This Isn’t Your Grandparent’s Election
By Perry Busby
State voter rolls have become Republicans latest tool to disenfranchise voters. According to a 2018 report by the Brennan Center for Justice (BCJ), researchers found that four million more people were purged from state rolls between the federal elections of 2014 and 2016 than between 2006 and 2008. Much of that increase came from states that were previously required under the VRA to get election changes cleared in advance, before that part of the law was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.
For the record, purges in and of themselves aren’t bad. They’re commonly used to clean up voter lists when someone has moved, passed away, and more. Problems arise when faulty criteria is used to determine names for removal. When flawed, the process threatens to silence eligible voters on Election Day — especially in states where purge rates are high. Also, when used in combination with Voter ID, it creates an impenetrable barrier that disproportionately affects seniors, as well as minority and low-income voters, most of whom are renters and tend to relocate every 12-18 months.
The BCJ report found that from November 2008 to November 2010, the median purge rate in Florida was 0.2%. That number jumped to 3.6% from 2012 to 2014. And new data estimates that between December 2016 and September 2018, Florida may have purged more than 7% of its voters.
Vulnerable Voting Machines
Computerized voting machines have been around since the 1990s. Since their introduction, these machines have continuously shown themselves as vulnerable portals for malicious activity and a risk to our democratic rule for free and fair elections.
At the 2017 DefCon Conference in Las Vegas, a conference attended by hackers and security enthusiasts from across the country, hackers were able to infiltrate thirty machines of five different variations. Some attempts were achieved in a matter of a few minutes.
Those who were familiar with the shortcomings of these machines were not surprised by the news. The general public, on the other hand, were eagerly awaiting an update on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian probe and paid little attention to a news story about a conference full of computer nerds.
A popular but unsubstantiated belief by many is that voting machines are tamper resistant because they aren’t connected to the Internet. Leading up to the 2016 general election, former FBI Director James Comey made a similar claim when it was reported that Russia attacked voter databases in twenty-one states (some reports claim that number may be as high as thirty-nine). Comey was quoted as saying, “The vote system in the United States… is very, very hard for someone to hack into because it’s so clunky and dispersed. It’s Mary and Fred putting up a machine under the basketball hoop in the gym. These things are not connected to the Internet.”