What Donald Trump did right with voting machines

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“Fair elections” was maybe the reviving factor in American politics in 2020. That summer, as we all know, Donald Trump apparently began to prepare for defeat in November, declaring ad nauseam that he could only lose if the election was rigged – but the idea that the integrity of the election was at risk was first floated by Joe Biden, who back in June (yes ) predicted that Trump “try to steal” the election by challenging mail-in ballots.

Since then, the problem has all but disappeared for most people who don’t attend Trump’s post-presidency rallies. Among “reasonable” people, it is taken for granted that our elections are safe. But that’s not true. It is a crisis for our country, apart from the hundreds of voter denials running for key posts to oversee future elections, and the situation is preparing us for future disasters.

We know all about it at WhoWhatWhy. Long before Trump hijacked this legitimate topic for illegitimate purposes with the “Stop the Steal” fantasy, we were one of the first news outlets to sound the alarm about the chain of custody of ballots and the vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems.

So-called hybrid voting machines, which are used to create and mark and then scan and count barcoded paper ballots, can be tampered with in a number of ways that are difficult to detect. Hand-marked ballots, with the security of CoC received and well documentedare probably the only way to ensure an election hasn’t been hijacked.

Election integrity is a real concern. But after Trump took over the concept, many sane people considered any question of voting machine reliability as dangerous territory, the exclusive domain of MAGA and QAnon lunatics.

The way older media outlets are reporting a voting machine controversy in tiny Coffee County, GA, doesn’t help.

There, on Jan. 7, 2021, local GOP officials allowed some alleged “election experts” — who were in fact Trump loyalists — to access official voting computers and pads under the cover story that they were looking for evidence that the 2020 election actually happened was stolen.

Exactly what they were up to is still a mystery, but one theory suggests that what they did tainted Coffee County’s voting machines — and may have provided a blueprint for stealing future elections. At the moment this is just a theory. Georgia’s Republican election officials have repeatedly insisted there were no signs of tampering or other shenanigans, despite the nosy visits and the so-called “forensic scientists” who had access to the machines.

Framed like this, Coffee County sounds like a sideshow. Still, it was an ongoing national story. The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other major news organizations have released pieces of closed-circuit video footage and other evidence increasingly showing that local GOP officials and their allies appeared evasive, had poor memory, or may have lied outright about the incident.

Although the post has played the story prominently and tried to maintain its edge over other news outlets, something about the way the stories focused on the specific local characters and their actions obscures the larger problem – a problem that older media outlets understandably have to be can, fear of highlighting.

Recent reporting suggests the only reason the footage is public is because of a court case. What they failed to mention: This lawsuit, Submitted in 2018was brought about after advocates identified specific vulnerabilities in internet-connected voting machines used in Georgia and four other states.

The following year, Observer found Internet-connected voting machines used to upload results from counties in 10 states. Before 2020, cybersecurity professionals identified 35 voting systems that, despite claims to the contrary, could be reached – and broken – via the internet Jeanette Manfredthe then-Deputy Director of Cybersecurity for the Department of Homeland Security.

That context was missing from the legacy media coverage of Coffee County. Who cares that after the election, a small forensic effort was made to examine the voting system being used in a tiny Georgia county? Neither the post nor the Times did a great job of drawing public attention front and center to what’s at stake in this blurry footage. That Times raised the point, but only in a last paragraph.

I tried to draw attention to the core problem a previous newsletter. My point was that under the guise of investigating possible wrongdoing, the people caught in the video may have opened the door to actual wrongdoing – i.e. by getting the code used in the machines, they could potentially use it to rig the whole thing System.

Now there’s a little bit of credit for it from the Georgia state authorities. Two weeks ago, Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — the same Brad Raffensperger that outgoing President Donald Trump relied on in the infamous January 2021 phone call to “find” him 11,780 votes — announced this, although no one specifically pointed to it could point out what could. If that wasn’t true, Georgia would replace the Dominion Voting Systems equipment in Coffee County anyway.

But that appears to be more of a distraction and damage control than anything else – as the real problem is that the break-in could potentially allow people to access and influence voting machines throughout the state. That’s the real problem: the entire voting system is potentially unsafe. (Raffensperger claimed otherwise, as did this Department of Homeland Security report — but experts we’ve consulted for years vehemently disagree.)

Worse still, Georgia’s contagion of covert vote-rigging could become a guard rail for the rest of the country.

With the expected very close elections in the subsequent US Senate and gubernatorial election in that state – races that have national ramifications – it is deeply worrying that more attention is not being paid to the underlying risks.

These risks are extensive and varied: there is no reliable paper trail to ensure miscounts are not occurring, whether accidental or intentional, and they do exist many opportunities for miscounts happen.

What happened in Georgia is this: the state bought many Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) designed to help disabled people vote, but then manufactured them mandatory for Everyone personal votersalthough there are Major concerns among experts that these machines have vulnerabilities that could allow manipulation.

But you could read for hours about the Trumpy freaks in Coffee County and never pick up on that all-important takeaway.

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Part of the explanation for the media’s lack of attention to the real problems with voting machines is that news organizations have cornered themselves. They have told their audience that there is nothing to Trump’s vote-rigging claims — and they are right: there is no evidence to support his stop-the-steal circus.

But the stench of Trump’s big lie has had a peculiar and paradoxical impact on reporting on election security and integrity. Because the old media, in their reluctance to do so, has avoided giving even a shred of credibility to anything Trump or anyone associated with Stop the Steal has said on the subject.

And like it or not, Trump it’s right about a few things — by the way, that’s why he’s such a compelling character to so many Americans — and this is one of them, albeit for the wrong reasons.

I spoke to a source in the election integrity movement who confirmed to me that no matter what activists do, they cannot get the legacy media to focus on the bigger problem, which is that our elections are absolutely vulnerable, everyone knows it , and no one has tried to fix the shortcomings.

If this problem is not paid attention and fixed, voter fraud could become endemic in 2022 and beyond.


  • Russ Baker is the Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist specializing in exploring the power dynamics behind major events.

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