Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earned the moniker "Moscow Mitch" this summer after he refused to allow debate on election security proposals. The two words, which can fit on a tee shirt or bumper sticker, are powerful because Russia invaded and subverted our 2016 election by spreading propaganda on social media and pitting Americans against each other. click here
Putin's Moscow minions also hacked state election systems. click here
And federal prosecutors charged Russian agents with hacking Democratic email accounts, including those of people linked to Hillary Clinton, who ran for president against Donald Trump in 2016. click here
Now, an Oct. 23 Washington Times article tells us McConnell is at it again. It says he "slammed a bill that would require political candidates and campaigns to report to the government any illicit foreign offers of assistance."
The GOP Senator from Kentucky explained, "It's a textbook example of policy designed to reduce the amount of free speech in our country." He added, it's a "transparent attack on the First Amendment." The bill also calls for financial transparency in an effort to prevent foreign nationals and foreign governments from laundering money in American elections. click here
Let's be clear. It is illegal for a candidate or a campaign to solicit or accept assistance of value from foreign actors and governments. Why not also require candidates and their campaigns to report such offers?
Obviously, talk about invasion and subversion by foreign countries suggests major forces are at play here. No wonder regular folk react with cynicism or apathy or declare the storyline is just too darn complicated to follow. So, why not take a small step that can help us protect our democracy in a practical way?
Democracy Counts, working in partnership with volunteer election auditors in the 2020 battleground states, offers such a solution. The group believes that Americans who cherish free speech can't afford to wait for politicians to protect our electoral system from sabotage and invasion. Democracy Counts offers free election watchdog apps to volunteers. These patriotic Americans then exercise their free speech rights to gather outside of polling stations in battleground states from Florida to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. "Free-Speech Mitch" can't stop them.
I learned about the work the nonprofit high-tech startup is doing with volunteer election auditors after two people encouraged me to attend a meeting in Broward County, Fl., where I live. I learned that Citizens Audit of Broward is teaming up with Democracy Counts to launch the effort in a community known for chaotic and close elections. Broward County is also home to more than 1 million registered voters. Democratic and Republican organizers are appealing to some of those voters to work with Democracy Counts on the March 17 presidential preference primary election, the August primary election and the November general election.
The volunteers will wear yellow shirts and record results with three different apps uploaded to a cell phone or tablet. One app lets voters record information on voter suppression; the second app creates a parallel vote count. The third app lets users photograph, upload, and verify that the results sent by polling stations are identical to the precinct results released officially. Democracy Counts will share with politicians, political parties, law enforcement and the press any problems uncovered by the audits. Learn more at www.democracycounts.org.
Russian hacking in 2016 is only one reason to support Democracy Counts and the volunteer auditors who flock to their cause. Most of America's thousands of election systems are error-prone. Rules differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Many election systems creak along with the same old system that worked years ago. Old equipment and over-worked and poorly trained staff add to the sense that something is not right. And some systems - those run by overtly partisan or even less-than-competent political officials - are not trustworthy.
In 2016 in some states the vote margin that decided those states' votes in the Electoral College was smaller than the margin of error of those states' election systems. In other words, mathematically speaking, it's impossible to say who genuinely won those states' Electoral College votes.
This situation is unacceptable in a functioning democracy. We will continue our downhill slide into apathy and cynicism if we don't make sure our president was actually the legitimate winner.
Democracy Counts and volunteer auditors are taking a small step to protect our democracy and remind citizens that their votes count. Patriotic Americans don't have to wait for "Free-Speech Mitch" to get off his butt.