Tag Archives: Cegavske

If the Administration Won’t Pay Attention to Russian Interference Then We Must

The good news:  “Nevada is organizing cybersecurity under a new central hub, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, and is among more than 35 states sending officials to a cyber security incident response training at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center in Massachusetts later this month.” [LVSun 3/18]  That’s the good news…it’s more questionable to observe it’s been 530 days since the Department of Homeland Security first issued a warning about Russian interference in our national elections.

“The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the Russian government of stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals, immediately raising the issue of whether President Obama would seek sanctions or other retaliation.

In a statement from the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., and the Department of Homeland Security, the government said the leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” [NYT 2016]

Nevadans have been assured the state was not a direct target of election interference at the systemic level. [LVSun 3/18]  In other good news Nevada did address the cybersecurity matter in AB 471 the title of which was:

“An act relating to cybersecurity; creating the Nevada Office of Cyber Defense Coordination within the Department of Public Safety; providing for the powers and duties of the Office; requiring the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security to consider a certain report of the Office when performing certain duties; providing for the confidentiality of certain information regarding cybersecurity; requiring certain state agencies to comply with the provisions of certain regulations adopted by the Office; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

Translation from the legalese: Nevada took coordinating cybersecurity seriously enough to require state agencies to get on the same page.  This includes the Secretary of State’s office and its related election jurisdiction.

It would be nice if the federal government were taking this issue as seriously as the states.   A quick review:  On December 9, 2016 President Obama ordered a review of Russian attempts to “hack” the American elections. The president-elect dismissed the warnings from the intelligence community saying in effect these were the people who said Iraq had WMDs. [USAT]  On December 28, 2016 President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closes Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.  Nothing happens officially to punish Russian agencies and individuals during the early months of the current administration.  On May 17, 2017 the Justice Department appoints Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is tasked with discovering if any US laws were violated on the part of US citizens and others.

As news of Russian interference trickled out in the press more interest in the issue came from congressional quarters, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced S. 341 (Russian Sanctions Review Act) on April 27, 2017.  By July the interest increased to the point that HR 3364 passed the Congress almost unanimously, it was signed into law on August 2, 2017.  No action was taken by the executive branch to implement the requirements of the law immediately.

Indeed, it was March 15, 2018 before the Department of the Treasury issued enhanced sanctions on Russia, releasing the following statement:

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five entities and 19 individuals under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) as well as Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,” as amended, and codified pursuant to CAATSA.

The list of individuals and entities sanctioned was remarkably similar to the Mueller investigation list of those indicted for interference and illegal activities.

The current administration has not convened any cabinet level coordinated meetings to date regarding Russian interference in US elections, a sore point with Senator Benjamin Cardin who issued a minority report from his Senate committee. [pdfOne recommendation was prescient:

“U.S. and European governments should mandate that social media companies make public the sources of funding for political advertisements, along the same lines as TV channels and print media. Social media companies should conduct comprehensive audits on how their platforms may have been used by Kremlin-linked entities to influence elections occurring over the past several years, and should establish civil society advisory councils to provide input and warnings about emerging disinformation trends and government suppression. In addition, they should work with philanthropies, governments, and civil society to promote media literacy and reduce the presence of disinformation on their platforms.”

And, so we continue. The president congratulated Putin on the occasion of his reelection in an election characterized by eliminating competition and blatant voting fraud.  Nevertheless, the drip continues… reports of social media manipulation, stories about the machinations of the super PACs, Cambridge Analytical, Facebook, and so forth. We know that 21 states were “hacked” in 2016, we know that one was penetrated, and we know that Nevada — fortunately — wasn’t one of them. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a stake in this game.

We owe it to ourselves to keep track of state efforts to thwart foreign efforts to attack our voting security systems.  We need to think about the security of our state election rolls and related systems. We need to support efforts to improve the technical acumen of our state and local election officials.  We need periodic updates from our Secretary of State on steps taken by our government to upgrade our voting equipment, and secure our registration.  We also need to pay more attention to how social media is used and abused to cause disruptions to our politics and political discussions. We need to pay attention.

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Filed under elections, Nevada politics, Politics

Nevada Gets a C: Election Security Report

I think we can agree on the proposition that free and fair elections are crucial to American democracy and to the preservation of our republic.  That said, how does Nevada rank among states in terms of our election security.  The Center for American Progress gives Nevada a “C.”  The think tank reviewed the following categories:

  1. Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems
  2. Voter-verified paper ballots
  3. Post-election audits that test election results
  4. Ballot accounting and reconciliation
  5. Return of voted paper absentee ballots
  6. Voting machine certification requirements
  7. Pre-election logic and accuracy testing

Nevada gets mixed reviews in category 1, the registration system is about ten years old, but does provide for some important cybersecurity checks for intrusions.  There is currently no requirement for cybersecurity training for all election officials in the state, nor has the State reached out to DHS for any assistance in auditing or improving its system.  Secretary of State Cegavske is an alternate member of a national task group on election cybersecurity, but no indication is given in the report whether or not her participation has yielded improvements in Nevada’s system, or whether more security emphasis is placed on the Office of Cyber Defense Coordination.

There is one major loophole in the Nevada system: “The state permits UOCAVA voters to submit completed ballots electronically, via email or by fax.986”  This is a notoriously fragile practice and one wide open to possible manipulation.

A full reading of this important study is highly recommended.  It’s also important for Nevadans to support the Election Assistance Commission, which is under Republican attack in Congress, since that is the specific agency tasked with establishing testing standards for voting machines.

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics

Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, Where 3 Is Greater than 520

There are a couple of news items which should cause us some concern, other than the inability of the current President to speak the words, “The Russians hacked into our elections.”

First, there are the efforts by the Russians to continue their intrusions into our elections:

“Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.”  [CNNI]

Secondly, there’s James Clapper’s assessment that the Russians are prepping the battlefield for 2018. (video)  This should raise some concerns from Nevada’s election officials.

Thus far Nevada’s chief election official, the Secretary of State, has agreed to hand over such Nevada voter registration data as is a matter of public record to the Pence/Kobach Commission, and not the full list of information Kobach’s Commission has requested…without any reference as to whether his Commission will pay for the data as any other political institution or agency would be asked to do.  The security of the information, given the increased Russian interest in our elections, is highly questionable.  Nor is the question answered about the rationale for the Commission in the first place.  However, it does sound a bit like Nevada’s Election Integrity Task Force which receives plaudits and plenty of attention in the Secretary of State’s Biennial Report for 2015-2016. (pdf)

The EITF ferreted out some cases of voting irregularities rising to the level of prosecutable offenses: One case of double voting in Clark County in 2012; one case of an undocumented immigrant voting in Washoe County in 2014; and one case in Nye County of improperly completed voter registration forms in 2016.  That’s IT.  Three cases.  Adding a soupçon of context:  In 2012 there were 1,016,664 votes cast.  In 2014 there were 552,326 votes cast, and in 2016 there were 1,125,429 votes cast in Nevada.  In 2012 there were a total  of 1,082,705 active voters on Nevada rolls; there were 1,193,194 active voters on Nevada rolls in 2014; and, in 2016 there were 1,334,959 active voters on the rolls.  [NVSoS]  Somehow, this context wouldn’t seem to justify a “Task Force” on any subject.

There are some other numbers which seem to call for greater attention and concern, and these are located in the Nevada Executive Budget for FY 2016-2017 (pdf).  One of the performance measures included in the Secretary of State’s budget concerns the number of electronic viruses neutralized by its IT personnel.  The actual numbers are available for 2011 (300), 2012 (375), 2013 (391), and 2014 (407), with projected numbers for 2015 (442), 2016 (480), and 2017 (520).  See a trend? The budget descriptors don’t indicate if these were malware, spyware, or someone trying to hack into corporate records, but the steadily increasing number from 2011 onward isn’t comforting…and now we have more Russians running loose in the country, “setting up the battlefield for 2018.”

However, our Secretary of State seems to have her own battlefield, as of last April, when she alleged there was voting by non-citizens in the 2016 election as a result of Department of Motor Vehicles practices (based on a March memo of understanding about the practices which bears her signature.)  It’s July, and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has yet to make public any information confirming or substantiating her allegations.   We might be excused for believing, on the basis of this information that in her office 3 is of greater concern than 520.

 

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Good Morning: The Administration wants all your voting data, and wants to make it public

The President’s “election commission,” established to cover his allegations that millions of illegal voters prevented His Vulgarity from attaining triumph in the popular vote, is requesting voter roll data from all 50 states. Nevada is included in this list.

“On Wednesday, all 50 states were sent letters from Kris Kobach — vice chair for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — requesting information on voter fraud, election security and copies of every state’s voter roll data.

The letter asked state officials to deliver the data within two weeks, and says that all information turned over to the commission will be made public. The letter does not explain what the commission plans to do with voter roll data, which often includes the names, ages and addresses of registered voters. The commission also asked for information beyond what is typically contained in voter registration records, including Social Security numbers and military status, if the state election databases contain it.” [ProPublica]  (emphasis added)

There are many layers of just how wrong this is.   First, and most obviously, why worry about Russian hacking into voter roll information for the purpose of making mischief if everything they want is right out there in public view?  Nothing like One Stop Shopping for voter data for the Kremlin?

Secondly,  conspicuously absent from the letter is any indication about what processes and procedures will be applied to protect voters’ privacy.  Mr. Kobach’s documented sloppy handling of his Cross Check program data is not reassuring.

Third, while full Social Security numbers may not be included, even partial number releases may be a bridge too far for those concerned with identity theft; and, does the Pentagon really want the status of members of the Armed Forces right out there for all the world to see?  How handy for the Bad Guys to have an instant way of finding out a soldier’s home address?

Finally (for the moment) there’s the purpose for which all this data is sought — rest assured, it’s NOT for the purpose of “election integrity,” in fact given the participation of Kobach and Von Spakovsky the obvious intent is to scramble the data for inclusion in a “report proving” that there’s a “need” for more voter suppression.

Nevada citizens who do NOT want their voter data/records shared in this haphazard and insecure way should call the office of Nevada’s Secretary of State: 775-684-5708, fax 775-684-5725; or e-mail at <sosmail@sos.nv.gov>

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Filed under Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics, von Spakovsky, Vote Suppression, Voting

SB 385 Cegavske’s Foray into Vote Suppression 2007 edition

Cegavske How can a person tell when a proposition is an effort at vote suppression?  Republicans across the country have offered, and in some unfortunate cases adopted, measures which they say will secure the “integrity of elections.”  There are several reasons why this should set off the BS Alarms.

#1. Because they’ve said so.  Bastion of ultra-conservative women’s subjugation advocate Phyllis Schlafly  who opined that early voting facilitates illegal votes – a term she left undefined – and for which she offered no proof whatsoever. [TDB 2013]  Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai told an audience in 2012 that Voter ID would deliver the Quaker State to Romney in 2012. [TPM 2012]  Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason said after the election that voter ID helped to cut Obama’s margin by 5%.  [TNM] Former North Carolina GOP official Don Yelton lauded that state’s new restrictions as “going to kick Democrats in the butt.”   Current gubernatorial candidate in Texas, Greg Abbott, thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to have a GOP controlled legislature gerrymander districts and do so at the expense of Democrats. [TNM] South Carolina state Representative Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach) passed out packets of peanuts with cards attached which read, “Stop Obama’s nutty agenda and support voter ID.”  The GOP chairman (2102) in the second largest Ohio county, Doug Preisse,  advocated cutting early voting hours in Democratic leaning counties and expanding them in Republican controlled areas, saying: “ I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African American – voter turnout machine.” [TNM]

#2. Because none of the vote suppression, gerrymandering, or access restriction suggestions have been paired with proposals to facilitate voter engagement.  For example, when Texas enacted its strict voter ID law someone forgot to mention that because of name changes in marriage some 66% of voting age women in the state might lack the proper identification to vote.  Did anyone think to suggest that along with the marriage license a county official might offer a voter registration form to the couple so SHE could revise her personal information?  Or, when divorce proceedings were finalized, and a name change was recorded, an official could offer the same form? Crickets.

North Carolina’s new voting restrictions forbid the use of a student ID for poll identification.  [BrennanCenter]  Did any North Carolina official propose that county clerks and voting registrars in locations where colleges and universities are located  increase their staffing such that registration and acceptable ID documents could be easily procured?  More crickets.

Indiana enacted strict ID provisions in the wake of voter fraud in absentee ballots – not voter impersonation fraud – in one county election.  Problems arise  for people who are natural born citizens but perhaps because of poverty have difficulty getting access to a birth certificate. [PRI] Did any Indiana official suggest at the time that a voting registrar could access other databases in Indiana and beyond, free of charge, for authentication of a voting registration application?  Crickets.

Wisconsin passed Act 23 in 2011 which requires a government issued ID before a person may cast a ballot.  Officials said they “fixed” the access problem by creating a free program from the state motor vehicle department so that people wouldn’t have to pay for the documents necessary to register. [Bloomberg]  Did any official in Wisconsin put forward a bill to expand the hours and the locations of DMV offices?  More crickets.

If a bill which restricts, impedes, or potentially suppresses a citizen’s right to vote, then if it’s not simply an exercise in partisan vote suppression it seems reasonable to conclude that provisions would be included to mitigate or remove the hurdles placed in front of otherwise eligible voters.

On The Home Front

And now we return to Nevada, and the campaign promise from candidate for Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske that she will insure the “integrity of elections.”  She took a shot at this before, in SB 385 in 2007.  SB 385* required photographic identification in the form of a driver’s license, an Armed Forces ID, a U.S. passport, a Native American tribal ID, or a voter registration card issued by a county clerk (at no charge.) Here we go again.

The DMV issue in Nevada has been the subject of numerous posts already, and there’s nothing free about getting a driver’s license in this state – the going price is $41.25.  The price for an ID issued by the Nevada DMV is $21.25 for those under 65, and $7.25 for those over 65.   [DMV]  If an individual in Nevada who uses public transportation, and hence doesn’t really need a driver’s license, wants to vote should the individual have to pay up to $41.25 for the ‘privilege?”  Poll tax anyone?

The U.S. passport provision in SB 385 was gratuitous immigrant bashing; my passport shows – me (in an unflattering photo), where I was born, and my birthday. That’s it. That’s all.  Mine happens to be a garden variety plain vanilla passport, and the little books cost $110.00.  The passport is no proof at all that I am a resident of Nevada, nor would it show I’m voting in the proper precinct, nor that I’m even eligible to vote in the election at interest.

It was all well and good to have the county clerks issue “free” IDs under the terms of SB 385, however the background costs for the most common ID (the driver’s license, DMV ID) aren’t anything close to free, nor would be the documentation required by the clerk or registrar.   For the moment let’s stick to the basics for the average person who wants a Nevada driver’s license.  The documentation which must be presented to the Nevada DMV is (1) a state issued birth certificate or (2) a valid unexpired passport.  What does a copy of a Nevada birth certificate cost?  That would be $20.oo if issued by the Nevada Office of Vital Statistics.  A birth certificate from California will cost $25.00, from Arizona $20.00; from Utah the going price is also $20.00.  Someone born in New York will have to fork over $30.00.  Massachusetts is a relative bargain at $18.00.

Under the terms of Cegavske’s SB 385, a county clerk would issue a “free” ID for voting purposes if the person comes to the office with “documentation showing the person’s date of birth,” (birth certificate price at least $20), and evidence the person is registered to vote, and documentation showing the person’s name and address.   There’s nothing ‘free’ about this whole process.

And now Barbara Cegavske’s campaigning to be the next Nevada Secretary of State, who doesn’t want to “suppress” anyone – that would be anyone who isn’t put off by the current prices for photo identification like the $41.25 for  the driver’s license, or the $110 for the passport, or the $20 for the birth certificate… and who can get to a DMV or voting registrar’s site during working hours…. that wasn’t quite the interest in “engagement” she was demonstrating in 2007.

Republicans across the country have already made it crystal clear that the purpose of voting restrictions is to restrict voting, especially voting while Democrat.  The only sop to the suggestion that SB 385 might be a form of poll tax was the inclusion of the free IDs from the county.  Nothing in the bill called for an extension of hours for the DMV to handle applications. Nothing in the bill called for additional DMV staffing to deal with applications. Nothing in the bill called for an increase in the number of DMV locations where ID’s could be obtained.   Nothing in the bill mitigated the potential costs of obtaining photo IDs for voting purposes. Nothing in the bill offered assistance to women who needed to update their personal information.  Nothing in the bill encouraged the university system to either provide appropriate IDs or make it easier for students to register.

Thus the BS Alarm should be going off at a decibel level sufficient to drown out  the engine of an F-22 Raptor (150dB).  The Republicans have made their intentions very clear, and when there are no suggestions for alleviating the inconveniences it merely serves to reinforce the contention that they mean to restrict voting by women, minority ethnic communities, and young people.   Period.

* SB 385 was cosponsored by Senators Cegavske, Beers, Heck, and Raggio.

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Filed under Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Cegavske Surprises No One: Vote Suppression 101

Cegavske Here’s hoping exactly NO ONE is surprised by Secretary of State candidate Barbara Cegavske’s announcement that she is in favor of photo ID requirements for voting. [LVRJ]  The issue is on the GOP’s top ten list of ways to prevent “those people” from voting.   No matter that this is a solution without a problem – list the number of prosecutable voter impersonation cases brought in Nevada in the last 10 years?  None.   And, forget the whine: “she noted there is a pool of money at the Department of Motor Vehicles that is used to replace homeless persons’ IDs when lost. “We don’t want to suppress anybody,” she said.”  [LVRJ]  Do we have to reprint the DMV office map for Nevada?  The one that shows how far some people would have to go to get a replacement ID, or an original for that matter?  If you’ve clicked on the link, you’ll see that DMV offices are clustered in our metropolitan areas, with five in the Reno-Carson area.  Now look at the space between the “pins” and imagine all the people people who live in Nye, Lincoln, Elko, Humboldt, Lander, and Eureka counties. 

One glance at the map and it’s obvious the people without IDs who will be the most inconvenienced are in rural Nevada.  Another group which will be seriously inconvenienced are the elderly.  And, just for good measure there are those “other people” (Democrats, young people, working people, women, and minority ethnic people) who might “commit voter fraud!”  In September 2013 we were treated to the Great Walk Back during which Republican Assemblyman Pat Hickey (Reno) kicked off a brush fire when he said the 2014 elections would be good for Republicans because “minorities and young people” wouldn’t be voting.  There’s nothing like a bit of Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas, Ohio Republican vote suppression laws to insure this result.

If we go back just a bit further, in 2012 Nevada was treated to some Republican fraud in the form of Nathan Sproul  deliberately misleading Nevadans about voting and voter registration.  Sproul’s efforts were brought to light in September 2012.   The suggestion that Nevada voters need identification cards was precisely what Sproul was promoting during his scam in southern Nevada.

Sadly, this isn’t the first venture into Voter ID Vote Suppression in this state, witness Senator Mike Roberson’s SB 373 in 2011, joining the efforts of the Suppression Six in the state legislature.   Sharron Angle, Tea Party darling, is certain there’s an epidemic of voter impersonation fraud sweeping the nation.  Angle would make a movie about this if she could find any examples?

But wait, there’s another little nugget in Cegavske’s commentary which ought to attract a bit more attention.  Read this again:

“She argued that a business background makes her more qualified for the job than her opponent Kate Marshall, the Democratic state treasurer. If elected, Cegavske said she would like to allow county district attorneys to prosecute cases of fraud in the securities division that now are all led by lawyers in the attorney general’s office.” [LVRJ]  (emphasis added)

First, Cegavske isn’t running for Attorney General, which is probably a good thing because NRS 90.615 already allows District Attorneys to prosecute IF (1)  the prosecution is at the request of the Attorney General or (2) IF the state AG doesn’t prosecute.  Evidently, the candidate’s “business background” doesn’t include knowledge of the current statutory provisions regarding the prosecution of securities fraud in Nevada.  Secondly, while District Attorneys’ offices might be staffed and equipped to handle securities fraud in metropolitan areas – this could be a problem for smaller, less well staffed operations in the rural part of the state.  Not. Quite. Ready. For. Prime. Time.

But Cegavske, a staunch stalwart ultra-conservative legislator, is completely ready, willing and even enthusiastic about turning Nevada into the next Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas, or Ohio … with vote suppression antics of no value to anyone except the corporate interests and their Republican allies  who are equally enthusiastic about excluding their critics from the ballot box.

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The Great North Houston Vote Suppression Raid: A cautionary tale for Nevada

There’s a cautionary tale here.  It really does make a difference who controls the offices of the state Secretary of State and who holds the post of State Attorney General.  If the following information isn’t convincing, I’m not sure what might be. 

Five days ago, Texans were reminded of a raid by police officers in protective gear sweeping into a house on the north side of Houston. It wasn’t a drug raid.  The officers displayed a search warrant and then removed computers, hard drives, and documents.  These weren’t related to any money laundering schemes – they were the property of “Houston Votes,” a voter registration effort.  Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s delegation of investigators said they were after evidence of voting fraud.  And the result?

“The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.” [DallasNews]

The case included all the usual elements, a fervid Tea Party agitator, Catherine Englebrecht of the King Street Patriots, film clips from Fox News about the New Black Panthers, rumors of the organization being “worse than ACORN.”

The justification offered by Attorney General Abbott after the initial Dallas News story,  was that he didn’t know about the investigation at the time. [DallasNews]   A full on raid? Protective gear? Guns drawn? And the man ultimately in charge of this fiasco now can only say, “I trusted my aides?” There were more allegations of unjustified interference from Abbott’s office.

“The Houston Votes case is not the only one of its kind, though it’s unclear how often Abbott’s office investigates allegations similar to those levied against the group. In response to requests from The News, the attorney general’s office provided a list of 637 potential violations of the Elections Code referred to Abbott since he took office in late 2002.

Strickland (Abbott spokesperson) said he could not say how many were investigated or how many involved alleged voter registration fraud.” [Star Telegram]

In short, those 637 hardly constitute an “epidemic” of voter fraud as declared by Abbott in 2006.   So, what does this tale say in terms of Nevada’s upcoming vote?

The Republican candidate for Secretary of State, the person in charge of Nevada’s elections, is Barbara Cegavske, who has made her position clear.  She’s in favor of the photo ID requirements which have been used in states like Texas and North Carolina to suppress voting by Blacks and Hispanics:

Cegavske said that if elected in November she would consider introducing a voter ID bill during the 2015 legislative session if no lawmaker proposes a similar bill. Such measures have repeatedly failed to pass the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Senate, however.

“We need to have something that everyone feels secure about,” Cegavske said after speaking to about 40 people attending a breakfast for Hispanics in Politics, an influential Latino community group. “I don’t want to disenfranchise anybody, but I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have identification.”  Cegavske said that even if people don’t drive they usually have other ID they use to get Social Security checks or food stamps or for other programs that require photo identification.”  [LVRJ]

Her statement couldn’t make it much clearer about whom she’s referring when discussing who might not be able to register to vote.  Cegavske’s opponent is Kate Marshall who has not made these kinds of statements.  The Nevada Democratic Party made its position on Senator Cegavske crystal clear:

“The only way to ensure the integrity of our election system is to keep Barbara Cegavske as far away from the Secretary of State’s office as possible,” said Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Zach Hudson.  “Cegavske’s rhetoric today might endear her to extremists in the TEA Party, but the reality is she is a career politician who has spent her time in the legislature killing ethics reform, blatantly abusing tax dollars and trying to suppress people from voting.”

Putting ingredients such as Tea Party + Voting + State Office Holder together is precisely what generated the debacle in Texas.  Cegavske, is indeed, a solution in search of a problem, and most definitely isn’t the best candidate for the office of Nevada Secretary of State.  (See also: Fodder and Folderol]  For that matter, she certainly doesn’t need to be teamed up with “Train Wreck” Adam Laxalt in the AG’s office.

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Fodder and Folderol: Election Integrity in Nevada

Ballot BoxNow! Fodder for the right wing Vote Suppression crowd — evidence of voter fraud in Nevada! Well, sort of.  The Las Vegas Review Journal tells us that one person was arrested in April on voting registration fraud charges, and another was arrested this week.  What makes these cases interesting is that the charge in April concerned an ineligible voter who registered as a Republican, and the more recent allegation concerns a person who decided to register with both major parties.

There are two ways of looking at these prosecutions. (1) They are the tip of the iceberg concealing massive election fraud; or (2) They are two instances out of 1,434,946 registered voters in the state of Nevada. [SoSpdf]  The Tip of the Iceberg/Vote Suppression advocates will, necessarily, see an obscure epidemic, and may allege that the laws aren’t working because the statutes should have prevented these possible incidents.

The preventionist argument is a stretch. As noted previously, (here, here) you have a Right to Vote.  The burden of proof rests where it always does in a criminal prosecution, with the government.  It’s been said before, and now will be repeated:

“The burden of proof always rests with the state — in any prosecution for anything.  If a person is alleged to have voted once in Clark County and again in Nye County that would call for a prosecution of a crime under NRS 293 — but the burden of proof rests with the state.   If a person is alleged to have voted using an assumed identity, then this calls for prosecution, and once again — the burden of proof rests with the state.

Any suggestion that the citizen be required to “show proof of citizenship” at the polls is not only redundant, but shifts the burden of proof from the state to the individual.  That’s not the way the American system of jurisprudence works.  It’s not the way the American judicial system has ever worked.” [DB]

What the voting suppression advocates are promoting is not only the restriction of voting in local, state, and national elections, but the fundamental shift in the burden of proof from the government to the individual by requiring multiple and progressively more stringent identification procedures. Procedures which are calculated to suppress the vote of ethnic minorities, the young, and the very old.

The preventionist argument also falls apart because most of the proposals don’t prevent fraud — they just prevent voting.  But, hey, if you can’t vote then you can’t commit voter fraud?  Whoa, not necessarily.  If a person were to steal another person’s identity, complete with all the appurtenances like a phony Driver’s License, then that fraudulent ‘voter’ would still be able to cast a ballot.  The ‘government issued ID’ prevents nothing.  It’s merely an inconvenience (or impossibility) for someone young, old, or an ethnic minority.

There’s always that old standby — the Election Integrity Argument. It isn’t any more substantial than the preventionist one.  The Republican Platform calls for “election integrity,” and this, too, has been discussed previously. There would be nothing the Nevada GOP would like more than to regain control of the State Senate, and install legislator Barbara Cegavske as Secretary of State.  Then we’ll be hearing all manner of proposals for vote suppression in this state.  Why?

Because “illegal voting” calls our elections into question, it minimizes our “election integrity.” And, people have to “trust our elections.” This argument works best among those who devoutly believe that any election outcome other than the one they desired must be fraudulent.  For example, there’s this analysis of the 2012 election from a conservative publication:

“So how did Romney lose a race that numerous reputable polls and pundits predicted would be an easy win, based on historical patterns? The most realistic explanation is voter fraud in a few swing states.”

Surely, it wasn’t because of candidate Romney’s highly unfortunate remarks about 47% of the population? His connection to vulture capitalists? His dubious campaign organization? His attention to invalid polling? The economy was improving under the incumbent? Nupe. The least realistic explanation must be transformed into the most realistic explanation.

There were 994,490 votes cast for the Presidency in the 2012 Nevada elections. [SoSNV]  That one person may have voted illegally obviously wasn’t going to make a difference. In short, it’s far more difficult to amass a critical number of illegal votes to control election results than it is to continually disparage those election results, and by the medium of continual publicity sow seeds of doubt into the minds of the electorate.

The ‘election integrity’ campaign is a carefully phrased, meticulously tuned, propaganda effort to justify vote suppression activities.  ALEC loves it, the Koch Brothers love it, and we’re going to hear more of it.

Both the Tip of the Iceberg and the Election Integrity arguments also fall when their supporters argue that “the law doesn’t work.”  How could the current statutes not be working when the state was able to identify 1 person out of the 994,490 who voted for President in the last election who may have voted illegally?  The only way this allegation works is to adopt the patently ridiculous rhetoric of right wing chauvinists who refused to acknowledge election results, and to join the Tip of the Iceberg crowd of extremists.

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Nevada: Vote Like Your Right To Vote Depends On It

Ballot BoxThere’s one Nevada political race which hasn’t attracted as much limelight as might be justified.  That would be the race for Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State’s office has authority over elections and voting, and the implementation of Nevada election laws and regulations.  The Nevada Republican Party has already put citizens on notice that it intends to flog the Election Integrity Mule all the way to the polls.

Here’s their 2014 election platform statement:

“We advocate proof of U.S. citizenship and residency at the time of voter registration and requiring government issued photo ID at the time of voting.  We oppose same day voter registration to preserve election integrity.  We strongly support all electronic voting systems having a voter verified paper audit trail, used in the event of a recount.”

Look closely at the first sentence.  Yes, everyone supports the idea that a person is a U.S. citizen, and is a resident for the purposes of voting.  And, yes if a person does the registration paperwork to vote in Nevada a government issued ID or driver’s license is required. [NVSoS] If a person doesn’t have a government issued ID or driver’s license then the individual must register in person at the county election office, clerk or registrar. [NVSoS]

Once the paperwork is filed and the voter is included among those eligible to vote in Nevada, when a person goes to the polls the burden of proof to refuse that individual a ballot is on the government — not the individual.  It is up to the government to demonstrate you are not eligible to vote — it is not up to you to prove that you are.

So, here the second part of that sentence comes into play.  Under the Nevada Republican scheme of things, not only does a person have to prove citizenship and residency during the registration process, BUT the person must also prove he or she is eligible to vote at the polling place.  In other, unminced words, the burden of proof is now shifted from “you are eligible to vote unless the government can prove you aren’t” to “you are not eligible to vote until you prove you are.”

Since voting irregularities are illegal, what the Nevada Republican Party is advocating is a system in which you are NOT presumed  innocent until you are proven guilty, you are presumed guilty until you can prove you aren’t.  [Extended discussion here]

The second sentence doesn’t make much sense. If you have proof of citizenship and residency a few days before an election, wouldn’t you have it on election day?  Should there be issues regarding either element there’s always recourse to the provisional ballot.  The only thing that same day registration actually does is make voting easier and more convenient.

And all this in the interest of providing ‘election integrity.’  Nor is this a recent idea.  ALEC and its allies have been shoving the concept of increased corporate influence and decreased citizen participation for some time — and they do have Nevada allies. [DB]

There was an effort during the 2011 legislative season to enact a voter photo ID law. [DB] Legislators Roberson, Hardy, Hansen, Woodbury, Stewart, and Hambrick were the Suppression Six.  Among the bills they sponsored or supported were AB 327, AB 341, AB 425, AB 434, and SB 374.

State Senator Barbara Cegavske added her own bill to the mix, AB 311 jointly sponsored by Hardy, Sherwood, Hansen, Munford, Gustavson, and Halseth.  The bill would have eliminated all early voting in Nevada elections.

Another bit of red, white, and blue fearmongering was addressed in 2011 by SB 178, sponsored by Gustavson, Hardy, McGinness, Roberson, Settelmeyer, Hansen, Ellison, Goedhart, Goicoechea, Hambrick, Kirner, and McArthur.  The bill was a rather blatant bit of immigrant bashing, with whispers of “illegals” voting in the toxic mixture.

During the 2013 session of the state legislature there were another spate of bills regarding photo ID statutes and other means of making voting less convenient and more restrictive.  There was SB 63 (photo ID), SB 367 (repetition of immigrant bashing  SB 178/2011) , AB 216 (Photo ID) sponsored by Sen. Gustavson, Hansen, Wheeler, Ellison, Hambrick, Fiore, P. Anderson, Grady, Livermore, and Stewart.  AB 319 (Photo ID) sponsored by Stewart, Hambrick, Hansen, Duncan, Grady, Hardy, Hickey, Kirner, and Livermore.

And what of making voting more convenient?  During the 2013 legislative session, AB 440 was passed which would have extended the period for voter registration. The bill passed the Assembly on a 25-16 vote. [NVLeg] It passed the Nevada Senate on a 11-10 vote.  The Nay votes came from Brower, Cegavske, Pete Goicoechea, Gustavson, Hammond, Hardy, Hutchison, Ben Kieckhefer, Roberson, and Settelmeyer. [NVLeg]  The bill was vetoed by Governor Sandoval.

There appear to be two outcomes the Nevada Republican Party would very much like to see in the upcoming 2014 elections.  The first would be to control the State Senate, and the second might very well be to elect State Senator Barbara Cegavske as the new Secretary of State.

Democrats in Nevada would be well advised to vote in 2014 as if their right to vote depended on it — given the platform, the previous legislative efforts, and the voting records of Nevada Republicans in the Legislature, Senator Barbara Cegavske in particular — it might.

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Cegavske: A Solution in Search of a Problem – Vote Suppression Nevada Style

State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Clark8) would like to be our next Secretary of State, in part because:

“One of my main goals is to ensure the integrity of elections in Nevada. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our state and federal constitution in which we all believe. I strongly support and encourage the active participation of all the citizens of Nevada to exercise their right to vote. Nevada voters deserve assurance that the manner in which their elections are conducted and in which the votes are counted, is above reproach. I will endeavor to provide that assurance.” (emphasis added)

Notice the Buzz Words.  “Integrity of elections,” and “Voters deserve assurance.”  Both of the phrases are connected to the Republican vote suppression rhetoric.  In fact, there is an Election Integrity project, operating out of Santa Clarita, CA.  Some background may be in order at this point.

Follow The Money

Catherine Englebrecht is the founder of the King Street Patriots and and True the Vote — a product of the maelstrom of right wing politics which is the state of Texas.  Convinced that Hispanic and African American voters, abetted by the ‘nefarious’ ACORN were fraudulently participating in elections, the self-styled Patriots and Truthers, launched various and sundry schemes to minimize the votes from African American, Hispanic, and young people.  Elections, the self-styled Patriots said, should be free from any contamination and from charges of fraud and sloppy practices — translation — too many “other kinds of people” voting.

Adding one more link to the chain, the attorney representing True the Vote, is none other than Kelly Shackelford, of the free market think tank Liberty Institute. A few more clicks and we find Shackelford listed as the president of the Free Market Foundation, which in turn links to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.  And, wonder of wonders … check deeply enough and there’s a Koch Brothers connection: “The Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation both support the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.[3]$113,800 received from Koch foundations 2005–2008 Total Koch foundation grants 1997–2008: $122,300 [4] [SW]

There’s another link to right wing organizations which have proposed vote suppression measures:  The State Policy Network is funded by all the usual suspects, major corporate interests like Reynolds American, Altria (tobacco), Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, Comcast, Time Warner, and … the Koch Brothers. [SPN funding]  The link is formed when we find out that True The Vote received funding from the State Policy Network during the 2012 election season. [ConsTrans]  We’d be remiss if it weren’t noted that the State Policy Network also bestowed its largess on the Nevada Policy Research Institute. {above, p.2}

From whence comes the funding for the State Policy Network?  A significant portions comes from the Pope Foundation and other conservative funding fonts, along with a very healthy infusion of money from the Donors Capital Trust.  Read: Koch Brothers.

And yet still another — to Judicial Watch.  This organization has made no secret of its desire to restrict the opportunities of ‘undesirables’ to vote, as indicated by some of its activities in Florida and other states.

“Judicial Watch is crusading to force states to carry out voter-roll purges like the one that has subjected Florida to multiple lawsuits. Together with Judicial Watch, True the Vote formed the 2012 Election Integrity Project, launched in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Through the Election Integrity Project, the group has sued to allow Florida’s purge program to commence, and has sent letters threatening lawsuits in Indiana and Ohio to do the same.” [HuffPo]

In the No Surprise Department we find Judicial Watch teaming up with the Election Integrity Project to “watch” the 2012 elections.  In case anyone was thinking some 700 people in Nevada’s Clean Up The Vote campaign came to all their notions from burning sage brush — the Clean Up The Vote is an affiliate of True The Vote. [NPR]

Follow the Record

It’s all well and proper to note the funding chain linking the Koch Brothers and their ultra-right wing allies with organizations seeking to propose and enact vote suppression activities, and another to claim that a particular candidate is aligned with their intentions. What’s the record?

During the 2013 Legislative session, Senator Cegavske was one of the primary sponsors of SB 239 in the fine print of which was the coordination of Social Security Administration and voter registration lists to “insure” dead people weren’t voting. Further, the bill would have allowed county clerks and election officials to send out sample ballots electronically.   First, we’d have to believe that there are “dead people” voting.  During testimony on the measure, Senator Settelmeyer (R-CUSA) defended the bill citing that his recently decease mother was still on the mailing lists of several candidates and campaigns. [Legis PDF]

Senator Cegavske also cited a family matter, noting that her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease was in a Minnesota nursing facility and the family had requested that mailings not be sent to her home address.  Representatives from the Secretary of State’s office noted that we should be cautious about removing anyone from voter rolls simply for being old, and that statutes do provide a process by which suffrage could be refused. [Legis PDF] At no point during the testimony on April 9, 2013 did any of the proponents of the bill describe any actual instances of fraudulent voting by or on behalf of dead people, demented people, or any other imposters.  There was no such testimony on May 8, 2013. [LegisPDF]   Nor was there any such testimony on May 20, 2013. [Legis PDF]

The Assembly side took up the bill on May 29, 2013.  Once more Sen. Settelmeyer spoke of his mother, but again, there was no testimony that any such actual voting impropriety had ever taken place. [Legis PDF] Nor was any such testimony forthcoming at the final hearing on June 3, 2013. [Legis PDF]

In 2009 Senator Cegavske was also concerned about fraudulent voting, as a primary sponsor of SB 315.  The bill received two hearings in the Nevada State Senate.  During the first of which the  point that photo identification was a “solution in search of a problem”  as opposed to the proponents laudatory contributions about the Indiana Voter Photo ID bill. [Legis PDF] During the last hearing Senator Lee asked the obvious: Do we need SB 315?  Senator Washington offered the Suppressionist Party Line in response:

“The voting process is sacred. We never want to give the impression of fraudulent voting. We need something in place to determine if there is voter fraud. Poll workers are there to stop any fraudulent voting. This would add one more safeguard to maintain integrity in the voting process.” [Leg PDF]

SB 315 died in committee. Note, once again, only the potential — after explanations aplenty from county and state officials that there was no evidence of voter impersonation — of fraud was ever alleged. At no point in testimony in either 2009 or 2013 was evidence of actual fraud brought forth.

We can go back yet another session, to 2007, in which Senator Cegavske sponsored SB 385, to require that county clerks issue voter ID cards.  The theme remained the same, there was a potential problem with impersonation — during the testimony given on the bill no one offered a single instance of actual voter fraud to the committee on March 27, 2007. [Leg PDF]  The bill got a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate committee, on March 29, 2007, but no examples of actual voter fraud emerged. [Leg PDF]

SB 385 came up for discussion again on May 3, 2007, with Barry Gold of the AARP testifying that approximately 125,000 elderly Nevadans would be negatively impacted by the bill. The hearing closed. [LegPDF]  A second hearing provided more examples of voter inconvenience and expense than it did of any real problems, especially since none of the latter were mentioned.  [LegPDF]  The bill never emerged from the State Senate.

And so, since 2007 Senator Cegavske has been looking for the solution to Senator Washington’s “problem,” i.e. how should legislation be crafted so that no Republican can ever claim any indication of potential voter fraud?   This is particularly difficult since the underpinning of the voter fraud allegations is the notion that Democrats can only win elections by cheating, and therefore, if a Democrat wins it must be by nefarious means.

We might await the day when more than six members of the Republican Party are willing to admit that various forms of suppression including purging rolls and photo identification requirements are simply about disenfranchising those who are likely to vote Democratic.  [National Memo]

It would be seemly if Senator Cegavske, while campaigning to assume the mantle of elections chief in this state would care to take some time to explain why she sought “solutions” to election problems which never actually took place, and existed only in the heated imaginations of right wing, Koch Brothers funded, political operatives and their think tanks.

 

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