Sunday, August 9, 2015

E-voting: A reckless threat to voter privacy and election security

Thanks to legislation sponsored by Senator Owen Hill and Representative Dan Nordberg out-of-state military voters and overseas civilians will now have greater access to securely exercising their right to vote in their hometown elections with extended time to return their mail ballots. However, after tense negotiations just before House Bill 1130’s final passage, a bipartisan committee rejected Internet voting for municipal elections. Despite a unanimous House vote for Internet voting, and ignoring Secretary of State Wayne Williams’s unwise support for email voting, the legislature ultimately and wisely rejected Internet transmission of voted ballots in municipal elections.

As a former state legislator, my committee assignments included hearings that limited Internet voting in 2006. Observing escalating cyber-security risks since then, I was shocked this spring when the House supported Internet voting and Senate Republicans, who ultimately stopped the effort, had such difficulty doing so. Secretary Williams, in lobbying for email balloting, assured lawmakers that it would be secure and “The concern that the system is hackable is a nonstarter….” Security experts, legislators, and voters were baffled by Williams’s stance, given the frequent headlines of Internet and email hacking.

After Williams’s failed legislative effort to apply Internet voting to municipal elections, he moved to then expand email voting for military and overseas voters in federal and state elections by using his purported rule-making authority. Critics allege that he exceeded his authority because the rule conflicts with the legislative intent to strictly limit the use of email voting to extenuating hardship circumstances, as agreed in the legislative hearings. In the 2011 hearings, Secretary Gessler testified that email ballots would not be accepted.  But Williams would seemingly give “convenience” for voters and election officials preference over election security, accuracy, and election integrity.

Most Americans desire enthusiastic voter participation, but making convenience a major goal is certain to undermine the security and verifiability of elections. Not voting is a wise, legitimate choice for those who are not engaged and have not studied the candidates or issues. Our state’s push to force-feed ballots to all voters via mandatory mail ballots and Internet schemes risks canceling out the legitimate votes of eligible, informed voters. Internationally-known election experts John Fund (National Review Online) and Hans von Spakovsky (Heritage Foundation) have called out Colorado and Secretary Williams to their national audiences for this wrong-headed expansion of Internet voting.

With significant numbers of military voters, Colorado Springs and El Paso County are tempting targets for purveyors of Internet voting schemes. Continuing vigilance by local voters and governing boards is required to curtail abuses and risks. In the 2013 recall election, Williams, then clerk of El Paso County, supported a temporary election rule to permit email voting for all absentee voters because all-mail balloting could not be used for that election. Fortunately, the public outcry helped defeat that proposed rule.

Colorado Springs municipal elections now appear to encourage any out-of-state military member or dependent to vote by email, whether or not postal mail is available. With the passage of HB1130, Colorado Springs can implement early ballot mailing times and permit military and overseas voters to vote by email ballot only in truly extenuating circumstances. I urge voters to halt convenience email voting.

In addition, Colorado should ban the state’s privacy-invading online application that voters’ privacy by capturing the voter’s identity and votes. Unbeknownst to most voters who vote by email, their private choices are collected by a commercial vendor, defying secret ballot laws. The opportunities for abuse of this data are alarming and could place an entire election in question.

The situation is likely to require legislation or litigation to stop Secretary Williams on this ill-advised path that puts military and overseas votes and election results at needless risk. In the meantime, voters should insist that county clerks honor the lawmakers’ stated intent to limit Internet/email voting. Hard-won voting rights should never be compromised or subject to tampering at the hands of malicious hackers.

Protect your vote by challenging your county clerk to obey the clear intent of the law, and put voting integrity ahead of convenience and budget considerations. Finally, urge your legislator to introduce and/or support 2016 legislation to curtail the use of Internet/email voting.

Former state Sen. David Schultheis, R–Colorado Springs, served in the General Assembly from 2001 to 2010 and was a member of the 2006 House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, which conducted hearings on Internet voting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Log Cabin Republicans denied booth at Texas GOP Convention

What did the Texas GOP convey to the Log Cabin Republicans when asked to have a booth at the 2014 Texas GOP Convention?

We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit.  Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.  Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable  'alternative' lifestyle, in public policy, nor should "family" be redefined to include homosexual 'couples.'  We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state or origin.  Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values." 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Coerced Oaths vs. Coerced Silence, by Whitney Galbraith

In his essay on House Bill 1425, which would compel all military oaths of allegiance to include "... So help me God," Barry Fagin laments (Gazette, April 23) that it would force military personnel "who cannot say those words in good conscience must either disobey, lie, or be drummed out of the armed forces as unfit for military service."

"Imaginary threat to religious freedom?" "Higher standards within the professional of arms?" "Freedom of conscience" for military members? The "horror of suffering, carnage and death " of co-mingling religious ends such as the "Crusades....and to ISIS?" I like to think, Barry, that you and I have read many of the same "history books that should not be ignored." But just what are those lessons?

You are no doubt correct that such legislation will not pass constitutional muster and that many of your fellow Americans will share your vision that the American military should not become an "Army of God."

But, is it fair for us to ask what motivates such a legislative initiative, even if "misbegotten." Could it be that HR 1425's sponsors share your vision of freedom of conscience and religious expression and fear for our liberties precisely as you do? Are they reacting just as you are reacting to perceived injustices?

Take, for instance, Navy Chaplain Lt. Commander Wes Modder, who was arbitrarily "fired" and physically removed from U.S. Naval Weapons Station, South Carolina, for daring to uphold his Christian beliefs regarding marriage and human sexuality.

Or, the campaign by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, whose mission is to give a “world-class human relations education” to convince military personnel that "The Bible, the Constitution and the Declaration Of Independence, All Perpetuate Sexism" and should not be referred to within the ranks.

Or, the Houston National Cemetery preventing Christian prayers from being said at military funerals and where the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars was prohibited from referring to "God."
Or, the Chief of Staff of the U. S. Air Force issuing a service-wide memorandum "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion" forbidding commanders to "openly support" chaplain-run events which might lead to a "unit's morale, good order and discipline."

Or, when Walter Reed Medical Center attempted to physically ban the presence of Bibles as part of its official patient and visitor policy.

Or, when deployed soldiers in Afghanistan were ordered to remove crosses and cross-shaped windows on chapels while being ordered to keep chapel "religiously neutral (!)"

Or, when Army Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers, a U. S. Army Band member at Fort Myer, FL, was ordered to stop reading books by Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and David Limbaugh "while in uniform" and to refrain from serving Chick-Fil-A at his home promotion party.

Or, when an Army Chaplain's assistant in Colorado Springs was forced to remove from her personal Facebook account her "hostile and antagonistic" opinions regarding homosexual behavior and "holding to orthodox Biblical instruction."

Or, when Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was relieved of his duties at Lackland AFB and denied further access to base facilities, and subjected to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for refusing to endorse same-sex marriage when ordered to by his commander, a self-proclaimed "lesbian."

Or, when a Catholic chaplain at the U. S. Naval Submarine Base at Kings Bay, Georgia, was threatened by the Department of Defense with arrest for celebrating Holy Mass on the base.

Or, when soldiers attending a counter-intelligence pre-deployment briefing at Fort Hood were told by the command that soldiers who contributed to Christian or Tea Party organizations were "tearing the country apart" and that the soldiers would be subjected to disciplinary procedures under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Or, when two chaplains were subjected to "months of abuse and ridicule" by the director of the San Diego VA-DOD Clinical Pastoral Education Center for their Biblical beliefs, forcing the two to withdraw from the facility.
Or, the DEOMI forcing the 158th Infantry Brigade at Camp Shelby, MS, to stop using the word "Christmas" to promote a Christmas football tournament.

Or, the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA, refusing a student choral group permission to sing Christmas carols to veterans.

Or, the VA Medical Center in Dallas rejecting Christmas cards for veterans because of "unacceptable" language of "Merry Christmas" and God Bless you."

Or, a cadet at USAFA forced to remove a quote from Galateans 2:20 from his personal white board because it violated the Academy's "leadership" standards.

All of which, Barry, is but a sampling of the episodes that for many Americans represents a strategic frontal assault by the Department of Defense and unhappily the Services themselves, a campaign orchestrated by the Barack Obama administration whose command five years ago to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell is reaping its bitter fruit. You refer to ISIS metaphorically to describe what excessive religion can lead to. Allow me to walk that line with you for a moment. Do we dare to imagine a shortening of the gap between what is happening to Christians in the Muslim world and what we are seeing happening to Christians in our own country, in an attempt to redesign society itself by placing people of faith defined by their time-honored convictions in a ghetto from which they can never return - at least alive?

Tell us, Barry, as a seasoned political scientist with your understandable reaction to coerced oaths, where, in as pure a cause-and-effect paradigm as either of us can imagine, we should place your vocabulary of "threats," "good conscience," "higher standards," "horror of suffering," and "drumming out of the service." Should all the above service members enjoy the same "optional" speech, as is "....So help me God?"
Let's talk!

Whitney Galbraith
Colorado Springs

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Candidate Recommendations for Colorado Springs Political Offices

Several citizens have requested my recommendations for the upcoming elections to be held April 7th in Colorado Springs.  The list of names is in the same order as the expected ballotMy recommendations are in BOLD.  I hope the following is helpful

1. Amy Lathen
2. Joel Miller
3. Tony Carpenter
4. John Suthers
5. Mary Lou Makepeace
6. Lawrence Martinez

At-large City Council
Important: Several candidates are running for only three available at-large City Council seatsTo assure your votes have the greatest impact, make sure you vote only for those you think are the best.  If you are only sure of one or two, then ONLY vote for those. Do not vote for any that you are not absolutely sure of so as to keep from watering down the impact of those you are sure of. 
1. Al Loma
2. Longinos Gonzalez Jr.
3. Bill Murray
4. Tom Strand
5. Vanessa Bowie
6. Marv Bennett
7. Vicki Tonkins
8. Jariah R. Walker
9. Yolanda L. Avila
10. Jesse Brown Jr.
11. Glenn Carlson
12. Nicholas Lee
13. Joe Woyte

District 2
1. Larry Bagley
2. Kanda Calef

District 4
  NO ON RECALL of Helen Collins

For further information check here

Issue 1: Yes.  This is a needed transition to clarify the City Council's responsibility as apart from a Strong Mayor form of Governement.

Issue 2: Yes.  Like Issue 1, this is also needed to provide a balance under the current Strong Mayor form of government.