“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never and it never will.” – Frederick Douglas
By Perry Busby
After former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee and House Intelligence Committee last week, mainstream news media outlets spent two days reporting news that readers of this column learned weeks ago.
That isn’t bragging. Just stating facts.
Before last week’s events I’m sure there were a few who were skeptical about what I was saying, and some who thought I was peddling wild conspiracy theories. I won’t waste time pointing out how we’re culturally conditioned to question information from African American sources while accepting it from white sources without reservation, or how African American newspapers have historically been the community’s magnifying glass on our government. I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.
Hopefully, I’ve built up enough credibility that you’ll take what I’m about to say seriously and begin to act on it. If you still have doubts, then I’ll tell you like they tell you at the domino table, “Study long. Study wrong!”
Senate Will Not Pass Any Voter Protection Bill
Any hope of Senate leaders passing legislation to protect elections and ensure integrity- so voter confidence is restored – is an exercise in futility. Moscow Mitch, a new moniker ascribed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, vowed months ago that any bill to overhaul or modify election systems before the 2020 election would not make it to the Senate floor for a vote. In fact, hours after Mueller testified, Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS) blocked two bills requiring campaigns to report influence efforts by foreign agents and another bill to expand cybersecurity efforts to protect equipment used by campaigns.
A more likely reason for McConnell’s reluctance to bring bills to the floor could be the contributions his campaign recently received from executives and lobbyists representing voting machine vendors, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Dominion, two vendors who account for 80% of all voting machines used in the U.S. Also, these companies stand to profit handsomely, as many states are currently rushing to upgrade their voting machines before the 2020 election. With Moscow Mitch in their pocket, they can sell their machines “as is”, without having to worry about meeting any new standards.
Additionally, it should be noted that the day following Mueller’s testimony, the Senate Intelligence Committee released their report on Russian election interference. While the bi-partisan report acknowledges Russia interfered in the 2016 election, the report contains statements that aren’t consistent with findings from other previously released reports, such as a section proclaiming Russia attempted to hack election systems in all 50 states and declaring definitively that no votes were altered or deleted as a result of those attempts.
To be clear, the committee did not conduct a detail audit to ascertain if votes were altered or missing. The committee also did not do an analysis to determine if voter data had been altered or deleted from any state’s voter registration database. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (OR) pushed to have these facts included, so as not to mislead the public. The corrections appear in the report’s addendum.
Although it doesn’t look like the Senate is going to make any effort to protect upcoming elections, each of us can still do something. We can start with calling Republican Senators and telling them this irresponsible and insubordinate behavior is not acceptable. Florida residents can call Rick Scott at (202) 224-5274; and Marco Rubio at (202) 224-3041. Also, call and encourage Senate Democrats to fight harder and speak louder about this issue.
What Does This Mean for State and County Officials?
With the Senate punting the ball on this issue, it is now up to county and state officials to make responsible decisions. As I stated earlier, many states and counties are replacing their outdated voting machines. Some states, such as Georgia and New Jersey, have chosen voting machines which some experts have declared as high risk (we’ll talk more about this next week).
Purchasing new equipment will not magically prevent all hacking attempts, although many state election officials have made similar false proclamations.
What many of these new machines will do is: (1) increase voting times, since voters, especially older voters, may find them harder to navigate; (2) increase the risk of voter error; (3) expand budget allocations, which may result in cutbacks in other areas, such as shorter early voting schedules or reduced polling locations.
In the case of Broward and Palm Beach County, two predominant Democratic counties who are facing a critical election with new Republican-appointed election supervisors, with no prior experience, I’m interested in learning what county commissioners have to say about this issue. When asked about election integrity concerns, one Broward County commissioner responded, “I don’t see it as much of an issue at all.”
I hope that attitude isn’t common among all county commissioners, election supervisors and other elected officials. If it is, then we can expect Mr. Trump to win Florida by more than the slim 112,000 vote margin he had in 2016, and perhaps lose a few Democratic House seats, in the process.
As always stay tuned to the Westside Gazette for more information about your vote.