Jennifer Cohn, an election security advocate, writer, and attorney is essential reading if you are at all interested in fair elections. One of the downsides to Biden winning the 2020 election is that everybody wants to go home, drink and relax. As women keep saying to me, they want to get back to “normal.” But, “normal” brought us here and as in the quote from Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.” Normal, or what people are referring to as normal, is over. It will never return, at least not in our lifetimes. In fact, normal on the political scene has been over for a long time, at least since 2000. Most people just never noticed.
I don’t claim to understand what happened in the election of 2020. I was certain that the Republicans would cheat electronically just like they cheated when wiping hundreds of thousands of people off the voter rolls, enacting laws that acted as voter suppression, closed down polling places, decreased hours for voting, sabotaged the post office in an attempt to slow if not stall the movement of votes and tried the best they could to restrict mail-in voting.
They lost at least at the presidential level. They didn’t lose outright at the state level. The Democrats actually lost seats in the House and they are fighting for their lives in the Senate. Once again, the polls predicted a landslide for Biden. He barely squeaked through. They predicted losses in the Senate, but Collins and McConnell and others won. The two Republicans running for Senate in Georgia will most probably win.
But, since we cannot see into the vote count, because machines count our votes and partisans in the race control the voting process, how would we know what happened, really?
As Jennifer Cohn tweeted today:
• “Polls predicted Trump would lost in a landslide, Rs blocked robust election audits (#SAFEAct), GOP senate wins are red shifted, voters lack means to investigate, DEM leaders won’t do it, and Rs are the ones screaming fraud. I see no progress toward evidence-based elections.”
• “Evidence-based elections are the only way to know if electronic election outcomes are legitimate. They require hand Marked Paper Ballots plus robust manual audits plus a secure and transparent (perhaps videotaped) chain of custody through conclusion of the audit.”
• “I worry we win a battle only to soon lose a war.”
• “The next four years will be hell if the GOP maintains control of the Senate. The next election could be hell too. And I see no Democrats discussing the possibility that the GOP cheated. I hope they are just waiting until Ds Hopefully win the senate.”
• “…Those of us not in Congress must…continue to sound the alarm re some of these unexpected red shifts and other anomalies favoring Rs.”
• “…Rs and right-wing media will spend the next 4 years claiming falsely that Biden is illegitimate when it was Republicans that blocked progress toward evidence-based elections and, if anything, it is suspicious that Trump and the GOP did as well as they did.”
• “We cannot let Rs spin this faulty narrative…the GOP steadfastly blocked efforts to move to evidence-based elections and that DeJoy engaged in highly suspect conduct with vote by mail. WE MUST STAND FOR EVIDENCE BASED ELECTIONS.
Republicans are furious with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and SOS Brad Raffensperger because even with a new $150 million voting machine system, they couldn’t reliably deliver a win for Trump and two Republican Senators. The two senate candidates, Perdue and Loeffler, called for Raffensperger’s resignation. Kemp, it will be remembered, is widely thought in Georgia to have stolen the governorship from Stacey Abrams in 2018.
Given the amount of voter suppression, the millions spent in overt propaganda to convince Georgians that their voting machine system was “secure,” and the black-box nature of machines which cannot be meaningfully audited, the only reason Kemp and Raffensperger couldn’t deliver is the large number of mail in ballots that were cast.
Geogia’s highly touted “secured” voting system, includes paper ballots with the voter’s printed choice of candidate on them. One big problem is that the scanner that counts the votes, doesn’t count the words printed on the page. The scanners count a barcode at the bottom of the page that neither the voter nor the voting officials can read. Many people, like me, voted by mail because this allowed circumventing the Ballot-marking devices and the barcode scanners.
So now, Kemp and Raffensperger are scrambling to save their political careers. Even though there is a large margin for Biden in the state, they have announced that there will be a recount. Yesterday (November 11) Raffensperger announced that the recount would be a hand recount of every ballot. He even made jokes about the amount of overtime that would cost counties to do such a recount. I’m not sure they shared his humor.
Jennifer Cohn and others have been on twitter, however, pointing out that the SOS has no authority to mandate a hand recount, so the legality of this proposal is dubious. Several other Georgia watchers have also pointed out that lawyers representing Trump in litigation about the election are also representing the State of Georgia. This conflict of interest has not been explained.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Georgia state law requires an audit but leaves up to elections officials the choice of race. This leaves the people in charge of the election in charge of determining what race to audit. Officials in Georgia have chosen the presidential race to recount rather than the senate races. The certification deadline in Georgia is November 20. It is unclear how counties in Georgia (where they are already pleading for volunteers to help monitor the recount) are going to do a total hand recount by the deadline for certification. This may in fact be the game.
Even though a Texas Judge ruled that Republicans who sought to throw out 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru locations in Harris County, Texas did not have standing, Harris County decided to close down most of its drive-thru voting locations overnight. Why? The judge in the case, Andrew Hanen, found it necessary to go beyond the legal issues and advance his own political agenda in his opinion. Hanen wrote that he wouldn’t vote in these drive-thru voting locations, legal or not.
So, this is where we are in this country. The court now does not even have to rule against the forces of democracy for a county to voluntarily close down entirely legal voting options.
The County Clerk admits that Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to keep Americans from voting, and defends the decision as one which will protect votes. But, in closing down the voting locations what he does, in the long run, is to encourage Repubicans to do exactly what they have done in this case, i.e., bring a completely baseless lawsuit that clearly has no legitimate basis and use it as intimidation to suppress voting.
It is not the first time Hanen has used his judicial opinions to go beyond the legal issue at hand and pursue his ideological agenda. He is in fact notorious for doing so. These are the kinds of judges McConnell and the Republicans have stacked the courts with.
Make no mistake, when Republicans claim that they oppose “activist judges” they are lying. They support “activist judges” and are appointing them at record levels.
There are Democrats in the Senate who are complicit in this packing of the courts with right-wing activists. And, voluntary capitulation is a characteristic of a country descending into authoritarianism.
• The Supreme Court has sided with South Carolina Republicans attempting to suppress the vote by reinstating a law requiring witness signature for mail-in ballots. This decreases the vote by making it more difficult for people to vote, requiring them to risk COVID by having someone else witness the ballot, and provides yet another point top invalidate votes (the verifying and matching of the witness signature).
• In Florida, the voter registration website crashed and stayed down for several hours on Monday, the deadline to register. Again, every obstacle decreases the vote which is what the Republicans are counting on.
• In Iowa, Republicans blocked sending out ballots that had pre-filled voter information on them. Tens of thousands of ballots were invalidated. This means confusion, the likelihood that people will send in the wrong ballot, and the necessity of the state to send out replacement ballots a month before the election.
These are three incidents in three states, being replicated all over the country.
In Georgia, software on all the states voting machines is being replaced A MONTH BEFORE THE ELECTION. This software change is being done by the voting machine company, unverified, unexamined, and uncertified.
The Republicans are pulling out all the stops. They have too much at stake to lose this election. They are going to lie, cheat and finally steal this election and the Democrats and the media are going to be caught off guard. VOTING IS NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH.
And: Pennsylvania’s online system for registering to vote and applying for and tracking mail ballots crashed over the weekend, triggering an outage that stretched for more than 24 hours and prompted frustration from voters weeks before critical election deadlines.
Trump in a news conference (or whatever that things is he does when he comes out and lies for an extended period of time) is preparing the population for a “disaster” on election day. He keeps repeating the scenario and thereby painting the picture for his supporters of total confusion. Today he said that the Republicans are appealing to the courts who he hopes will “see this clearly and stop it.” He called the sending out of ballots to citizens as “the scam of all time.”
The reporter for CNN falls for the head fake and says: Mail in voting is safe. There is no fraud and there are no missing ballots as Trump accused.
So, once again, just as in 2016, the Republicans scream rigging, the Democrats and the media yell, no rigging. The Republicans rig and the Democrats and the media are left stunned.
Election Security: Stealing the Election
Jennifer Cohn is tweeting that the DeVos family company Amway partnered with Russia’s Alfa Bank in 2014. It was Alfa Bank that was pinging both Trump Tower and Spectrum Health thousands of times in the summer of 2016. This has never been explained.
Run, don’t walk to get a copy of Jonathan Simon’s “Code Red” 2020 edition.
Trump is tweeting that the Governor of Virginia (where early voting starts today) “wants to take away your guns,” and “is in favor of executing babies after birth.”
According to Jennifer Cohn, (relying on Woodward), Russians installed malware in the voter registration systems of “at least two” Florida counties. The malware was designed to erase voters. (Twitter)
Precinct ballot scanners in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida include wireless modems that connect scanners and county central tabulators to the internet. (Twitter, Jennifer Cohn)
Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Rhode Island also have modems that need to be removed before the election. (Cohn, Twitter)
Information on voting of Interest:
Zetter, Kim (8/8/19) “Critical U.S. ElectionSystems…” Vice
Other Information of Interest
Podcast on 9/11 Blindspot.
102 of 140 inmates at a women’s prison in South Dakota have tested positive for Coronavirus. (AP)
The New York Times yesterday published an article about Biden’s “war room,” a “major new legal operation” to deal with election protection. Staffed with hundreds of lawyers and big names like Eric Holder, we are led to believe that the Biden campaign will, unlike campaigns before it (Clinton and Kerry, for example) be prepared to handle any threat to the election process.
But, the article itself and the attitudes expressed by the people involved in this “operation,” demonstrate that both the NYT and the Biden campaign have swallowed hook, line and sinker the head-fake of the Trump administration.
The Biden campaign is described as responding to “baseless accusations of widespread fraud.” But, the accusations of fraud are not baseless.
“It’s going to be fraud all over the place,” Trump said in June. “This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country…” Trump should know. The Republican party is orchestrating the corruption.
But, by accusing the Democrats of fraud, early and often, the Republicans accomplish the same head-fake they pulled off in 2016. The Republicans yell fraud. The Democrats respond that the election will be fair. The head of this “operation” stated: “We can and will hold a free and fair election this fall and be able to trust the results.” The Republicans cheat like hell and win. The Democrats are left holding their private parts. How many times do we have to watch this happen?
There the legal battles being conducted in numerous states, especially in swing states to suppress the vote. In Florida, for example, an appeals court ruled Friday that people who had completed sentences for felonies would have to pay fines and fees before they could vote thereby imposing a poll tax. This is only one example.
Nowhere, nowhere does the article mention an effort of the Biden “war room” to confront perhaps the most dangerous of all threats to the integrity of the election, the utter lack of transparency of the vote count.
In fact what the article demonstrates clearly is that the Biden campaign is not going to touch this issue, and the corporate media is not going to bring it up.
As Jonathan Simon has written:
“We are about to head into the most critical set of elections in living memory continuing to permit our votes to be counted unobservably and without verification in the partisan, proprietary, pitch-dark of cyberspace and trusting that manifestly corruptible process to deliver the truth—an honest and accurate counting of our votes.”
It’s a war room preparing for the wrong war, and we ought to be asking why?
It is tempting to think that authoritarian governments come to power through sudden and dramatic coups, but often they do not. Instead, they come to power through a creeping co-opting of authority. This is the preferred method, the most successful method of taking control.
A sudden, dramatic take-over of a society provokes resistance. Sliding the society into authoritarianism accomplishes the same thing, but doesn’t so dramatically jar everybody’s sensibilities.
The Trump Administration could try to cancel the 2020 elections and stay in power. But, that would draw a backlash, and hopefully a powerful resistance. The Republicans would prefer to to stay in power through a manipulated election, and that is what they are seeking. Republicans want the show and appearance of an election without the actuality of an election, i.e., they want a pre-determined outcome. In other words, they want exactly what Putin has.
It is clear that the Republicans want to remain in power by manipulating the 2020 election process. They do not want to bring troops into polling places and seize ballots, but they are not above doing that if they must. They are clearly planning strategies for both eventualities.
One of the techniques authoritarian governments use to bring about illegal and unconstitutional change that ensures the maintenance of their power is to test out their intentions ahead of time. Test, measure reaction, pull back if necessary, test again or go forward. The history of the Trump/Republican administration is one of using this strategy.
On first consideration, this might seem counter intuitive. Why would they signal in advance their intention to subvert the law? Why alert the opposition so they can prepare?
One very good reason is to inoculate citizens and the media, slowly injecting the idea of electoral intervention a little at the time so that if it becomes necessary, the idea will not be totally new.
First, this means that Republican supporters will be brought along carefully, introducing them to the idea, signaling what may come. Second, the introduction of the idea allows time to lay the foundation of the argument of why this may become “necessary.” Third, the advanced announcement, or threat, causes the opposition to go on alert. As time passes though, and other threats are issued, the heightened sensitivity can’t be maintained, and the opposition relaxes.
The Republicans have turned this threat/reaction circle into a joke, a way of ginning up outrage among their opposition which they then ridicule. The legitimate outrage at the idea of the subversion of democracy becomes an object of mockery. So, Republican supporters know exactly how to react to this moral outrage if and when it actually happens. They jeer, mock and dismiss.
Fourth, the announcement alerts the opposition, but through repeated threats, the opposition wears down and the heightened sensitivity cannot be maintained. The press loses interest in even covering the threats because they aren’t new. The press and the citizenry become desensitized.
The Republicans have used this tactic repeatedly through various surrogates and through Trump. At the moment, they are testing the waters of electoral interference through people like Roger Stone. There are a number of reasons why Roger Stone is not in prison. First, he was paid off so he would not do a deal with prosecutors and tell them about the Republicans’ various corrupt activities. Second, Stone functions as an effective mouthpiece. He publicly says that the Republicans should do this or that. Then, Republicans wait for the reaction. That reaction informs them of just how far they can go.
Roger Stone, stated over the weekend on Alex Jones’s Infowars that Trump and the Republicans should seize total power over the society and jail opponents including Bill and Hillary Clinton should he lose to Biden. Stone argued that Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection act. He also recommended arresting Harry Reid.
Stone said: “The ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state. They are completely corrupted. No votes should be counted from the state of Nevada if that turns out to be the provable case. Send federal marshals to the Clark county board of elections, Mr. President!”
Later, attacking the Democratic governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, Trump said: “This is the guy we are entrusting with millions of ballots, unsolicited ballots, and we’re supposed to win these states. Who the hell is going to trust him? The only way the Democrats can win the election is if they rig it.”
On Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller also attacked mail-in ballots in Nevada. He also called Sisolak a “clubhouse governor … who, by the way, if you go against him politically … politically speaking, you’ll find yourself buried in the desert.”
So, the Republicans are signaling that they may intervene in the election if it becomes necessary, telling their supporters what to expect and providing a rationale for the clearly illegal and unconstitutional action.
Stone, in the interview, advocated “forming an election day operation using the FBI, federal marshals and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections [to results] and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”
In an interview broadcast on Saturday night, Trump told Fox News he would happily “put down” any leftwing protests about the results of the election. “We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that,” he told Jeannine Pirro.
As well as signaling his supporters and threatening his opponents, this move is also a head-fake. In other words, Republicans are shouting from the media mountain tops that they may well physically intervene in the election, seizing ballots, sending in troops. The corporate media spends hours and hours talking about this and pointing out the obvious fact that it is illegal and unconstitutional. But, what the Republicans are hoping for, banking on, is that they can accomplish the same take-over of the election process through more covert means, voter purges, voting machine processes that are impenetrable and therefore subject to manipulation, refusing to count mail-in ballots that come in “late,” closing polling places, etc.
The Republicans are stealing the 2020 election. They are doing so behind our backs and in front of our faces.
The Republicans are using a variety of methods to steal this election. At the moment, the focus is on disenfranchising people because their ballots by mail don’t arrive on time. The Republican party is actively sabotaging the post office to make sure that your ballot doesn’t arrive on time. But, this is just one of the issues.
In Georgia, for example, if the signature you use to sign your mail-in ballot does not match exactly the signature as you wrote it when you got your driver’s license, they can (and I suppose will) throw it out. For example, I use my first two initials and my last name to sign almost everything. It’s quicker and easier. But, I also sometimes write my first name, middle initial and last name. On the ballot I just used in the primary, I signed both ways just to make sure there was no confusion. Today, I learned that this means that my ballot was almost certainly thrown out.
If your signature changes in any way, since you applied for your driver’s license, your ballot can be thrown out.
There are a thousand and one different catches like this that can be used to throw your vote out.
1) ballot arrives late due to post office
2) signatures that don’t exactly match your driver’s license signature
3) having had your name stricken from the voter rolls because a name similar to yours appears in another state. (Read Greg Palast’s book about how many people were purged in Georgia because their first and last names were the same as someone in another state (for example, George Mason). These people were purged even though the Georgia person was named George A. Mason and the Virginia person was George B. Mason; even though the birth dates were different.
4) having been purged from the voter registration roles because you didn’t vote in two elections
This list goes on and on and on. It’s not reading that I especially enjoy, but if you want to understand the true depth of the voter manipulation that is going on, you have to do it. They are depending on people not reading about this, not researching this.
They are also depending on people NOT WANTING TO BELIEVE that the voting system is this terrible. I have had friends, Democrats, get angry, really angry because I tried to tell them about the research demonstrating how much vote manipulation is going on (in this case in Georgia). People get mad because they want to think that all they have to do is vote.
There is a reason the state of Georgia spent a small fortune on complicated new voting machines just before the election. And, there is a reason they made every polling place replace all their signs that said “I voted” with “I secured the vote.” This is a propaganda campaign to convince people that their vote is counted in a fair election.
To give you just one example: the state of Georgia maintains that you have a paper ballot with these machines . A paper ballot means that your vote can be verified, right? You get a piece of paper printed out with your voting choices on it. You are supposed to check these and make sure they are right before running the paper ballot through the scanner which records your vote.
But, your actual vote, the vote that is recorded by the scanner that you put your ballot through, does not even recognize the printed material. It reads a bar code at the bottom of the page that YOU CANNOT READ. So, just because you check and see in the printed part that you voted for Biden, nothing prevents the bar code from saying you voted for Trump. You would never know.
Just recently, the State of Georgia said that in any recount, the recount would be confined to running the ballots through the scanner again. IF YOUR VOTE WAS RECORDED INCORRECTLY IN THE BAR CODE, RUNNING IT THROUGH THE SCANNER AGAIN ISN’T GOING TO CHANGE THAT.
The State of Georgia (run by the criminal Brian Kemp) was explicit. Any recount would involve ONLY running the ballots through the scanner again.
We cannot just assume that “overwhelming voter turn out” will win this election for us. Voter turnout means nothing if your vote is not counted, or counted incorrectly.