Public interest law Professor John Banzhaf of the George Washington University Law School talked about the states’ losing battle against federalized elections on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.
“Basically, today, the elections are all run by state and local officials,” Professor Banzhaf explained, adding:
But the problem is that, more and more, we’re convinced there is a very real threat that the elections may be hacked. That could be by a foreign power. Actually, that’s rather easy to do, so it could be by a bunch of high school kids here or anywhere in the world.
He described the federal approach to dealing with that threat and why state governments are resisting it:
So what has happened is, the Homeland security secretary, Mr. Johnson, is considering adding to the list of what we call “critical infrastructure,” which at the moment includes things like our electrical distribution grid, our air traffic control, bank and stock exchanges, and so on. He’s thinking of adding the election system.
And he’s not just thinking of it. He’s actually established something called the Election Infrastructure Cyber-Security Working Group, and he’s launching as we talk a voting infrastructure cyber-security action campaign.
The states are fighting back. Something called the National Association of Secretaries of State has just written a letter to all members of Congress, basically saying, “Hey, we’ve got this under control. Don’t worry about it. We don’t need federal oversight.”
And yet, more and more, media on both sides, all sides, are saying this is a serious threat. I’ve identified at least five major factors which are, to my way, saying we are heading into a perfect storm this election, and we’d better watch out.
Banzhaf elaborated on his “perfect storm” theory in a PRLog article, in which he described the other four factors as the nature of the Electoral College, the increased use of electronic voting machines, the connection of electoral computer systems to the Internet, and the way some states allow residents to vote online.
He reviewed these “perfect storm” factors for Breitbart News Daily listeners, providing some examples:
Remember that Illinois and Arizona, their election systems were hacked. The FBI did an investigation, and one of the most astonishing things they found out is that this was not a bunch of master hackers. This was not a major foreign power with a lot of hacking ability. They were using common programs, which you or I could download from the Internet and do it. We have two professors who have just gone out and shown just how easy it is.
Secondly, we have the Electoral College. We can’t change that. But what it means is that instead of having a direct election, where you’d have to probably change millions of votes to change the outcome, you could actually change the outcome in only one or two states, and possibly change who the next president is.
Remember, back in 2000, it was about a thousand votes out of six million in Florida. And so if you change only about five or six hundred, you could have changed the whole presidential race.
Third, we’ve got more and more electronic voting machines, with no paper trail, no audit trail. Somebody fools around with the software, we have no way of going back and checking it and seeing what happened.
We also have more and more computers which are connected to the Internet, and by God, if there’s one thing we know today: if it’s connected to the Internet, it can be hacked. Just yesterday, it was Yahoo. It’s the Democratic Party, it’s the White House, it’s the Pentagon, and so on.
And fifth is that there are still some states which allow their voters to cast their votes from home, over the Internet.
Banzhaf had some suggestions for improving the election system, acknowledging that the Electoral College will remain an intractable structural problem, so the other four factors in the “perfect storm” should be the focus of reform efforts:
So we know a couple of things we can do. We can’t, obviously, change the Electoral College. We can, for example, tell people not to have any of the computers connected with the election connected in any way to the Internet.
We can require that all voting machines have what we call a paper trail, so if there’s a suspicion that they’ve been hacked, we can go back and see whether or not that’s true, and possibly correct it.
We can get rid of the idea of casting votes from the home. It’s easy, it’s convenient, but it opens up a world of grief.
Banzhaf warned, “Those are just some of the things. The question is, it’s very difficult to implement any of those in the several months before the election, and trying to do something quickly could very well make the problem worse.”
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