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Readers sound off on Russian malware, Millennial voters, and support for developing nations against COVID 

Russian malware in Florida's voting systems?

In Bob Woodward's latest book, Rage, we learn that "in late July 2018, just weeks after the Trump-Putin meeting [in Helsinki]," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats convened a classified briefing to President Trump by the directors of the FBI, NSA and CIA, in which the NSA and CIA reported: "evidence, highly classified, that the Russians had placed malware in at least two counties in Florida – St. Lucie County and Washington County. There was no evidence that the malware had been activated. It was sitting there to be used."

The voting vendor used by Florida was used by state election registration systems all around the country. The Russian malware was sophisticated and could be activated in counties with particular demographics. For instance, in areas with higher percentages of Black residents, the malware could erase every tenth voter, almost certainly reducing the total vote count for Democrats. The same could potentially be activated to reduce Trump votes in Republican districts.

Floridians today need assurance that no malware currently resides on voter registration servers anywhere in the state and that authorities are confident that manipulation of voter rolls is unlikely to succeed – even in counties with small populations and meager budgets for election security.

Since we are right now being warned (by FBI Director Wray) that disinformation efforts are ongoing and intense, it is reasonable to suppose that attempts to interfere with registration and vote recording have not simply been abandoned. Can we at least know that our intelligence agencies are confident that those efforts are being thwarted? Can our intelligence agencies – not the White House or William Barr, please – assure us that our voter registration and the counting of our ballots are, at the present moment, secure?

The fact that they are warning us about disinformation but refraining from even mentioning infrastructure security is, let's say, a tad unsettling. – Lyman Baker, Orlando

Millennial voters, time to step up

The youngest of my generation are now in their mid-20s. We must finally drop the "Lazy Millennial" moniker that has plagued our generation. We lived through 9/11, watched the job market crumble, and dealt with the challenges of climate change that bookmarked our generation. With these as our collective past, what will define our future?

Young people are currently the largest voting-age population with the lowest turnout rates of any age demographic. That is why I am involved with Student PIRGs. As Millennials, it is our responsibility to be an example to those that come after us. That is, to help the younger generation find their voice as we have, and part of that is helping them embrace the importance of voting.

I want to make sure my fellow students and new voters from every generation have the tools necessary to make their voices heard; more so, the confidence to do so.

Florida PIRGs is reaching out to over 12,000 students to make sure their voter registration is up to date using our safe online voter registration tool, studentvote.org. If you or someone you know needs to register or reregister, studentvote.org can help!

Young people have every right to get involved and make their voices heard. Let's give them a hand. – Richard Lopez, Florida PIRG Students

U.S. must fight COVID in developing nations

Everyone in the United States had felt the impact of COVID-19 this past summer. While there still needs to be measures taken at home to end the spread of the disease, we must start looking towards aiding other countries in their efforts as well.

There is a misconception that some developing countries, like those in Africa, do not need foreign aid in relation to COVID-19 because they are reporting fewer cases. This is actually a result of the insufficient amount of testing in Africa. Many of the countries in Africa also lack the proper healthcare systems to combat the COVID cases. Most hospitals are unprepared and lack the proper resources and staff to help with a surge of cases. The effects of COVID-19 also create a risk of major interruptions to food supply chains in low-income net-food importing countries like Sub-Saharan Africa. This adds hunger to the growing list of problems that Africa has faced because of COVID-19.

It is time for well-developed countries to start taking responsibility and make efforts to help prevent the continued spread of COVID-19 to other countries. That is why it is important for Central Florida's citizens to contact their senators to support at least $20 billion in the next emergency supplemental for the International Affairs Budget to fight COVID-19. This funding requests global health pandemic response, emergency economic relief and humanitarian assistance, and ongoing frontline operational responses. This funding is essential in combating the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading globally and further harming developing countries. – Pia Rodriguez, Windermere, Borgen Project Ambassador

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