back to article Days after President Trump suggests pausing election over security, US House passes $500m for states to shore up election security

The US House of Representatives has passed a spending bill which includes a $500m election security provision. A Friday vote went mostly along party lines as representatives decided by a 217-197 margin to pass the 2021 Spending Bill. The draft law will now go to the Senate. The $1.3tr spending package [PDF] is likely to be …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It all depends

    On what Putin decides.

  2. DS999

    Its too late now

    Even if they got the money today they don't have time to buy new voting machines to replace the ones that don't have a paper trail, and get the county people trained on them.

    When they got money the first time around (after the 2000 'hanging chads' debacle) to replace old school mechanical voting machines smart people were saying that the touchscreen machines without a paper trail should not be allowed. Should have made that part of the law, then we wouldn't have to pay them to replace those machines a second time.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Its too late now

      They have plenty of time and money to buy one machine for each likely democrat voting area. And then ensure it is securely guarded, in a disused lavatory, in a locked file cabinet with a sign say beware of the leopard ?

      1. Graybyrd
        Windows

        Re: Its too late now

        And that locked-down machine in the lavatory cabinet must be shared with voters in the predominately African-American districts. One per 100,000 potential voters is the suggested ratio. "In-person" voting only; no fraudulent mail-in ballots.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Its too late now

          Don't go giving Mitch McConnell ideas!

          1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

            Re: Its too late now

            I sincerely wish Mitch would read this forum.

        2. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Its too late now

          You may like to check out Greg Palast's thoughts on the subject.

          https://www.gregpalast.com/

          1. DS999

            Re: Its too late now

            Trump knows he can't use challenges to change the outcome - not if the margin is anything remotely like that in current polls (and since he's still doing a terrible job with the pandemic, he has no chance of changing those numbers) No matter what he could do to drag things out, he leaves office in January, but he obviously has never read the Constitution so he probably doesn't know that yet.

            He'll do it for a show, and file lots of lawsuits because that's all he knows how to do and he saw that in 2000 you can drag things out which will allow him to deny that he lost. And that's what he really wants - he wants is be able to claim the election was stolen from him, so he doesn't have to be a "loser". Because in Trump's psychopathic reality, being known as a "loser" is the worst thing that can happen to someone. Worse than going bankrupt, worse than being crippled, worse than being dead.

            What he doesn't understand is that while some of his supporters will believe his claims and continue to support him when he goes on Fox News to rant, once he's no longer a power broker all his republican allies will forget he exists. And probably other than Hannity so will Fox News before long - because they will be worried about running stories about how terrible President Biden is, and having Trump on to rehash his sob story for the 20th time won't interest them.

            Plus Trump may be busy in depositions defending all the crooked things his businesses have done and he signed his name to now that Cohen and his niece have spilled all the beans on his dealings, and prosectors are close to getting his tax and business records. I'm sure he'll try to make his underlings take the fall, which will force them to testify against him as well. He knows what awaits him if he loses, no wonder he's so scared right now.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Its too late now

              I wouldn't underestimate his enablers, he might be a moron, but the people he gives cover for are not. Pompeo gave a headsup, that Barr has cooked something up. We don't know what that something is yet.

              The law here for example is completely clear.

              https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/6103

              "(f) Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request"

              So the Chairman of the Ways and Means committee asks the IRS for Trumps tax return. Mnuchin steps in and blocks it. DOJ claims it "lacks legitimate purpose" which has no meaning in the law. There is no such provision.

              So the IRS is disobeying the law, but the measure to enforce it, is the DOJ. The DOJ is controlled by Barr and he is also disobeying the law.

              The mistake the Dems made was to sue in the court. They should have prosecuted the head of the IRS for failing to obey the law, not seek clarification on a claim that does not exist in law. As if Barr won't simply invent another reason that also doesn't exist in the law.

              The laws are meaningless if they cannot be enforced. Trump isn't the person who undermined that law, that was William Pelham Barr and Steven Terner Mnuchin.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Barr

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Mnuchin

              If you want to influence Fox News, you need to name and shame Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch. James Murdoch has already resigned yesterday, citing his disagreement with Fox News direction. He doesn't want to be associated with their course of action. But he is the low hanging fruit of the family.

              They hide in the shadows behind the screaming Nazis that Fox News has morphed into. Yet they benefit from the laws and society and democracy that their Fox News nazi's seek to undermine. Time to clean house at Fox News, Lachlan, time to restore some conservative values, Rupert. The sooner you turn the ship, the smaller the turn needs to be to avoid the rocks.

              1. DS999

                Re: Its too late now

                Congress trying to get his tax records is a separate issue (and separate court case) from the one the Manhattan DA is investigating. That's a state level prosecution and they aren't relying on the IRS to provide his federal tax returns, because they can get his NY state tax returns that contain basically the same information since his his HQ is there.

                What they really want though are his accounting records and banking records from his accountant (Mazars) and the bank that holds all his debt (Deutsche Bank) and the federal government is powerless to stop them handing it over once his appeals are exhausted.

                Even to the extent he could delay them further, unless he wins the election he is out of office in the third week of January and will no longer have his cronies in a position to stop anything so the clock is ticking pretty loudly.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Its too late now

                  @"Congress trying to get his tax records is a separate issue (and separate court case) from the one the Manhattan DA is investigating."

                  Although what you're saying is true, it illustrates the problem with what the Dems are doing.

                  Barr creates some specious claim, and they get sidetracked attacking that specious claim. He can invent a zillion such specious claims, and they will waste time knocking down one after the next in the courts. The IRS is not obeying the law here, they need to stop getting sidetracked and go after the people who must follow the laws and stop chasing the sock puppets Barr lures them with.

                  Sure Mnuchin can threaten to sack IRS staff for obeying the laws, but they can sue for wrongful dismissal.

                  Same with whatever Barr has cooked up to claim Trump has power after they've killed the vote. If they challenge it, they are giving it validity. Suddenly an invalid claim is then valid because the Dems think the court needs to test it! Until their case is tested in the high court and 'Kavanaugh' says its invalid, their right is put on hold. Trump will claim power while the high-court decides if Barrs claim is valid. Like the tax-returns thing, a year has gone by without his tax returns, and once they've knocked down that specious claim, another will popup.

                  Only now they've already lost, they've accepted that these specious claims need to be tested in court.

                  "unless he wins the election he is out of office in the third week of January"

                  Like his tax returns?

            2. holmegm Bronze badge

              Re: Its too late now

              He won fair and square in 2016 and he'll likely win again.

              Your strategy is still to call those whose votes you need stupid and racist. That didn't work well enough for you, for some mysterious reason. Now you've added the rioter as your poster child. That also isn't going to work well, strangely enough. Nor is the, er, electric excitement of ... Biden.

              Unless, you cheat enough.

        3. holmegm Bronze badge

          Re: Its too late now

          It's strange how you believe these things. I guess propaganda works.

          In the real world, Hillary recounts have to be stopped because Detroit precincts "vote" greater than 100% for Hillary. (For the mathematically challenged, that's impossible. Without fraud.)

          Poor people being bused from polling place to polling place to vote early and often are not "voting" Republican. Illegal immigrants are not "voting" Republican. Dead people in Chicago are not "voting" Republican. You have the players backward.

    2. Scully

      Re: Its too late now

      The flaw is using voting machines in the first place. Pieces of paper and pens make UK elections secure.

      Voting machines are used because the ballots are so complicated.

      President, US senate, US congress, state senate, state congress, sheriff, judges, council members, mayors, boards of supervisors, school superintendents, state ballot measures (voter sponsored legislation), local ballot measures (county and city), recalls, the list goes on.

      The ballot where I live looks like this: https://ballotpedia.org/Sample_Ballot_Lookup#address=los+angeles&election=2020-11-03

      1. DS999

        Re: Its too late now

        That's the consequence of not allowing the federal government to be the one to conduct elections. The wisdom of that has been made apparent this year - if Trump's administration was responsible for conducting the election there's no way it would be conducted fairly. But since he has no power over it, all he can do is cry on twitter about how a fair election is so unfair to him. The only thing he's able to do is try to hamstring the post office - he put a crony in as postmaster general a few weeks ago and he's already noticeably slowed the mail (I only had mail delivered one day last week)

        What that's going to do is encourage everyone to mail their ballot in as early as possible, instead of waiting until a few days before in case they change their mind, which will eliminate his ability to come up with an "October surprise" with some made up dirt on Biden coming from Ukraine or Russia. Meanwhile his whining about how mail in voting is somehow insecure will cause a lot of his supporters to risk infection to vote in person, and possibly not show up at all if they think he's already lost or they have enough of an outbreak where they live they don't think the risk is worth it, which will take a bunch of other republicans down with him.

        I think his strategy for claiming fraud hinges around having his supporters mostly vote in person, while the sane people mostly vote by mail. So the totals are added up on election night and they only have the in person tallies and he's in the lead. Then over the next few days when they count the mountain of mail in ballots he falls behind and screams "FRAUD!"

        1. Drew Scriver Silver badge

          Re: Its too late now

          The government system in the USA is multi-tiered, and each tier has quite a few responsibilities that the other tiers are not able to affect (much).

          In a nutshell:

          1) Federal

          2) State

          3) Counties

          4) Cities

          The authority the higher levels have over the lower ones is relatively limited. For instance, legally the federal government has no real jurisdiction in education - that's up to each state. Within each state the counties and even school districts have a lot of leeway.

          States operate largely independently from each other. Each has its own tax structure, for instance - separate from the federal tax system. Legally, each state has its own legislature, courts, etc.

          It would be impossible for the federal government to run the elections.

          Regarding voting in person, more and more states are dropping the requirement for voters to identify themselves at the polling stations.

          Also, the reliability of the USPS is not very impressive. It's one of the reasons I'm very hesitant about mailing in my ballot.

      2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge

        Re: Its too late now

        "The flaw is using voting machines in the first place. Pieces of paper and pens make UK elections secure."

        There are ALWAYS machines; human eyes are only a backup.

        My ballots (I wish I had a link to a pic, but sorry) use pen on cardstock, but there is still a machine used to check for stray/duplicate marks and perform the actual counting.

        Bootnote: In defiance of our inglourious president, I choose to be "absent" from the primary polls today and voted in the safer, more secure environment of my own home. The missus and I dropped off our Absentee Ballot Applications at township hall on Tuesday late afternoon, received primary ballots in Thursday's mail (didn't expect USPS to be that quick, honestly), and returned at township hall the next day (Friday). Every step -- application received, ballot sent, ballot received -- is reported to the state election board and available for me to verify on the state's website. If there's going to be any fraud, it's between opening the signed-and-sealed envelope and counting the ballot (running it through the machine), not due to the postal service, who had almost no part in it!

        (And since our application is on file, I don't even need to fill out another for November's general elections. Receive, vote, take back -- easy enough and better than standing in line all day with a mask on.)

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Well that's reassuring

    The upcoming election looks to be just as much of a shit show and the entire Trump presidency has been.

    And I'm looking forward to the OHSG refusing to step down and the GOP endlessly pretending they don't know if he can or can't while the Democrates cannot bring themselves to have the fucker arrested for treason to the Constitution.

    I've got to remember to stock up on the popcorn - I'm going to need a lot more than I thought.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Well that's reassuring

      Popcorn, whisky and aspirin.

  4. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    What a terrible headline! In English, the only possible target of the "just that" is "pausing elections", as "over security" is unarguably a qualifier to the first part of the sentence.

    So the headline (in English) is parsed as "Days after Trump suggests pausing election (over security), US House passes $500m for states to do just that", which is factually false and obviously nonsense: the House has not passed anything about pausing elections.

    A more accurate headline would be something like "Days after Trump suggests pausing election over security, US House passes $500m for security upgrades" (or something vaguely similar), or better yet "US House passes $500m bill states to improve voting security just days after Trump suggests delaying election".

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: What a terrible headline! In English

      There is a word that describes the seeming intentions behind the wording used.

      Clickbait.

    2. pdebarra

      I came here only to point this out, but find I've been beaten to it.

      1. Craig 2

        A successful technique considering you both posted comments.... Oh, wait.... shit

    3. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

      I nearly commented that you must be a shitface, but you shall be able to read that the title , at least on my webpage, is changed to what you suggested.

      Evenso, I think.....................................censured

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The way it will pan out

    The November election goes ahead as planned.

    Wave 2 is in full swing, seeded by Fox News talking heads and Republican, this was intentional/predictable. I told you so.

    Republicans will suddenly become concerned about Corona Virus just before the election.

    Polling stations in Democrat voter dominated districts of Republican states, are always badly equipped to ensure long lines compared to Republican districts, 6-8 hour lines, in some cases. This is normal business for Republican states, they try to dissuade voting in Democrat districts by making it as hard as possible. Voter ids block student ids because students vote Dem, gun-licenses are accepted as voter id, because gun men vote Republican, mail-in ballots need verification signatures by another voter, because single people tend to vote Dem. Lots and lots of voter suppression tricks are normal for Republicans.

    You might notice the closure of large numbers of polling stations, e.g. Kentucky closed 95% of them, packing everyone into very few locations in those Democrat leaning districts. All those Dem voters will be packed into few polling stations.

    Republicans will close those polling stations on the day as the queues form "out of their deep concern for the safety of the voters, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers"

    If they are challenged they will annul the vote, and choose their own electoral college votes in order to meet the deadline for submitting electoral college votes.

    If their election rigging isn't enough, they will annul the vote, and choose their own electoral college votes.

    The subsequent riots will be tackled by Bill Barrs "tactical border unit" shooting protesting moms in the face, gassing students who dare to demand the vote.

    You should get a tell of what is about to happen, when that tactical unit is massively expanded just before the election, or the nutjob who runs it is moved to control a bigger force. They just don't have enough gun-men on the ground to suppress wide scale protests.

    There is no bottom with Trump, if you want to stop it happening, you need to shine light on the plans so everyone can see it happening as it happens. Give Republicans pause for thought. Refer to them by name, so they cannot hide in the shadows. They don't benefit from this, its all their risk and his reward. There is no future for them in a USA like that. All the things they enjoy now, come from the democracy not from Trump dishing out favors to his favorites. That's not a life for them, trying to suck up to a snowflake fantasist and hoping not to get on his wrong side. They need to back the democracy. Democracy is good, all the tricks they've been doing to hold power against the majority are bad.

    Assuming you can get enough of them to think twice about their RNC chosen path, Trump will do something extreme, but I don't think anyone will follow him. If he refuses to step down, then Dems need to take power directly. Not waste time impeaching a person who isn't President, or waste time trying to take the Whitehouse, as if the building is the power.

    The danger here is Democrats are weak. Trump will claim victory even when he loses. He'll simply pretend he won. Democrats tend to cede power "for unity", and then imagine the next election will ever happen. Or that unity around a dictator that lost an election is somehow a 'good' thing!

    1. cschneid

      Re: The way it will pan out

      Well that went dark pretty fast.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: The way it will pan out

        It's strange to see how much of this Warren Ellis predicted in Transmetropolitan.

        Not sure though if Trump is the Beast or the Smiler...

        Both were just as insane as the Trump.

    2. DS999

      Re: The way it will pan out

      They can only play those games in republican controlled states, and the people in the cities have become wise to those tricks and will all take advantage of mail in voting where possible. Which is why Trump is trying so hard to claim that will lead to fraud - he wants those states to stop mail in voting but they've refused to do.

      The state where I live has a republican governor and republican legislature and republican secretary of state. They had the opportunity to restrict mail in voting since there was nothing democrats could have done to stop it, and were likely under pressure to do so, but they did not. Anyone who wants to vote via mail in the state is still allowed to do so, no questions asked.

      I'm sure Biden's campaign and the DNC will be encouraging everyone to take advantage of that rather than risk long lines on election day. I plan on sending in my ballot by October 1st, to give it plenty of time to arrive no matter how much sand Trump's crony postmaster general throws in the gears of the USPS.

    3. JCitizen Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Re: The way it will pan out

      I think it is silly that any politician will think Republicans will avoid the polls because of the Corona virus. Especially when most of them believe the whole pandemic was just a plot to ruin the golden economy that Trump supposedly built.

      I'd wager that Republicans will be the only ones to show up at the polls, what with all the fear mongering the Democrats have placed on the pandemic. They are the ones that should be trying to "pause" the election. However, with all the protests, I doubt anyone will avoid the polls, as obviously a lot of folks could care less about COVID-19!!

  6. Scully

    The illusion of paper trails

    Some voting machines such as the ES&S Model 100 use an optical scanner to scan the voter's paper ballot. If the paper ballot is kept, there is a paper trail.

    The Premier AccuVote-TSX voting machine works differently:

    "If the TSX is equipped with the voter-verifiable paper trail, the printer tape is located to the right of the touch screen, under transparent plastic. Voting takes place as described above however, at the conclusion of voting, a paper ballot is printed and displayed in the Accuview housing so that the voter can verify their selections before the ballot is deposited into a container within the printer module to await retrieval by poll workers."

    Meaning the validity of the paper trail relies on the voter diligently checking the printout before it's sent on its way.

    BTW, hacking the election doesn't require an attack at scale. The Republican candidate can win the election by winning in 5 swing states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina because they have more than the 95 electoral college votes a Republican candidate needs (assuming he doesn't lose in one of the states that's been won by the Republican candidate for decades). Within those states an attack can be focused. In Ohio, for example, compromise the vote in 14 of the 88 counties and you own the result.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: The illusion of paper trails

      Scully:-

      Interesting insights you have presented (2 posts). Keep 'em coming.

    2. DS999

      Re: The illusion of paper trails

      This is why it is a good thing that not only do states run their own elections rather than the federal government, but that countries/cities are often given responsibility by the state to choose and purchase their own equipment. So yeah if you can swing the vote in 14 counties in Ohio, but they probably don't all use the same type of equipment.

      But I agree equipment where the record isn't voter verified should not be allowed. If a place wants a touchscreen IMHO it should be required that it prints out a ballot which the voter then carries and inserts into an optical scanner machine (to catch ballot stuffing) They can look at the ballot to insure their votes were correctly recorded before doing so, and the count on the touchscreen machines can be compared to the count on the optical scanner and if they don't agree a manual recount of the paper ballots can be done (and they can verify codes printed on them to find which ones came from the touchscreens and which ones were 'stuffed' because they have an invalid code)

      Personally I'd like to see every state require a manual recount of a random 2% (the exact percentage determined by statisticians) of precincts, and any discrepancies above a statistically significant amount would trigger a statewide manual recount. No chance for statewide fraud since it could never slip past the random recounts and ballot stuffing would be caught as well.

      1. Barking mad

        Re: The illusion of paper trails

        Ohio has no protocol for delivering the tally from counties to the state attorney general. What could go wrong?

        Large scale fraud might be spotted by CBS because they have very accurate software for predicting the result from early returns.

  7. julian.smith
    Happy

    As the (formerly) United States sinks into the sewer

    How's it all working out in the Land of the Free?

    Australia has compulsory voting at the Federal level, elections are on a Saturday

    There is a small penalty for not voting without a valid excuse but most people see it as an opportunity for a BBQ after casting your vote

    Governments take care to schedule elections so they don't clash with important events like football finals - don't want to piss off the voters

    Postal voting is increasingly popular

    Electoral fraud is not a thing

    Voter suppression is unheard of

    FYI a few years ago the entire WA Senate election was rerun (at a cost of millions) because the Electoral Commission couldn't account for 1,000 ballot papers!

    BTW WA has had no Covid-19 community transmission since April 12 - sounds like elimination to me

    Hard borders and smart lockdowns (liquor stores were very restricted to leave capacity for emergency hospitals)

    A couple of weeks ago a football game had a still-restricted crowd of over 20,000

    The Premier is insanely popular > 90% approval

    How is it where you are?

    Over

  8. bpfh Silver badge

    I think I mentioned this here 15 ish years ago...

    Select on screen, print the vote, hopefully it spits out the correct candidate, and that is the legal vote. Count the ballots and compare with the computers. Saves time on the recount, and avoids having to pre-print our tons of paper...

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Select on screen, print the vote

      Even that is contentious. Is it possible for the software to filter the list shown on the screen? How do you prove the list shown on the screen has not been filtered?

      Plus not everyone will know to scroll down: Does the user interface enforce the entire list to be viewed before selection is allowed?

      If the "Select" button doesn't function (which could be due to the software having been programmed with an ulterior motive in mind) then the voter's right of privacy is destroyed by the need to call someone to point out the problem with their Vote plainly visible on the screen.

      Pencil And Paper Is The Only Option.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As If

    As if it would make any difference with the way the entire US is gerrymandered, the enabling congress is permanently republican know nothings now. They will just choose some other lying clown, like maybe Chris Roberts to take the orange lumps place.

    === DUMP THE LUMP ===

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: As If

      That would be the Congress whose larger house has 235 Democrat Representatives and 200 Republicans?

      And you do know that the Senate districts can't be gerrrymandered, as those are called "states"?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    USA..

    ...the beacon of democracy that other countries look to with envy - like f*ck we do, and not for quite some time. Firstly, it is not a true democracy, it is a flawed democracy.Secondly, with voter-suppression, gerrymandering, insecure electronic voting machines and a wacko president that continually undermines democracy, freedom of the press and the rule of law it is no wonder it currently ranks down at #25 on the list of democracies.

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