons to vote

0 0
Read Time:5 Minute, 13 Second

By Paulina VillegasYesterday at 12:20 a.m. EDT299

North Carolina judges ordered the restoration of voting rights for thousands of people with a felony conviction in what advocates call the largest expansion of voting rights in decades in the state.

Under state law, individuals are prohibited from voting until they are fully discharged from probation, parole or a suspended sentence — often years after they are released from prison. Monday’s ruling by a panel of the state Superior Court in Raleigh could make North Carolina the only state in the South to automatically restore voting rights to people after they leave prison.

Daryl Atkinson, co-director of Forward Justice, a civil rights group in Durham, N.C., described the decision during a news conference Monday as “the largest expansion of voting rights in this state since the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”

Atkinson and other lawyers filed a lawsuit more than a year ago challenging the law, which was revised in 1973 and outlines when people stripped of their voting rights can regain those rights.

Last year, the same judges had ruled that the law’s requirement that felons must first pay monetary obligation such as fines was unenforceable because voting would be bound to financial ability, according to the Associated Press.

On Monday, the three-judge panel said it had voted 2-to-1 on the decision. The ruling has not yet been written.

“This lawsuit was about us making sure that we include the 56,000 North Carolinians living in our community, paying taxes, dropping kids at school are included in ‘We, the people,’ ” said Atkinson, who is a lawyer for the challengers in the case.

GOP state lawmakers who defended the existing law in court have said they plan to appeal Monday’s decision to a higher court.

Lawyers representing plaintiffs who oppose the law argued in court last week that such policies were weaponized to prevent Black people from voting after the Civil War in an effort to stifle their political power, according to the Carolina Public Press.

Challengers of the law also claimed that in many cases, disenfranchisement persists because of an inability to pay court fees. In other instances, North Carolinians convicted of felonies are placed under community supervision sentences, without imprisonment, while paying taxes, and are still barred from voting during the entire probation period.

Other challengers include several people on probation or parole, and civil rights groups such as the North Carolina NAACP and the Community Success Initiative, a Raleigh group that helps former felons reenter society.

“Starting today, if a person can just say, ‘I am not in jail or prison for a felony conviction,’ then that person can register and they can vote freely,” said Stanton Jones, an attorney representing the challengers.

That change will lead to 56,000 people being empowered, Jones added.

Plaintiffs argued in court that felon disenfranchisement “overwhelmingly” affects Black Americans, who represent about 20 percent of the state’s voting population, and 40 percent of those prevented from voting while on probation or parole, according to the complaint.

Lawyers for the defense did not contest these numbers but argued that these rates are caused by disparities in the criminal justice system, not by the law that determines when people can vote again.

Orlando Rodriguez, a lawyer for the Republican lawmakers, said they won’t defend the law’s “shameful” history, but that it has been significantly improved since then. He argued that previously, the law imposed a heavy burden on people who requested their rights be restored after completing their parole or probation process, while the process is now automatic, according to the News & Observer.

Rodriguez did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

State Sen. Warren Daniel (R), co-chair of the Senate’s committee on election law issues, criticized the judges’ ruling as overstepping their authority.

“These judges may think they’re doing the right thing by rewriting laws as they see fit (without bothering to even explain their ruling), but each one of these power grabs chips away at the notion that the people, through their legislature, make laws,” he said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Daniel said that an appeal should be filed “immediately,” before a deadline for the State Board of Elections to finalize materials for the 2021 election.

Considering that timeline, GOP leaders asked North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) to appeal the decision, Daniel said. Because Stein responded that he cannot file an appeal until the written opinion is released, Daniel indicated that the GOP legislative leaders could file their own appeal using an attorney.

In a statement, the State Board of Elections said it is “reviewing the decision and will consider the written ruling upon its release.” It added that county boards across North Carolina must immediately begin to permit such individuals to register to vote.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, a liberal nonprofit law and public policy institute, 28 states bar community members from voting simply on the basis of convictions in their past. These criminal disenfranchisement laws exclude millions of Americans from the democratic voting process and vary widely among states.

Sean Morales-Doyle, acting director of voting rights and elections for the Brennan Center, said significant steps have been made since 2018, with almost a dozen states — including Florida, Kentucky, Iowa, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, California, Nevada, Colorado, Louisiana and Washington — moving toward the restoration of voting rights, though they widely vary by state.

Some states, such as Florida and Maryland, still prevent people from voting depending on the type of crimes they committed. Others automatically restore their right to vote upon release from prison.

In the District of Columbia, Maine and Vermont, felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are incarcerated.

Paulina Villegas is a General Assignment reporter covering breaking news and national enterprise stories for The Washington Post. Previously, she worked at the New York Times’ Mexico bureau, where her work focused on drug crime, government corruption and human rights issues.  Twitter

Image : People line up at a voting rights demonstration on Election Day on Nov. 3 in Graham, N.C. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

The Cybersecurity 202: Election officials are pushing back against partisan audits launched by Trump allies

0 0
Read Time:7 Minute, 7 Second

By: Joseph Marks

Anchor of The Cybersecurity 202 newsletter Today at 7:28 a.m. EDT44 with Aaron Schaffer

The battle lines are hardening between the vast majority of election officials who’ve spent months validating and defending the results of the 2020 election and former president Donald Trump’s supporters, who are still challenging those results without evidence and demanding new reviews.

One such partisan and poorly run review started months ago in Maricopa County, Ariz., but it has not yet produced any results. Partisans are pushing other audits in Wisconsin and elsewhere. 

The coalition of top state election officials is pushing back by endorsing a how-to guide for post-election audits that criticizes reviews like Arizona’s that are run on a partisan basis and by private companies without ample experience in the field. 

Election officials fear the drumbeat of baseless allegations about election hacking and fraud from Trump allies will dampen faith in future election results and maybe in the democratic process itself. Ironically, the assault comes after a four-year election security surge that made 2020 by far the most secure against hacking in decades. 

“I’m terribly distressed about what this has done to the public’s perception of elections,” Ann S. Jacobs (D), chair of the state Elections Commission in Wisconsin, told me. “It erodes the faith of the electorate in their elected leaders. It justifies violence and threats of violence against election workers. America has always prided itself on its orderly transition of power and these fake accusations are undermining that.”

Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R), leader of the state Assembly’s elections committee, issued subpoenas to two of the state’s largest counties, Milwaukee and Brown, demanding they turn over their voting machines to the legislature for review. 

It’s not clear how much force those subpoenas have because they lack support so far from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R). Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson (D) told me in a statement that he’s “reviewing the subpoena we received with regard to its validity,” but he declined to comment further. Brandtjen didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Gov. Tony Evers (D) has called the Maricopa audit a “clown show” and said Wisconsin county officials’ response to the audits should be “hell no.”

People cheer Wisconsin state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R) outside the Capitol in Madison after she announced that she has issued subpoenas for election materials from Milwaukee and Brown counties as part of a “cyber-forensic audit” of the state’s 2020 presidential election results. (Todd Richmond/AP)
But the effort is nevertheless fueling partisan rancor and doubts about the Wisconsin results. 

Trump sent a note to reporters praising the audit and poking at Vos. “Hopefully Republican Speaker Robin Vos has the integrity and strength Wisconsin needs to support Rep. Brandtjen’s efforts. Our Country is counting on it!” he wrote. 

Wisconsin Election Commissioner Robert F. Spindell Jr. (R), a supporter of the audit, told me public concerns about the election’s legitimacy mean more reviews are necessary. He pointed to a Marquette Law School poll that found 71 percent of Wisconsin Republicans aren’t confident the state’s election results were accurate. 

The question is more than is this concern legitimate or not. The issue is a huge number of people think there’s a problem with the election,” he said. “It seems to me we should try to do something to solve that rather than say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re all idiots. Believe us, everything was great.’ ”

Wisconsin’s results, however, have already been validated by a machine review and hand recounts in Milwaukee County and Dane County, home to Madison. They’re also in the midst of two other reviews – one led by the state’s Legislative Audit Bureau and another by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman.

Spindell recently attended the cyber symposium hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who has spun a broad and baseless conspiracy theory that China changed votes to steal the election from Trump. Spindell said he wasn’t necessarily convinced by Lindell’s full theory but came back convinced that “anything can be hacked.”

There’s lying, cheating and stealing in every aspect of life and now all of a sudden in voting there’s not? It’s hard for me to believe,” he told me. 

Election security experts generally argue that election hacking isn’t impossible but that it’s extremely difficult – and almost always requires hands-on access to every voting machines that’s successfully hacked. 

That means it’s exceedingly unlikely that anyone could alter enough votes to flip even a small election. If that happened it would almost certainly be caught by auditors, who could determine the true result by counting paper records of votes, which are available for about 95 percent of voting districts.  

State election officials are banding together to push back against the partisan reviews. 

The National Association of Secretaries of State voted to approve a slate of recommendations for post-election audits during its meeting this week. The recommendations were first reported by Politico.

They include:

  • Laying out strict timelines and procedures for how audits will be triggered and conducted before an election
  • Running audits through government bodies whenever possible rather than private companies
  • Being fully transparent about audit procedures

Another recommendation: Don’t let voting machines out of the custody of government officials where they could be infected with malicious software that could disrupt future elections. That’s the sort of hands-on access to voting machines that security experts genuinely worry about. 

The private firm conducting the Maricopa audit, Cyber Ninjas, violated that principle and the state is on the hook for $9 million to replace the machines the company inspected. 

Spindell told me he’d oppose any audit in Wisconsin that necessitated replacing voting machines. He said he’d urge a compromise such as having a county’s sheriff’s office supervise machines while they were reviewed by a private company.  

The keys

Israeli phone-cracking firm Cellebrite will set up an ethics committee and stop selling its technology to Bangladesh after human rights criticisms.

The decisions were probably caused by Cellebrite’s plans to sell its stock publicly in the United States, Haaretz’s Omer Benjakob and Oded Yaron report. The firm sells devices that extract data from locked phones to law enforcement. In Bangladesh, Cellebrite hardware was reportedly used by a paramilitary unit accused of torture.

Digital rights groups in July asked regulators and investors to pause Cellebrite’s plans to go public until it made progress on human rights. The company stopped selling its technology to Hong Kong and China last year and ended its sales to Russia and Belarus this year, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

BlackBerry held off for months announcing vulnerabilities in industrial software used in 200 million cars and other critical equipment.

BlackBerry first argued to government officials that the vulnerability didn’t infect its products. Later, the company said it could notify customers privately rather than making a public announcement, Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan and Eric Geller report

The story highlights the often-lengthy process before companies go public with detailed information about bugs in their products — delays that sometimes make customers more vulnerable. 

Part of the difficulty is that BlackBerry didn’t know who many of its end-users were. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency argued that privately notifying just the company’s known customers would leave many others in the dark, according to a CISA presentation reviewed by Politico. Blackberry ultimately made the announcement publicly. 

A Russia-linked influence operation targeted far-right 4chan users.

The long-running campaign called Secondary Infektion tried to stir outrage about the coronavirus on the unmoderated platform, CyberScoop’s Tonya Riley reports. The campaign also tried to increase anti-Muslim sentiments, according to Recorded Future.

The campaign is concerning because it utilized 4chan, a hotbed of domestic extremism, and calls for violence, according to Recorded Future’s Brian Liston. “Whether or not they help motivate or drive that behavior in other cases that we have not identified … remains to be seen,” he said.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

The Big Money Behind the Big Lie

0 0
Read Time:1 Minute, 56 Second

Bill Gates, a Republican official in Arizona, is appalled by his party’s “national effort to delegitimize the election system.”Photograph by Stephen Ross Goldstein for The New Yorker


Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy are being promoted by rich and powerful conservative groups that are determined to win at all costs.

By Jane Mayer August 2, 2021

It was tempting to dismiss the show unfolding inside the Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, as an unintended comedy. One night in June, a few hundred people gathered for the première of “The Deep Rig,” a film financed by the multimillionaire founder of Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, who is a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump. Styled as a documentary, the movie asserts that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen by supporters of Joe Biden, including by Antifa members who chatted about their sinister plot on a conference call. The evening’s program featured live appearances by Byrne and a local QAnon conspiracist, BabyQ, who claimed to be receiving messages from his future self. They were joined by the film’s director, who had previously made an exposé contending that the real perpetrators of 9/11 were space aliens.

But the event, for all its absurdities, had a dark surprise: “The Deep Rig” repeatedly quotes Doug Logan, the C.E.O. of Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based company that consults with clients on software security. In a voice-over, Logan warns, “If we don’t fix our election integrity now, we may no longer have a democracy.” He also suggests, without evidence, that members of the “deep state,” such as C.I.A. agents, have intentionally spread disinformation about the election. Although it wasn’t the first time that Logan had promoted what has come to be known as the Big Lie about the 2020 election—he had tweeted unsubstantiated claims that Trump had been victimized by voter fraud—the film offered stark confirmation of Logan’s entanglement in fringe conspiracies. Nevertheless, the president of the Arizona State Senate, Karen Fann, has put Logan’s company in charge of a “forensic audit”—an ongoing review of the state’s 2020 Presidential vote. It’s an unprecedented undertaking, with potentially explosive consequences for American democracy.

Read More Here

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Arizona’s GOP-backed ballot review has raised more than $5.7 million in private donations, organizers say

0 0
Read Time:59 Second

By: Rosalind S. Helderman

A private contractor conducting a Republican-commissioned review of 2020 presidential ballots in Arizona’s largest county announced late Wednesday that it has collected more than $5.7 million in private donations to fund the process.

The controversial ballot review, which included a hand recount of Maricopa County’s nearly 2.1 million ballots and a review of ballot tabulating machines, has been underway since April. It was ordered by the state’s Republican-led Senate, which agreed to spend $150,000 in taxpayer money to fund the audit. But the Senate allowed Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm hired to lead the process, to collect donations as well.

It has been clear for months that the lengthy ballot review, which was conducted by dozens of workers, some working nearly round-the-clock, was being largely financed by allies of former president Donald Trump. The newly released figures put that fact in sharp relief: More than 97 percent of the audit’s costs have so far been shouldered by donations from five organizations led by people who have promoted the false claim that the election was stolen.

Read More Here

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Texas GOP lawmakers want 2020 election audit — but only in big counties that mostly went for Biden

0 0
Read Time:53 Second

AUSTIN — Support is growing among Texas Republicans for a push to audit the results of the 2020 election in a state that former President Donald Trump won handily. But the proposal, introduced in the House earlier this month, would only re-examine votes in Texas’s largest counties, most of which went for President Biden.

The legislation, House Bill 241, calls for an independent third party appointed by the state’s top GOP officials to conduct a forensic audit of results in counties with more than 415,000 people. Of the 13 counties that meet that criteria, 10 voted for Biden last year.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Steve Toth, said earlier this week that his constituents are concerned about fraud in the election. In an interview, Toth added that he also became convinced an audit was needed after a meeting earlier this year with U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), who claimed to have evidence of vote fraud in a 2018 race that he lost.

Read the full story here

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %