Last month, the NY Times broke the story that two Florida counties had had their voter registration rolls accessed by persons the FBI is claiming to be Russians of one stripe or another. I say “claiming” because my belief is that, as the investigation by DOJ IG Michael Horowitz nears completion and the criminal probe by US Attorney for Connecticut John Durham gains velocity, eventually people within the FBI are going to be claiming that a Russian Motorized Rifle Division secretly occupied polling places in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and forced residents to vote for Trump.
This is the story:
Slipped into the long-anticipated special counsel report on Russian interference in the 2016 election last week was a single sentence that caused a stir throughout the state and raised new questions about the vulnerability of the nation’s electoral systems.
Although the spearphishing attempt in Florida had first been brought to light nearly two years ago when The Intercept cited a secret National Security Agency report, state officials said they were certain no elections computers had been compromised. The Mueller report turned that assertion on its head. “The F.B.I.,” it said, “believes that this operation enabled the G.R.U. to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.”
In an interview on Friday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida took it one step further, saying that Russian hackers not only accessed a Florida voting system, but were “in a position” to change voter roll data.
And what would be the impact?
Elections officials throughout the state insisted that even if systems were penetrated, it likely would have been the voter registration rolls, where a hacker could potentially wreak havoc on Election Day by changing addresses and precincts — but would not be able to gain access to vote tabulations.
If they want evidence of havoc they have to look no further than Broward and Palm Beach Counties…but there the havoc was caused by homegrown and inbred incompetence.
The NYT chummed the waters again last week with a story on how the FBI wouldn’t tell Florida which counties were involved:
The governor knows. The state’s congressional delegation knows. The F.B.I. knows. The Russian hackers certainly must know.
Almost everyone, it seems, has been told which Florida voter registration systems were breached during the 2016 presidential election — except for the voters whose information was targeted.
Elected leaders in Washington and Tallahassee want to tell them, but they say they can’t. The F.B.I. has kept the information classified, refusing to publicly identify the two counties where Russian hackers had access to voter data that could have allowed them to wreak havoc for voters on Election Day.
On Thursday, the F.B.I. faced a torrent of bipartisan fury from Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Florida, who, one after another, denounced the federal agency’s lack of transparency, calling it unacceptable that it has taken three years for the authorities to reveal to them which counties were hacked.
I’ve you’ve ever worked with intelligence organizations you’ll recognize this behavior. It is one of the most frustrating things any operator at the tactical/operations-level has to contend with.
What the NY Times is trying to do with its fellow travelers is to create the impression that the 2016 and 2018 elections in Florida were “hacked” and given to the GOP by the Russians.
Russian hackers breached a county elections department in the Florida Panhandle where voters turned out heavily for President Donald Trump in 2018, according to a report confirmed by POLITICO https://t.co/eezk1WeEqH
— POLITICO Florida (@politicofl) May 17, 2019
The Russians know how they hacked our elections. Apparently the FBI has some indication, but the most important people who need to know — the voters of Florida — are left in the dark. That's not right and it's no way to ensure our elections are uncorrupted. pic.twitter.com/A9TOy7Duaj
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) May 17, 2019
Let me put this in the simplest terms. “Hacking elections” is a lie for the ages. And the “hacking” that took place in Florida was meaningless.
A “hacked” voter database has zero impact on the outcome of an election. The hacker can do one of two things. He (or should I say xe, because “Chelsea?”) can delete names from the voting rolls which, if done before the lockdown period, can impact the data in the poll book available at each voting precinct. This means a voter could show up, not appear on the poll book, and then they simply fill out a provisional ballot with an affidavit attesting to their length and place of residence. That ballot is examined by the board of elections and allowed or disallowed based on the existence of paper voter registration forms, previous years poll books, property records, etc. Inconvenient, sure, but the votes are unaffected. The other option the hacker has is to insert fictitious names in the database. This might drive down the voting rate but unless a human shows up and votes for the fake person, it is utterly meaningless.
What the left is trying to do with the constant recycling of these stories and using the loaded word “hacked” in headlines is nothing more or less than destroy the faith of the public in the integrity of the voting process. As you can be assured that someone, somewhere, will hack some part of a voting system in most states, the left has a ready-made excuse for losing: The Russians did it.