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US Senator Bill Nelson of Florida is warning state election officials they need to up their computer security, because Russian hackers have already "penetrated" some of the state's voter registration systems. Election officials have responded by saying there's nothing to worry about, since they have no idea what Nelson means, and why is he picking on them, anyway?

Nelson seemed pretty darn sure about all that when he talked to the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday, telling the paper, "They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about." The Times notes he'd made a similar comment at a campaign appearance Tuesday, but hadn't gone into any detail, adding, "That's classified."


In the Wednesday interview, Nelson told the paper about a letter he and Florida's other Senator, Marco Rubio, had sent to all 67 county election supervisors in July, although that letter wasn't as vaguely specific as Nelson's more recent comments. The letter recommended the Department of Homeland Security provide "a wide range of services" to county election boards, saying local authorities "should not be expected to stand alone against a hostile foreign government."

Nelson said he and Rubio "were requested by the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee to let the supervisors of election in Florida know that the Russians are in their records." Oh, look, here is that audio!

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of State, Sarah Revell, basically called Nelson a big lying liar, because we guess that's just how Democrats are, especially if it's a Democrat running against Gov. Rick Scott. Revell said her agency had

received zero information from Senator Nelson or his staff that support his claims [...] Additionally, the Department has received no information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that corroborates Senator Nelson's statement and we have no evidence to support these claims.

If Senator Nelson has specific information about threats to our elections, he should share it with election officials in Florida.

So then the department can insist that information isn't credible, either. The Times did find two county officials who said they'd heard a similar warning from Marco Rubio in a meeting in May. One, Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer, said Rubio had warned that some election offices weren't taking computer security seriously enough and needed to get on the ball, although he said Rubio, when asked which ones, "looked around the room and said, 'I don't believe it's anybody here.'" Another official who'd been at the meeting, Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, said Rubio had given a warning but that it had been too vague to be of any use in actually taking action.

County elections officials have said they've boosted their computer security since 2016, but some were spooked enough by Nelson's comments that they contacted federal officials:

Pinellas County elections officials immediately contacted the FBI, Homeland Security and other state and federal agencies in a futile attempt to find out more about Nelson's assertion.

"Our office has not seen any indication that we have had any penetration by any bad actions," said Pinellas election's office spokesman Dustin Chase.

Nelson said he and Rubio really had warned elections officials about the possible active security threats:

"This is no fooling time and that's why two senators, bipartisan, reached out to the election apparatus of Florida to let them know the Russians are in your records and all they have to do, if those election records are not protected, is to go in and start eliminating registered voters," Nelson said Wednesday.

"You can imagine the chaos that would occur on Election Day when the voters get to the polls and they say, 'I'm sorry Mr. Smith, I'm sorry Mr. Jones, you're not registered.' That's exactly what the Russians want to do. They want to sow chaos in our democratic institutions."

Thankfully, the computer security experts at RedState have figured out Nelson's merely playing the Russia Card in a doomed attempt to head off his certain defeat by Rick Scott, because obviously all Democrats know how to do is lie about Russia:

Even if this story is true, so what? Penetrating a voter registration system lets you do two things only. You can add voters and you can delete voters. If you add voters, someone has to show up to vote for them. As we know from history, only one party brings in fake voters…and it ain't Rick Scott's.

That is just an obvious fact. The real threat remains brown people voting, all of them illegally, even if the only proof is that every Republican "just knows" it.

RedState is sophisticated to know "the evil and godless Russkies" are merely a quaint rumor from yesteryear. Besides, if the voting rolls were tampered with, not that it's even likely, it wouldn't cause any real trouble:

If you delete voters, they have a legal right to vote a provisional ballot. Precinct judges will immediately notice if there are an unusual number of provisionals, plus voters will be pissed about the inconvenience. There are backup and archived versions of the voter file so it is no big deal to determine if they have been tampered with and a quick search can verify that provisional ballots are legitimate. As a backup, the county elections board can use tax records and utility records to verify residence.

Then, to be on the safe side, they'll throw out all the provisional ballots from people named Garcia, Rodriguez, Martinez, and Hernandez. Hell, you don't need a made-up Russian threat to know those aren't legal votes.

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[Tampa Bay Times / RedState]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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