(RepublicanInformer.com)- Free Speech for the People, a left-leaning watchdog group, has sued the US Election Assistance Commission over allegations that the federal panel weakened security standards for voting systems this year after having unlawful secret meetings with voting machine manufacturers.
Free Speech for the People alleges that the changes to the standards created a loophole for voting machines capable of connecting to the internet to receive certification from the US Election Assistance Commission despite these machines not meeting previous standards.
A 2002 law granted the commission the authority to certify and test voting systems. The commission helps determine the equipment selected by state and local governments charged with administering elections. But in February, the commission adopted new guidelines.
In its lawsuit, Free Speech People argues that the commission’s process for changing the guidelines violated federal law. It is urging the US District Court for the District of Columbia to scrap certain rules that they say were unlawfully developed.
These changes to the standards were advocated during a series of private meetings between voting machine manufacturers and federal elections panel staffers that occurred on a weekly basis last year.
In its lawsuit, Free Speech for the People contends that including devices capable of connecting voting systems wirelessly to the internet – even if disabled – creates significant potential vulnerabilities to the security of voting systems.
In a statement on the lawsuit, Free Speech for the People senior adviser Susan Greenhalgh said that the US Election Assistance Commission “brazenly flouted its legal obligation” to transparency when it invited manufacturers to private meetings in order to alter voting system standards to both ease requirements and benefit these manufacturers, “all at the expense of the most basic cybersecurity best practices.”
Earlier this year, the allegations against the commission’s actions attracted the attention of Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI). In an effort to address the problem, they introduced a provision to the onerous HR-1 “For the People Act” that would force the federal elections panel to prioritize cybersecurity.
When “For the People Act” stalled in the Senate, Congressman Langevin said he would pursue a narrower bill addressing election cybersecurity.