By TIM CANOVA
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL |
JUL 29, 2019
The Florida advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a public hearing last week on voter disenfranchisement in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I was privileged to speak on the issues surrounding my two campaigns against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.
First, voter disenfranchisement is a serious issue. Too many fellow citizens have been barred from voting for life because of non-violent felony convictions, even years after completing their sentences. The Florida legislature should implement Amendment 4, passed last year by nearly two-thirds of Florida voters, to restore voting rights to non-violent felons, without punishing them for unpaid bills or fines. We don’t need a poll tax to stop people from voting when they are struggling to provide for their families.ADVERTISEMENT
In my testimony to the commission, I also pointed out wider threats to the franchise of all voters. When voting in Florida, after filling out a paper ballot, we hand the ballot to an election official, who then feeds the ballot through an electronic scanning machine. Imagine if instead that election official were to tear up your ballot right in front of you on account of your race, religion, gender or party registration. Of course, we would all be demanding a criminal investigation and prosecution of that official for depriving us of our most fundamental right to vote and to have our vote counted.
Now suppose, instead, that official feeds your ballot through an electronic scanning machine that contains wireless cellular modems. Imagine further that the source code for the software has been altered through the wireless modems to count your vote for candidates you did not even vote for. And then, afterward, the election supervisor simply destroys your ballot and those of all voters.
According to election experts, such as Dr. David Bader, director of the Institute for Data Science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, that’s what may well have happened in both of our 2016 and 2018 elections against Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Experts believe the source code was altered to cap our vote at the same low percentage, regardless of demographic group, an outcome that one leading expert in computational science said was “as unlikely as winning the lottery every day for a year.”
That’s why we filed a formal complaint challenging our election results in the U.S. House of Representatives. But the Democrats on the House Committee for Administration have simply ignored our complaint to cover for Wasserman Schultz. These Democrats demand that we trust the science of climate change, but apparently, they are happy to ignore computational science and basic mathematical laws and principles when considering election rigging complaints.
We have also called for a criminal investigation of the Broward Supervisor of Elections office for the illegal destruction of all the ballots cast in our 2016 primary against Wasserman Schultz. Brenda Snipes, then the Broward elections supervisor, admitted in sworn videotaped depositions to wrongfully destroying the ballots, and a Florida circuit court ruled that she thereby violated numerous state and federal criminal statutes, including some punishable as felonies by up to five years in prison for each violation.
That’s why so many citizens have been calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Snipes’ illegal ballot destruction and to investigate why Mike Satz, the long-time state attorney for Broward County, has failed to do his job by refusing to prosecute this open-and-shut case.
In recent weeks, federal authorities have reported their belief that Russians may have hacked into the election systems of two Florida counties in 2016. But the feds have refused to disclose their evidence, including which counties were hacked and why they believe no election results were altered. This highlights an unfortunate truth, that all electronic voting machines are inherently vulnerable.
Electronic voting machines are convenient. They spit out results in minutes. But there’s no longer much reason to blindly trust in those results. That’s why electronic voting machines have been banned across much of Europe.
The possible rigging of electronic voting machines and destruction of paper ballots, especially when done with impunity, is the ultimate form of voter disenfranchisement. We need a system of 100% hand-marked paper ballots that are counted by hand in public by the American people. It’s the only way to have an election system that is truly fair, transparent, and verifiable.
Tim Canova is a professor of law and public finance at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law. He also chairs Progress For All, a community advocacy group based in Hollywood, Florida.