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Gov't.'s Chief Information Security Officer Takes Break from Job to Search for Voter Fraud

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Gov't.'s Chief Information Security Officer Takes Break from Job to Search for Voter Fraud

2020-11-16 18:48:14

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Ballot box (Image source: Public domain)

Donald Trump is refusing President-elect Joe Biden a rightful transition, not allowing them to get down to work. New information shows some others in the current administration aren't working either. They are pitching in to help the president look for voter fraud. This includes the chief information security officer.

Camilo Sandoval said he took a break from his position to volunteer for the Virginia-based Voter Integrity Fund. The group is analyzing ballots and to look for fraud and is also calling voters to substantiate Trump's claim that the wrong person was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential race.

He's not the only one. There are several Trump appointees with government positions who are working on the project, according to the leader of the Voter Integrity Fund. It shows how far Trump and/or his supporters are willing to go to justify his unfounded claims of voter fraud.

Under the Hatch Act, federal employees are required to keep political activity separate from their government roles. Voter Integrity fund officials said the political appointees working on the project are doing so in their personal time.

Sandoval defended being involved with the project, noting he'd taken vacation time from his government role with the Office of Management and Budget, a position he's only had for one month. He added he was not using any government resources, including his work computer or cell phone.

"I am doing this in my private capacity, just as many others have done in past elections," he said. "I think it's pretty clear that this is acceptable and normal." An OMB official confirmed Sandoval was on leave.

Matthew Braynard, a data specialist who'd worked on Trump's campaign four years ago, put together the team that includes Sandoval. Thomas Baptiste, an adviser to the deputy secretary of the Interior Department, is on leave as well to work on the project. Braynard said several other government officials were also assisting.

The goal is to comb through voter rolls and databases, searching for signs of illegally-cast ballots, information that is shared with the Trump campaign.

There is question of whether this effort is needed, as a nonprofit consortium of states already did the same and had the advantage of using sophisticated data analysis to find duplicate voter registrations as well as those from people who have moved or died.

Vote-by-mail data from three states in the 2016 and 2018 elections found 372 possible fraud cases out of 14.6 million votes. This works out to be a percentage of 0.0025.

Braynard insists his project is pathbreaking, noting they have already found that many states do not update their voter rolls "very aggressively or frequently."

"Nobody's ever done this before," he said. "These things have to be done to find potential problems."

David Backer led the interstate consortium and explained it took more than three years to develop, relying on sophisticated software and proprietary state data that isn't available to Braynard's group.

He added that the Voter Integrity Fund appears to be just another "shoddy, fly-by-night" effort to copy his project and that it would most likely flag false positives because of inadequate data.

"I would put absolutely no stock in their analysis," said Becker, who now works for the Center for Election Innovation and Research as executive director.

Braynard counters his project's approach is "novel, transparent and expansive." He says, "It's disappointing that a scientist like David Becker would make a comment on our investigation without an understanding of what we're doing."

He continued, explaining that "while some of our methods, such as an analysis of 'dead' voters, have not proven fruitful, others that are finding people that are insisting they did not cast ballots that the state says were cast in their name are returning living, breathing results."

Federal and state government national security and election officials released a statement on Thursday that said the election was "the most secure in American history." They added that despite unfounded claims that say otherwise, they had "utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections."

Still, Braynard and Sandoval make claims that they have found evidence of possible fraud yet have not made detailed findings public.

Braynard did acknowledge that "some of the evidence isn't terribly compelling," but said the group's work was valuable even if it eventually determines Biden is the rightful winner of the presidential election. "If this was a clean election, we can dispel a lot of the concern out there."

Despite his dedication, Sandoval is not attaching himself to Trump's claims that the election was stolen from him and that he would have won if fraudulent votes were not counted. "I can't say that right now," said Sandoval.

"But we are going to be asking for weeks and months who really won, and was there fraud, and if I can use my skills to help bring transparency to that, then it is worthwhile," he attests.

Before joining Trump's 2016 campaign as director of data operations, he headed up a digital marketing technology firm in New York. He joined the Trump administration in 2017 as a Treasury Department adviser, then moved on to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He became the acting chief information officer at the department in 2018 and later became chief technology officer. In November 2018, he became the president of MCI, an Iowa City-based outsourcing company. He rejoined the administration with a position at OMB six months ago and last month was promoted to chief information security officer.

Braynard said his group received publicly available lists of people who requested early or absentee ballots from state authorities and also received data on eventual votes. Commercial vendors were paid to provide additional data on the voters, including the birth dates and phone numbers. This was compared to other government databases, such as the Social Security Death Index and U.S.P.S. change-of-address records.

A priority for the group is calling people who appear in the data to be deceased, appear to have changed their address to another state, who requested a ballot but weren't recorded as having voted, and who cast a ballot despite a rating of "low/inactive voter." 

"The only things I think that will make a difference are affidavits and death certificates," said Braynard in a video about the group's work to search for evidence to use in legal proceedings.

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