Audit the vote?

Vote Russ Diamond for State Representative

Audit the vote? Sure, why not - we might learn something new, and that's always worth the while. I'm all in for an independent audit.

But in my opinion what we really need to do is audit the voters. My takeaway from our extensive State Government Committee hearings, and from research I've done on my own and with the help of others, is that our biggest problem lies within our voter registration system.

To wit:

- Since May of 2015, as many as 41 non-governmental entities have been approved by the Department of State to operate a freestanding app - the OVR WebAPI - to electronically register voters. With a stand-alone app, the operating entity could also save all the data collected.

- The OVR WebAPI, as well as the state's online voter registration form, allows a applicant to register to vote without any form of identification. An applicant can just "check a box" stating they don't have a PennDOT or Social Security number.

- Testimony at our hearings revealed that such applicants are in fact registered to vote without first providing such identification.

- In March of 2020, the OVR WebAPI gained the functionality to file an application for a mail-in ballot. The same information entered into the OVR WebAPI (and potentially saved) by an entity to register a voter can be used to apply for a mail-in ballot. Mail-in ballots can be delivered to an address other than the applicant's residence or mailing address.

- A Delaware County man pled guilty to using the state's online voter registration portal (which serves the same function as the OVR WebAPI) to register two deceased relatives to vote, ordered ballots in their names, and cast at least one of those ballots.

- The Department of State was sued for having dead people registered to vote. In a settlement, the Department agreed to remove roughly 21,000 deceased voters from the SURE (Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors) system.

- A few years back, the State Government Committee (I was not on the committee at that time) held a hearing which revealed that the "motor voter" system was allowing non-citizens to register to vote, and in turn, actually vote in our elections. While PennDOT altered its system in an attempt to prevent this, the Department of State has never specifically reported how many non-citizens were errantly registered to vote.

- Our hearings also revealed that no voter's registration has ever been completely removed from the SURE system. Over 55,000 of them were resurrected as active voters, along with their old voting histories and registration dates, between April 6, 2020 and Nov 3, 2020.

- A canvassing effort in one county revealed multiple instances of voters not residing at the address listed on their voter registration.

- Recent revelations about a rash of unemployment fraud in Pennsylvania indicate that some of the same hijacked personal data needed to create voter registrations and mail-in ballot applications is to blame and readily available on the black market to those who wish to defraud either system.

To be perfectly clear, our voter registration system is full of holes and vulnerabilities. HB1300 would have addressed these concerns. With Tom Wolf's veto, these holes and vulnerabilities remain wide open for bad actors to potentially exploit. We should move to override Wolf's veto of HB1300 at the earliest possible opportunity.

Those who doubt this premise should take some time to review this damning report from Democrat Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, issued back in 2019 when raising concerns about election integrity did not automatically get you labeled a racist or an insurrectionist, because a different guy was in the White House.

Short of overriding Wolf's veto of HB1300, because the Department of State is in the early stages of adopting a new SURE system, we should take advantage of this opportunity to filter out bad and outdated voter registration data. A modernized system with all the bells and whistles is meaningless if the data it manages is riddled with errors. Garbage in, garbage out.

In a perfect world the cleanest way to address this would be to scrub the SURE data and have everyone re-register to vote - proof of citizenship and residency required. At the very least, we should confirm everyone's voter registration data. Let's give all of Pennsylvania the months between the November 2021 election and the 2022 primary election to get it done. There is already some talk of delaying the 2022 primary due to late census data, so that would provide an even longer opportunity to clean up the voter rolls.

The SURE data is a mess and needs a complete once-over. Every registered voter deserves to be registered accurately. Every voter also deserves to know that other voters in their area are also registered accurately, and that deceased voters, those who move away, and ineligible individuals do not remain on the voter rolls.

Personally, I would have no problem visiting my county board of elections with proof of citizenship and residency to confirm my SURE data. I'm sure you would as well, especially if you're offered a 5-8 month window in which to do so.

The heart, soul, and foundation of every single election is our voter registration system. Without confidence in that system, it's hard to have confidence in any other aspect of the electoral system. My confidence in the accuracy of our voter registration system and data is diminished.

So sure, let's audit the vote. Let's examine the machines and ballots. But if those ballots originated from voters registered illegitimately or improperly, what does it matter? We need to audit the voters as well.
Russ Diamond

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