Who is behind the effort to censor speech in Louisiana?
Guest post by Christopher Alexander
There isn’t a single reputable cybersecurity expert in America who believes that machine-based voting systems are secure or that bad actors aren’t, possibly at this point, perfecting the art of electronic theft. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan may be the first, but certainly not the only, renowned election security expert to voice serious concerns. Haldeman testified before Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s voting commission in late December 2021 about apparent weaknesses in the electronic ballot marking devices (BMDs) used to record votes in Louisiana and many other states. It’s Haldeman on record stating that machines can be hacked, that he himself has hacked into them several times, that it is only a matter of time before they are hacked by bad actors, and that machines do not need to be connected to the Internet to be hacked.
Ardoin has no reason to claim ignorance on this matter. His continued failure to take concrete steps to move to a secure and fully verifiable hand-marked paper ballot voting system, regardless of cost or inconvenience, is inexcusable.
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Why is it so important? Every voter has a fundamental right to know that his vote reflects his intent and that his vote cannot be remotely manipulated to reflect the opposite intent. As long as BMDs remain the primary mechanism for recording our votes, there is simply no way Ardoin can credibly claim that our system is secure. It’s a key issue in his campaign, but one he seems to want to avoid the most. He has yet to explain to Louisiana voters why pundits like Haldeman are wrong or why he continues to insist that Louisiana elections are “safe.” If he continues to falsely claim that voters can trust our current system, and not commit publicly that he will whatever it takes throw out the BMDs once and for all, they will lose and should lose. Unless, of course, on election day he becomes the beneficiary of the same vulnerability he refuses to correct, in the elections he will preside over.
Even as he publicly misrepresents the facts regarding the security of our current voting machine, Ardoin has apparently so mesmerized Louisiana’s largest Republican Women’s Organization with the coherence of his public stance that he has officially banned any dissent from being heard. Roby Dyer, President of the Louisiana Federation of Republican Women (LFRW) recently sent a directive prohibiting any Louisiana Republican Women’s group affiliated with LFRW from allowing Dr. Randy Russo and his election integrity group to speak at any of their events about the issues with the Louisiana voting system.
dr. Russ, a Republican and former CEO of a major corporation, spent countless hours analyzing our system’s vulnerabilities and consulted and worked with prominent cyber experts. He and his team also carefully analyzed Louisiana’s electronic voting data from the 2020 presidential election. Russ, like Haldeman, is convinced the system is seriously exposed. According to Dyer and LFRW, Russ is pedaling “disinformation.”
In a move perfectly consistent with the federal government’s unconstitutional stifling of American speech ruthlessly imposed on conservatives in reprehensible disregard for the First Amendment, LFRW decided the best way to advance the fundamental, Madisonian Republican value of free speech on the issue. of enormous public importance is simply to crush the speech of the Republican caucus. It is not necessary to apply alternative opinions. LFRW has, in this matter, become effectively a Kyle Ardoin school of electoral integrity where his opinion, and his alone, can be expressed within its walls.
Ardoin, a career bureaucrat whose salary is paid by us, is, of course, welcome anytime to speak before LFRW and spout falsehoods about how secure Louisiana’s voting system is and what a great job he’s done securing it, along with a hearty lunch and a photo op. Op. Then he’ll hit the door without an iota of disputing what he said. Now that’s a good gig.
Meanwhile, there is no room in the inn for the volunteer group Citizens for Election Integrity led by a former CEO of a major corporation whose sole purpose is to inform citizens of the enormous vulnerabilities in our current voting system.
This is a textbook example of why citizens across Louisiana and the country are increasingly distrustful of establishment Republicanism, and why independent, highly motivated advocacy groups are forming everywhere.
It is absurd to believe that Roby Dyer woke up one January morning and decided on his own that open and free expression on an issue of critical public importance was no longer a core Republican value after 200 years. It is even more absurd to believe that she would not have foreseen the damage such a move would do to her organization’s institutional credibility among the Republican citizens of Louisiana if it became public, damage that is already being done in the form of disgruntled members.
No, this rash decision was not made by Roby Dyer. Dyer and LFRW were acting on someone’s orders. Dyer was instructed to take this action. If it turns out that Ardoin is using the power of his office — and there is evidence of that — to suppress political speech that directly violates the First Amendment, the issue will take on an entirely new dimension, both political and legal, and one that does not bode well for the office. If this is indeed the case, the violation becomes more serious with each passing day without an official withdrawal of the LFRW. Maybe they should apologize to Dr. Russ while they’re at it.
The clock is ticking.