Watermark Misinformation

There are several stories circulating about how Homeland Security put watermarks on ballots to recognize legitimate ballots, citing an August 7 Washington Post article confirming the act by Homeland Security. Trouble is, there is no mention in the Washington Post story about watermarks. There is mention of a Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency “Infrastructure Risk Assessment“ of 2020 Mail-In voting, but it does not corroborate any Homeland Security printing of watermarks on ballots. The 11-page July 28 report mentions in one place the possible use of ballot watermarks, but because states and localities are responsible for ballot printing, there is no national Homeland Security watermark.

The report speaks to the ballot printing process: “Ballot Printing: Almost all election jurisdictions use a ballot printer to print their ballots. Election officials send ballot printers electronic copies of ballot files for printing. Without properly implemented security controls, the transmission of ballot files can be at risk to a person-in-the-middle (PITM) attack. A PITM attack may result in ballot files being altered before being printed, assembled, and shipped. Ballot printers and mailing houses store ballot and voter data, such as names and addresses of voters, ballot styles, and in some cases voter history data. An integrity or availability attack to the third-party infrastructure could have the same impact as an integrity or availability attack, respectively, on voter registration databases.”

Regarding watermarks, the CISA report states under its “Compensating Controls” table that “Some voting systems and some states implement watermarks to be printed on the ballot that are specific to an election or designate it as being printed by an approved printing authority providing a visual cue that the ballot is authentic.” The report lists some 38 risks associated with Mail-In ballots, many of which do not have failsafe or consistent controls because they vary from state to state. The report indicates: “State law dictates when election officials can begin processing ballots, allowing election officials to authenticate voters, accept or reject ballot packages, and separate ballots from the envelope for scanning. Chain of custody processes are crucial to tracking the amount and storage location of received ballots.”

The theory that the President had Homeland Security print watermarked ballots, while possible, is not probable. That a sting operation would result from watermark abusers is just as improbable. There is a process. The process of legal filings, recounts, legal debate, will need to play out over the weeks to come. While I believe there was voter fraud, filling someone’s email box with undocumented theories because we want to believe them doesn’t make them true and actually harms credibility when the real truth is revealed. Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” Let us deal truly that there is found in us no claim of hypocrisy.

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Bill Wilson