Who is behind the effort to censor speech in Louisiana?
Guest post by Christopher Alexander
There is not one reputable cyber-security expert in America who believes machine-based voting systems are secure, or that bad actors are not, probably at this very moment, perfecting the art of the electronic steal. Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan is perhaps the foremost, but certainly not the only, renowned election security expert to express serious concerns. Haldeman testified before Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s voting Commission in late December 2021 about the gaping vulnerabilities of electronic Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) used to record votes in Louisiana and many other states. Haldeman is on record stating that the machines can be hacked, that he himself has repeatedly hacked into them, that it is only a matter of time before they will be hacked by bad actors, and that the machines do not have to be connected to the internet in order to be hacked.
Ardoin has no grounds to claim plausible ignorance on this issue. His continued failure to take concrete steps to convert to a secure, fully auditable hand-marked paper ballot system, no matter the cost or inconvenience, is inexcusable.
Why is it so important? Every voter has the fundamental right to know that his vote reflects his intent, and that his vote cannot be remotely manipulated to reflect a contrary intent. As long as BMDs remain the primary mechanism of recording our votes, there is simply no way that Ardoin can credibly claim that our system is safe. It is the defining issue of his campaign, yet one that he seems most eager to avoid. He is yet to explain to Louisiana voters why experts like Haldeman are wrong, or why he continues to insist that Louisiana’s elections are “safe and secure.” If he continues to falsely claim that voters can be confident in our current system, and fails to publicly commit to doing whatever is necessary to kick BMDs to the curb once and for all, he will lose and he should lose. Unless, of course, he becomes the beneficiary on election day of the very vulnerability that he refuses to remedy, in an election over which he will preside.
Even as he publicly misrepresents facts regarding the security of our current voting apparatus, Ardoin apparently has Louisiana’s largest organization of Republican women so mesmerized by the coherence of his public position that it has officially banned any opposing viewpoint from being heard. Roby Dyer, President of the Louisiana Federation of Republican Women (LFRW) recently sent a directive that prohibits every LFRW-affiliated Republican Women’s group in Louisiana from allowing Randy Russ, Ph.D., and his Election Integrity group to speak at any of their events about the problems with Louisiana’s voting system.
Dr. Russ, a Republican and former CEO of a major corporation, has spent countless hours analyzing the vulnerabilities of our system and has both consulted and worked with prominent cyber experts. He and his team also meticulously analyzed the electronic vote data in Louisiana from the 2020 Presidential election. Russ, like Haldeman, is convinced that the system is seriously exposed. According to Dyer and the LFRW, Russ is pedaling “misinformation.”
In a move perfectly consistent with the unconstitutional suppression of American speech being mercilessly inflicted on conservatives by the federal government in reprehensible disregard for the First Amendment, the LFRW has decided the best way to promote the core, Madisonian Republican value of free expression on an issue of massive public importance is to simply crush the speech of a fellow Republican group. No alternative opinions need to apply. The LFRW has, on this issue, become effectively the Kyle Ardoin school of election integrity where his opinion, and his only, may be expressed within its walls.
Ardoin, a career bureaucrat whose salary is paid by us, is of course welcome anytime to speak before the LFRW and utter falsehoods about how secure Louisiana’s voting system is and what a great job he has done securing it, together with a hearty lunch and a photo-op. He will then hit the door, without having been challenged one iota on what he has said. Now that’s a good gig.
Meanwhile, there is no room at the inn for a volunteer citizen election integrity group run by the former CEO of a major corporation whose only agenda is to inform citizens about the massive vulnerabilities in our current voting system.
This is a textbook example of why citizens across Louisiana and the Country are increasingly distrustful of establishment Republicanism, and why independent, highly motivated advocacy groups are forming everywhere.
It is absurd to believe that Roby Dyer woke up one January morning and independently decided that open and free expression on an issue of critical public importance was no longer a core Republican value after 200 years. It is even more absurd to believe that she would not have foreseen the damage such a move would cause to the institutional credibility of her organization among Louisiana Republican citizens if it became public, damage that is already being done in the form of disaffected members.
No, this ill-advised decision was not made by Roby Dyer. Dyer and the LFRW acted at the behest of somebody else. Dyer was directed to take this action. If it turns out that Ardoin is using the power of his office- and there is evidence developing for this- to suppress political speech in direct violation of the First Amendment, the issue will assume a new dimension entirely, both politically and legally, neither of which bode well for the incumbent. If this is in fact the case, the violation becomes more serious with each day that passes without a formal retraction from the LFRW. Maybe they should throw an apology in to Dr. Russ while they are at it.
The clock is ticking.