By Harvey Wasserman
Many readers will remember how Republicans rigged the elections in Florida in 2000. A violent mob prevented volunteers from completing the recount in contested southern counties. As a result, the recount could not be completed in time to meet the deadline of December 20, 2020 for legally choosing the state’s Electoral College delegation. The Bush campaign sued and took the case, Bush v Gore, to the U.S. Supreme Court, which by an infamous 5-4 decision, handed the presidency to Bush.
Twenty years later, a Republican challenge ending up in the Supreme Court could happen again, only this time three sitting justices –Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Brett Cavanaugh, and now Justice Amy Coney Barrett –will be well primed. All three were involved (then, as private attorneys) in giving Bush legal advice on how to handle the case, Bush V. Gore, in 2000 .
How might another Florida recount get challenged this time?
By Republicans failing to retain the images of ballots cast, as required by federal law, through electronic scanning.
Here’s how it works. Federal law requires all paper and digital images to be kept for 22 months, thus preserving the integrity of the vote in case of a recount. Digital scanning of paper ballots also insures an accurate vote count quickly and easily.
Yet election officials in Florida’s eight most populous counties falsely say saving the images by scanning—as done in most of the US—- would cost millions. According to election protection expert John Brakey of Audit USA, the cost of retaining these electronic images is in fact minuscule, and there is no reason to discard them. “Except,” says Brakey, “to cheat.”
Florida’s likely 10 million scanned images can be quickly tallied and verified. But if all the digital images are discarded (all it takes is for election officials to press a delete button), the recounting process of paper ballots will be far more complex and time consuming, and the recounts could extend beyond the “safe harbor” deadline for seating an Electoral College delegation. In other words, Election 2000 Déjà vu.
Another problem has recently been flagged by Florida’s former Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho. He recently sent a warning to the SOEs in 47 of Florida’s 67 counties where Election Systems & Software (ES&S) voting systems utilize wireless cellular modems to transmit election results from the precincts on election night. These cellular modems, he points out, use Verizon, Sprint, or other 4G technology and are as hackable as any cell phone.
In addition, the central tabulators in each county must be connected to the internet to accept the wireless transmissions. Those central computers are protected only by firewalls, which can be breached. Many Florida SOEs believe their voting systems are federally certified, but they are not. The federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) has never certified any voting systems that utilize wireless modems. Sancho has strongly advised the SOEs to remove or disconnect the modems from all digital scanning machines.
If Biden wins Florida early, it’s over. But with the digital images destroyed, and Florida’s results possibly hacked, Trump could drag out a recount to win at the US Supreme Court, 6-3 .
HARVEY WASSERMAN co-convenes the GRASSROOTS EMERGENCY ELECTION PROTECTION COALITION (www.grassrootsep.org) a comprehensive national campaign to prevent the theft of the 2020 vote. Holding a Masters Degree in US history from the University of Chicago, Harvey has authored or co-authored some 20 books, including the upcoming PEOPLE’S SPIRAL OF US HISTORY, to be formally published after January 20, 2021.