Missouri lawmakers discuss election security in hearing marked by conspiracy theories • Missouri Independent

The Missouri House Elections Committee met on Tuesday to discuss ways to change the petition process and improve election security.

And for more than three hours, lawmakers heard a parade of refuted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

“I am convinced that the country has suffered the largest cyberattack in world history which was ordered and orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party,” retired military analyst David Stevens told the committee.

Stevens was referring to a plot peddled by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell who claims the Chinese are behind President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020. At his August symposium, Lindell offered $ 5 million dollars to any cybersecurity expert who could prove their claims were false, which at least a former military cyber expert, a longtime Republican from Texas, said he could easily.

Others who testified on Tuesday were also enamored with Lindell’s theories, including Rep. Ann Kelly, a Republican from Lamar who is not on the Elections Committee but testified that she attended a symposium in Sioux Falls, South Dakota hosted by Lindell.

Missouri resident Keith Carmichael testified about Ohio’s false theories of voter fraud mathematician Douglas Frank, which were refuted by a Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee. Working together, Frank and Lindell argue that they can prove voting machines were connected to the Internet, which Ohio and Missouri laws prohibit.

“Just a moment ago you were told by a veteran military analyst that you had been attacked,” Missouri resident Keith Carmichael testified. “I don’t know if you were listening. No one missed. I didn’t see anyone call home. I know in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, I imagine people just stopped what they were doing.

There is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud or irregularities in the 2020 election.

Witnesses encountered numerous objections from members of the Republican and Democratic committee. State and county election officials also testified for several hours to dispel false allegations.

“We have a very secure system that all of our electoral authorities use,” said Trish Vincent, chief of staff to Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. “We’ve put layers of security in place to make it doubly secure.”

However, Vincent was quick to add that a bill requiring photo ID to vote – an idea that has been repeatedly rejected by Missouri courts – would be a way to allay mistrust and increase the voter confidence.

“We’ve been fighting this for a number of years,” she said.

The GOP-dominated General Assembly demanded a photo ID to vote and make it more difficult to change state law through the initiative petition process top priorities this year. But the session ended in May with none of the election bills ending up on Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.

Tuesday’s hearing is seen as a clear indication that election legislation will once again be at the top of the GOP agenda when lawmakers return to Jefferson City in January.

Missouri is a ballot state. We certify the elections on paper. We use electronic equipment on election night so that we can release uncertified results to the public.

– Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller

Representative Ashley Aune, of D-Kansas City, said Tuesday’s hearing was part of a strategy to sow doubt and mistrust in the electoral system.

Although members of the Republican committee did not outwardly support the electoral fraud conspiracy theories touted by witnesses, Aune said she had serious concerns about the level of legitimacy they gave to the claims by inviting witnesses. to talk about it.

“They just need to put it out there and let people simmer on it,” Aune said. “This paves the way for the creation of policies to make our elections ‘safer’ if they think they are not safe. “

At one point in the meeting, the committee chairman, Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Jefferson, said he had raised the “data hacking” issues to ensure that state election officials have the tools they need.

“It was my goal today to make sure we talked about these weird things that could impact the integrity and reliability of our systems,” Shaul said.

The first hole in Lindell’s Chinese cyberattack theory is that election officials do not certify election results via the Internet, said Rep. Peggy McGaugh, Republican from Carrollton, vice chair of the elections committee and former county clerk.

Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller, a Republican and former state lawmaker, agreed.

“Missouri is a ballot state,” Schoeller said. “We certify the elections on paper. We use electronic equipment on election night so that we can release uncertified results to the public. “

All these equipments are certified by the State Secretariat. They use an encrypted USB key certified by a bipartisan electoral team.

Schoeller went through the “rigorous audit” stages that election results pass after election night.

“We have these safeguards in place,” he said. “I think we’re all in agreement, we’re going to trust it but we’re going to check it out.”

Aune said a public school in her district had to shut down for two days because her system was hacked.

She co-sponsored on Missouri Cyber ​​Security Act, which lawmakers approved in May and will establish a commission of cybersecurity experts to address issues like this. It comes into force on August 28.

If lawmakers are interested in cybersecurity, they should ignore baseless election plots to focus on protecting public services and entities like public schools, she said.

“This is where our time should be spent,” Aune said. “Let’s put our attention where we know we need it.”

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