By Patrick Colbeck
A common assertion in the wake of the 2020 election was that it was the most secure election in American history.
The question that was never asked, but should be asked was “Secure for who?”
In this light, let’s examine who had access to our secure election records and who didn’t.
Who Has Access to Our Election Records?
Center for Internet Security (CIS)
CIS is a 501c3 funded by the Department of Homeland Security. I find it interesting to note that, despite repeated assurances by election officials and the media that electronic voting systems are “not connected to the internet”, the Department of Homeland Security provides over $27M per year to fund an organization called the Center for INTERNET Security to secure our elections. They operate the Election Integrity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) which is located in Greenbush, NY.
All electronic election records transferred to and from county election systems across the nation are routed to this ISAC.
What do they do at this ISAC? According to their contract with Wayne County, MI they provide “Federally Funded Endpoint Security Services (ESS). These services include anti-virus protection, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), and centralized management of ESS data. The EDR service should be of particular interest to anyone interested in the security of our election records.
Please note the provisions of section 2(d) in the CIS contract with Wayne County, MI. The Center for Internet Security inspects “network traffic in a decrypted state”. Whenever anyone cites security concerns with election equipment that is connected to the internet, we are told it is not an issue because the communications are “encrypted”. These communications are to/from vote tabulators among other sources. That means that the staff of CIS and anyone else with access to their facility has access to the “decrypted” election results before the rest of the world knows what those results are.
In the past, I have shared that one of the dangers associated with internet-based communications is something referred to as a “Man in the Middle” attack.
What happens when a “trusted” third party is able to intercept, decrypt and modify sensitive election data? Our “secure” election is not looking so “secure” from the perspective of citizens who are wary of placing trust in an obscure organization ran by people we don’t know.
In this light, it is worth looking at who runs this organization.
These individuals may have impeccable integrity. I don’t know. What I do know is that they have access to election records that the rest of the American public does not have access to. Plus, they have the ability to modify these records without anyone being the wiser. I personally would like to know a lot more about their operations so as to determine whether or not the level of trust placed in this organization is warranted. But, since they are a private organizations, they are not subject to FOIA requests.
Election Night Reporting Service Vendors
Speaking of “trusted” sources of information, have you ever wondered where the media gets the election results that scroll across the bottom of your TV screen on election night? The media relies upon private election night reporting service companies to provide them with speedy access to election results (Once again…conveniently not subject to FOIA requests). There are two major Election Night Reporting (ENR) service providers – Edison Research and Associated Press.
The Associated Press is known primarily for its news wire services that populate the teleprompters of newscasters across the country. They also provide election operation services.
I find it interesting that they assert that “Counting Votes” is one of their roles in US Elections. I may be mistaken, but I thought that was the roll of public election officials.
This begs the question, “Where do these organizations get their election data?”
According to their website, the Associated Press gets their data from the following sources as a result of their “trusted relationships with county clerks and other local officials”:
- Stringers collect the votes and phone them into vote entry clerks who key in the data
- County and state websites
- County and state electronic data feeds (Most likely)
Hmmm…electronic data feeds seems to suggest some sort of internet connection. Does the AP have connections to our Election Management Systems (EMS) to which other organizations or individuals do not have access?
The other half of the ENR services duo is Edison Research. Edison Research specializes in federal races and statewide elections.
According to their website, Edison Research gets their data from “exit polls”.
I’m pretty sure that exit polls are not the only data source used by Edison Research. As a former Michigan State Senator and candidate for Governor, I have spent quite a few hours outside of polling locations. I’ve NEVER seen a pollster interviewing voters outside polling locations.
What I have seen are some very interesting election results coming out of Edison Research data feeds. Most notably, something called the “Edison Zero”.
What would cause the cumulative vote tally for President in Michigan to drop to zero at 5:00am the morning after the November 3, 2020 election? What would cause similar anomalies in all of the other states at different times? If Edison Research were a public entity, we could issue a FOIA request to find out. They are not a public entity, so we are left to speculate as to the cause.
Electronic Voting System Vendors
Then there are the electronic voting system vendors like Dominion, ES&S, and Hart Intercivic. Of course, all of these vendors and their respective service contractors have the rule of the roost when it comes to our election records. They routinely upload software, update configuration settings, and perform offsite “routine maintenance” on voting systems with little or no public oversight. Once again, because they are private entities, they are not subject to FOIA requests.
Other Municipal Software Vendors
Electronic voting systems are not the only private companies with access to our election records. There are variety of election support service companies with access to our election records as well.
Konnech is an election software company based in Okemos, MI. They offer a variety of software products under the “Poll Chief” brand name.
The CEO of this “trusted partner”, Eugene Yu, was indicted by the FBI.
Please note that this “trusted partner” has access to all of election information in LA County and likely any system that LA County connects to (e.g. State of California).
In addition to LA County, Konnech has held contracts with other public entities such as the City of Detroit and the U.S. Military.
Another “trusted partner” of note is a software company called SCYTL. SCYTL provides election data aggregation services for public officials.
It might be of interest to note that SCYTL is based in Barcelona, Spain.
So, not only are called to trust private companies in the U.S., we are also called to trust companies based overseas with our sensitive election data.
Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)
The Electronic Registration Information Center (aka ERIC) is a private organizations featuring about half of the states as members. The ostensible purpose of ERIC is to keep our voter rolls clean by purging them of voters that have moved or died. In this capacity, they have been granted significant access to state voter files featuring sensitive information.
Please note that the member states agree to transfer (at least every 60 days) all inactive and active voter files. ERIC is demanding access to voter files, not simply reports generated from the voter files.
On an interesting side note, on February 15, 2023, the Alabama Secretary of State, Wes Allen, made an unannounced visit to the published address for the ERIC headquarters in Washington DC. What he founds was a vacant virtual office.
The vacancy of their HQ seems to indicate that all of the work performed on the the sensitive election records obtained by ERIC was performed, if at all, remotely with little or no supervision.
Rock the Vote
ERIC is not the only private organization with access to sensitive voter roll data. Rock the Vote is yet another. They have a Data Sharing Agreement with the Michigan Department of State.
What data is shared with the private organization Rock the Vote? Schedule A of their agreement spells it out.
As you can see, Rock the Vote has access to very sensitive information about specific voters such as their Drivers License number, birthdate, and last four of their social security number.
Who Does Not Have Access to Our Election Records?
There seems to be quite a few private organizations not subject to FOIA requests with access to our election records. Now it is time to see who does NOT have access to sensitive election records.
You might be surprised to see clerks on the list of people who DON’T have access to some of our election records. After all, clerks are typically elected officials. They are elected to serve in a position of public trust and are responsible for the integrity of the public records within their jurisdiction. Despite this statutory authority, they are often treated as subordinate to private vendors when it comes to matters of election records.
Meanwhile, local clerks in Michigan who take election integrity seriously have lamented that their cleaned voter roll data is often overwritten by entities acting under the authority of state officials such as ERIC or Rock the Vote.
You may find it interesting to note that clerks are also prohibited from examining election equipment or enlisting their own subject matter experts to do that. Their equipment is serviced by private vendors designated by state officials. If the clerks attempt to bring in their own experts to examine the election equipment, they are threatened with punitive action as in the case of Mesa County, CO clerk Tina Peters.
In fact, the duly-elected clerk of Adams Township, MI, Stephanie Scott, was removed by state authorities for simply questioning the operation and testing methods for election equipment.
Remember, clerks like Stephanie Scott and Tina Peters were ELECTED by the public to secure the public records for their jurisdiction and run elections yet private vendors had more control over their election records than they did.
One way to ensure the integrity of elections is to serve as a poll worker. After all, if you are concerned about the execution of election processes there is no better way to ensure they are done right than be the one who is responsible for executing them, right? Well, sadly, poll workers operate at the direction of local clerks. If a local clerk doesn’t have access to election records, neither do the poll workers.
In theory, poll challengers in Michigan have significant statutory authority to oversee election processes including the tabulation of votes.
In practice, they are often prevented from any meaningful oversight of these activities.
During the 2020 general election, poll challengers were barred from entry to the Absentee Vote Counting Board (AVCB) and pizza boxes were placed on windows to prevent oversight from outside of the AVCB. Furthermore, poll challengers were prevented from accessing the central “control center” that tallied votes across multiple tabulators throughout the facility.
The ability to oversee vote tabulation processes is not only impeded in municipalities such as Detroit. It also happens at the county level. While stringers from the Associated Press may have the ability to oversee county election results, duly certified poll challengers have been denied such access despite having the statutory authority to do so.
The tallying of our votes should be the most transparent part of our election system. Instead, it is the most opaque.
Poll watchers are simply “poll challengers lite”. They are able to observe but not interact with any poll workers or election officials.
Anyone submitting a FOIA Request
We’ve already noted that it is impossible to issue a FOIA request to a private organization even if they are acting in a public capacity. We can still issue FOIA requests to public entities that interact with these private organizations, however. Sadly, these FOIA requests are often denied on the basis of security concerns. FOIA requests are not always explicitly denied, however. Sometimes they are implicitly denied through delay tactics. For example, it took nine months for the State of Michigan to provide a list of people said to have voted in the 2020 general election. Per Michigan statute, that information was supposed to be available to the public within 30 days of the election. I have also been waiting for going on eight months to receive surveillance video related to the tabulation of county votes. These delays not only prevent any meaningful oversight of the election, they are designed to prevent any meaningful court filings pertaining to election fraud.
If our elected officials seek for citizens to have confidence in our election results, we need to have transparency. Instead, the system appears to be designed to prevent transparency. What are they hiding?
They say that the 2020 election was the most secure election in our nation’s history. Another word for “secure” is “control”. It certainly appears that the 2020 election was indeed controlled…controlled by those behind the The 2020 Coup.