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DHS warned of integrity of mail-in voting in 2020 election but at the same time censored questions

"The federal government was trying to basically spread propaganda that 2020 was "safe and secure", and that there was no issue with the mail-in ballots when they themselves knew that this is a huge vulnerability," Abe Hamadeh said.

Published: January 22, 2024 11:00pm

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was aware of the issues with mail-in voting during the 2020 election cycle but censored social media narratives about the risks as alleged disinformation, according to agency documents.

CISA documents were released on Monday by America First Legal, showing the agency’s concerns about mail-in voting while it was also monitoring online opinions about such concerns.

"These documents demonstrate federal bureaucrats knew that there was no credible evidence supporting the claim that in-person voting spread COVID-19, and that mail-in and absentee voting were indeed less secure than in-person voting, precisely as President Trump, Attorney General Barr, and others had warned," said AFL Senior Counselor and Director of Oversight and Investigations Reed D. Rubenstein. 

"Yet, the government and its allied social and legacy media companies covered up the truth, using unlawful censorship and bogus 'fact checks' to advance mass vote-by-mail schemes," he continued. "This 'mail-in ballot cover-up,' like Russia Collusion, Ukraine impeachment, and the Hunter Biden laptop suppression, shows how Deep State bureaucrats, liberal operatives, and their corporate allies combined to interfere in our Presidential elections. It is a monumental scandal."

America First Legal is suing CISA for 2020 records from its mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM) team. According to records obtained by America First Legal from its lawsuit, CISA knew that mail-in and absentee voting are less secure than voting in person. America First Legal has represented Just the News in some Freedom of Information Act cases.

CISA had made a chart by October 2020 listing the risks of mail-in voting.

The list of risks were:

1. “Implementation of mail-in voting infrastructure and processes within a compressed timeline may also introduce new risk.”

2. “For mail-in voting, some of the risk under the control of election officials during in-person voting shifts to outside entities, such as ballot printers, mail processing facilities, and the United States Postal Service.”

3. “Integrity attacks on voter registration data and systems represent a comparatively higher risk in a mail-in voting environment when compared to an in-person voting environment.”

4. “The outbound and inbound processing of mail-in ballots introduces additional infrastructure and technology, increasing potential scalability of cyber attacks.”

5. “Inbound mail-in ballot processes and tabulation take longer than in-person processing, causing tabulation of results to occur more slowly and resulting in more ballots to tabulate following election night.”

6. “Disinformation risk to mail-in voting infrastructure and processes is similar to that of in-person voting while utilizing different content. Threat actors may leverage limited understanding regarding mail-in voting processes to mislead and confuse the public.”

CISA also listed three “major challenges with absentee voting” by September 2020, noting “the process of mailing and returning ballots,” the “high numbers of improperly completed ballots (figures not yet released),” and “the shortage of personnel to process ballots in a prompt manner.”

Despite being aware of the concerns of mail-in voting, CISA contracted accounting and consulting firm Deloitte to monitor and flag social media posts regarding the 2020 election and vote-by-mail. One such post that was flagged by Deloitte to CISA was from President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, which said that there were “big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots.”

Other flagged posts that Deloitte reported to CISA included, “The Governor of Texas quoted an article from a local news outlet on the state’s recent history of voter fraud convictions and claimed that it reveals ‘Mail ballot vote fraud in Texas,’” and “A conservative online activist accused Twitter of censoring her posts about voter fraud she is ‘witnessing here in Nevada,’ and expressed her frustration with Twitter’s disclaimers stating that mail-in ballots are secure.”

CISA also formed the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a private-led consortium that policed and mass-reported alleged misinformation to social media providers ahead of the 2020 and 2022 elections. The agency largely flew under the public radar before Just the News highlighted the leading role it played in creating EIP.

The subsequent barrage of litigation, public records requests and congressional probes revealed consortium leaders crediting CISA with the idea of circumventing First Amendment protections by outsourcing policing to third parties and shaping the effort.

The Supreme Court accepted a case this term to evaluate the constitutionality of alleged federal coercion of private platforms to suppress disfavored narratives. Advocacy groups for journalists, academics, doctors, technologists and big business asked the court to tread lightly on federal powers.

EIP also noted in a 2020 election after-action report the importance of the Center for Internet Security, a nonprofit that participated in censorship of purported election "misinformation." CIS participated in censorship during both the 2020 and 2022 elections through its Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing & Analysis Center (EI-ISAC).

"EI-ISAC served as a singular conduit for election officials to report false or misleading information to platforms," according to the EIP report. "By serving as a one-stop reporting interface, the EI-ISAC allowed election officials to focus on detecting and countering election misinformation while CIS and its partners reported content to the proper social media platforms."

Abe Hamadeh, GOP candidate for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, discussed issues with mail-in voting and the CISA documents on “Just the News, No Noise” TV show on Monday.

Hamadeh, who served in the Army, said that he was deployed in Saudi Arabia during the 2020 presidential election and voted from overseas. However, after he returned home, he found multiple mail-in ballots were sent to his house.

“When I came back home from my deployment, I had multiple mail-in ballots in my house that were not associated with my name — they were prior tenants or prior owners,” Hamadeh said. “The idea that the federal government was trying to basically spread propaganda that 2020 was safe and secure, and that there was no issue with the mail-in ballots when they themselves knew that this is a huge vulnerability … just shows you the lengths that the deep state goes to try to control the narrative and the propaganda,” he later added.

Mike Benz, executive director of Foundation For Freedom Online, told Just the News on Monday that the CISA documents showed how this was a “scandal because DHS was the entity responsible for censoring anybody who questioned mail-in ballots and questioning anything about them that might be fraud," or where there was "risk of fraud.”

He added that CISA “pulled off the heist of the century to argue that as cybersecurity agency, they had the power to censor the internet because misinformation about elections is a cyber threat to critical infrastructure, the critical infrastructure being elections, the threat being disinformation, and cyber being internet related.”

This “long-armed jurisdiction” meant CISA believed “that tweets about mail-in ballots not being safe and secure and reliable should be censored” on social media platforms, Benz explained.

CISA and Deloitte didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

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