Thursday, February 26, 2015

Voter Integrity Vigilance

You’d think everyone would be for free and fair elections. But there’s actually a lot of opposition, with the thinly veiled purpose of making voter fraud easier to do and harder to prosecute.

The Texas Legislature is in session, and, as they say, when the legislature is in session, we’re most in danger of losing our freedoms. So I was very interested in the Ballot Security Committee’s report last Saturday the quarterly meeting for precinct chairs and other officials of the county GOP. This committee is intended to help us move toward free and fair elections.
Alan Vera, doing poll watcher
training I attended in 2011
The committee chair is Alan Vera, who spent four years as True the Vote’s national director of curriculum and Training. True the Vote is the nationwide organization that trains poll workers and poll watchers, as well as examines voter rolls and pushes for prosecution of voter fraud. They started here in Houston. In fact, the building they used to use is where we met Saturday. (You might be familiar with them from news about the IRS attacks on founder Catherine Engelbrecht, who also founded King Street Patriots.)
Vera wrote the curriculum and led training for Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Arizona, and what he calls “hopeless California.” He was my trainer as a poll worker. Just about anywhere in the US, you can volunteer with True the Vote. If you’re at all concerned about the 2016 election being stolen, getting trained now and having a year or more of training is the best protection. Vera told us, “I’ve seen the worst in American elections. And I’ve seen the best when ordinary citizens rose up to take charge of the integrity of their own elections.”
Now, on the Ballot Security Committee, he’s keeping an eye on the Texas Legislature. The bill that really got my attention is a proposal to offer online voter registration. There’s a bill in the House (HB 312, plus similar bills: HB 76, HB 444, and HB 953) with a companion bill in the Senate (SB 385). Normally you’d think of this as Democrat mischief, but HB 312 is authored by a Republican, a local one we have to keep an eye on. But we’ve had productive visits with her staffer in past legislative sessions, and maybe a little citizen lobbying will persuade her to withdraw her bill—that would leave only four others on this issue to worry about, that we know of.
Vera made a good point about this “gateway to automated voter registration fraud”:
The sad truth is that online transactions are nowhere near being reliably secure yet. J.P. Morgan Chase and Blue Cross/Blue Shield have single year online security budgets many times larger than the COMBINED budgets of the Texas Secretary of State, and the voter registrar of every single county in Texas. But Chase and Blue Cross have their systems hacked every week.
I want to add some perspective to that. Back when the Sony hack was news a few months back, that supposedly came from North Korea, I wondered how that could be. They can’t even feed their people; how could they pull off hacking that technologically sophisticated? So I asked my son Economic Sphere, who has spent the last year paying attention to North Korea from close range. He said yes, they definitely have the skills to do that kind of hack. They spend their time hacking South Korean businesses constantly. Every typical company in South Korea has better online security than even the best corporate online security in America. So, yes, it could happen.
If they can do it, other hackers can do it. And that, I’m certain, is the plan. Sure, it would be convenient to handle yet another detail online. But registration is only a matter of filling out a card with your identifying information—and signing your name to swear that you have answered truthfully—followed by enough office time to allow “trust but verify.” It would be nice to get a driver’s license online and avoid the dreaded hours of waiting for bureaucracy to do its thing too. But, again, how do you verify ID? And what about losing that sensitive information to hacking?
As Vera put it,
I’ll start to consider that online data exchanges are foolproof when the SAT test allows people to take the test online with only a driver license number as proof of identity.
And all you smart lawyers in Austin, I’ll consider online voter registration when Texas allows you to take the bar exam online.
There are other attacks to voter integrity in the Texas legislature. There’s one to have same-day voter registration during early voting. There’s one that wants us to go to great lengths to get felons registered and voting. There’s one trying to add to the forms of ID acceptable when voting (an attempt to dilute last term’s Voter ID bill).
So, we need to be constantly vigilant. In Texas or any other state, you can sign up with True the Vote. Their free newsletters give frequent updates on bill movement in all the states.
The Ballot Security report also included some proactive legislation. They’re pushing for changes to tighten voter assistance, which should never include touching the machine or suggesting a party or candidate; to punish voter ambush by organized groups; to tighten residency requirements for voter registration; and to overhaul the process for collecting ballots from nursing homes and state homes. They’re also attempting to convert several violations into felonies.
As Joe Stalin said, and his followers as a directive, “It doesn’t matter who votes; it matters who counts the votes.” Socialists aren’t big on free and fair elections.
If you want your vote to be accurately counted, and not cancelled out by fraud, now is the time to raise your awareness, keep track of legislation, and volunteer to be a trained poll worker or poll watcher.

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