If expressing concern about the security of Dominion Voting Systems equipment is a sign of arrant conspiracy theorizing in November 2020, what does that make erstwhile Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for expressing similar concerns in letters to the private equity firms that controlled Dominion and other electronic voting machine vendors in 2019?
Were they ahead of the curve? Conspiracy theory hipsters, dare I say? They were into that conspiracy theory way before you were into conspiracy theory. It’s over now. They’re back onto GMOs.
Or does that mean that serious concerns — as opposed to concrete claims — about the security of electronic voting aren’t terribly far-fetched?
The Dec. 6, 2019 letters were sent to the private equity firms with controlling interests in the three biggest electronic voting machine vendors — Dominion, Hart InterCivic and Election Systems & Software — who “sell and service more than 90 percent of the machinery on which votes are cast and results tabulated,” The Associated Press reported in 2018.
The four signatories to the letters — Warren, Klobuchar, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Rep. Marc Pocan of Wisconsin — were all Democrats. This isn’t surprising, given the letters looked at voting security through the lens of big, bad corporations and “private equity funds [that] operate under a model where they purchase controlling interests in companies and implement drastic cost-cutting measures at the expense of consumers, workers, communities, and taxpayers.”
In each letter, the four congresspeople said they had “concerns about the spread and effect of private equity investment in many sectors of the economy, including the election technology industry — an integral part of our nation’s democratic process.”
According to Warren, Klobuchar and friends, this represented numerous dangers, including on the security front.
“Election security experts have noted for years that our nation’s election systems and infrastructure are under serious threat,” they wrote. “In January 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated the United States’ election infrastructure as ‘critical infrastructure’ in order to prioritize the protection of our elections and to more effectively assist state and local election officials in addressing these risks.
Are electronic voting machines vulnerable to fraud?
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“However, voting machines are reportedly falling apart across the country, as vendors neglect to innovate and improve important voting systems, putting our elections at avoidable and increased risk. In 2015, election officials in at least 31 states, representing approximately 40 million registered voters, reported that their voting machines needed to be updated, with almost every state ‘using some machines that are no longer manufactured.’ Moreover, even when state and local officials work on replacing antiquated machines, many continue to ‘run on old software that will soon be outdated and more vulnerable to hackers.’”
The quotes being referenced in that last paragraph were from a 2015 Brennan Center for Justice report on risks within the voting system and a 2019 AP report on how new electronic voting machines in some Pennsylvania counties still used Windows 7 software which, given it would no longer be supported by Microsoft as of January of this year, could create vulnerabilities.
Also cited in the letters was a Vice piece which asserted “[v]oters in South Carolina are reporting machines that switched their votes after they’d inputted them, scanners are rejecting paper ballots in Missouri, and busted machines are causing long lines in Indiana” and the 2018 AP report, which noted security lapses at all three major companies and stated they “face no significant federal oversight and operate under a shroud of financial and operational secrecy despite their pivotal role underpinning American democracy.” The AP also quoted a security expert who found “multiple critical vulnerabilities” in Dominion’s systems in 2014.
“These systems are Frankenstein’s monster, essentially,” security expert Jacob Stauffer said at the time.
An October 2019 ProPublica investigation, also cited as part of the letters, indicated that all three major electronic voting machine firms have the same business model: “Each has a large sales force that pushes its products, services and maintenance help to counties across the country. Comparatively little of their workforces are devoted to engineering or product development.”
Now, when these letters were written, the three major historical claims of malfeasance via electronic voting were all pitchforks that had been taken up by Democrats.
In 2004, liberals linked statistical irregularities and exit polls in the decisive state of Ohio with the fact that some touch-screen voting machines in the state were made by Diebold, a firm with a Republican as its CEO, to theorize the election had been stolen from John Kerry.
In 2016, there was the unfounded belief Russian hacking had somehow compromised the presidential election. While Russian groups targeted American election systems, there wasn’t a bit of evidence they’d been able to change a single vote. However, the prospect was considered serious enough that Public Radio International — not a buzzing hive of Infowars listeners, that — ran a story as late as August noting that a professor had been able to install malicious software on voting machines to change votes in a mock election and quoted him as saying the only reason the Kremlin didn’t interfere with voter registration information was “because Vladimir Putin decided not to pull the trigger.”
In 2018, meanwhile, voting machine issues were one of the multifarious grounds on which Democrats built a spurious case of “voter suppression” which allowed Brian Kemp to win the Georgia gubernatorial race over Stacey Abrams. Abrams never conceded that race, something I’ve been reliably told two years hence is dangerously corrosive to our democracy.
In 2020, the controversy revolves around Dominion’s voting machines, sparked by an erroneous result out of a Michigan county that’s been blamed on human error, allegations of rigged Dominion software in Georgia and the fact Texas rejected Dominion’s system due to security concerns. (In addition to Michigan and Georgia, a third state facing a legal challenge from Trump’s campaign — Nevada — also implemented Dominion systems, according to the Washington Examiner.)
My assumption is Warren won’t be sending this letter to Dominion again (she might be sending them non-denominational Christmas cards this year, if for no other reason than the right now finds them irksome), but the original copy still lurks on her website.
The letter was also far more concerned with the financial implications of the firms’ ownership by private equity firms than any sort of in-depth investigation of voter security — which is very much on-brand for Warren and wouldn’t have hurt Klobuchar’s cred with left-leaning voters. However, the implication was clear: Vulnerabilities existed.
This isn’t to cosign specific claims of voter fraud or the implication that there must be something here since Warren, Klobuchar and other Democrats signed letters which questioned as much. If that’s your conclusion, do a U-turn. Those claims need to be substantiated, either with studies or in court.
What’s remarkable, however, is how little speculation regarding the security of Dominion’s hardware and software the establishment media is willing to brook because Joe Biden is the presumptive president-elect.
Diebold continued to be treated like a corporate supervillain for years — in fact, up until Barack Obama’s election. There are still people who believe the Russians somehow managed to worm their way into our systems back in 2016 or that Stacey Abrams was denied the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election in part because of electronic voting machines.
Yet, merely broach any discussion about Dominion Voting Systems and you’re shushed to death before you’re slapped with a fact-check sticker.
Curious how that works.
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