Are the Russians coming - back? Just 10 months to go before the November midterm elections. Don't count on Twitter Man to do anything about countering renewed Russian interference; he won't even admit to their tampering in the 2016 election. More on that later.
Over a dozen years ago, Democrats launched the "50 State Strategy," an effort to rebuild from the grass roots. Too soon to tell whether this will pay off in November, but early signs from Alabama and Virginia are encouraging.
But it really is more than 50 states. When you realize that every single one of the United States' 3,142 counties (or parishes in Louisiana) run their own electoral system, the amount of organizing becomes prodigious.
Or how about a "117,000 polling place strategy?" That's the number from the US Election Assistance Commission, which says that it's increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the some 900,000 poll workers deployed. Most of whom are senior citizens, with a quarter of them aged 70 or more.
Now, I'm not saying that the front line against the KGB is composed of septuagenarians. But the seven or eight poll workers per voting station have plenty on their minds dealing with the long lines of people who manage to make time on a Tuesday in November, squeezing in their democratic duty between the windows of going to work or school before polls open, or joining the last minute voters in the hours after work before polls close.
Why are the lines so long? In some cases, it's for reasons of voter suppression. Pesky minorities or young people might vote Democratic, so why not close polling places where they live? In 2016, hundreds of such polling places were eliminated.
The American Way of Voting - always a working day, as opposed to weekend voting in most advanced democracies - is somewhat of a mess in the best of times, and the doubts about the reliability of the myriad systems in place among the 3,000 plus counties are compounded when you throw Russian meddling into the mix. Money would help: two Democratic members of Congress have proposed using the $400 million left over from the 2002 Help America Vote Act to improve the security of electoral infrastructure.
That illustration at the beginning of this post? It may be the best chance of beating hacking and manipulation by hostile foreign powers. Yes, the very modern French use transparent plexiglass urns for all of their elections, with a paper trail consisting of... paper ballots. And somehow, this works like magic, so much so that the results are tabulated nationwide and are announced at the outset of the evening news at 8:00 PM, without fail.
Don't count on the White House "Election Integrity Commission" for help; it is open to hacking, apart from its obvious slant in favor of voter suppression efforts. UPDATE January 4: the White House just announced the dissolution of the Commission.
So, what will it take, Congress, to make this the top bipartisan national priority, right now? $400 million is a good start, and maybe trading in hackable voting machines for some clear plexiglass boxes?
It's that, or letting this man cast the deciding vote. Your choice.
(image at right from The Daily Mail)