Given the investigations and unfolding news about Russian interference into our 2016 election, the League of Women Voters (LWV) Orange County Hot Topics program for November focused on the question of electoral integrity. The panel was composed of Susan Pynchon, Executive Director of Florida Fair Elections Coalition (FFEC) and Supervisors of Elections in Orange and Seminole County, Bill Cowles and Michael Ertel.
The general consensus of the panel, in line with other national organizations, is that “voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.” Voting machine glitches, whether due to user mistakes or the possibility of something more sinister, irregularities involving misinformation, voter intimidation and suppression, missing ballot boxes, etc., are all examples of election administration problems, not voter fraud. Conflating these issues under the voter fraud umbrella makes an almost non-existent problem seem more widespread than reality would dictate and justifies unwarranted restrictions on eligible voters and distracts from the real problems facing our electoral system.
The Election Integrity Commission, set up recently by President Trump to “fight” the almost non-existent voter fraud problem, is chaired by Vice President Pence with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, “a notorious advocate of voter suppression laws.” Kobach’s background elicits a sense of foreboding as to the real intention of the Commission. VP Pence has a similar sketchy background in voter suppression as Governor of Indiana and Trump’s running mate.
Michael Ertel made a humorous show downplaying the significance of the Commission’s request for, and receipt from many states including Florida, comprehensive voter registration info from all states to be centralized in a national database. Given the news of Russian hacking into the voter registration databases of 21 states (as well as the latest hack, the Experian hack, which compromised the sensitive data of almost 145 million Americans), his response was either hopelessly naive or something less charitable. Real and serious concerns remain about the risk of amassing, for the first time ever, a federal database of all U.S. voter information–a potential gold mine for hackers to exploit, merge with other databases, optimize and weaponize for any imaginable purpose. Since no federal effort seems to be taking place to protect victims of the various and recent data hacks, we can’t ignore the potential threats that exist with the creation of another centralized database. As history has shown repeatedly, these additional data points can and will be used eventually to create even more robust dossiers on U.S. citizens to be exploited by enemies, both foreign or domestic.
After the meeting, some in the audience remarked that our voting systems most likely require more effort, public oversight, and accountability to attain the level of system perfection extolled by Ertel. A transparent, readily and publicly auditable electoral system is the only way to elicit enough public trust in the process to successfully get out the vote. Ensuring every eligible person can vote and that vote is counted properly is the key to upholding our unique and democratic way of life.
Now, more than ever, the LWV has their work cut out for them to fulfill their mission to make sure our elections are fair, secure and express the will of the people. Any help you can provide this excellent organization will be a worthwhile and patriotic effort you can be proud of.
Next 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.
Happy Independence Day!!
As we celebrate our independence on this special day, it’s useful to remember some of the things that make our country so amazing. Tops among the many achievements we can be proud of is the right to vote in fair, free and transparent elections. The Three Wise Guys is broadcasting an interview today with Susan Pynchon, Executive Director of the Florida Fair Elections Coalition in DeLand. She has concerns, as many others do, that this bedrock of our democracy is endangered. Hope you can check out this most informative interview today @ 6:30 pm on WMFE 90.7 FM. And please view some of the links on their website if you haven’t done so already. They’re quite a revelation.
From the same producer of the “Hacking Democracy” film, Simon Ardizzone created the short film (above) “Protecting Democracy.” It shows glaringly some of the problems that continue to haunt voting in Florida and the hard work that Susan Pynchon, Executive Director of Florida Fair Elections Coalition, has done and continues to do to promote election integrity. She and Associate & Research Director Kitty Garber will conduct a panel discussion after the movie event on June 24th. The questions surrounding the 2016 elections, which are still being investigated by the federal government, have yet to be resolved. This short film generates even more questions and concerns.
Also tying into the upcoming event and pertinent to the recently released information about Russian hacking of our election system, is a link to a piece in the CFL Grassroots Progressives website. There’s a letter from the Supervisor of Elections in Seminole County stating that Russian hacking into our elections “didn’t work” and a rebuttal based on the recently leaked NSA document.
The “fourth estate” is becoming an increasingly important resource for the protection of our democracy. By forsaking alt-facts and publishing the truth, even if leaked by career civil servants, the legitimate media organizations are fighting against the extensive dysfunction and rampant rot within our three branches of governmental “checks and balances.” Sadly, these checks are now proving useless in protecting our country against “enemies foreign and domestic” but, thankfully, we still have a free press that is proving resilient in combating this corrupt administration.
Regarding the upcoming “Hacking Democracy” movie event, Daily Kos had a write up about the movie recently with a link to viewing the movie for free on-line.
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Our next event through the CFL Grassroots Progressives organization is June 24th–the Emmy award-nominated movie “Hacking Democracy” featuring a panel discussion with activists from the Florida Fair Elections Coalition. They have inside and up-to-date data on our current election system/results from the 2016 election. Information is above. Please reserve a seat as seating is limited. Parking is limited so car-pooling or parking on Edgewater Drive or side streets is recommended. Publix is one block south of the Hall and parking is allowed there as well. See you there!
Regarding the upcoming “Hacking Democracy” movie event, Daily Kos had a write up about the movie recently with a link to viewing the movie for free on-line. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/5/8/1660116/-Hacking-Democracy