Saturday, August 24, 2019

So What's Damon Circosta's Deal?

Foreign intrusions into the 2016 elections have been proven. I'm not just talking Facebook manipulation and Wikileaks. Also proven: Russian hackers attempted penetration into the actual voting machinery of 21 states in 2016 -- no kidding! -- and although we were told that none of those hacks actually gained access to the ability to change vote tallies, those worms burrowed deep into the heart of our cabbage.

For one example, "In 2016, the Illinois Board of Elections acknowledged that voter data had been breached. Hackers were inside the system for several weeks and were downloading data when they were caught, though they did not alter any files."

So relax, the hack wasn't successful. That's what we were told back early in 2018. We're told a lot of things.

In this current national reality of greatest insecurity, there's only one explanation I can think of (but see below) for Republican officials' refusing to take steps to increase the security of our balloting systems: They welcome an intrusion that helps their side win. They must assume that any hack by the current crop of foreign computer malefactors would be in the greater GOP's favor, while not also considering for a moment that there's more than one nation of hacker nerds wanting to play havoc with us. Republicans have something to gain -- they think -- from insecure voting systems. They're playing the odds in a very dangerous game.

Do you have another credible, logical explanation for why two Republican members of the NC State Board of Elections (SBOE) -- David Black and Ken Raymond -- would vote yesterday afternoon against requiring vendors to guarantee their systems can be audited -- audited first, and visually, by the voter on a paper ballot and then by the Elections Board counting machinery? Why would two Republicans on that very Elections Board want to allow systems that are 100% unauditable? At a time when computers and bar codes manage our lives and clever black hats know how to penetrate via Internet any computer on the planet and there make mischief -- why wouldn't Republican guardians of the public trust want to increase trust?

I don't want to think of Republicans as stupid -- which, let's face it, is actually another credible explanation for the David and Raymond votes yesterday. I know they're not stupid. Therefore, they must have corrupt intent.

But why did Democrat Damon Circosta lead the "no" vote?

Damon Circosta
Why would the newly appointed Chair of the SBOE, a kind of folk hero among left-leaning non-profits and do-gooders everywhere, on his very first action after being appointed by Governor Roy Cooper, why would he vote against demanding greater accountability from voting machine vendors?

Carolina Public Press (CPP) reported:
After the meeting, a reporter asked Circosta if he agreed with the security concerns. 
“I disagree,” Circosta said. “I fundamentally disagree.” 
Members of the board were asked to identify the information and experts they used to come to their decisions. CPP asked Circosta for references to the research he used to form his decision. He did not respond, but instead provided, through the board’s press secretary, links to the Davie and Transylvania county statements advocating that system certifications not be changed.
I listened in on that SBOE meeting yesterday. I heard every word that Damon Circosta uttered leading up to the vote when he suddenly went against Stella Anderson's well publicized motion. He said he had been contacted by election board officials in different counties -- well, Transylvania and Davie, to be precise -- and otherwise he offered no rebuttal evidence against the expert testimony presented in Stella Anderson's initiative. Nor did he address the unanimous urging of public speakers -- 20 of them -- some of them also expert in voting machine technology as well as representatives from the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, DemocracyNC, and other public advocacy groups that are already discussing immediate litigation.

(The only person who spoke against Anderson's motion was the rep of the very voting machine vendor that can't certify an audit of their machines -- Election Systems and Software (ESandS). That company stands to make millions selling those machines in North Carolina, because Circosta also voted, a little later in the meeting and along with the two Republicans again, to certify ESandS as a legit vendor. The state's 100 county boards of election can choose to buy those 100% unauditable electronic machines, with absolutely no worries.)

Stupid, in this case, does immediately come to mind. And images of surfer dudes.

I don't think Damon Circosta is stupid. Some on social media are calling him a "sell-out," which implies he has something to gain. I don't believe that either. So I'm flummoxed. Maybe he just wants to be seen as completely independent, which in this case also looks very much like being completely untethered to reality.

Governor Roy Cooper is already getting blamed for this latest malfunction of democracy. Brad Friedman on Pacifica Radio sarcastically thanked North Carolina's governor for appointing such a brilliant new chair to the SBOE. (Here's the audio -- bashing of Roy Cooper for appointing Damon Circosta occurs soon after minute 22.)

Cooper has been singularly unlucky in the chairs he's appointed to the SBOE. His first pick, Andy Penry, had to resign for posting partisan shit on social media. His second, Josh Malcolm, was unjustifiably hounded by Republicans for having private conversations with county elections officials in the notorious Bladen County ballot fraud case -- hounded until the governor lost confidence in him and Malcolm voluntarily withdrew. (Malcolm was the best chair -- maybe ever -- and should have been made chair again instead of Damon Circosta, IMO.) Malcolm was followed by Bob Cordle of Welsh Cow fame.

Now we have an SBOE Chair of mysterious and indecipherable certitude, while North Carolina voters in counties where Election Systems and Software reigns can have no trust in the outcome.


Road Warrior said...

What Circosta did was violate his own principles as a past director of the NC Center for Voter Education. I personally can't believe that he has any under the table dealings with ES&S. The vote just doesn't make any sense.

O Suzannah said...

It's kind of simple: Circosta's what we used to call pure prick. He just enjoyed coming in there where people were expecting something else and said, "This is the way it's gonna be. You're gonna do what I say." Without bothering to have any research, any informed opinion, any statistics on his side. Just becuase he thought it. And because he thought it, it must be the right thing. Jeez!

Anonymous said...

you should check your info. russia has now been found to have hacked into ALL 50 states’ voter info not just 21 states

Chris Telesca said...

Back when Damon was the ED of the Center for Voter Education, he wrote some negative things about the Public Confidence in Elections Act and the high standards set in that law that was passed UNANIMOUSLY in 2005. Circosta and Chris Heagarty before him wanted lower standards - they didn’t want a surety bond, no source code in escrow, no local office or employees, or the CEO affidavit as a condition of certifying the vendor.

While at CVE, Circosta also was pushing for Instant Runoff Voting. The voting experts brought in by the legislature in 2005 says you can have election integrity and certified machines or you can have IRV but you can’t have both. Because vendors had not yet produced any certified systems to handle IRV/RCV. The SBOE under Gary Bartlett said the same thing on 2008.

Know who was on the board of the CVE while Circosta was ED? Wayne Goodwin, who submitted Circosta's name in 2018 and then again this year.

Fast forward to 2019. Cordle wants to replace Kim Strach with Karen Brinson Bell. Under the law,SBOE EDs are hired for two-year terms and Strach got an extension of time from 2017 because there was no SBOE from April 2017-2018. So now Cordle can decide not to rehire Strach.

But it’s no coincidence that Cordle went to Cooper who went to Bartlett who recommended Brinson Bell - who was working for Bartlett along with two other former county BOE Directors at the Center for Ranked Choice Voting - a Fairvote front group pushing Instant Runoff/Ranked Choice Voting. They’ve been infused with lots of cash from big donors lately, and they don’t have to reveal who have them the money now how much they paid Bartlett or Brinson Bell.

And right about the same time they are talking with Brinson Bell about talking this job, 7 House Dems introduce a bill calling for 4-Way open primary elections in the Spring to be settled in the Fall by Ranked Choice Voting - procedures to be determined by the SBOE headed by Brinson Bell

And now Circosta joined two Republicans to push bar code ballots that the ED of Transylvania County (where Brinson Bell used to work and administers at least one IRV Pilot Election) wants them really badly. I know this not only because Damon said so yesterday, but because two BOE members from that county told me that their ED really wants that machine in particular. And told them the AutoMARK VAT machines wouldn't work for what they wanted and they weren't being made anymore. Which is not true.

It would not have caused ANY problems for the ED and BOE members to go with one each DS200 and AutoMARK VAT at each voting location. SBOE member Black was either lying or had been lied to by someone in Mecklenburg Co who says that there weren’t enough AutoMARK VATs in the state. All we need to cover the 30 counties is under 1000. The Mecklenburg folks claimed they’d need over 2500. That’s because they’d want to require all voters to use the AutoMARK to mark their ballots instead of having most voters mark by hand and leave the AutoMARK for those people who are disabled and/or who want to use it to verify a previously marked ballot.

I hope Damon and the other two GOP dudes get sued. Because in a tight race, how can Cooper trust that all the votes cast for him will be counted for him?