Experts should be allowed to examine voting machines to see if they suffered intrusions by malign actors, a senator said on Dec. 16.
Allegations of election fraud have led to a large percentage of Americans viewing the 2020 election results as illegitimate, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said during his opening statement in a hearing on election “irregularities.”
“The most difficult allegations to assess involve vulnerabilities in voting machines and the software used,” he said.
“In order to effectively determine the extent to which voting machines were subject to nefarious intrusion or other vulnerabilities, computer science experts must be given the opportunity to examine these allegations.”
The call came two days after a preliminary report on an audit of Dominion Voting Systems machines in Antrim County, Michigan, concluded that the machines were “intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”
Dominion and Michigan election officials have said the report is based on erroneous conclusions.
Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called voting machine security a complex issue and noted that it has in the past been scrutinized by Democratic lawmakers, who wrote to Dominion and two other vendors in 2019 asking for information on their products.
A group including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote at the time: “These vendors make little to no information publicly available on how much money they dedicate to research and development, or to maintenance of their voting systems and technology. They also share little or no information regarding annual profits or executive compensation for their owners.”
Six witnesses were scheduled to testify to the committee, including two of President Donald Trump’s campaign lawyers, former special counsel Kenneth Starr, and Chris Krebs, who was director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency until Trump fired him last month.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the ranking member on the committee, in his opening statement accused Republicans of working to “undermine the will of the people.”
“Whether intended or not, this hearing gives a platform to conspiracy theories and lies. And it’s a destructive exercise that has no place in the United States Senate,” he said.
“I understand the chairman’s desire to ensure our elections run smoothly, and I agree that we need to restore faith and trust in our election process. But I’m concerned that today’s hearing will do more harm than good by confusing a few anecdotes about human error with the insidious claims the president has aired. Mistakes do happen in elections, but there is a difference between a clerk making an error that gets caught and corrected during routine audits and calling the entire election fraudulent or stolen when there is no evidence, just because you do not like the outcome.”
“I don’t see anything dangerous about evaluating information, about doing legitimate congressional oversight,” Johnson responded. “Close-mindedness is a real problem for a lot of issues we face today.”