Scott Ogan: Our freedoms and liberties hinge on election integrity

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By SCOTT OGAN

For our republic to survive, it must be sustained by free and fair elections. This means our elections must be transparent and verifiable—auditable by the loser. The voters must have confidence in our election system, or they give up and don’t vote.

Unlike despotic regimes that hold onto power through sham elections and imprisonment of their adversaries, Americans do not have to take up arms to force a change in leadership. How lucky we are to live in a democracy. But sadly, the USA is quickly sliding farther down this slippery slope than I’ve ever imagined we could. 

Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” While he lived in different times, the foundation of liberty in a free republic is the right to elect our representatives freely and fairly. An open and transparent election system is the only way we can guarantee a change in leadership without chaos or anarchy. 

The invasion of the southern border is tearing our country apart, but it’s not a battle over immigration–it’s about “stuffing the ballot box.” It’s not about race, or privilege or moral duty to comfort the hungry. These are media memes. It’s all about power and winning elections by stacking the deck.

The Democrats clearly favor having 20 million illegal aliens voting in our country. Their strategy is to loosen voting laws to the point where anyone can register the same day to vote, without an ID, with no proof of residency or even citizenship. If their party cannot win the hearts and minds of Americans with their policies, then their plan is to qualify strangers to vote. 

Democrats call voter ID requirements “racist” and “voter suppression” but in truth these safeguards secure the opposite result. Why? Because preserving democracy and freedom puts an end to these evils, while free flowing borders do not. Laws that strengthen election integrity secure the rights of every person, regardless of race–provided they are a U.S. citizen.  The Democrat’s objectives of loosening voter ID laws and promoting same-day registration thus undermine true democracy.  

In this legislative session, watch what Democrats do, not what they say. They will have pre-drafted amendments ready to attach in “Christmas tree” fashion on any moving election legislation. Astute legislators must be alert to “poison pills” or intent-altering language that is slipped into bills outside the public view. Such tactics allow Democrats to proclaim: “I voted for election reform” when in fact they voted to kill it. 

What will ultimately save us from these shenanigans is to restore integrity to our election laws, which will increase voter confidence that their vote counts. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a looming threat that few can fully comprehend.  It would be an interesting question to ask AI: “How can I cheat utilizing Alaska election laws?”  I think I know at least some of the answers. 

What safeguards exist to authenticate a voter’s ID before electronic absentee voting? Answer: the same compromised security identifiers that are now in the possession of hackers.  Why do hackers want to steal election security identifiers?

The only plausible answer: to steal an election. What is an election worth to certain political elites? Answer: As much as their power can yield.  

Former Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux’s delayed trial accusations are child’s play compared to potentially thousands of inactive voters having their ballots stolen.   Meanwhile, the Division of Elections’ response has been lackluster.  

Voter rolls contain confidential personal data for most Alaskans, including security identifiers which are used by the Division of Elections to confirm that a voter is who they claim to be. On Dec 3, 2020, one month after the November election, Lt. Gov. Meyer disclosed that the Division’s voter data had been hacked a month before the prior election. Rank choice voting was polling “neck to neck” a month before the election. Inexplicably, he withheld disclosing it until one month after the election.  

Concurrently, the Department of Administration wrote a white paper with 18 recommendations for improving our elections system.  To-date, the only copy publicly available of this document has redacted all 18 recommendations. Why? The report may have pointed out that a bad actor, armed with the hacked voter security identifiers, could have easily applied on-line for absentee ballots using the identity of inactive voters. The public deserves to see this report.  

We know from tight races in our state that voter fraud, applied strategically, can change the outcome of an election—and the balance of power in the Legislature, or with a ballot initiative. The risk of being discovered is low, and the potential reward is great; thus, the incentive to cheat is high. With unlimited dark money underwriting many Alaska issues, do you think we might have a problem? One could plausibly contract with a foreign firm to aid in such efforts, keeping prosecution out of reach.  

Here are Ogan’s Election Integrity Recommendations, based on the principle of, “making it easy to vote, but hard to cheat.”  The lieutenant governor can implement these changes administratively but to-date has not, leaving the ball squarely in the Legislature’s court.

  • – Employ best practices to clean up voter rolls and to purge inactive voters to the greatest extent allowed by federal law.
  • – Create a separate voter roll for US citizens entitled to vote in a presidential election but are no longer eligible to vote in local elections.  Currently all are on one list.
  • – Tighten the weak domicile provision that allows too many non- residents to vote illegally and to remain on the rolls indefinitely.
  • – Adopt ballot chain of custody protocols.  Account for every ballot that goes out to make sure all ballots come back.
  • – Utilize a water mark or unique identifier to eliminate counterfeit ballots.
  • – Set up a cross-check system of intra and interstate databases. 
  • – Follow the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s best practice election security protocol recommendations.
  • – Scrap the compromised Division of Elections security identifier system and replace it with a modern Multi-Factor Authentication system. Virtually every business uses MFA and many citizens utilize it.
  • – Utilize non-proprietary open-source voting hardware and software.  Proprietary systems like Dominion prevent a full forensic audit. They undermine voter confidence, and at worst, hide digital manipulation.
  • – Maintain redundant electronic and paper ballots to cross-check electronic tabulators.  Do not go to “paper only” ballots. 

Statutory Changes Requiring Legislative Action:

  • – Absentee ballots are the preferred tool of the fraudster (One reason they have increased). Limit absentee voting in state elections to only cases of valid hardship. 
  • – Disallow party affiliation on the outside of absentee ballot envelopes.
  • – Strengthen the worthless verification signature on absentee ballots.  Copy the signature verification process for PFDs by requiring a known, verifiable second signature, with criminal penalties for violations.  
  • – When applying for a PFD, change the automatic voter registration to opt-in, rather than opt-out.
  • – Require a positive government ID for every voter. 
  • – Eliminate weak ID provisions like presenting a utility bill, or “someone known to an election worker.” 
  • – Tighten ballot harvesting rules. Two dangers of ballot harvesting are counterfeit ballots and disposal of ballots.   
  • – Incorporate electronic ballot tracking and minor error correction as an opt-in. If we can track your pizza or your Amazon package, why not ballots? This reduces fraud and uncounted ballots.
  • – Say no to signature verification. It’s expensive and unreliable. Instead, implement Multi Factor Verification. 100% accurate.
  • – Create an election fraud unit within the Department of Law, with fraud detection and prevention investigators. Possible via executive order. 
  • – Avoid mail-out ballots at all cost. They openly invite fraud. 

My synopsis of election bills:

HB 37 (Schrage) – A bad bill that reflects the Democrats’ insistence on same day voter registration—a “sound bite” argument used by Democrats as a poison pill because they really don’t want reform. This bill also codifies a very time consuming, inaccurate, expensive voter signature verification process but ignores Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) as a 100% effective verification system. 

HB 129 (House Judiciary, Vance) – A good bill that requires the Alaska DOE to improve voter rolls, and to verify voter identity and registration, pursuant to a third-party complaint or tip that a person may not be eligible to vote.  

HB 130 (House Judiciary, Vance) – A great bill that creates a felony charge for “election fraud” applying to anyone attempting to alter the outcome of an election by interfering with the results. Anyone caught hacking electronic equipment or opening an absentee ballot without approval would be prosecuted. 

HB 131 (House Judiciary, Vance) –A good bill that will restore confidence in our elections by utilizing open-sourced, nonproprietary election tabulation equipment. Say “Goodbye” to Dominion.

HB 132 (House Judiciary, Vance) –A good bill that should gather bi-partisan support for its ballot curing provisions, which will allow voters to fix technical errors so their vote is not arbitrarily disqualified, and it implements electronic tracking.

HB 210 (Eastman) – A well-intended but unnecessary bill mandating that voting machines must be USA built. The solution of open-source tabulators and computers makes this moot, but if proprietary closed-source voting machines continue, it’s a good precaution.   

SB 1 (Shower) – A great bill because it requires the Division of Elections to incorporate best practice chain of custody protocols and codifies ballot tracking and curing. It also creates a voter fraud hotline so citizens can immediately report suspected irregularities.

SB 5 (Shower) – A great bill because it requires the Division of Elections to canvass registered voters to see if they still want to be registered and increases voter roll maintenance protocols.

SB 6 (Shower) – A great bill because it scraps Dominion voting machines in favor of non-proprietary open-source vote tabulator systems.

SB 7 (Shower) – A great bill because it increases penalties for unauthorized tampering with voting machines or ballots.

SB 138 (Senate State Affairs, Kawasaki) – A bad bill that attempts to accomplish too many things, so consequently it’s easy to hide last minute changes and “poison pills.”  It merges many of Senator Shower’s common-sense proposals with troubling provisions like drop boxes, same day voter registration, loose residency confirming provisions, no tightening of voter ID provisions, and promotes expensive and inaccurate signature verification. 

Scott Ogan served in the Alaska State House of Representatives and Senate and was a senior policy advisor for Sen. Mike Shower. 

25 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you! This piece is very thorough -I’m going to print it off so I can review with greater attention to the 18 points and your bill summary.

  2. Interesting how nobody seemed to think election integrity was a concern until Trump lost. Now the sky is falling. I suspect that when Trump wins in November, these concerns will once again go away.

    • That’s not true. Election integrity was always a concern. I expressed my concern about excess muni ballots coming to my house to my assemblyman. In this instance I had two friends who used to live in Chugiak (husband and wife). I started receiving their ballots at my home address after they sold their home and moved to Wisconsin. There was NO REASON for their muni ballots to come to my house. First, I called the friends and we did a teleconference w the muni clerks office. They said that the two friends were removed. Four years later I’m STILL RECEIVING their ballots from the muni. I have gone as far as notifying the muni, sending back the ballots, calling, having the friends call. It never helps!! So I wrote in red marker on one: “if you people can’t fix this I really will vote these ballots and I guarantee you it will be for CONSERVATIVES ONLY.” We’ll see if I get their ballots again this time.

      My assemblyman stated: “but with mail in ballots, more people actually vote. I think your situation is a rare issue.”

      Rare issue? My foot!

      • Call the FBI. File a police report. See the magistrate and ask to have the Clerk removed from office for dereliction or incompetence with a letter she is not eligible for rehire in any position paid by public trust funds anywhere in Alaska. contact the State of Alaska Secretary of state to not the anomaly prevailing in the city of Alaska with the largest population. yes, I know Alaska has chosen to have an Alaska Secretary of State who has the US Constitutional duty to : certify corporate presidential elector authentication bundles as is required of All states certified into the United States. Alaska chose inexplicably not to comply with the actual mandate to have this government structure so as to ensure when the VP is asked if there are uncertifiable bundles for him to tell the truth he has to say Alaska’selector bundles can never count into the Presidential election except as an “exception”. That would be ok but there are other safeguard duties to secure and defend “THE REPUBLIC” that are not available to Alaskan inhabitants and currently no one is charged with those dueies and they are not done by anyone. This is a glaring omission in the literal structure of Alaska. We said we would comply and have evidently not done so with the prima facie evidence of omitting the Alaska Secretary of State position. Something Pence would have had to report if he had done the proper election certification. If you want to know what Idaho Secretary of State does ask him. Are those service items available to inhabitants of Alaska at this time? No. How special and exceptional.

    • I cannot speak for anyone else, but I always thought election integrity was a thing. I have yet to see an election go by without having several “That don’t seem right” moments. I also adamantly oppose early voting, especially when it stretches for a week or more. the Motor Voter laws, mail in balloting (with the exception of absentee ballots requested for that election and that one alone. No “send me an absentee ballot every year.”)
      Ballot drop boxes are a laugh, and always were. Not having to show an ID? Total fail. Over my numerous decades on this planet, I have seen way too many laws reducing election integrity passed in order to stimulate more voters. And, none of them have provided any measure of security to the elections. In fact, they have all had the opposite effect.
      .
      “I suspect that when Trump wins in November, these concerns will once again go away.”
      No, they will not go away at all. In fact, I am pretty sure they will be heard much more often, in a much shriller voice. By the leftists.

  3. One secures things that are valuable. You lock up your belongings, insure your home and car, and pay close attention to your savings.
    And, elections (more specifically, the result of elections) are very valuable indeed. Which makes one ask… why in the world would anyone want to make elections less secure? Is there a reason aside from a desire to cheat that makes any sense?
    .
    The big problem is voter/election fraud is so hard to prove. The very nature of the anonymous ballot makes it nearly impossible to prove fraud after the election. Maricopa county found some 70K+ (or more) potentially invalid ballots in their audit, but no charges? Why? Because it is impossible to prove who cast those ballots. (and sorry leftists. just because there was no charges does not mean a crime did not happen. If your car disappears and no one is charged with theft, it was still stolen.)
    .
    The difficulty of proving voter/election fraud after the fact is the very reason why security before hand is so vital. Clean up the voter rolls, stop mailing out ballots unless the voter specifically requested a ballot for that election. Require a photo ID/proof of address and residency. (Especially important in local elections.) Absolutely get rid of any electronic method of voting that utilizes software that cannot be audited. In fact, get rid of electronics altogether. (look at the fiasco from Phoenix in 2022 because of tech.)
    .
    Confidence in the election process is abysmal. Because of the lackadaisical attitude of the various cities and States, or the cowtowing to the shrill crybullies claiming voter suppression, the population as a whole has a very low opinion of the election process. And, measures to reduce security are not helping.
    .
    Instead of a sticker saying “I voted” it should really say “I think I voted today.”

  4. Mostly great except tabulation by computer. This is the biggest error. Keep computers away from elections. Paper ballots hand counted. Paper ballots hand counted.

  5. Multi-Factor Authentication could be an excellent idea (but not if the factors being used are the state’s voter identifiers (e.g. birthdate, which is easily available to any bad actors willing to search for it).

    Unfortunately, open-source is not the panacea some have taken it to be. Code, even open-source code, can be manipulated. Further, it necessarily requires hardware on which to operate. If that hardware has components sourced overseas that generally means “Made in China”. China is notorious for engineering components with backdoors and in such a way that you don’t find out what they actually do until it is too late, sometimes many years later. (See: “The Long Hack: How China Exploited a U.S. Tech Supplier For Years”, ‘https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2021-supermicro/)

    Worse, it is not even necessary for a hack to “change votes” in order to have an impact on an election. A device that simply fails to work at the right time can accomplish that, as Arizona voters know all too well from the last election.

    Bottom Line: By definition, there is no electronic machine that cannot be hacked. Winning a national election in the U.S. is worth billions of dollars to some, ample incentive for nefarious actors both in and outside of the United States. To entrust the integrity of your election machines to the good faith of China is to place the future of your country into the hands of another country.

    Remove the ability to hack your machines by removing electronic machines all-together. Short of that, remove foreign nations from the manufacturing process of those machines. And since all voting machines currently rely on foreign manufacturing, you will remove all of the current unsecure voting machines by this route either way.

  6. I agree with the others who have said that paper ballots and hand counting are the way to election integrity. Paper ballots should be kept for a set amount of time, and destroying them early should bring a harsh penalty. I have yet to hear a logical, compelling argument for the use of ANY electronics or software in the voting process.

  7. Conservatives keep inventing reasons why they are a minority. Statistics and actual documentation show it is more likely for an individual to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud

    • Which statistics are these Frank?
      Are you looking at convictions? Where are you getting this meaningless stat from?
      .
      Here is a news flash for you, Frank. Voter fraud happens all the time, but prosecuting it is damned near impossible because of anonymous balloting. The moment a ballot gets dropped in the box, it becomes impossible to trace to the voter. So… no conviction.
      .
      Your statistic is just plain stupid. I have no doubt you will claim your car was stolen, even if no one is arrested for it. Car disappears. Never found again. It WAS stolen. According to one CBS news article I looked up, 9 out of 10 car thefts go unsolved. If I use your standard, that would mean the car theft rate is actually 90% lower than it really is.

  8. Thanks for the article, Scott… appreciate the effort you put into writing it.
    .
    To Ogan’s Election Integrity Recommendations may we suggest adding: “Immediately terminate state membership in, and involvement with, the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).” (‘https://ericstates.org/about/)
    .
    Seven states withdrew from ERIC due to “…concerns About Data Privacy and Blatant Partisanship” and “…(ERIC’s refusal of) reforms to increase protections”.
    ‘https://dos.fl.gov/communications/press-releases/2023/press-release-florida-withdraws-from-electronic-registration-information-center-eric-amid-concerns-about-data-privacy-and-blatant-partisanship/
    .
    Alaska remains an ERIC member.
    .
    Four takeaways emerge from Scott’s article:
    .
    1. Alaska’s legislature and lieutenant governor know about these problems, but seem alarmingly uninterested in solving them.
    .
    2. Certain state and local officials carry on as if voters don’t matter, as if some awareness exists among the Ruling Class that election processes are corruptible to the point that their job security is virtually guaranteed.
    .
    3. From 1 and 2, it seems like more than a few state and local officials rely on the intellectual paralysis of voters who justifiably challenge everything they’re told by every government official, but meekly, almost desperately accept, without verifiable proof, –anything– the same government officials tell or show them, about election results.
    .
    4. Scott’s article illuminates what’s arguably the #1 problem facing Alaskan voters: compromised election integrity.
    .
    If election integrity’s lost, what control do voters have over their government officials; how will officials perceive voters who lost control over them?
    .
    If election integrity’s lost, what else about state and local government really matters?

  9. Thanks Morrigan,

    We brought up ERIC a lot when I worked for Senator Shower. That’s why I suggest an 50 state, inter state data sharing platform, that replaces ERIC, which leaves out a large number of voters that never get cross checked. ERIC falls short and even more states have withdrawn, diminishing its value even more. The data needs to catch folks that vote early and often in more than one location. What complicates it, is the constitutional right to vote as a US citizen in federal elections. Federal election laws are complexities that makes any system hard to maintain and manage.

    For those that are interested, look up the Public Interest Legal Foundation best practice protocols. Very informative.

    Paper only ballots were the fraudsters tool of choice for many years before electronic ballots. “Oh look, I forgot about this box of ballots in my trunk.” That’s why strict chain of custody and water marks or others official ballot identifiers are absolutely critical. Redundant electronic tabulators, preferably non- proprietary, provide a redundant cross check to paper ballots. Plus results get in quicker. There are no simple one answer fixes.

    Scott Ogan

  10. There was an ADN story last week about MOA selling property for less than appraised value. I was looking forward to MRA’s perspective. Did I miss it?

    • erak – Anchorage spent $55 million+ on homelessness in the last year. The Assembly just overrode the mayor and passed a $600 million operating budget.

      The development agency sold the property for $20 more per foot than the average price of property downtown, and instead of bleeding over $200,000 in taxes to the city, the agency can get some cash to work on projects (yes, the agency pays taxes to city on property). And once the project is done, the city can get $1 million a year in bed tax. Also, the appraisal was done for the Berkowitz administration in 2019, and was done for the seller. Appraisals done for sellers come in high. There’s a lot more in all this but if the city agency wants to leave $1 million on the table to get some economic development going after years of decline, and add $100 million projects off the blue mall, 15-18 downtown condos, a grocery store … well, it’s interesting but it’s not at the top of my to-do this week. I’m not going to chase a story that looks like it was an attack piece.

  11. HB129 has its good and bad points. Definitely good to include provision to identify and remove those that have moved out of state. However it sneakily calls out ERIC to help manage voter rolls. ERIC in bill is referred to as ‘electronic information registration center’ in small caps. Of course they use ERIC now but it’s not in statutes and Lt. Gov has the authority to remove them but has chosen not to. ERIC was originally brought in by Lt Gov Mallot under his authority not because of any requirement . This is a poison pill.

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