Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the Trump Administration for finally designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a “foreign terrorist organization” after the group has for years sponsored and participated in terrorism throughout the Middle East. They also worry that the revolving door of cabinet officials in the Trump administration is causing too much instability as Kirstjen Nielsen resigns as secretary of the Department Homeland Security. And they wonder if former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville has a chance to overcome one of the nation’s fiercest college football rivalries and win the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate race in Alabama.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the Senate for approving Christopher Wray as the new FBI director with virtually no drama. They also discuss Rep. Mike McCaul’s reluctance to be considered to lead the Department of Homeland Security. While many border security advocates are not fans of McCaul, Jim wonders whether Trump’s public criticisms of administration figures will convince qualified people to pass on chances to serve. And Jim and Greg react as you might expect after the author of a Washington Post opinion piece slams President Trump for his use of the term “paddy wagon” in a speech,” claiming it is a slur against the Irish that should not be part of civil discourse.
The Obama administration is using the intelligence reports of Russian hacking influencing the 2016 campaign as the premise for asserting more power over the states in running elections, but a top election fraud expert says federal involvement would make elections more vulnerable to mischief and is really just a way to insert the federal government where it doesn’t belong.
Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution is clear about the roles of the federal and state government in overseeing elections.
“The times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations,” it reads.
However, on Jan.6, the Obama administration – not Congress – decided to give the government more power in running elections. President Obama has been very busy cramming in many new regulations before he leaves office, but elections expert and columnist John Fund says this one is particularly alarming.
“One of the most troublesome (orders) came last Friday and gave the federal government the power to begin centralizing our election systems. The Constitution explicitly gives states the power to set the ‘times, manner and places of holding elections,'” wrote Fund in National Review Online on Sunday.
“But Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson used the excuse of Friday’s release of a report on Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee to declare that state and local voting systems will be designated as ‘pieces of critical infrastructure’ so that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can protect them from hackers,” Fund continued.
Fund closely chronicles election fraud and is the author of books such as “Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens our Democracy” and “Who’s Counting?” How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Are Putting Your Vote at Risk.” He says this is another clear-cut case of Obama violating the Constitution to further an agenda.
“It’s once again the Obama administration reaching beyond it’s constitutional limits. The states have the authority in elections in the Constitution. If the federal government wants to intrude, wants to take over part of it, it has to negotiate with the states who are sovereign entities in their own right and come to some sort of compromise,” said Fund.
“Instead, it’s an ‘Our way or the highway’ approach and the states are naturally resentful of the fact that the federal government is now holding over them the sword that anytime there’s a problem in any election system, the federal government is aggregating to itself the power to step in and who knows what they’re going to do,” said Fund.
In addition to what he sees as a blatant violation of the Constitution, Fund says the Obama administration is taking action to address a problem that does not exist.
“The actual voting isn’t tied to the internet. It can’t be hacked, except in a very few exceptions. The voter registration rolls might be a problem because they often are connected to the internet. But that’s not the votes. So people are confusing what the hackers have been able to do with voter registration systems with the actual voting machines,” said Fund.
“If you wanted to hack them, you’d have to hack them individually one by one. You can’t do it through the internet. You can’t do it nationally,” said Fund.
So what’s really at work here? Fund says the federal government instinctively bristles at the states have sovereignty in certain areas and have recently lost power on elections.
“The feds have always been angry that the states sometimes don’t listen to them. For example, the feds lost the power just a couple of years ago in the Voting Rights Act to force 14 states to run all of their election changes through Washington. The Supreme Court said, ‘It’s been 50 years since the civil rights revolution. It’s time to let that go. If Congress wants to pass a new law, they have to do that,” said Fund.
“The feds have chafed on that because it means they can’t send monitors to certain states. They can’t intrude. They can’t physically interfere in elections unless the states invite them in,” said Fund.
He says this new rules gives them a foot in the door again.
“This means the federal government has a new excuse, now that they’ve lost the voting rights excuse. They have a new excuse to step in any time they want and dictate or second-guess what the states and counties are doing,” said Fund.
Fund is convinced that the the premise of the federal government coming in to make sure elections are not hacked is simply one step in a long-term endeavor to choke the sovereignty out of the states.
“This is a lot like the frog in the pot of boiling water. The feds are turning up the heat on the states. They hope that if they do it slowly enough and carefully enough, the states won’t be able to squawk enough. Finally, the feds will be in charge and the states will be a secondary player in elections, not the primary player as the Constitution envisioned,” said Fund.
Even before the new rule granting DHS new power to get involved with state and local elections, some states accuse the department of trying to hack their systems unannounced in 2016. Georgia is making the most noise about it. Kentucky and West Virginia have reportedly expressed similar concerns.
Fund says the details on those stories are murky.
“We know very little because the feds aren’t talking,” said Fund. “Apparently they didn’t tell the states even after they’d made the attempt. It’s one thing to make a surprise attempt to hack into a state system. It’s another thing after the attempt has been made not to tell the state about it,” said Fund.
“So once again, the feds are playing sneaky, not telling the states what they would normally be expected to tell them, and all because the feds think they know best,” said Fund.
The silver lining to the Obama administration’s action is that it can be easily reversed.
“With the stroke of a pen, it could go away tomorrow if tomorrow was Jan. 20, which is the day Donald Trump is inaugurated,” said Fund.
However, he warns not to assume Trump will scrap the new federal power right away.
“I suspect at the very least he should have his appointees ask some very searching questions about, ‘Was this really justified? Couldn’t they have worked with the states toward some sort of compromise solution? Does the government always have to bigfoot in if there’s a perceived issue involved?’ The answer to those questions is no it doesn’t. The feds should get in the habit of cooperating with the states, not commanding the states,” said Fund.
Critics contend that compromised voter registration information online ought to be a major concern. Fund says there’s an easy solution.
“The smartest way to stop hackers from getting into voter registration systems, which are online, is to stop online registration. Go back to the old system where you have to fill out a postcard and send it in. The records are kept. It’s a little cumbersome, but you can’t hack a piece of paper,” said Fund.
“I’m not saying hackers aren’t a problem,” said Fund. “I’m saying that if we keep our systems simple, don’t go to internet voting which would be a potential disaster, and if we maintain vigilance, we don’t have to surrender our traditional control of state and local elections and federal elections to Washington,” said Fund.