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Protect votes, protect voters

August 22, 2018 07:37 pm

The state Board of Elections’ plan to administer $19.4 million in federal funds at the state and local levels to ensure the integrity of the fall elections here and in other counties ought to allay fears of security breaches at the polling place.

The nearly $20 million grant will be spent on risk assessments of all county board of elections’ systems and building in intrusion detection systems that perform round-the-clock monitoring of website activity and network traffic.

To hear election officials tell it, the state board has been marshaling its forces over the last two years, since the presidential election was compromised by Russian hackers out to influence the results. “We have a number of key areas to protect and we have not been complacent since the 2016 election,” state Board of Election Co-executive Director Todd Valentine said Tuesday.

The state board applied for the funding in May and expects to sign contracts with cybersecurity vendors to provide security services to localities in time for the November election. Two contracts are prepared and a third will soon be awarded.

We’ve seen recent elections in Columbia and Greene counties run smoothly, save for the occasional voting machine gremlins that strike no matter how many precautions are taken.

Greene County uses a stand-alone vote counting system with machines that are coded internally and not connected to the internet. Columbia County’s vote-tallying process is similar to Greene’s, in that it is insulated as much as possible from the workings of the internet.

If worries over the integrity of our local elections prevail, it’s reassuring to know that cybersecurity is, in the words of Columbia County Election Commissioner Virginia Martin, “a very resource-intensive undertaking,” and that the Twin Counties will use their share of the federal funds to make sure every vote cast in November is legitimate and fair.

Sadly, our nation's most vulnerable points of entry to foreign interference happens to exist in the 'swing states' and 'purple states' where the least money is being spent on the kinds of rational safeguards underway here in New York. Instead efforts in these states, led by Trump proponents like Kansas would be governor, Kris Kobach, seem to be designed toward vote suppression, especially directed against probable Democratic voters. The same holds true throughout much of the South.

We are being attacked by a foreign hostile nation, Russia. It has been a sustained attack begun sometime after Vladimir's own people rose up against him in the 2011 elections and he had to blame his failures on "The West." It is kind of astonishing and dumbfounding for those of us who grew up accepting that Republicans were stalwart pro-defense and democracy to see a Republican Congress and Senate mostly sitting idle and mutely docile while a president with a very peculiar relationship with the head of Russia acts like a vassal state submissive puppy dog around him on the world stage.

I personally intend to send a message in the form of a vote against Faso- who has voted with Trump up and down the line and thrown seniors and families with members with preexisting conditions under the bus, come November. Make good use of those voting machines Columbia-Greene- use them!!