The recent revelation that Kentucky voter information is being sold on the Dark Web should be a grave concern to all Kentuckians. To paraphrase Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The future of this republic [Commonwealth] is in the hands of the American [Kentucky] voter.” The corruption of Kentucky’s voter registration system places the integrity of all future Kentucky elections in jeopardy. The corruption of Kentucky’s voter registration also places our men and women in uniform, America’s diplomats, and their families at risk of harm.
So how did we get here? In the words of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, “The revelation that this data is being peddled on the Dark Web and could potentially fall into the hands of bad actors greatly concerns me and should every Kentuckian.” How can any Kentuckian take the words of Secretary Grimes seriously, especially after the revelations of the past two years that Secretary Grimes, and others in her office, have not only accessed the Kentucky Voter Registration system, but, have also allowed a known computer hacker access to extremely sensitive voter data?
The real question which must be asked is just exactly what did Secretary Grimes and others in her office think would happen when raw voter data was removed from Kentucky’s secure voter registration database? Did any of these individuals consider the harm that could result from removing secure voter registration data? More importantly, did any of these individuals even care about the potential harm once the data was transferred to an unsecure computer, or computer network.
Most concerning, for all Kentuckians, are the words of Secretary Grimes when she said, “At this time, I have no reason to believe Kentucky’s voter registration system has been compromised. The incident, however, underscores the serious need to ensure our staff are not releasing information in the public domain which weaken Kentucky’s cybersecurity efforts and that the Board must move quickly to put in place new defenses under our Help America Vote plan.”
Should anyone who has followed the ongoing complaints against Secretary Grimes actually believe that she is the least bit concerned about the security of Kentucky’s voter registration information? At the risk of offending Secretary Grimes, the person likely responsible for releasing this sensitive information in the public domain, the first thing the Board needs to do is vote to end unlimited access to the voter registration system by Secretary Grimes, and her staff of political appointees. The next thing the Board needs to do is vote to request the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to immediately open an investigation, an investigation which will uncover those responsible for allowing Kentucky’s voter registration information to find its way to the dark underbelly of the dark web.
Next, it is time to stop appointing people to positions on the Board of Elections simply because they are politically connected. Instead, it is time to appoint board members who understand the importance of the integrity of our voter registration information, individuals who are not simply rubber stamps for the Secretary of State. This is not only important, it is critical, regardless of the party affiliation of the Secretary of State, today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Finally, each of us should remember, that the right to vote is the one of the most precious rights we have as Americans and as Kentuckians.
The integrity of Kentucky elections hangs in the balance; let’s end the practice of allowing politicians to corrupt this process. Let’s send a loud message and tell politicians that our votes are not for sale either on the dark web, or anywhere else. Let’s send a loud message that enough is enough!
Stephen Knipper is running for the Office of Secretary of State.
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