Election Security

The genesis of The Election Security Strategic Team (ESST) was created when it was discovered by 17 of our intelligence agencies that the United States elections had been interfered with in 2016. It was also discovered at that time that Illinois was 1 of 21 states that was hacked and the only state whose voter registration clearinghouse was breached.

Free and fair elections are a central pillar of our democracy. Voting is a fundamental right of all Americans. If people lose faith in the integrity of their vote, they may not exercise their right to cast a ballot. We formed our group to fight for and restore this sacred right.

Please join us. All Americans should be confident that their votes will be cast and correctly counted when they go to the polls. Together we can make a difference.

Information you should know: Who are the election system vendors behind your vote?


Election Systems & Software CEO Tom Burt, CEO of Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos and Hart InterCivic CEO Julie Mathis testify before the House Administration Committee. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Cybersecurity experts have told us that the gold standard for fair and secure elections are hand-marked paper ballots and robust post-election audits. However, the current trend is to vote on computers. The question is, how safe are the voting systems that you rely on today to secure your vote?

Here is what an expert, formerly with election systems vendor Hart InterCivic, tells us: “It’s very simple. No matter how secure that device is, there’s no way to know whether the choice that’s recorded matches what the voter intended. It’s rightly called a black box,” Edward Perez, a former Hart InterCivic executive who is now global director of technology development at OSET Institute, a nonprofit election technology organization, said in an interview.

Government agencies tell us that Russian hackers probed election systems across the country in 2016 and penetrated systems in our own state of Illinois as well as in Florida.

So why are states, including Illinois, paying exorbitant tax payer funds to purchase the new wave of machinery, called Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs)? BMDs are an increasingly popular piece of equipment that combines paper and touch-screen voting estimated to cost anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000? They are systems that are known to be unstable AND tend to cause long lines at polling places as reported by cybersecurity experts such as Drs. Richard DeMillo of GIT and Phillip Stark of Berkeley. Illinois purchased BMDs for $31 million in September of 2018 for Suburban Cook County. We understand that the Chicago Board of Elections has signed up for BMDs as well. Currently, there are more than 350,000 voting machines in use across the nation. This makes no sense given that most experts agree that hand-marked paper ballots are more reliable and cost effective. Assistive devices should only be available for people with disabilities.

Earlier this month, the three major CEOs of election systems testified at a three-hour congressional hearing for the first time to explore what’s being done to secure the vote before one of the more contentious general elections in decades.

As my group, Election Security Strategic Team (ESST), has demonstrated through an election security public awareness campaign, more than 90% of United States voting machines are made and controlled by just three vendors: These vendors are Elections Systems & Software (ES&S), LLC, Dominion Voting and Hart InterCivic. ES&S and Dominion account for 80% of the market. Illinois Suburban Cook County has purchased BMDs in the Dominion family of products. The control of our voting processes by these vendors opens the door to vulnerabilities.

Background on the vendors:

• As cited by the articles referenced and reviewed here, these vendors supply three main types of equipment that voters use at the polls: 1) optical or digital scanners for counting hand-marked paper ballots, 2) direct record electronic called DREs (usually touchscreen) voting machines, and 3) BMDs that generate computer-marked paper ballots or “summary cards” to be counted on scanners often with much-disputed barcodes used to assess your vote
• Despite three years of congressional attention to election security since Russia’s hacking efforts in 2016, little has been done to oversee the voting machine vendors who run our elections. Mitch McConnell has put the kibosh on a plethora of legislation introduced in Congress and designed to protect our elections, which has actually been bipartisan in some cases
• Is lobbying by the vendors why we have these machines? Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said she found “serious flaws” with the way her city had awarded a $29 million contract to ES&S, following more than $425,000 in lobbying efforts and campaign contributions by the company as part of a six-year sales campaign. The company has defended its efforts, and argued its spending was properly documented. ES&S’s CEO, Tom Burt, told the panel that the company deployed lobbyists “to educate any of those involved about who we are as a company, the values we hold, and how we conduct our business.”
• Software from the vendors is considered proprietary. Therefore, if election officials want to investigate problems with software, they are legally unable to do so. This is not acceptable
• Privately held, private equity firms own each of the top three vendors. They have been unwilling to identify specific ownership which should cause major concern. We must demand answers
• This is a low-margin market, vendors are known to make contributions to political parties which put decision making about these systems in question.  ES&S has donated more than $30,000 to the Republican State Leadership Council since 2013
• There is also a revolving door between election systems vendors and some election officials

Excerpts from the hearing:

• Vendors faced a range of questions on sensitive topics from lawmakers on their companies’ products and supply chains, their lobbying practices and the reliability and security of those trending BMDs
• The vendors declined to answer questions about their annual profits, stating: “We’re a private company, so we’ll keep that information private,” ES&S’s Burt said.  This lack of transparency is unacceptable!
• The executives acknowledged that their machines include hardware manufactured in China, a state of affairs that has been identified as a potential security risk, but argued that that was an unavoidable outcome of 21st century global supply chains
• Liz Howard, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and a former deputy commissioner at Virginia’s Department of Elections, warned that election vendors “play a critical role in our democracy but have received little or no congressional oversight.”
• Matt Blaze, a Georgetown computer scientist and a prominent expert in the field, said that election infrastructure—not only used to cast votes, but to register voters, design ballots, and report results—“has proven dangerously vulnerable to tampering and attack,” and suggested policymakers should devote more attention to such backend systems, which can offer hackers more centralized targets
• Blaze said that machine-aided elections can be safe and reliable as long as voter intentions are accurately recorded on paper then checked in rigorous post-election audits. (Please note that I personally disagree that machines can reliably record voter intent as are Professors DeMillo and Stark.) Unfortunately, Blaze noted, only a handful, but growing, number of states employ what’s known as a risk-limiting audit, the gold standard among election security experts that harnesses statistics to randomly select ballots for manual inspection and comparison against the machine tallies.
• Just as we don’t expect the local sheriff to single-handedly defend against military ground invasions, we shouldn’t expect county election IT managers to defend against cyber attacks by foreign intelligence services,” Blaze said, “But that’s precisely what we’ve been asking them to do.”

Bottom line:

Matt Blaze: “The vulnerabilities are real, they’re serious, and absent a surprising breakthrough in my field—which I would welcome but I don’t see coming soon—probably inevitable.”

What can we do about it?

Plenty, knowledge is power. Let’s take what we have learned and schedule meetings with our state legislators and election officials to secure our votes. This is a critical area of our democracy that has received scant attention. Let them know that we the people are paying attention. Schedule an appoint today and ESST will join you to demand accountability and transparency in our elections.

Want to know what your county is using? Check this out!

CONTACT ROSE AT ESST TO DISCUSS HOW YOU CAN SECURE THE VOTE: rcolacino@indivisibleil.com

Sources used for this posting:

Vicens, AJ, (January 10, 2020), Voting Machine Makers Face Tough Questions from Congress, Mother Jones, Voting Machine Makers Face Tough Questions from Congress

Popken, Ben, (January 9, 2020), Voting Machine Vendors Testify in Election Security Hearing, MSNBC Video, Voting machine vendors testify in election security hearing

Marks, Joseph, (January 10, 2020), The Cybersecurity 202: Voting Vendors, Security Pros Still Far Apart on Protecting 2020 Election, Washington Post, , The Cybersecurity 202: Voting vendors, security pros still far apart on protecting 2020 election

Cohn, Jennifer, (November 5, 2018), Voting Machines: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?, NYR Daily, Voting Machines: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Zetter, Kim, (October 30, 2018), Texas Voting Machines Have Been ‘a Known Problem’ for a Decade, VICE, Texas Voting Machines Have Been ‘a Known Problem” for a Decade

Lauterbach, Cole, (January 10, 2020), County Clerk from Illinois Testifies on Election Security, The Center Square, County clerk from Illinois testifies on election security before Congress

Truth and voting rights: fighting disinformation and enforcing election security

As we start the year and embark on winning back the presidency, the Senate and keeping the House we must in the name of election security also address and fight disinformation campaigns that are perpetuated against democratic candidates and those focused on suppressing the vote.

When the Election Security Strategic Team (ESST) attended a hearing conducted by the U.S. House Department of Homeland Security, the testimony of both Steven Sandvoss, Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) and Matthew Masterson, Senior Cybersecurity Advisor of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relayed that they were concerned about not only the security of voting systems but also the proliferation of disinformation as an attempt to keep people away from the polls.

According to Mr. Masterson, DHS will be rolling out an anti-disinformation campaign prior to the 2020 elections. While we await the launch of that campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) recently produced a document worth your time. If each of us as citizen activists take ownership for promoting and abiding by the recommendations in this document, we will be heading in the right direction.  Document found here: https://democrats.org/who-we-are/what-we-do/disinfo/general-public/

Thanks to Scott Cross for calling the DNC Combating Online Disinformation document to our attention.

The document is comprehensive and thorough. I will concentrate on the section entitled, DNC Recommendations for Combating Online Disinformation – General Public.

Here are the key recommendations:

  1. Actively seek out information online from multiple authoritative sources
  2. Ask yourself who the author of online content is, why they posted the information, and what they are hoping you will do with it
  3. Avoid being manipulated by divisive or dishonest content
  4. If you see something untrue on social media, try to inject truth into the debate

I want to add recommendations from George Lakoff Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley:

Apply the Truth Sandwich-

  1. Start with the truth. The first frame gets the advantage
  2. Indicate the lie. Avoid amplifying the specific language if possible
  3. Return to the truth. Always repeat truths more than lies
  4. Hear more in Episode 14 of FrameLab https://soundcloud.com/user-253479697/14-truth-sandwich-time

Back to the DNC document which references the Senate Intelligence Committee report found below: https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report_Volume2.pdf.

As stated in that report, the Internet Research Agency (IRA) is an entity headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia, which since at least 2013 has undertaken a variety of Russian active measures campaigns at the behest of the Kremlin.

It is my opinion that in order to combat the problem we must be fully aware of the measures that are being undertaken.

I highlight key findings below in the section, IRA Operations Explicitly Targeting the 2016 U.S. Election:

In addition to denigrating Hillary Clinton, voter suppression among left-leaning audiences appears to have been another political goal of the IRA’s influence operatives. Young Mie Kim, a digital advertisement research expert from the University of Wisconsin, has closely analyzed the IRA’s Facebook advertisements. On the basis of Kim’s analysis, three types of voter suppression campaigns on Facebook and Instagram emerge, including:

a) turnout suppression/election boycott;
b) third-candidate promotion; and
c) candidate attack, all targeting nonwhites or likely Clinton voters.”143

Kim found no evidence of a comparable voter suppression effort that targeted U.S. voters on the ideological right (page 35)

Side point from me about point (c) “likely Clinton voters” above.  Jason Johnson in The Root reminds us that 53% of white women pushed Trump over the top in 2016.  Something that as a white woman myself and a Hillary Clinton supporter that I will never understand.  Perhaps some of the disinformation campaigns worked on them too.

I found these points from the Senate Intelligence report also worth calling to your attention:

In addition, the IRA “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system,” which included- but was not limited to-targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election.156  John Kelly found that “[i]t’s a far more sophisticated  attack than just caring about an election.  And it’s not just one election they care about.  They care about the electoral system.”157

Darren Linvill echoed this point, concluding “[I]n general, there’s been too much focus on Russian interference in the election.  It’s much more than that.  It’s interference in our society, in our culture, in our political conversation.”158 (page 37 – 38)

No single group of Americans was targeted by IRA information operatives more than African-Americans.  By far, race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016.  Evidence of the IRA’s overwhelming operational emphasis on race is evident in the IRA’s Facebook advertisement content (over 66 percent contained a term related to race ) and targeting (locational targeting was principally aimed at “African-Americans in key metropolitan areas with well-established black communities and flashpoints in the Black Lives Matter movement”), as well as its Facebook pages (one of the IRA’s top-performing pages, “Blacktivist,” generated 11.2 million engagements with Facebook users), its Instagram content (five of the top 10 Instagram accounts were focused on African-American issues and audiences), its Twitter content (heavily focused on hot-button issues with racial undertones such as the NFL kneeling protests), and its YouTube (page 38 – 39)

I include recommendations listed on page 78 of the report:

This challenge requires an integrated approach that brings together the public and private sectors. This approach must be rooted in protecting democratic values, including freedom of speech and the right to privacy.  The Federal government, civil society, and the private sector, including social media and technology companies, each have an important role to play in deterring and defending against foreign influence operations that target the United States.

In closing it is my opinion that after being made aware and recognizing the strategies of Russian Active Measures and in order to adopt a comprehensive approach to resolve the problem, our best recourse is to turn the executive and Congressional branches blue.  It is the only way, in my eyes, to enact legislation such as HR 1 and the numerous crucial election security bills that sit dormant on Mitch McConnell’s graveyard of stalled legislation.

We are in for the fight of our lives.  Now, let’s get to work.

CALL-TO-ACTION: Join us and protect voters’ rights in 2020

Wishing you all Happy Holidays: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and Feliz Navidad.

After the holidays when you are considering how to make an impact, please consider joining forces with us to protect our elections in the critical swing state of Wisconsin. Alarming reports of the GOP plan to suppress the vote and intimidate voters at the polls are being exposed. A judge in Milwaukee ordered the purge of 234,00 voter names from the voter rolls. Recent reports also tell us that the GOP will increase efforts of voter intimidation at the polls.

Quotes from Ben Wikler, Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, in a recent tweet:

“Rs have been blocked from so-called “poll monitoring” since 1982, after a federal lawsuit claimed the RNC and the state GOP had off-duty police stand at polling places in urban areas wearing armbands that read ‘National Ballot Security Task Force,’ with guns visible on some.

… but last year, a judge lifted the consent decree that blocked the RNC from intimidating voters. So now they’re back in business. And as we learned today, it’s explicitly a core strategy for their victory.

One core element of the strategy to defeat this voter suppression is by building voter protection teams, with lawyers and organizers, in every battleground state. That’s what @staceyabrams’s group @fairfightaction is doing, with us and others.”

Listen in as Ben Wikler talks purges, voter suppression and the fight for democracy in Wisconsin on MSNBC. The purge of voters is not just an attack on Democrats — it’s an attack on American democracy:

https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1209513517830852608

What can we, in the neighboring state of Illinois, do about it?

We are organizing with leaders from WI Democrats to serve as poll-observers in Wisconsin. Please join us in this vital role for activists concerned about voters’ rights and the attack on our democracy.

For additional information on this important voter protection initiative, please contact Rose Colacino at rcolacino@indivisibleil.com.

CALL-TO-ACTION: Write a Letter to the Editor today!

Please send a Letter to the Editor to demand election security. This tool makes it quick and easy!  It requires no writing of your own.

https://www.standupamerica.com/election-security-senate-lte/?source=secureourvote#newmode-embed-12162-15162

Russia hacked our elections in 2016 as confirmed by all of our intelligence agencies as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee. Trump outwardly requested assistance from Russia and Wikileaks. Despite the efforts of Democrats and some Republicans, election security bills have stalled in the Senate thanks to Mitch McConnell. We are at a crisis point in our country. Election security adversely affected us in 2016 and is a major factor in the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

The impeachment findings largely hinge on Trump’s demand for election interference from another foreign power – Ukraine. He has also called out to China to assist him with the 2020 election. This goes counter to all of our democratic  values.

Let’s give election security the attention it deserves!  Between possible foreign interference, potentially record high turnout and new voting equipment, we need to do everything we can to secure our vote.

Join me in writing a Letter to the Editor demanding election security measures! Take this quick and easy step today!  Time is running out.

Voting Machine Failures in PA Highlight Need For Election Security Funding

Voting machines failed miserably in a Pennsylvania county in November. The problems, which may have been caused by a software glitch, resulted in some residents who tried to vote straight-ticket Democrat initially registering as straight-ticket Republican. It also incorrectly showed a GOP judicial candidate winning by a nearly statistically impossible margin.

In this case, voters got lucky. The county had paper backups for all the votes the machine counted incorrectly. They showed the Democrat judicial candidate Abe Kassis — who the computer tally said got just 164 votes out of 55,000 ballots — actually narrowly won the race.

Officials haven’t determined what caused the failures, but a senior intelligence official who focuses on election security said there were “no visible signs of outside meddling by any foreign actors.” The miscount shows, however, how voting machine vulnerabilities could be exploited by Russia, China or Iran — which U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies said are all eager to interfere in the 2020 contest.

House Democrats have passed bills that would require paper backups for all votes and deliver $600 million for states to upgrade voting machines and add other cybersecurity protections. But Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell has blocked any bills that mandate specific election security fixes.

Northampton also demonstrates the importance of automatic “risk limiting” audits after elections to make sure that paper records back up machine results.

Marks, Joseph “The Cybersecurity 202: Pennsylvania voting debacle gives ammunition to paper ballot push” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-cybersecurity-202/2019/12/02/the-cybersecurity-202-pennsylvania-voting-debacle-gives-ammunition-to-paper-ballot-push/5de3fe8b602ff1181f2641e5/

Election Security: Audits must be conducted on hand-marked paper ballots

Fair and free elections are fundamental to our democracy. The gold standard for election security is hand-marked paper ballots with robust audits. Experts tell us that one of Illinois’s weakest links is inadequate audit processes. They recommend Risk-Limiting Audits (RLAs) for Illinois and all states especially the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Recently, Dr. Philip Stark, the creator of risk-limiting audits – a secure, transparent and reliable method to audit our votes – drummed up some controversy.

Dr. Stark had been a board member of Verified Voting, but recently stepped down due to Verified Voting’s support of RLA testing on Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). BMDs are touch screen voting systems often with barcodes that provide a print-out of a voter’s selections in some versions. Suburban Cook County and Chicago will be implementing such BMDs for upcoming elections. Risk-limiting audits are designed to be conducted on hand-marked paper ballots to ensure a voter’s intent is secure.

We recommend, when possible, that voters vote on hand-marked paper ballots with assistive devices available for people with disabilities. Risk-limiting audits are the best way to audit the vote. Sidebar action step:  Voters must demand RLA legislation from their State Reps and State Senators to have an impact on upcoming elections.

Provided is Dr. Stark’s letter of resignation from the Verified Voting Board. I support Dr. Stark and his decision to stand by his convictions.

Read on for Dr. Stark’s letter:

https://t.co/p0AQWa83zV

CALL-TO-ACTION: Please email our Senators & your Congressional Rep about this event

Hello Democracy leaders,

Please take a minute to email or call your Senate and Congressional offices about this important event and tell them how critical it is for them to send a staffer to the Congressional Briefing.

We want to fill the room and make election integrity a top national security priority.

Find your Representative and Senators here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members

Thank you!  Details follow below:

 

Date and location: November 21st 10am in Senate Dirksen G-11.

Briefing will feature nationally recognized security and auditing experts including:

  • Dr. Andrew Appel – University of Princeton Professor of Computer Science
  • Dr. Stephanie Singer – Verified Voting Consultant and former Philadelphia Election Commissioner
  • Bennie Smith – Memphis Tennessee Election Commissioner and Computer Programmer

Panel will be moderated by Lulu Friesdat – Award-winning election security journalist and filmmaker

The panel will feature a demonstration of malware changing votes on an actual voting system, flipping the winner of the race in a matter of seconds. Panelists will cover current vulnerabilities in U.S. voting systems, available solutions, and the need for a rapid response to this crisis. Voters, including voters with disabilities, must know that their votes are counted accurately and securely.

Recommendations from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

  • States should remain firmly in the lead on running elections, and the federal government should ensure they receive the necessary resources and information.
  • States should take urgent steps to replace outdated and vulnerable voting systems.
  • Paper ballots and optical scanners are the least vulnerable to cyber attack; at minimum, any [voting] machine purchased going forward should have a voter-verified paper trail and remove … any wireless networking capability.
  • Statistically sound audits may be the simplest and most direct way to ensure confidence in the integrity of the vote … Risk-limiting audits, or some similarly rigorous alternative, are the future of ensuring that votes cast are votes counted.
  • More funds may be needed, as the allocation under the HAVA formula did not prioritize replacing vulnerable electronic-only machines.
  • Dr. Halderman testified that replacing insecure paperless voting machines nationwide would cost $130 to $400 million dollars. Risk-limiting audits would cost less than $20 million a year.[1]
  • The Committee believes the benefit of having a provably accurate vote is worth the cost

Contact: SMART Elections Co-founder Lulu Friesdat

SMART Elections, a non-partisan project dedicated to “Elevating Election Reform to an Urgent National Priority” to hold a Congressional Briefing on Election Security.

Email: contact@smartelections.us | 917.543.2125

[1] In follow up email with SMART Elections Dr. Halderman estimated the cost of replacing all of the most vulnerable equipment at around $370 million dollars. Using the HAVA formula “to ensure each state receives at least 100% of its share” his estimate was 1.8 billion. That figure is close to the 2.153 billion dollars The Brennan Center says is needed for “basic security items.”

Rose Colacino
Election Integrity & Security
Voters’ Rights Lead
Indivisible Illinois
Phone: 773-343-9849
EM: rcolacino@indivisibleil.com

Secure Our Vote Pizza Party!

On September 17,  democracy advocates organized dozens of events, and made thousands of phone calls, calling on the Senate to fund election security. As a result, Senator Mitch McConnell reversed his previous stance and announced his support for $250 million for election security. Our activism worked!  While we appreciate that #MoscowMitch approved $250 million, it’s a small sum compared to the $600 million passed by the House to secure the vote.

We have just a few weeks left before the critical funding deadline on November 21, and election security experts are warning that many states and localities have election systems that are vulnerable to hacking and external actors.

On Nov. 13th, activists across the country will again organize nation-wide activities to urge #MoscowMitch and our Senators to pass $600 million in election security funding and to include accountability language to ensure the money is well-spent.

Join the Election Security Strategic Team (ESST) for a Secure Our Vote Pizza Party at Salerno’s in Oak Park. We will write postcards and letters, make calls and tweet at #MoscowMitch! Pizza is free, stamps will be provided, just bring your enthusiasm!

Wednesday, November 13
11:30AM – 1:30PM
Salerno’s Pizza of Oak Park
7128 Roosevelt Rd
Oak Park IL

If you can’t make it, please use this social media kit to support the Secure Our Vote day of action! bit.ly/SOV-DOA-SOCIAL-MEDIA-KIT

Facebook: facebook.com/events/972929259772207

EveryAction: secure.everyaction.com/L6Fc-g0f9Uu1xgrTT3o9NA2

#SecureOurVote #ElectionSecurity

Advice from Sen. Durbin on our next day of action to secure our vote, Nov. 13

The Election Security Strategy Team (ESST) met with Senator Durbin to discuss efforts to pass election security funding in the Senate – noting that the House has passed the SAFE and Appropriations Acts, allocating $600M for election security grants to states.

Senator Durbin commented that he was surprised that McConnell supported even $250K for that purpose. He allowed that the national day of action which we participated in last month, may have been a factor in that. Senator Durbin indicated that the appellation “Moscow Mitch” was likely also part of it as a motivating factor. He agreed that $250K is insufficient – Illinois may only get less than $1M of that, which will not go very far.

In our interest of promoting the most secure voting equipment, we proposed adding requirements (or at least guidelines) as to how the appropriations would be spent. We felt that this could be appreciated across the aisle as “accountability”. Senator Durbin immediately indicated that the GOP was not going to support any federal standards or guidelines on election equipment or processes.

The ESST team added its support to internet infrastructure security consulting (what we in Illinois term “Cyber Navigators”) and the Senator replied that this was his highest area of concern. While he understand the risk of “vote flipping” through hacking of polling place election equipment, he places a higher priority on the security of the back-end infrastructure. Perhaps this perspective strengthens the case for funding on back-end security.

When we asked for his advice on our focus and efforts, Senator Durbin indicated that McConnell was the correct focus and while physical organizing efforts such as our recent rally were useful, he highly recommended a concentrated effort through social media.

We offer Senator Durbin’s advice here as we support another day of action to secure our vote on November 13, 2019.

ACTION STEPS: Please use social media on this date to demand that #MoscowMitch #SecureOurVote. We also recommend phone calls to Mitch McConnell’s D.C. office on November 13. He can be reached at (202) 224-2541.

Written by Ed Spire and edited by Rose Colacino

How to Mitigate Election Tampering? Perform an Audit.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report spelled out in detail a Russian led operation to interfere in the 2016 election, one so successful, experts warn, they’ll probably try again. In light of these revelations, how do we protect the integrity of our elections? How can we be sure the right candidate actually won?

Election security experts agree there is one essential step to confirm whether voting machines are recording and tallying votes correctly and it’s so simple it can be carried out with a pen and paper; it’s called a risk-limiting audit (RLA).

States that verify the accuracy of their vote tallies do so the “traditional” way. The auditors manually recount votes in a predetermined percentage of precincts. This tells officials whether a particular machine or group of machines is working, but it doesn’t actually answer the essential question: Did the declared winner actually win?

RLAs instead do the recount the math geek way. They hand-count a statistically meaningful sample of all votes to determine whether the original tally was correct. The required sample increases as the margin of victory narrows. These audits can be conducted publicly and can provide voters with confidence that a counting error or malicious attack did not change the outcome.

So why aren’t states auditing election results using RLAs. Money, of course.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been blocking many election security bills, in part, because he dislikes federal interference. But some of this legislation contains incentives for switching to risk-limiting audits — not the sort of shove from the federal government that “Moscow Mitch” deplores, but a helping hand. He should let states take it to protect against Russia and other adversaries’ far less friendly reach.”

“A simple step every state could take to safeguard elections” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/election-security-that-mitch-mcconnell-should-get-behind/2019/10/21/319eec70-f1d7-11e9-8693-f487e46784aa_story.html

Deluzio, Christopher “A Smart and Effective Way to Safeguard Elections” https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/smart-and-effective-way-safeguard-elections

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