Republican efforts questioning the outcome of the 2020 presidential race have led to voting system breaches that election security experts say pose a heightened risk to future elections.
Copies of the Dominion Voting Systems software used to manage elections — from designing ballots to configuring voting machines and tallying results — were distributed at an event this month in South Dakota organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has made unsubstantiated claims about last year’s election.
“It’s a game-changer in that the environment we have talked about existing now is a reality,” said Matt Masterson, a former top election security official in the Trump administration. “We told election officials, essentially, that you should assume this information is already out there. Now we know it is, and we don’t know what they are going to do with it.”
The software copies came from voting equipment in Mesa County, Colorado, and Antrim County, Michigan, where Trump allies had sue unsuccessfully challenging the results from last fall.
The Dominion software is used in some 30 states, including counties in California, Georgia and Michigan.
Election security pioneer Harri Hursti was at the South Dakota event and said he and other researchers in attendance were provided three separate copies of election management systems that run on the Dominion software. The data indicated they were from Antrim and Mesa counties. While it’s not clear how the copies came to be released at the event, they were posted online and made available for public download.
The release gives hackers a “practice environment” to probe for vulnerabilities they could exploit and a road map to avoid defenses, Hursti said. All the hackers would need is physical access to the systems because they are not supposed to be connected to the internet.
“The door is now wide open,” Hursti said. “The only question is, how do you sneak in the door?”
A Dominion representative declined comment, citing an investigation.
U.S. election technology is dominated by just three vendors comprising 90% of the market, meaning election officials cannot easily swap out their existing technology. Release of the software copies essentially provides a blueprint for those trying to interfere with how elections are run. They could sabotage the system, alter the ballot design or even try to change results, said election technology expert Kevin Skoglund.
“This disclosure increases both the likelihood that something happens and the impact of what would happen if it does,” he said.
The effort by Republicans to examine voting equipment began soon after the November presidential election as Trump challenged the results and blamed his loss on widespread fraud, even though there has been no evidence of it.
Judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, election officials of both parties and Trump’s own attorney general have dismissed the claims. A coalition of federal and state election officials called the 2020 election the “most secure” in U.S. history, and post-election audits across the country found no significant anomalies.
In Antrim County, a judge had allowed a forensic exam of voting equipment after a brief mix-up of election results led to a suit alleging fraud. It was dismissed in May. Hursti said the date on the software release matches the date of the forensic exam.
Calls seeking information from Antrim County’s clerk and the local prosecutor’s office were not immediately returned; a call to the judge’s office was referred to the county clerk. The Michigan secretary of state’s office declined comment.
In Colorado, federal, state and local authorities are investigating whether Mesa County elections staff might have provided unauthorized individuals access to their systems. The county elections clerk, Tina Peters, appeared onstage with Lindell in South Dakota and told the crowd her office was being targeted by Democrats in the state.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said she alerted federal election security officials of the breach and was told it was not viewed as a “significant heightening of the election risk landscape at this point.” This past week, Mesa County commissioners voted to replace voting equipment that Griswold had ordered could no longer be used.
Geoff Hale, who leads the election security effort at the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said his agency has always operated on the assumption that system vulnerabilities are known by malicious actors. Election officials are focused instead on ways they can reduce risk, such as using ballots with a paper record that can be verified by the voter and rigorous post-election audits, Hale said.
He said having Dominion’s software exposed publicly doesn’t change the agency’s guidance.
Security researcher Jack Cable said he assumes U.S. adversaries already had access to the software. He said he is more concerned the release would fan distrust among the growing number of people not inclined to believe in the security of U.S elections.
“It is a concern that people, in the pursuit of trying to show the system is insecure, are actually making it more insecure,” said Cable, who recently joined a cybersecurity firm run by former CISA Director Christopher Krebs and former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos.
Concerns over access to voting machines and software first surfaced this year in Arizona, where the Republican-controlled state Senate hired Cyber Ninjas, a firm with no previous election experience, to audit the Maricopa County election. The firm’s chief executive also had tweeted support of conspiracy theories surrounding last year’s election.
After the county’s Dominion voting systems were turned over to the firm, Arizona’s top election official determined they could never be used again and ordered the county to buy new ones.
Dominion has filed suits contesting various unfounded claims about its systems. In May, it called giving Cyber Ninjas access to its code “reckless,” given the firm’s bias, and said it would cause “irreparable damage” to election security.
Election technology and security expert Ryan Macias, in Arizona earlier this year to observe that review, was alarmed by a lack of cybersecurity protocols. There was no information about who was given access, whether those people had passed background checks or were asked to sign nondisclosure agreements.
Cyber Ninjas did not respond to an email with questions about the review and their security protocols.
Macias was not surprised to hear that copies of Antrim County’s election management system had surfaced online given the questionable motives of the various groups conducting the reviews and the central role that voting systems have played in conspiracy theories.
“This is what I anticipated would happen, and I anticipate it will happen yet again coming out of Arizona,” Macias said. “These actors have no liability and no rules of engagement.”
Religious liberty is one of America’s most important freedoms
Religious liberty, the freedom to practice one’s faith, is a vital component of American society. Our founding fathers ensured generations to come that our great nation will always respect every individual’s right to adhere to a certain belief.
“Although no one in America is forced to go to church, we have had more churchgoers in our history than any nation in the world. Religious liberty – meaning we can chose any faith or none – was a wild concept when the Founders decided to try it 250 years ago,” Eric Metaxas, author of the new book, “Is Atheism Dead?” wrote in his recent opinion piece.
“So it was America’s founders who uniquely understood that religious liberty was the key to all other liberties. Liberty – or self-government – required a virtuous people, which was usually the result of freely held faith. Those who answered to a “higher power” didn’t need government to coerce them into doing the right thing. They did it on their own,” Metaxas added.
We are said to be more fortunate than those who are living under extreme Sharia Law in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, where other faiths are totally outlawed. One would be hard pressed to find a single catholic church in the city of Riyadh as the only accepted religion there is Islam. Even though the prophet Muhammad taught cultural and religious tolerance, some of his followers have become too austere in their interpretation of the Holy Quran and mandates that only one religion be allowed in their respective domains.
The United States constitution however is vastly different from the authoritarian laws and principles of other countries as it grants total freedom to exercise one’s belief, as long as it corresponds with the basic tenets of morality.
On the other hand, Muslims and Buddhists in China are suffering under the repressive atheist communist regime, as the people continue to face the assault on their religious liberties. Non-believers should understand that embracing atheism or agnosticism is in itself, a personal freedom that can only thrive under a legitimate democracy.
“And while a free nation cannot and should not try to coerce atheists toward belief, people of faith, while we still have a voice, have an urgent duty to alert our fellow citizens that, although religious freedom protects atheists, atheism itself nonetheless has an inherent and – alas – well-established tendency to work not only against religious freedom, but against all freedoms,” Metaxas said.
Rep. Drew Ferguson blasts the Dems for bank account surveillance plan
In a recent press conference held by House Republicans, Georgia congressman and chief deputy whip Drew Ferguson lambasted the Biden administration for their ineffective economic and financial policies.
Ferguson, who is a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, put a spotlight on the government’s proposal to grant the IRS unlimited power to conduct surveillance on bank accounts with at least $600 worth of annual deposits.
“Probably the most egregious provision in the Democrats tax and spend plan, the largest in American history, is a provision that would allow the IRS to spy on your bank accounts. To put that in perspective, if you spent $28 a day, you would get caught up in the IRS drag net. $28 a day, and this is wrong,” Ferguson stated.
“Americans do not want the IRS looking in their bank account and the federal government has no business looking at your private bank accounts and your money,” Ferguson stressed.
The draconian proposal sparked widespread outrage among the public as the topic went viral on social media and various community forum boards. Republican politicians strongly resisted and swiftly introduced the Prohibiting IRS Financial Surveillance Act in an attempt to block the repressive agenda that is being put in motion by the Biden administration.
“So we introduced a bill to prevent this treasury secretary from implementing rules that would allow the IRS to tap local banks, credit unions, and other entities to spy on your bank accounts,” Ferguson said.
“I can’t imagine a single American, Republican, Democrat, independent, rich, poor that wants the IRS looking into their bank account and for good reason. If you look at the recent history of the organization, they have failed to gain the trust of the American people,” he added.
The Democratic Party’s plan to violate the people’s privacies, clearly resembles the laws that are being enforced by some of the world’s most oppressive totalitarian governments. There is no logical explanation behind their proposal, save for the glaring fact that liberals are simply hungry for more power.
“The Democrats want control. They want control of your life. They want control of your finances. They want control of everything. And we’re here to stand up against that, to push back, and we’re going to continue to raise awareness about this. It is wrong, we think it’s unconstitutional,” Ferguson said.
“It is your private business. It is not the business of the IRS. So with that, we stand committed to blocking this horrible provision and to make sure that we maintain freedom in America’s lives,” he reiterated.
Rand Paul thinks crypto could become the reserve currency of the world
When one of the most severe global economic meltdowns hit the world more than a decade ago, the United States was at the forefront of the uphill struggle. The 2007-2008 financial crisis was often compared by experts to the Great Depression in terms of the magnitude of damage.
The catastrophe subsequently put world governments – including America – on the hot seat. Financial experts and the entire populace started to question the capability of our leaders to handle the fate of our economies. After all, we are the ones who put these public servants in power, giving us every right to demand what’s best for the future of our families.
Fuelled by the frustrating financial system, Bitcoin was developed in 2008 by a certain Satoshi Nakamoto, as a solution for the problems created by unreliable governments and untrustworthy central banks. “Satoshi Nakamoto” is an alias used by a person or possibly a group of people involved in the creation of the world’s first cryptocurrency. The secretive nature of Bitcoin’s origins is a reflection of the decentralized financial system that it wants to promulgate.
Today, America is at the cusp of autocracy as Biden and his cohorts continue to propose harsh policies that mirror the ones that Xi Jinping and the communist party has put in place in China. While the Democratic Party constantly attempts to utilize the “tax the rich” card, the Federal Reserve just keeps on printing cash like there’s no tomorrow. Soon we will all be caught in a tough financial predicament with the continued devaluation of our hard-earned cash. For some, a hedge such as a digital asset, is the only viable option to protect one’s wealth from further depreciation.
Recently, GOP Sen. Rand Paul expressed his bewilderment towards the vigorous growth of cryptocurrencies. The Kentucky senator believes that virtual coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum can become global reserve currencies.
“I’ve started to question now whether or not cryptocurrency could actually become the reserve currency of the world as more and more people lose confidence in government,” Paul said in a recent interview on HBO.
“I’ve been amazed at the growth of it and I’ve always been, you know, more a person who believed that our currency should be backed by something of real value like gold or silver or commodities, and always was wondering well crypto is not backed by anything either,” Paul continued.
“But here’s what I’ve started to believe now is that the government currencies are so unreliable, they’re also fiat currencies, they’re not backed by anything. The dollar has been more stable than most other countries and so it is the reserve currency,” he added.
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- Supply chain problems will be harsh on consumers and small businesses alike
- NBA center Enes Kanter blasts China for its inhumane treatment of Uyghur minorities
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