More than a decade before anyone worried about Russian bots, there were chads. The hanging chad was the most famous chad of all. But there was also the pregnant chad, the fat chad, the dimpled chad and the tri-chad. These were all minute variations on a scrap of paper a fraction of an inch in diameter, the vestige of a voting ballot not quite fully punched through. Hanging chads that could not be counted led George W. Bush to beat Al Gore in Florida in the 2000 election by 537 votes and become president. The hanging chad became the central image of that election, and of the Supreme Court case that decided it. Scenes of Florida election officials studying indentations on sheets of paper suggested a ridiculously outmoded system. Two years later, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, which was designed to provide funds for states “to replace punch card voting systems” and to “establish minimum election administration standards” for the nation’s 10,000 voting jurisdictions.
The law also provided for the creation of the Election Assistance Commission, or EAC, the nation’s first federal agency created to oversee elections at every level of government. But its mission has never been clear, and more than 15 years later, critics say the agency has succumbed to the whims of partisan operatives.
… The effort at a bipartisan condemnation of Russian efforts “hit a brick wall,” Kahl recalls, when it reached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who “just didn’t believe it.”
The EAC’s response, perhaps not surprisingly, tracked closely with McConnell’s: the agency has largely declined to recognize the Russian threat. “They should be explicit about the threats and vulnerabilities of many older voting systems and should be urging election officials to purchase only systems that have voter-marked paper ballots,” says Barbara Simons, board chair of the not-for-profit Verified Voting, who also serves on the EAC’s board of advisers.
Full Article: Election Assistance Commission ignoring Russia interference.