The Arkansas legislature has recessed until this fall. Their performance is based not just on what they passed but also on what they refused to pass.
One of their best actions of the session was when they said “NO” to an election bill that could have subjected our elections to a greater risk of fraud and hacking.
Everyone loves new technology. Saying “yes” to incorporating more technology into our lives seems to be the thing to do, but technology can also bring risks.
This year HB1517 was filed in the Arkansas legislature to provide people the option of registering to vote though the internet. Sounds appealing. Right?
But there were huge dangers. First, verification of who is actually filling out the voter registration form was going to be problematic, which would increase the risk of fraud. Second, the more our election system is connected to the internet the greater risk of the system being hacked.
Arkansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HB1517 but the bill was stopped in the Senate.
Just weeks later we saw frightening examples of the damage that can be done by hackers. Computer hackers shut down the Colonial Pipeline, which is the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the United States. Many gas stations in the southeast ran out of fuel before the company paid the hackers the ransom to restart the computers.
This month hackers shut down JBS, the second largest processor of beef, pork, and chicken in the United States.
These are not isolated instances. We could name example after example such as the hospital chain hacked last year. Even big tech companies and the government have been hacked.
If Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg can’t keep out hackers, how is a state official going to be able to guarantee a secure internet election system.
We are not against computers or the internet. We depend on those tools every day. But the desire to add new bells and whistles to the registration system do not outweigh the risks.
Opponents of any measure to protect our voting system call it “voter suppression” even though every voter has plenty of opportunities to register in person or through the mail. The real voter suppression is when illegal or fake votes are counted and suppress the results of legal votes.
This bad legislation came close to passing. In addition to the attraction of new technology some legislators may have voted for the bill to placate the left. Also, it appears there was a possibility of getting some federal money to implement the internet system and our legislature has a hard time ever saying “no” to federal money
Stopping HB1517 went against the long trend of adopting increasing computerization at every opportunity. Stopping HB1517 was not an easy fight for legislators, but stopping HB1517 was necessary to protect our elections. Thankfully, the Senate stopped the bill after it had passed the House of Representatives.
We want to say “Thank You” to these thirteen Senators who voted “NO” on HB1517: Senators Beckham, Bledsoe, A. Clark, J. Dismang, T. Garner, Gilmore, K. Hammer. Hickey, Hill, Irvin, M. Johnson, B. Sample, and D. Sullivan. These votes against the bill were enough to stop the legislation when combined with a few Senators who failed to vote.
Saying “NO” to a bad bill is a very good vote.
If you want free elections, make sure your Senator and Representative know how important it is to you to keep our elections secure.