Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) efforts to prevent an increase in voter security may not be happening in a vacuum. Not only do his PACs receive contributions from Putin-connected aluminum magnates, but according to new reporting, voting machine manufacturers are funding his campaign.
The largest voting machine manufacturers — Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Dominion Voting Systems — operate aggressive lobbying efforts and recently hired new lobbyists to represent them on the federal level. Several lobbyists tied to the companies have made contributions to McConnell’s campaign and fundraising committee, according to Sludge.
Efforts to tighten election security would necessarily cost these companies some of their market penetration, unless new technologies were developed. Together, the companies make up 80% of the voting machines in America, and ES&S alone accounts for the voting systems in 22 Kentucky counties.
“In contrast to other sectors, particularly those that the federal government has designated ‘critical infrastructure,’ there is almost no federal oversight of private vendors that design and maintain the systems that allow us to determine who can vote, how they vote, what voters see when they cast their vote, how votes are counted, and how those vote totals are communicated to the public,” Lawrence Noren of the Brennan Center for Justice testified to Congress.
“In fact, there are more federal regulations for ballpoint pens and magic markers than there are for voting systems and other parts of our federal election infrastructure,” he added.
And the stakes are high. Russia attempted to hack the electoral system in every state in 2016, and regardless of any direct coordination with a particular candidate, Russia did attempt to alter the balance that year.
“At this point I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we mark them up,” said Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) of the bills attempting to pass election reforms.
When asked about Blunt’s statements, McConnell’s office referred reporters to his remarks on the Mueller report: “Case closed.”
McConnell has been in the position of power to unilaterally block voting reforms since 2016 and has done so, preventing efforts to strengthen election security in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.
““The only logical conclusion is that Senator McConnell wants American elections to be vulnerable to hackers and foreign interference,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). “It is unconscionable for Republicans to stick their heads in the sand and do nothing after what happened in 2016. If Congress doesn’t act, it’s only a matter of time before hackers successfully interfere again.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.