Category: Voting

Republicans keep on telling voter-fraud fairy tales

Republicans keep on telling voter-fraud fairy tales

The Washington Post
By Editorial Board
Image courtesy of Gabriella Demczuk

Shortly before Virginia’s elections last month, we asked the three Republicans on the statewide ballot — Ed Gillespie, the gubernatorial candidate; Jill Vogel, the lieutenant gubernatorial candidate; and John Adams, the attorney general candidate — if they believed voter fraud was rampant in the state. None gave a straightforward answer; all three mentioned the isolated case of an undergraduate at James Madison University who filed 18 falsified voter registration forms last year, none of which resulted in a fraudulent vote being cast.

The JMU case is the near-exception that proves the rule: Voting officials and scholars in Virginia, as in other states, say election fraud is rare across the United States; even more seldom does it result in falsified votes at the ballot box.

Nonetheless, the robotic responses by the three Virginia Republicans, who all lost by sizable margins, reflected the party’s intellectual corruption in an age of truthlessness. In the party of President Trump, who asserted, without a scintilla of evidence, that he lost the popular vote in the presidential election because up to 5 million people voted fraudulently, veracity has gone out of fashion. Consequently, many GOP candidates, including Mr. Gillespie, Mr. Adams and Ms. Vogel, lack the spine to utter what is plainly true — namely, that there is no evidence whatsoever that voter fraud is prevalent in the United States.

The Republican project is clear. Facing disadvantageous demographic trends — specifically, an increasingly diverse electorate — GOP lawmakers across the country are using the specter of fraudulent voting to justify rules, including tougher state voter ID legislation, tailor-made to deter minority and young voters, who lean Democratic.

American Democracy is now under siege by both cyber-espionage and GOP voter suppression

The Nation
Ari Berman

In September 2010, the District of Columbia unveiled a pilot project to enable overseas residents and people serving in the military to vote over the Internet, and invited users to test the system. Within 36 hours, University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman and his team were able to hack into it, flipping votes to candidates named after famous computers, like HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and playing the Michigan fight song, “The Victors,” after every recorded vote. Amazingly, it took two days for election officials in DC to notice the hack and take the system down. The pilot project was eventually scrapped.

Though online voting remains a distant prospect in American politics, this wasn’t the first election system that Halderman hacked. On June 21, 2017, he testified before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee in a hearing on “Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Elections.” “My conclusion,” Halderman told the committee, “is that our highly computerized election infrastructure is vulnerable to sabotage, and even to cyber-attacks that could change votes.”

“Dr. Halderman, you’re pretty good at hacking voting machines, by your testimony,” Senator Angus King of Maine observed. “Do you think the Russians are as good as you?”

“The Russians have the resources of a nation-state,” Halderman replied. “I would say their capabilities would significantly exceed mine.”

The truth is that the same Republicans who benefited from Russian hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign e-mails in the 2016 election have been trying for years to suppress Democratic-leaning votes. As civil-rights leader Rev. William Barber notes, “Voter suppression hacked our democracy long before any Russian agents meddled in America’s elections.” Since the 2010 election, 22 states—nearly all of them controlled by Republicans—have passed new laws making it harder to vote, which culminated in the 2016 election being the first in more than 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.

According to a new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 12 percent of the electorate in 2016—16 million Americans—encountered a problem voting, including long lines at the polls, difficulty registering, or faulty voting machines. And last year’s election was decided by just 80,000 votes in three states.

Republicans have accelerated their voter-suppression efforts at the state and federal levels in 2017. According to the Brennan Center, 99 bills to limit access to the ballot have been introduced in 31 states this year, and more states have enacted new voting restrictions in 2017 than in 2016 and 2015 combined. Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, and Texas passed new voter-ID laws; Georgia made voter registration more difficult; and Montana is in the process of limiting the use of absentee ballots.