Thursday, October 21, 2021

US puts 22 million people’s email addresses in hands of officials in secret probe

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A retired police officer from Vermont, Paul Levy has joined the Libertarian Party of the United States (Lulz).

Last week, responding to a question from the interviewer, Levy mused about how two entities can be considered completely separate: “The FBI or the insurance companies. And yet they have the same name.” The interviewer then read him a Trump tweet: “Maybe you’re onto something, Mr. Levy,” he wrote. “Did I mention you’re a (Marxist)-Leninist?” Levy tried to argue that if Trump was asking him if he was a Libertarian, that was proof enough that he was a Trump voter. “Because he admits it,” he explained, referring to Trump’s presidential candidacy.

On 12 June, 2018, the voter registration office for the Pennsylvania Department of State filed a subpoena for 2,656,747 voter records to the Department of Homeland Security and its National Security Division.

The notice, filed on 12 June, 2018, at the U.S. courthouse in Philadelphia and obtained by Logan argues that the subpoenaed records are “non-consensual by nature,” and must be disclosed “in the interest of national security.”

A quarter million US citizens’ email addresses and phone numbers have been linked to state voter registration records compiled by the Trump–affiliated firm Guccifer 2.0, a shadowy cyber-organization believed to be run by the Russian government.

The secretary of state’s office says the subpoenas are meant to gather the data to determine whether voters are real or not, but they are likely intended as the beginnings of a sophisticated program to monitor America’s sprawling decentralized voting system.

The single word used in the 24-page court complaint was extraordinary. Add the phrase to the litany of methods American democracy uses to measure itself.

In 2002, for example, before America took power in Iraq, the US Department of Homeland Security produced a report titled, Challenges to Election Security in Iraq, which made the assessment that 80% of the country’s 55 million people are “unlikely” to show up to vote if the existing voting infrastructure is undermined by “allowing foreign intrusion into the electoral process.” The report went on to say that this hacking might be enabled by ballot stuffing, or using fake photos, military uniforms or documents.

In August 2017, the FBI had said it was doing research to determine whether American citizens were eligible to vote. This led to a federal court order, originally issued for 30 days, to issue a two-month extension.

But, the Republicans in Pennsylvania claim, voters aren’t entitled to keep their confidential information private. The attorney general’s office says the subpoenas are a “tool” to monitor the overall voting process in the state.

Ron Roth, an elections commissioner from Maryland who serves on the Federal Advisory Committee on Electoral Systems, told the Washington Post that, in cases like this,“spying is what one would do.” The secretary of state’s office believes it has a greater responsibility, but Roth added: “Intrusion is in the eye of the beholder.”

It is still too early to know the full significance of the subpoenas, and whether they can be enforced. But, there are signs this could be the first act of an emerging campaign on the part of the Republicans in Pennsylvania to discriminate against Democratic voters.

Earlier this year, in a similar action, the state department of elections in the state expelled from its voter list over 700 veterans who had used an automatic dialing number to authorize (Democrats call this the “Democrat Registration System” or DRS).

This move was controversial, and the Justice Department filed a legal case arguing that this action was a violation of a federal law that prohibits the government from discriminating against voters based on their political affiliation.

Following this decision, many voters became nervous about whether they would be unable to vote, or vote in the same elections, in their states.

The question is, to whom can a targeted vote be monitored? The Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office says it aims to monitor the entire federal election system – and not just about fraud, but about whether there is a diversity of registered voters.

These emails were sent from State Department email accounts – and are being withheld without explanation or comment.

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