Published 10:12 am Monday, August 12, 2019
The headlines these past weeks focused on whether or not the Mueller report told us about voter fraud. We should be concerned that our votes are counted correctly. Also, we should be focused on possible problems that have occurred in past elections and how best to address the problem.
As I watched the U.S. House committees as they tried to pin illegal activity on the president, it dawned on me that one key element was being overlooked. There was concern that the Russian government was focused on having an effect on the 2016 election just as they had previously. Everyone seems to have forgotten that it was not President Trump in the Oval Office in early 2016 when the issue first arose and was on the national news, but rather President Obama. President Obama even warned us of Russian plans, but I could find no story about him lifting a finger to protect our election process. Maybe because he too was convinced that Mrs. Clinton had it in the bag and he did not want to do anything that would change that.
A Senate committee concluded that the attempt was made in every state. Even those where there was no chance any Republican could win and in those states that no Democrat could win. It would appear that the Russian government could care less who won but rather to create chaos and distrust in our government.
Another thing in which this reminded me was that, when Terry McAuliffe was governor of Virginia, he pushed for legislation that would have tied every Virginia county’s election computers into the state’s system. This would make it much easier for anyone to hack into the system and affect every election. We turned that effort back to prevent any illegal activity to affect our elections, be it foreign or domestic. There was never a good explanation as to why Governor McAuliffe was making this effort. We suspected it could lead to manipulated elections, therefore, we rejected his proposal. Additionally, the governor wanted to buy new voting machines. Once again, this would have made hacking for any purpose easier.
WATCHING OUT FOR ATTORNEY GENERALS
Presidents and governors are not the only ones who, by action or lack of action, have acted questionably in dealing with elections. President Obama’s first Attorney General, Eric Holder, after he left office has been involved in a number of cases of trying to overturn elections by court action. In Virginia, he has a willing accomplice with Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring. In Virginia’s redistricting after the last census, the Democrats controlled the Senate and the Republicans controlled the House of Delegates. Both parties drew new district lines to give their party an edge in the following elections. Thanks to Holder and Herring, they found folks to bring lawsuits against the Republican redistricting but not against the Democrat redistricting that they had hoped would accomplish the same result. This could have been blocked by the United States Supreme Court if only our Attorney General Herring had done what he had sworn, with his hand on the bible, that he would uphold the laws of Virginia. The redistricting, once signed by the Governor, is a law.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court has now decided that they will stop overriding redistricting, too late for Virginia, however.
Elections are important. We were right when we refused to allow the governor to tie all the computers together. We can only have fair elections that people can have trust in when we know that no one can corrupt them. We must make sure that no legally registered voter is prevented from voting, and that everyone who attempts to vote has the needed proof that they are who they present themselves to be. We need to keep our counties’ ballot readers independent of national and state computers. Then we can turn to the concern of corrupting our elections by manipulating voters by what is posted or not posted on social media.
Frank Ruff represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen. Ruff@verizon.net.