Know how the national GOP and its state-level affiliates have spent nearly a decade screeching about voter fraud, which is virtually nonexistent, in an attempt to protect the integrity of our elections from the votes of people of color and college students? Well, you might be shocked about what the Senate just did today.
This morning, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected an amendment put forward by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy which would have provided $250 million to states (in addition to $380 million previously approved by Congress) in order to reinforce their election security efforts ahead of November. Just one Republican, outgoing Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, voted for the amendment.
Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, a Republican who didn’t support the bill, said it was “far too early” for the Senate to sign off on the additional money, according to a report from the Hill. This is funny, considering his party went full-steam ahead on disenfranchising voters despite having no proof whatsoever that voter fraud is a widespread issue worthy of a response that makes it harder for poor people to vote.
Meanwhile, Lankford’s fellow Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe—a member of the party which started a voter fraud commission that implored states to submit their elections data to the federal government—said that the amendment would result in “the running and interfering with elections by the federal government.” Amazing.
“The integrity of our elections, which are the foundation of our democracy, should not be a partisan issue. It is unfortunate that the Senate has followed the same path as House Republicans in blocking the funding our states need to help upgrade their infrastructure and secure our elections. I fully intend to continue pursuing this issue in conference,” Leahy said in a statement following the vote.
In June, the Intercept reported on an email that was used by hackers impersonating a Florida-based voting e-vendor called VR Systems, who were allegedly working with Russian military intelligence, to hack a state elections official in North Carolina.
And in last month’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (formerly the GRU) who allegedly conducted “large-scale cyber operations” to interfere in the 2016 election, Special Counsel Robert Mueller alleged that two of the military officers indicted hacked the website of an unidentified state board of elections and “stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters,” and that they also sent out over a hundred emails (designed to look like that of an unnamed elections vendor) in a spearfishing attempt to hack elections officials in “numerous Florida counties.”
Incredibly, on the same day that this happened, Republican Sen. Richard Burr—the head of the Intelligence Committee—was arguing that the Senate does actually care about this issue. “Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room, calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves ‘This is fine.’ That’s not fine,” Burr said, bringing a sad and brutal end to what was once a pretty decent meme.
Burr, by the way, reportedly decided not to vote on the election security bill. So, I guess things are fine after all.