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Election Watchdogs Prepare for 2020 Battleground State Contests

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By Steve Schneider

A Harvard-educated attorney is determined to thwart election fraud. And he's doing it by assuming a Sgt. Joe Friday attitude: he just wants the facts.

Daniel Wolf, the CEO of Democracy Counts, a San Diego-based nonprofit tech company, plans to get those facts by deploying election watchdog apps. Wolf wants to blanket all 2020 battleground states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Why the battleground or so-called swing states? Wolf says, "They are increasingly the whole game in the American system" for presidential elections.

He adds, "We are not doing random samples, we are looking for errors and crime. Vice-squad investigators don't look for vice in respectable churches, they go where they think they'll find something. That's what we're doing: looking for suspicious and weak systems."

Democracy Counts is starting its dragnet in Broward County, Fl., home to more than 1 million registered voters, according to the Broward Supervisor of Elections website The South Florida community is on a first-name basis with controversial election results. Federal officials have also said Russians hacked at least two election systems in Florida in 2016. The counties have not been identified.

Democracy Counts plans to supply three free apps to Democratic and Republican volunteer auditors. The volunteers comprise a group called Citizens Audit of Broward. You can reach them at citizensauditbroward|AT|gmail.comEmail address.

George Navarini co-chairs Citizens Audit of Broward. He also leads the Broward Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. He recently told New Times, "This is not a liberal issue or a conservative issue, it's a civil governance issue."

Navarini and his co-chair, Jamie Friend, are building a team of volunteer auditors for the March 2020 presidential preference primary election, the August primary election and the November general election. Leaders are appearing at local political clubs, religious institutions and community organizations to enlist support.

Volunteers will wear yellow shirts with a Democracy Counts logo. They will learn how to use their First Amendment rights to assemble outside of roughly half of 419 polling stations in Broward County. The volunteer auditors, armed with apps loaded onto cell phones and tablets, will speak with voters after they finish voting.

One app collects information on voter suppression. People denied their right to vote will be asked to enter their preferences on a cell phone or tablet that contains the app. The app will also show any patterns that might emerge from location to location or race to race, Friend notes.

According to Wolf, the information will be stored on more than one server to "make it all but impossible to hack and damage the data." He says Democracy Counts will share what they learn with candidates and parties injured by the alleged voter suppression, as well as authorities.

A second app creates a parallel vote count. It will establish a minimum vote count for each candidate, says Friend. This will be compared to official results and tally tapes. Any under reports will be flagged for fraud. Friend is also president of the Progressive Democratic Caucus of Broward.

The third app keeps an eye on the chain of custody of data transmission from the polling station to the Supervisor of Elections office, which tabulates results. Wolf explains, The app will "take pictures of the tally results posted at polling places and upload them onto our servers. After the precinct results are released by the Secretary of State, the data on the tallies is compared with the officially released precinct data."

Democracy Counts will inform officials and the public if they find results that are different than results authorities have made public, Wolf says. He adds, the citizen watchdog approach is important because "America's 10,000 county election systems are highly variable, many are weak and vulnerable to hacking, some are highly partisan and simply not reliable."

August Mangeney, a Broward County attorney, understands the benefits of the second and third apps. He acted as a monitor for the Democratic Party during the 2018 recounts in Florida. State law mandated recounts for several races with razor-thin margins, including the contests for governor and senator.

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Steve Schneider lives in Florida. He writes articles for Humor Times, Democracy Chronicles, The Satirist and OpEd News.

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