Local View: Long-broken election process needs to finally be fixed
It's on congressional leaders to ensure the integrity of our elections.
In an editorial, the News Tribune harshly criticized Rep. Pete Stauber for joining a Texas lawsuit contesting presidential election results in so-called “swing states.” Minnesota U.S. House members Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn, and Michelle Fishbach also joined in the suit.
The Dec. 16 editorial stated, “Disappointingly … (Stauber) has chosen to stir uncertainty, despite overwhelming certainty, and he has embraced extremist views that hadn’t been an apparent part of his career, political or otherwise, until now. By adding his name to the Texas lawsuit, Stauber picked partisanship over the will of the people and the good of our nation.”
The editorial also stated, “It was a dangerous challenge to our very democracy, casting doubt about our elections, even though they’ve proven themselves reliable over hundreds of years.”
Our elections have proven themselves reliable over hundreds of years? Overwhelming certainty? Oh, really? The newspaper and its Editorial Board must be unaware that the reliability of our elections was questioned by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar months before the midterm elections in 2018.
As Politico reported, in July 2018, Klobucher served as the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, and was the lead Democratic sponsor of the bipartisan Secure Elections Act. Hart InterCivic, Dominion Voting Systems, and Election Systems and Software (ES&S) attended a hearing and were asked if they should continue selling voting machines without paper backups, which cybersecurity experts say is a serious mistake. All three vendors disingenuously said yes.
The bipartisan Senate bill was not passed, mainly because state election voting officials opposed the mandates that would have been imposed on state governments, including a requirement that election results be audited.
In March 2019, Klobuchar sent a lengthy letter to the country’s three largest election-system vendors, including John Poulos, president of Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., asking them the best way to proceed to ensure the security of voting machines. (Dominion’s election voting machines were used by 28 states during the recent elections.) Klobuchar was joined in the letter by Democratic Sens. John Warner of Virginia, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Gary Peters of Michigan, the ranking members of the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Homeland Security committees.
Klobuchar warned the vendors that, “The integrity of our elections remains under serious threat. Our nation’s intelligence agencies continue to raise the alarm that foreign adversaries are actively trying to undermine our system of democracy, and will target the 2020 elections as they did the 2016 and 2018 elections. … The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on — the products that you make. Despite shouldering such a massive responsibility, there has been a lack of meaningful innovation in the election-vendor industry and our democracy is paying the price. … Each of your companies continues to produce some machines without paper ballots. The fact that you continue to manufacture and sell outdated products is a sign that the marketplace for election equipment is broken.”
In late 2019, Klobuchar wrote letters to private equity firms invested in election-technology vendors (Dominion Voting Systems, ES&S, and Hart InterCivic) responsible for developing, manufacturing, and maintaining voting machines and software that facilitate voting for over 90% of all eligible voters. The letters raised concerns about vulnerabilities and a lack of transparency in the election-technology industry and the poor condition of voting machines.
The recommendations directed at the voting-machines vendors regarding the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of their voting machines and the forewarnings to Congress and state election officials went largely ignored or unheeded.
Millions of voters now question the integrity of the election process and refuse to accept the results of the 2020 general election, further polarizing the nation.
Congressional leaders of both parties must accept the recommendations made by the Senate Rules Committee to fix the broken election process and promptly pass legislation to ensure the integrity of our elections — and they must do that before the midterm elections in 2022. Failure to do so will result in a national nightmare and the destruction of our democracy.
Gerald M. Tyler of Ely is a lawyer and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.