It’s a ploy. Andrew McCarthy explains why Senate Democrats are “demanding” that soon-to-be Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse himself from any investigation of Russian efforts to interfere in the election: to bolster their fictional “Russia hacked the election” narrative.
Notwithstanding that Putin’s regime did not tamper with the actual voting process and that the embarrassing information released by WikiLeaks (mostly e-mails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta) was true, Democrats are determined to depict President Trump not as elected fair-and-square by Americans but as maneuvered into the White House by Russian “cyber-espionage.” . . .
Democrats want Sessions to concede, in effect, that he has a powerful motive to conceal Russia’s espionage — such that he must recuse himself because we cannot trust him to lead a fair and impartial investigation. Implicitly, Sessions would be conceding — and thus cementing — the fiction that “Russia hacked the election.” In other words, the Democrats’ latest recusal ploy has nothing to do with Sessions, just as the IG investigation has nothing to do with Comey. The objective is to engrave a story on the election: The Democrats lost not because their candidate was terrible and their policies unpopular; they lost because Russia stole the election for Trump — rendering Trump illegitimate, and implicitly obliging Americans to resist him as a Putin puppet.
The House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology held a hearing September 13 on Protecting the 2016 Elections from Cyber and Voting Machine Attacks.
Panelist David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, summarized:
“The voting process is highly decentralized, with a very rigorous chain of custody and testing regimens in place for all devices… Given the fact that these devices are never connected to the Internet, it would be exceedingly difficult for any hacker to manipulate the outcome of a national election. You would need physical access to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of machines in order to do that.”
Video and witness statements here.
Two recent hacks of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois highlight the vulnerability of online voter registration systems and the risk that vulnerability poses to election integrity, particularly in states without voter ID laws.
“If it’s an organized effort, and someone hacks into a system and falsely registers bogus voters, you could hire a crew of people to vote multiple times under different names,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal. “That’s a problem for states with no voter ID laws. There is no way to prevent that.”
Fortunately, neither the Arizona or Illinois hack got that far. Nor are these attacks on online voter databases evidence that our nation’s voting machines are similarly vulnerable. Such cyber attacks on voting systems, by Russian hackers or anyone else, are extremely unlikely, as “electronic voting machines are not Internet-based and do not connect to each other online.”
But conflating actual voter registration data attacks with speculative voting machine hacks serves to stir up misdirected fears about “rigged” elections. As Yahoo News first reported, the FBI “Flash” alert on the registration hacking incidents “seems likely to ramp up pressure on the Department of Homeland Security to formally designate state election systems as part of the nation’s ‘critical infrastructure’ requiring federal protection.”
Some state election officials, Republican and Democrat, see DHS’s offer of “federal protection” as a federal power grab; Pennsylvania and Georgia already said thanks, but no thanks.