“Why?” The reasons are very simple. Florida Secretary of State, Cord Byrd, and Director of Elections, Maria Matthews, have allowed insecure elections, and they show every intention of doing so again in 2024 - THE most crucial election in our nation’s history.
There are three areas of absolute proof. It isn’t hard to see.
FIRST, the security checks performed annually on Florida’s voting machines are very substandard, as declared by the nation’s top cyber security expert for voting machines, Clay Parikh. Florida’s checks have not been updated in 19 years. Today’s technology is far different and more advanced. We do not face the same security threats now as we did then. Over fourteen thousand possibly insecure machines were used to vote in 2020, according to the USEAC reports found online. CORD BYRD THINKS THIS IS JUST FINE.
SECOND, Byrd has declared that local county election officials, the 67 Supervisors of Election (SOE’S) may not perform hand counts, either in the initial voting period, or as audits after the fact. They are forbidden. Why, Cord? How dare honest men and women look for inaccuracies as they verify the vote totals. Leave it up to the machine vendors to notify us of the “winners”? CORD THINKS THIS IS OK, TOO.
THIRD, when asked about the certification of citizenship of voters, Byrd said that only the federal government had such information and that there was nothing Florida could do. BZZZT! WRONG answer, Mr. Byrd. In 2012, the FRA has learned, the Florida Dept. of State signed an agreement with the Dept. of Homeland Security to have access to the DHS SAVE System which would allow state and local election officials to check for citizenship. How could the Secretary of State NOT have known about this and used it for every voter registration submitted?
FRA checked with reports from the DHS on this, and found that the system was rarely, if ever, checked at all. The 2012 press release from the then FL SOS just said that Florida HAS access - but apparently does NOT use it. Looks like the state is not too serious about removing illegitimate “voters” from the rolls, as we learned with the bloated rolls FL had when a member of the ERIC system (101.6% of all possible eligible voting aged citizens); see USEAC reports above, 2020.
The FRA is getting to the bottom of this.
In the Dec. 7, 2023, Ethics Committee meeting in Tallahassee, Byrd made it clear that his department was TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE for ensuring the security of all machines used to vote in the state, per FL Statute 101.5605. THIS, however, is the standard that was created 19 years ago when the machines were totally different, and have never been updated.
There are a couple of problems here, other than the obvious. The use of poll books was added in 2012, but WERE NEVER ADDED FOR CERTIFICATIION.
Too, we are told that “machines are not connected to the internet”. You’ve probably heard that one before. State officials will rush to assure you, however, that our election networks are “protected by the air gap”. Facts get in the way, yet again.
Every machine vendor today confirms that the machines ARE connected. Are our election officials, trusted with the literal future of our country, really that uninformed? As to that “air gap”, read on…
You might remember when a cyber worm, “Stuxnet” was discovered, as it attacked an Iranian nuclear facility, which then burnt to the ground. The worm than spread all over the world as versions of the code were altered and deployed. This stunned nations and shook the cyberworld. The USB drives that carried the Stuxnet worm were even found, on Amazon and Ebay, being sold as new.
In response to this, the US military and companies ranging from billion-dollar global empires to mom-and-pop shops stopped allowing personal devices such as laptops and mobile devices to connect to protected networks. The use of USB “Thumb drives” was also forbidden.
FLORIDA, HOWEVER, AS PER THE FL DEPT OF STATE GUIDELINES, HAS NO RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF USB OR PERSONAL DEVICES ON THEIR ELECTION SYSTEM NETWORKS. Thumb drives are a key part of the so-called air-gap protection.
The improvements in mobile networks, from 2005 - present, have been vast. The wireless connection “dinosaurs” of 2005 were so slow that they were not considered a serious threat. It was not until 2008 that 3G wireless became mainstream; at the same time, cybersecurity became exponentially more complex. Florida’s election security standards must be brought into the modern world. The citizens of the state deserve nothing less!
Add to the above, the FRA checked with the Florida Division of Management Services - which is legally responsible for ensuring that ALL state agencies are following the most up-to-date cyber security standards - and found that ALL DEPARTMENTS ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT ANY ISSUES OF DATA BREACHES. The FL Auditor General found that 339 of these (over 5 per county!) have been reported to them, from counties across the state, yet not a single annual report was filed from the Dept of State. Lots of stuff being swept under those pretty rugs up there in Tallahassee…
Admittedly, cyber security is a moving target as new systems and new ways to break them are constantly being developed. But NOT ONE REPORT FROM THE SOS??
In addition, the Auditor General has been warning the SOS’s office about Florida’s lack of complicance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA, 2002) and national IT standards since 2006, yet nothing has changed. No issues are ever recognized or corrected. The piles under those rugs have been growiing bigger by the year.
The Florida Dept of State completely ignores state agencies and Florida statutes, it appears.
The more we know about the insecure state of Florida’s elections, the more clear it becomes WHY the FRA is demanding the resignations of the officials in charge of this fiasco.
Those two officials, SOS Byrd and DOE, Matthews, are appointed, by the way. Not elected. This fact alone may explain their cavalier attitudes toward their responsibilities. They are NOT responsible to the people. Matthews does not even have an oath of office on file. Those SOE’s in each county who may well want to hand count, double check their machines, or audit election results ARE responsible to their citizens, but have their hands tied.
There is a bill in the House now, HB 539, that would give local officials that simple discretion - to hand count whenever they feel the need. Byrd, remember, is against any kind of verification by local officials. Again, WHY, CORD?
In actuality, no law is necessary to allow spot audits, as Byrd does have the authroity as well as a DUTY to help local counties protect their elections. Forbidding this raises flashing red signs of warning. Something is very wrong in Florida’s elections.
On the third issue, of citizenship verification, the state has obviously had the ability to do that, since 2012. Byrd has only been in his position for a little over two years. You can give him a break for being a real slow learner if you want. Maria Matthews, however, appointed by Jeb Bush, during the “hanging chad” disgrace, has been working at the epicenter of Florida elections since the late ‘90’s. She deserves NO breaks.
Her track record is just as bad as Byrd’s, or possibly worse since she has been in the job longer. In recent memory, Matthews’ office watched as the Florida voter rolls were wildly inflated (to over 100%, a statistical impossibility!) They completely ignored the Red Belly Road incident that shocked the nation. And, oh yes. . . .
It was Maria Matthews who, in 2018, gave a training presentation to the local motor vehicle departments showing an electronic Voter Registration form that did NOT include a checkbox for citizenship. The person registering to vote was never asked if they were a citizen, let alone to provide proof.
In that same training presentation, Matthews encouraged drivers’ license agents to allow everyone to register to vote!
In a bit of, “what goes around, comes around”, FRA’s VP of Election Integrity, Kris Jurski, ran into this personally when he accompanied his Venezuelan wife, who at the time had only a green card, to a motor vehicle bureau. When she presented her green card for obtaining a drivers license, she was also offered a voter registration form! When Jurski objected to this, they were told by the agent that, “We have to give this form to everyone.” This was in the year 2000. Can you imagine how many illegitimate voters are on Florida’s rolls?? Jurski himself has uncovered over one million.
What goes around, comes around, I hope. The irony of proven election fraud being put in the face of the man who today is at the heart of Florida’s and the nation’s efforts to bring back secure elections, is rich. Over 20 years ago, Maria Matthews indirectly gave Kris Jurski the motive for his tireless work AND proof that Florida’s election preocesses are NOT secure, and haven’t been for decades.
At least, it certainly proved that Maria Matthews must step down as well. NOW.
So, the opening question here has been answered directly and concisely: WHY is the Florida Republican Assembly asking for the resignations of Cord Byrd and Maria Matthews?
The answer is blatantly clear. FLORIDA VOTERS DESERVE BETTER.