Voting Integrity Panel Event–LWV

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hackingNext month, the Orange County League of Women Voters will host a panel on voting rights and the integrity of our election system.  The panel will consist of the Supervisors of Elections in Orange and Seminole County, Bill Cowles and Michael Ertel, and Susan Pynchon, founder and executive director of the Florida Fair Election Coalition.  Susan was one of the activists in the HBO and emmy-nominated movie “Hacking Democracy.”  The movie can be viewed here for free.  Even though the movie is 10 years old, the disturbing information revealed is just as relevant now, if not more so.  Attached is another clip about Ms. Pynchon’s continuing efforts to fight for free, fair and transparent elections in Florida.  The movie “Hacking Democracy” will inspire many more questions about the integrity of our election system.  Hope you can make it to this most important event armed with your questions and concerns.

When:   Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 11:30 AM until 1:00 PM
Where:  Sorosis Womans Club of Orlando, 501 East Livingston St., Orlando

 

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Democracy dies with denial

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With all the bad news regarding possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration interfering with the 2016 election, it’s hard to understand how so many Democrats and Republicans alike, members of national voting organizations, etc., continue to deny we have a major problem with our national computerized voting system.

A recent piece in “The Nation” is a must read for non-believers.  It’s short, well-researched and well-written, and will put to rest all the tired arguments of how we have the most secure and fair voting system in the world.  It’s also an alarming wake-up call, along with many others, that we must address this problem ASAP.   Sadly, this administration appears to be actively engaged in undermining and stone-walling all efforts for fair and transparent elections.  The State Department’s refusal to use $80M earmarked to fight Russian propaganda, which was successfully weaponized against our country in the last election cycle, due to fear it will “anger” Moscow, has also angered some legislators in Washington.  Whether they fulfill their duty to protect our country against a dangerous and dysfunctional administration currently under investigation is another matter.

Russian election attack update

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Pres. Obama warns Putin against election meddling at G-20 meeting in September 2016.

The July 31st edition of Time included a special report on “Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s U.S. Election Plot” by Massimo Calabresi. The article details the federal government’s attempt to secure the 2016 elections after it became apparent that Russian hackers had broken into more than 20 state and local voter election systems. The 15 page previously undisclosed plan is here.

In June of 2016, voter registration databases were successfully changed by hackers in California which led to the need to use provisional ballots in the primary elections. Three weeks afterward in Illinois, along with a similar attack in Arizona, a Russian agent accessed the state’s voter-registration site and uploaded malicious software (SQL) which “opened a back door to all 15 million files on past and current voters”.  The hackers were successful in stealing 90,0000 files before an alarm was triggered when they attempted to download all 15 million files.  Changes made to voter registrations were caught by the FBI as there was a full backup of the system before the SQL attack. These brazen attacks, among others, signaled that the Russians’ game plan had changed from collecting intelligence, as had been done in previous election cycles, to a “possible intent to meddle with the vote.”

As the administration worked to halt the damage, Trump continuously denied Moscow’s involvement with the hacking and blamed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of hacking itself. With the stolen email dump prior to the DNC convention, he doubled down on the claims.  As if on cue, August 1st, he said, “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged.”   Two days later, when the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, said he was considering declaring elections “part of the U.S. critical infrastructure, along with…the banking and electrical systems,” it was met with suspicion of partisanship by many of the states which seriously hampered the administration’s ability to respond to the attacks.

The continuous fueling of anti-government suspicion by Trump seemed to work in his favor as it made the President reticent to issue a stronger statement nationally as it would be portrayed as political meddling in favor of  the Democratic candidate.  President Obama did warn Putin and put into place a plan to counteract a full-out Russian attack on our election.  In the meantime, the attacks continued with infiltration attempts into most states, including the electoral systems of Florida and New Mexico.

The election went off “free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective” according to officials, however, doubts about the security of our election system are spreading.  The FBI’s counterintelligence probe about Russia aiding Trump’s campaign only began in earnest after the elections.  The FBI’s preoccupation with Clinton’s emails prior to the election resulted in their Russian probe not getting “any intelligence legs until after the election,” a puzzling and disturbing blunder with questionable political overtones.

As the administration cozies up to Putin and the focus on methods of protecting our elections from Russian interference disappears, fears about fair elections are becoming widespread.  With Trump’s creation of an “election-integrity commission” demanding the centralization of voters’ personal information from every state, many worry the true goal of the commission is voter suppression of Democratic voters. Republican efforts to defund the $8 million Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which guides states in conducting fair and safe elections, is being met with suspicion as well.

A recent Gallup poll found most Americans (70%) are not confident in the honesty of our electoral system.  What a disaster for our democracy, especially since the current power structure seems to be quite happy with the situation and is tightening the noose on fair elections with additional questionable tactics.  When finally no one has the confidence to show up to vote, they’ve won and we’ll have a permanent government in place, no voters necessary.  A government of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs, for the oligarchs.

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A deal with the devil? Trump to Putin, “It’s an honor to be with you.”

 

 

Medicare for all (H.R. 676) only solution

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The movie shown last week, “Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point,” is a wake up call to those who still believe we have the “best health care system in the world.”  It showed clearly how little we’re getting for our money with a for-profit health care system run by myriad insurance companies.  Our costs are twice as much as countries with universal health care and our health benefits and longevity are poor compared to them.  It’s an unsustainable model and should have been scrapped many years ago.  We have a chance now and it’s urgent we do so for our health as well as the health of our economy.

Six Florida Democrats have signed onto the bill with a total of 115 sponsors so far.   Five Florida Democrats have not supported the bill, H.R. 676, including Rep. Stephanie Murphy,  Rep. Val DemingsRep. Charlie CristRep. Lois Frankel, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Rep. Murphy has indicated concern over our country’s debt by sponsoring a balanced budget amendment.  Her reluctance to sign onto H.R. 676 is puzzling as various reports indicate that it would go a long way in helping to reduce the debt.

Illustrative of why some of our legislators refuse to get on board with this overdue and common sense legislation, is a piece about Dick Gephardt, former Democratic minority House leader and super delegate.  It shows clearly and revoltingly how Democrats, like Republicans, remain firmly in the pockets of the insurance industry.  It’s really quite remarkable to hear him yuck it up with insurance executives about the Democrats’ willingness to side with Republicans to deny average Americans the affordable coverage universal health care would provide them.  “We have met the enemy and he is us.”   We need to make sure our leaders in Washington know which side they should be on in this pivotal time in history.

If you didn’t make it to the event last night, you can view the movie on-line here. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/fix-healthcare-tipping-point/

Dirty lucre/laundromat lies

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As the known attendees to Trump, Jr.’s now infamous June meeting last year expand and are slowly revealed, here’s an educated guess about what may have been the most important agenda item of the meeting.  (It has to do with “ownership” and is a sobering reminder of the risks facing our country, especially given the collapse of our protections enshrined in the separation of powers of the three branches of government.)

There will be a special place in “hell” for those legislators who looked the other way (both Democrats and Republicans) while our country was attacked, and now controlled, by foreign and domestic enemies.