OSWEGO – More than two dozen concerned citizens, most members of the grassroots organization We The People of Oswego Indivisible, held an informational rally Tuesday afternoon in downtown Oswego. The group gathered outside of the district offices of US Rep John Katko (Oswego City Hall) call on the Senate to move forward on legislation to secure elections. This event was one of more than 40 events happening nationwide for a day of action to secure our vote, according to Fred Ringwald, a We The People spokesperson. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the SAFE Act, which allocated $600 million to states and localities for election security funding. These funds would replace certain voting systems, carry out voting system security improvements and conduct risk-limiting audits. Part of this proposal includes funding to switch counties over to verifiable paper ballots.
Despite the passage of the SAFE Act in the House however, the Senate has failed to act, Ringwald told Oswego County Today. The calls for greater election security come after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed extensive efforts on the part of foreign adversaries to interfere with U.S. elections. During a press conference, Mueller said, “There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” While there is no evidence that votes were changed in 2016, a recent report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in the 2016 election, Ringwald said. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee is currently working on its funding proposal, which is due Sept. 30. Advocates are calling on the Appropriations Committee to include $600 million of funding for efforts to secure our election systems in states and localities that have vulnerable systems. During Tuesday’s event, members passed out information to passers-by. “We decided to hold a public demonstration in support of protecting our elections and to point out Rep. Katko voted ‘no’ on HR.2722,” Ringwald said. “We’re asking the U.S. Senate move on this bill so we can do something to secure our elections.” Ringwald said they invited the Oswego Democratic Committee, DAWN, and the Oswego Republican Party. “We consider this to be a non-partisan event,” he explained. However, as of 12:30 p.m., no one else showed up. Dana Balter is looking to challenge Katko again in the upcoming election. “We’re talking about protecting the essence of our democracy; there’s nothing more foundational to create an open democracy than the individual’s right to vote and to have that vote protected and counted. And, right now, we are currently under attack by foreign governments – plural – who are working to undermine our vote,” she said prior to the start of the event Tuesday. Congress and the president should be doing everything they can to protect that right, she said, adding that “it is very troubling to say the least that our current representative in Congress has voted multiple times against increasing finding for election security.” “It’s unacceptable. It’s a non-partisan issue that needs to be moved on.” Ringwald said. ”However, the Senate refuses to even consider it.”