On March 22nd the Washington Post published an article about the new spending bill which contained this small item which did not generate a lot of publicity at the time: “The bill provides $380 million to the federal Election Assistance Commission to make payments to states to improve election security and technology, and the FBI is set to receive $300 million in counterintelligence funding to combat Russian hacking.”
In this morning’s Post there is another article, this time written by the newspaper’s editorial board. The article’s headline should give pause to every American who cares about freedom and democracy: “America is still unprepared for a Russian attack on our elections” it says.
So Congress has authorized spending and the U.S. Senate has even issued recommendations about what to do to secure our elections this fall, but nothing has been done.
The Post editors write,
“AS THIS year’s midterm elections approach, the country is still unprepared for another Russian attack on the vote, and President Trump continues to send mixed signals — at best — about what he would do if the Kremlin launched an even more aggressive interference campaign than the one that roiled the 2016 presidential race.”
“New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice reports that most states are using electronic voting machines that are at least a decade old, many running antiquated software that may not be regularly updated for new security threats. Though most states recognize that they must replace obsolete machines, not much has changed since 2016.”
The bottom line is that states are not doing anything to protect the votes. We need paper ballots which can be audited, but this happens in only a small number of states. Only one state — Virginia — has moved from electronic to paper ballots since the 2016 election.
What we have instead of a paper trail that can be audited is a combination of voting machines, electronic voting rolls, vote-tallying servers and state elections websites — all of which are exposed to remote hacking by Russia or other hostile powers. In fact, these are exactly the types of electronic resources that Russian hackers infiltrated in 2016.
“The surest way to secure the nation’s elections is to deter attacks in the first place. On this, the country is perhaps the most behind,” the Post says. “The Kremlin has not suffered consequences strong enough to discourage future meddling and President Trump undercut sanctions last week when he demanded the rollback of a separate batch of promised sanctions. Mr. Trump’s continuing fixation on appeasing Mr. Putin may lead the Russian government to believe that it would face few serious consequences for again interfering in U.S. elections.”
What the editors of the Washington Post are saying is that Donald Trump has dropped the ball, and is not protecting our country from another attack from his friend Vladimir. Perhaps our president wants Russia to continue to have success in attacking American democracy, since that may be what got him elected in the first place. If so, Trump’s lack of action is an example of treason of the highest order, and certainly is an impeachable offense.
This is why so many people are impatient with the Mueller probe. Many believe that the longer Trump stays in power the more damage he can do to our country and to our precious institutions.
As the Post editorial concludes, “Of all the changes the country requires, a shift in presidential attitude could be the quickest and most effective way of responding to election threats.”
If our president won’t change his attitude about Russian interference in our country’s elections, then perhaps it is time for us to change our president.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.