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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, February 20, 2019
'Green News Report' 2/19/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
It's GNR's 10TH ANNIVERSARY! PLUS: Bill to avoid a government shutdown protects wildlife refuges, but Trump's 'national emergency' puts them all back on the chopping block...
Previous GNRs: 2/14/19 - 2/12/19 - Archives...
Sunday 'National Emergency' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly collection of actual political toons in response to Trump's latest pretend crisis...
Trump is a Nat'l Emergency: 'BradCast' 2/15/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Joel Simon of Comm. to Protect Journalists; Also: The fate of big-tech host cities; Weld to primary Trump?; RBG returns to SCOTUS...
Power to the People! (& Why Coal Miners Should've Voted Hillary): 'BradCast' 2/14/19
Trump Commission shuts KY, TN coal plants; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'Emergency' soon; Freshmen light up House; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
'Green News Report' 2/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Repubs move quickly to demonize Green New Deal; Insects declining at alarming rate; Public lands bill passes in Senate; PLUS: Los Angeles ditches natural gas for electricity...
Previous GNRs: 2/12/19 - 2/7/19 - Archives...
Butterfly Refuge Sues to Block Wall, Break-ins by CBP Officials: 'BradCast' 2/13/19
Guest: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the Nat'l Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
Targeted? 1000s of Black Votes 'Missing' from GA's 2018 Lt. Guv Election Results: 'BradCast' 2/12/19
Guest: Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally, new (even worse) 'wall' deal...
'Green News Report' 2/12/19
GNR Special Coverage: Democratic Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey introduce the Green New Deal. What's in it, what's not, and what happens next...
Groundhog Day All Over Again?:
'BradCast' 2/11/19
Trump Border Lies, Shutdown Talks, Virginia's Political Mess. Plus: Listener calls! Including one calling for segregation?! (Yup.)
Sunday 'Year of the Pig' Toons
PDiddie celebrates the Lunar Looney New Year in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green New Deal' Rising: 'BradCast' 2/8/19
Guest: Climate/energy reporter David Roberts of Vox on the policy and the politics; Also: Witless Whitaker's remarkable House Judiciary testimony...
'Green News Report' 2/7/19
Trump SOTU was low on facts, high on oil; Dems bring climate science back to the U.S. House; PLUS: It's official: we've just lived through the five hottest years on record...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally and new 'wall' deal that's worse for him than last year's...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2019 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we revisit the mysterious case of tens of thousands of 'missing' votes from Georgia's 2018 midterm election, now that the case has become even more mysterious and disturbing, with investigators finding that African-American neighborhoods may have been specifically 'targeted' in some fashion. [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

But, first today: Donald Trump and Beto O'Rourke held dueling rallies near each other and near the border in El Paso, TX on Monday night, after the President had been offering a series of lies about the effectiveness of an existing border wall in the city. During the Monday rally, Trump also lied about his rally's crowd size and that of O'Rourke's, which appears to have been larger than Trump's.

More tellingly, however, the President also failed to let his supporters know about a deal struck before the rallies by Republican and Democratic negotiators in Congress to avoid another government shutdown this Friday at midnight. The agreement, reportedly, includes less money and less fencing than Trump could have had if he'd agreed to the deal he backed out before Christmas last year, losing leverage with his subsequent record-long 35-day government shutdown and the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House. That's "The Art of the Deal"? We detail the tentative agreement and whether Trump will be harangued again by rightwingers into not signing it and shutting down the federal government yet again at week's end.

Then, we're joined once again by longtime election integrity bulldog MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance with a disturbing update to the group's election contest filed in state court last year to challenge the inexplicable reported results from Georgia's 2018 Lt. Governor's election. Marks had joined us previously to detail some 127,000 ballots cast last November found to have "missing" votes in only that race and only on ballots cast via the state's 17-year old, easily-manipulated, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is reported by those systems to have lost the race to Republican Geoff Duncan by 123,172 votes out of almost 4 million counted, according to the final certified results.

The 4% undervote in the contest seems impossibly huge, given that other statewide contests even further down the ballot (e.g. for Sec. of State or Agriculture Commissioner) saw a far smaller rate of ballots with no vote recorded --- an average of about 1% or less in those other races. Moreover, votes cast in the same race for Lt. Governor on verifiable hand-marked paper ballots revealed an expected, similarly small undervote rate. So, this appears to clearly be machine related somehow.

But, while the group's initial analysis revealed a disproportionate number of undervotes in Democratic-leaning areas, a newer analysis [PDF] by a number of top-flight election data analysts --- as detailed exclusively over the weekend by Michael Harriot at The Root and today (sadly, behind a paywall) by Kim Zetter at PoliticoPro --- finds that African-American neighborhoods and precincts, specifically, had an even higher disproportionate rate of missing votes in the Lt. Governor's race. Experts are having trouble coming up with non-nefarious reasons for the numbers and, as Marks tells me, state and local officials appear curiously uninterested in what is clearly a massive disenfranchisement of their own voters.

"We have had all sorts of statisticians all over the nation, from academics to those who work for political data houses, and everybody's coming up with exactly the same answer --- that African-American neighborhoods were the ones highly impacted by this," Marks tells me. "There's something wrong across the state. The state has too many missing votes, no matter what county we look at. However, it is exacerbated greatly in the heavily African-American precincts, no matter where you look."

"I've never worked on a case one-tenth as important as what I believe this is," she says. "While you and I and others, for years, have known about the dangers of electronic voting machines, and we've warned about them, I swear I never thought I would see machines used in a way that had racial disparity as a result."

We discuss the possible reasons --- nefarious and otherwise --- for such an alarmingly disproportionate undervote rates and the Coalition's several ongoing lawsuits in Georgia challenging the Lt. Governor results on the state level and the state's entire unverifiable touchscreen voting system on the federal level. Marks also discusses whether either case will soon allow for an independent forensic investigation of the computer-voting and tabulation systems used in the state in 2018, as the Coalition is demanding via discovery.

It's also worth noting here that Georgia's new Governor, Republican Brian Kemp --- who was reported to have narrowly defeated popular African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams last year --- oversaw all of the 2018 elections (including his own) as Secretary of State while repeatedly being excoriated by federal courts for voter suppression tactics. At the same time, counties in key states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa and even in California, are now preparing to moving to similarly 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. The latest news from Georgia's shameful 17-years of disastrous elections is troubling on its own, but this incident serves as yet another object lesson and warning for the entire country, as even many Democrats are now supporting the move to such completely unverifiable voting systems. (See Los Angeles, for example.)

"If there is anything good that can come out of this whole mess that we're in, surely it is that people are going to be able to see we have to stop it with this electronic voting. Here we are, months after the election, we don't know if any of those numbers can be trusted. We can't run elections this way!," Marks argues. "So, hopefully this will have some benefit to the nation in saying, 'Look, you gotta quit using touchscreen machines. End of story.'"

Finally, we're joined today by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, for special coverage of the landmark Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress last week by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (MA)...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Calls for VA's Governor to step down may make political sense for Democrats, but is it wise and/or the right thing to do? Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 2/4/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, should Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam resign after his 1984 medical school yearbook was revealed late last week to have featured a photo of a man in blackface standing next to a man in a KKK costume? Don't answer that too quickly. Or, at least listen to today's show first. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After apologizing on Friday night for the appearance of the photo --- calling it "clearly racist and offensive", but failing to specify which of the pictured two men he actually was --- the Governor said at a bizarre Saturday press conference that he was neither man and that he had never even seen the photograph before, since he hadn't purchased that year's yearbook. He says the photograph hit him "like a ton of bricks" on Friday night. However, he told the media that he did remember an instance around the same time when he darkened his face to dress up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. He said he remembered the contest outfit very specifically, discussing it publicly for the first time on Saturday, while insisting that he never recalls dressing up in either minstrel show blackface or as a Klansman, as depicted in the mystery photograph.

One of the two African-Americans in the same medical school class that graduated with Northam told AP the explanation is plausible, as he didn't purchase the yearbook either and found the racist photo on Northam's page to be out of character. Despite Northam's record of working closely with the African-American community and still being a member of a predominately black church in the town where he grew up, top Democrats from Virginia to D.C. and beyond continued their loud calls on Sunday for him to step down and allow his Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax --- an African-American Democrat --- to replace him.

But should he? And should he be shunned for something that may have never happened? Or, if it did, happened 35 years ago and appears completely inconsistent with his record since then? The answers to those questions are both "absolutely yes" and "no, not so fast", as we discuss with callers today, focusing on Northam's remarks at the strange, yet seemingly earnest Saturday presser in which he stated that acquiescing to calls to step down would allow him to "spare myself from the difficult path that lies ahead," adding: "I could avoid an honest conversation about harmful actions from my past. I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me."

We endeavor to have a least part of that "honest conversation" with tons of callers on today's program, including some discussion about key civil rights figures (from Lincoln to Justice Hugo Black to LBJ) whose own histories of racism arguably allowed them to lead on a number of landmark civil rights issues from Emancipation to Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Also today: While I was happy to see MSNBC, on Friday night, highlight a Super Bowl ad buy in Georgia markets by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' voting rights group Fair Fight, calling for "hand-counted paper ballots," the news outlet's Rachel Maddow Show maddeningly cut the :30 commercial off when reporting the story, just before the crucial line calling for "hand-marked paper ballots"! (Made, in the spot, by Republican Commissioner of Habersham County, GA Natalie Crawford, by the way.) Maddening. Especially since, unless the voters rise up to protect overseeable elections and stop them, the state of Georgia, along with counties in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas --- not to mention Los Angeles County and neighboring Ventura County! --- are all now planning moves to expensive, unauditable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) before the 2020 Presidential election. Those systems print out computer-marked and barcoded paper ballots which are 100% unverifiable after an election has ended.

Add MSNBC's failure there to a list of disappointments over the weekend from the mess in Virginia to the loss of the L.A. Rams at the Super Bowl...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Also: McConnell's Election Day holiday lie; Schumer's Trump 'intervention'; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some encouraging news for democracy (at least in Georgia), some predictable lies from the Senate Majority leader, a gentle rebuke for Trump from both parties, and a call for intervention from the Senate Minority Leader, among other things.

Just some of the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Georgia Democrat and potential U.S. Senate candidate Stacey Abrams, who will be giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, is set to run a television ad during Sunday's Super Bowl in Atlanta with a north Georgia Republican County Commissioner calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots in the state!

    The ad is sponsored by Abrams' non-partisan voting rights organization Fair Fight, formed after Abrams is said to have very narrowly lost her contest to become the nation's first African-American female governor last November to Republican Secretary of State and champion vote suppressor Brian Kemp. Both he and his GOP successor are now calling for the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to be replaced with new, very expensive and also 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems that produce computer-marked, human-unreadable barcoded ballot summary cards, rather than hand-marked paper ballots which computer science and voting systems experts all agree [PDF] to be the most secure, auditable and overseeable way to carry out elections;
  • In the U.S. Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a huge lie about the Democrats' "For the People Act" (HR-1), recently introduced in the U.S. House to call for a series of major election reforms. Among the many provisions in the measure --- such as universal automatic voter registration, expanded early voting, ending partisan gerrymandering and yes, ensuring a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter --- it also seeks to declare Election Day as a federal holiday. Naturally, McConnell lied about what the bill calls for on that point, and absurdly describes the measure as a "Democrat power-grab". We respond;
  • Also in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Trump's Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats calling for him and the other Administration Intelligence Chiefs to "stage an intervention" with the Commander-in-Chief, after Donald Trump described his own top intel officials on Wednesday as "wrong", "naive" and needing to "go back to school!" on a host of foreign policy issues. Trump's remarks came in response to the Intelligence Community's new annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" PDF. The report, and Senate testimony from the chiefs about it on Tuesday, argues that Trump is essentially wrong on everything from North Korea, to Iran, to ISIS to Syria and Afghanistan, and on his claims about an imagined "national emergency" at the U.S. -Mexico board.
  • But if Schumer really wants to "stage an intervention" with this President, his Democrats in the Senate and House could be calling for an immediate Impeachment inquiry. As detailed by Ernest Canning at BradBlog.com this week, the Nixon impeachment process reveals that it is both unnecessary and, arguably, unwise for Dems to wait for a report from the Special Counsel investigation before exercising their Constitutional duty;
  • Also today, Republicans and about half of Senate Democrats passed an amendment that (gently) rebukes the President by calling for U.S. troops to remain in both Syria and Afghanistan, in contrast to Trump's recent military directives;
  • An upside to the recent federal government shutdown? A beach in Northern California that had been closed will remain closed, because elephant seals have taken it over;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with updates on the record bone-chilling --- and deadly --- Polar Vortex cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast, evidence that Trump's intervention in Venezuela is, of course, all about oil, and some good news out of Germany which is now on its way to quitting coal entirely...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Election expert Marilyn Marks on GA 2018 Lt. Gov. election contest as state moves to unverifiable barcoded ballots; Also: FL 2020 GOP power-grab update; IA Repubs vote to NOT count absentee ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2019 6:50pm PT  

No, we're still not done with the 2018 elections on The BradCast, even as we begin to turn towards the hell that awaits in 2020...because someone's got to. We've got several follow-up stories today, and some new ones. All of them maddening for those of us who believe in fair and overseeable public elections. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First today, an update to a story we covered in detail yesterday. Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently suspended the elected Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, falsely charging the 10-year elections official --- one of the most knowledgeable and respected in the nation --- with "incompetence". Her suspension followed on another by Rick Scott, the previous Republican Governor, of the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County. In both cases, the officials in two of the most Democratic counties in the closely-divided swing-state have now been replaced with Republicans in advance of 2020. These are extraordinary partisan power grabs.

While Bucher had vowed last week to fight her suspension, about an hour after we got off air yesterday she decided to resign rather than challenge her case to the partisan GOP-controlled Florida state Senate, her only option under state law. Here's the full statement [PDF] on her decision to resign that Bucher sent me earlier today.

An outrageous decision by Republicans in Iowa's state legislature on Monday illustrates a similar concern in the Hawkeye State. There, Republicans in the state House of Representatives won a party-line vote to reject 29 absentee ballots cast in an Iowa state House race last November that was reportedly won by the Republican candidate by just 9 votes out of more than 14,000 cast. The unopened ballots in question were missing a postmark --- the Postal Service acknowledges they don't always postmark absentee ballots --- but had barcodes on the envelopes confirming that the ballots were sent and received by the Post Office in time to be included in the tally. Nonetheless, GOP state lawmakers refused to open the ballots and include them in the count, denying the voters their right to vote and ensuring the 9 vote "victory" by the incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Bergan, The Democratic candidate who filed the election challenge, Kayla Koether, says she's considering a lawsuit with some of the voters in response.

Speaking of rejected challenges, we're joined once again today by MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance for several maddening updates to at least two election cases that her organization has filed in Georgia. One, which we initially covered with her when it was filed last year, is an election contest to the results of November's Lt. Governor's race. That contest featured an inexplicably huge undervote rate, but only in that race (not in any other races much farther down the ballot) and only on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems (the undervote rate was as expected, in line with other contests, on hand-marked paper ballots sent via mail or at the polls during early voting in the some race.)

That contest, however, was recently dismissed in an remarkable ruling by Cobb County Judge Adele Grubbs. She found the plaintiffs offered no evidence that votes were cast illegally or that legal votes were rejected, after refusing to allow discovery that would have permitted an expert forensic investigation of the state's unverifiable, easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems. Marks' organization is now appealing Grubbs' ruling to the state Supreme Court and is hopeful the higher court will allow the discovery investigation that was denied, but that voting systems experts say is warranted.

Marks says the Secretary of State's office refused access the systems and the judge "forced us to go trial without the first shred of discovery, which is our legal right to have. She also denied our right to a jury trial. So the state and the court has nailed the doors shut to make sure that we don't get to find out what is behind this clear machine misprogramming, defect, malfunction, whatever it is."

At the same time, Marks has also been leading the charge in an uphill battle against former GOP Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and his Republican successor Brad Raffensberger to replace the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with hand-marked paper ballots. Computer scientists and voting systems experts strongly recommend such systems [PDF], along with voters in the Peach State who have spoken out loudly and clearly in favor of hand-marked paper ballots.

And yet, the private voting system vendor lobbyists, elections officials and elected state Republicans continue to call for newly designed and expensive unverifiable touchscreen systems which produce a barcoded ballot summary card instead of a verifiable record of voter intent. It's impossible to carry out legitimate post-election audits of computer-marked ballot summaries. Nonetheless, jurisdictions around the nation --- counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and even Los Angeles County, not to mention the the entire state of Georgia --- may soon be voting on such unauditable, unverifiable systems in the 2020 Presidential election, unless they can be stopped.

"There is just no reason that such machines should be legal in this country, given what we know now about the dangers of electronic voting," Marks tells me, while noting that computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) cost about three times as much as hand-marked paper ballots systems. "There's too much money involved, and therefore a lot of people are not looking at what's best for the state. I'll just say it that way. Too many people have probably received too many favors."

"Unfortunately, for some of the decision-makers, having an unauditable system is a feature, not a bug," she opines, while remaining hopeful that "people are catching on" that a barcoded ballot system is not the same as a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system, despite how elections officials are misleading voters around the country.

Finally today, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report as Democratic candidates begin taking positions on a "green new deal", as hundreds are dead or missing in a mining dam collapse in Brazil, and as a powerfully frigid Arctic polar vortex descends on much of the U.S. (thanks, in no small part, to climate change)...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with the latest shutdown news, HR-1, border update; Also: More with health care futurist Joe Flower...
By Angie Coiro on 1/4/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm with you one more time, then Brad and Desi are back! I'm visiting from In Deep with Angie Coiro, sharing the airwaves and streams with the BradCast.

A troop of Dems led by Nancy Pelosi made a promising presentation on HR-1. Right now the sweeping proposal to reform elections, campaign funding and oversight is nothing but a proposal. Republicans will certainly work against many of its provisions, including its voting rights measures efforts to stem the flow of politicians to lobbying corps. Even so, some of the rhetoric today from the likes of Elijah Cummings and John Lewis was genuinely moving and full of real passion. I've brought you long chunks of it.

Likewise, Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke frankly and with few punches pulled addressing the shutdown, which is cruising into Day 15.

I spend a lot of well-deserved time today on this essay by Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Now that Trump is throwing around not-so-veiled threats about declaring a national emergency and his willingness to keep the shutdown in effect for "years", it's good to know exactly what he can get away with. Hint: a lot.

To wrap up the week: Part Two of my conversation with health care futurist JOE FLOWER. You're welcome!

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Guest: Prof. Richard DeMillo of Georgia Tech; Also: Obamacare found 'unconstitutional'?; Zinke resigns; Callers ring in on compulsory voting...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2018 6:25pm PT  

It's been a very busy news weekend (as usual these days), so we try to catch up with at least some of it, along with calls from listeners on today's BradCast. But, more importantly, we're already busy trying to save the next election from disaster, thanks to a move by folks on the right and left to make election results virtually impossible to be overseen and verified. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

States and counties all across the country are finally beginning to move to new "upgraded" voting systems. In many cases, however --- in both Republican and Democratic-leaning jurisdictions alike --- officials are now disastrously preparing to move to touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are even less verifiable, in many cases, than systems currently in use!

In Georgia, a commission impaneled by Republican Brian Kemp, champion vote suppressor as former Sec. of State and now Governor-elect, is deciding whether to move from the state's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines to similarly 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMDs made by ES&S before the next election. Here in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk has already announced plans to move to such an unverifiable system before the 2020 Presidential election, while (incorrectly) claiming that it produces a "verifiable paper ballot". BMD systems do not.

Proponents argue that touchscreen BMDs, which print out a computer-marked and barcoded "paper ballot" summary card of the voters vote, produce a "verifiable" record of the cast ballot. But, as Professor RICHARD DEMILLO of Georgia Tech and Verified Voting explains today, based on his recently published study, many voters (about half) do not bother to verify their computer-printed ballot summary cards before casting them to be tallied by a separate computer scanner. Of those who do, the study finds, they only glance at them for an average of 3.9 seconds before depositing them into the scanner (and that was during an election with some 18 races on the ballot!)

"Half of them don't look at the ballots at all," DeMillo tells me. "Those that do, give it by and large a cursory reading that wouldn't allow them to check it in any meaningful way."

Moreover, DeMillo's study finds, based on observation and testing at polling places earlier this year, most voters are unable to accurately verify --- just seconds after leaving the polling place --- whether an unvoted list of the races they just voted in accurately represents the races on the ballot they just cast! DeMillo --- a longtime computer security expert who formerly served as Hewlett-Packard's chief technology officer --- argues, the only way to ensure that ballots actually reflect the will of the voter is to use HAND-MARKED paper ballots, whether they are counted by hand or optical-scan systems.

"These are all problems we've created for ourselves" with some help from the private voting system vendors, he argues. "The only reason we're having this discussion is that someone decided that having an expensive pen to mark a ballot is more important than the transparency of the election process itself. As soon as you get rid of the Ballot Marking Devices, the universe goes back to normal, mathematics works out, we can conduct auditable elections in a much more verifiable way."

When I ask this longtime computer technologist and cryptography expert the best, most verifiable way to cast ballots, he answes directly: "Hand-marked paper ballots." His answer echoes that of longtime Livermore National Lab computer scientist and voting systems expert Dr. David Jefferson, who argued the same point during my interview with him in October.

Also today: What the federal court's questionable ruling in Texas on Friday finding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) unconstitutional, does (and doesn't) mean for all of us in 2019. The federal HealthCare.gov exchange's open enrollment period for 2019 ended over the weekend, but several states which run their own Obamacare markets, such as CA, CT, D.C., NY, MA, MN and RI, continue open enrollment through January.

Then, a thought or two from our own Desi Doyen on the long-overdue weekend announcement of the resignation of Trump's corrupt Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke.

And, finally today, we open the phones to callers with thoughts on, among other things, whether voting in the U.S. should (or shouldn't be) be compulsory and whether voting is a "right" or "privilege". Don't miss that lively debate with callers and much more on today's BradCast!...

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Guest: 28-year Leon County, FL Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: Deadly CA wildfires; Dems unseat Rohrabacher in CA; Sinema to take U.S. Senate race in AZ; Legal battle grows in GA Guv race...
By Brad Friedman on 11/12/2018 6:39pm PT  

The Florida election official so well-respected by Republicans and Democrats alike in 2000 that he was tapped to oversee that year's historic Presidential "recount" between George W. Bush and Al Gore in Florida (until it was stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court), tells us today that it is likely impossible for the state to complete three statewide recounts --- for U.S. Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner --- in time to meet the state's ridiculously arbitrary statutory deadlines. Run by Republicans for decades, the state "puts a premium on speed", rather than accuracy, ION SANCHO, the 28-year former Leon County (Tallahassee) Supervisor of Elections tells me on today's BradCast. "This is, by no means, a system geared toward finding the truth." [Audio link to show follow below.]

Sancho explains how it is currently unlawful to add any vote to the totals as based on a hand examination of ballots by human beings, as he details the process now officially under way in the Sunshine State for a machine "recount" in the gubernatorial race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis (who, the computers report, leads by about 0.41%) and a supposed "manual" count in the U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and term-limited FL Gov. Rick Scott (which Scott is said to be leading by 0.15%, or less than 15,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast.) Sancho details how even in a "manual" count in FL, ballots are first fed through tabulation computers and only ballots determined by the computers to be over- or undervotes are then re-examined. But, even those ballots are, yes, "remade" by officials onto a fresh ballot paper so that it can can then be run through a computer tabulator.

Given the limitations on the so-called high-speed tabulation systems made by companies like ES&S, still used across the state --- which only accept "300 ballots at a time" --- the scanners used in counties like heavily Democratic-leaning Palm Beach "cannot physically do this job" before statutory deadlines run out. All ballots must be "recounted" by Thursday (even though overseas and military votes aren't due until this coming Saturday!) It's a system, Sancho describes, that was put in place before the very popular no-excuse absentee Vote-by-Mail system was allowed in Florida, along with provisional voting and other election practices that require time-consuming ballot-by-ballot evaluation to determine whether it's eligible for tabulation in the first place.

As noted on today's program, Florida will have "counted" and "recounted" its ballots (correctly or incorrectly, we will never know) less than a week and a half after last week's midterms, several weeks before California even announces completion of its initial count in early December.

All of this, as Scott and even the President of the United States are falsely charging election fraud is ongoing in the state's two largest counties (Broward and Palm Beach), despite a complete lack of evidence to support any such claims. Scott's own Secretary of State and Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement --- who Scott oversees and who both have authority to oversee elections and election crimes in all 67 Florida counties --- concede they have no evidence to support the GOP claims. Sancho also responds to the "laughable" charges of "fraud" being made by Scott and the "truth-free statement" tweeted by Trump on Monday morning, which falsely claims that "ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged" in Florida.

A couple of points worth underscoring here, as the Republicans have been busy dusting off their 2000 playbook to lie about "fraud" occurring in Palm Beach and particularly in Broward, in hopes of shutting down the tabulation of legitimate ballots altogether, once again, in Florida: 1) Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor of Elections in Democratic-leaning Broward County, which has had a number of election failures over the years, was appointed by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003; 2) Current Republican Gov. Rick Scott appointed his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner, who has tasked officials from his own office to oversee Broward's election office this year; 3) Nobody from Detzner's office or Florida Law Enforcement has seen or alleged any criminal wrong doing in the county. None of that, however, has prevented GOPers from claiming otherwise.

"Everybody's vote needs to be given the same weight," Sancho, a longtime election integrity champion who has taken on both the state and the voting machine companies argues during today's conversation. "It shouldn't depend upon whether you're in a competent or incompetent jurisdiction. Your vote should count if you cast them properly and you've made no errors."

Also today: Desi Doyen on California's horrific, deadly wildfires which have, to date, killed 31 across the state with hundreds more still unaccounted for; Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, in a still too-close-to-call race against GOP Sec. of State and notorious vote-suppressor Brian Kemp filed a new lawsuit over discarded absentee and provisional ballots on Sunday; Democrat Kyrsten Sinema appears to have defeated Republican Martha McSally to win the the U.S. Senate being vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona; And 15-term Orange County, CA Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has reportedly been unseated by Harley Rouda in one of the state's most GOP districts. That would bring the net pickup for Democrats in the U.S. House to 32, with results for more than ten seats in CA and elsewhere still said to be too close to call...

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Trump unwanted in Pittsburgh and former top Repub excoriates party, 'rightwing propaganda industry'; Also: News on fighting to vote (and counting it accurately) in TX and environment is on midterm ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2018 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the darkness continues, even as some rays of light appear in the electoral distance. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

On Monday, attorneys for one of three far-right militiamen convicted in a plot to bomb a Kansas apartment building that was home to over a hundred Somali Muslim refugees in late 2016, cited Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric during the President campaign as reason for shortening the man's life sentence. In sentencing documents, the lawyers charge that then-candidate Trump and videos from rightwing media personalities such as Fox News' Sean Hannity helped stoke their client's hatred "to 11".

On Tuesday, despite being told by victims' families, the city's mayor, and thousands of members of Pittsburgh's Jewish community that he was not welcome, Trump came to the city's grief-stricken Squirrel Hill neighborhood to visit the Tree of Life synagogue where 11 Jewish worshipers were gunned down during services on Saturday. Trump came to the city where he was not wanted today, even as the first funerals for victims got under way, because it reportedly fits in with his campaign schedule that otherwise includes political rallies around the country every day for the rest of the week until next Tuesday's crucial midterms.

The anti-Semitic, anti-immigration rightwinger charged in the Pittsburgh massacre had espoused anti-"globalist" rhetoric akin to those from the Trump fan charged last week with mailing bombs to more than a dozen top Democrats, philanthropists, media outlets and celebrities who had been vilified in recent months by the President. Both men had referenced the so-called Central American migrant "caravan" that Trump, Republican candidates and media outlets from the Right and non-Right have been focusing on over the past several weeks. The group of slowly walking refugees still remains some 1,000 miles from the U.S. border and is unlikely to arrive here for months, posing zero threat to the U.S. Nonetheless, on Monday, Trump ordered the immediate deployment of at least 5,200 more U.S. military troops to the border in advance of next week's election.

Despite the increasing wave of Rightwing violence, the President and the White House and Rightwing news outlets continue to cite the "caravan" as an existential threat. Former top Republican strategist Steve Schmidt unloaded on what has become of the GOP under Trump and the years-long barrage of Rightwing media propaganda. He describes "this whole caravan in the last week of the election" as "a giant lie" and as "Trump's Reichstag Fire".

We share the full, must-listen segment from his remarkable appearance on last night's All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, in which the former campaign chair for John McCain's 2008 Presidential run describes the GOP as having become no more than a "cult of personality...that is authoritarian in nature" and charges the "Rightwing propaganda machine industry" has "blood on their hands" after having "radicalized" those who are now committing violence against minorities and immigrants.

Then, just to lighten things up a bit, some election news out of Texas, where legal officials with the Beto O'Rourke (D) campaign tell me about their concerns regarding reports of votes flipping to Ted Cruz (R) on Democratic straight ticket ballots cast on 100% unverifiable Hart-Intercivic eSlate voting computers used across much of the state.

We've also got a bit of slightly brighter news from the Lone Star state, where threats of legal action have resulted in the expansion of early voting opportunities on the campus of Texas State University after students were turned away last week, and a rollback to new voter registration requirements recently imposed at the historically African-American Prairie View A&M University.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with details on the serious environmental threat posed by this week's election of the hard-right Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and a number of important climate and environment initiatives that are on the ballot in several U.S. states on November 6th...

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Taking the voters' pulse with open phone lines and more...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2018 6:06pm PT  

After another long (though important) fund drive at KPFK, our Pacifica Radio Network flagship station here in Los Angeles, we're finally able to open the phones to hear from listeners on today's BradCast. [Audio link follows below.]

It's been a harrowing and deadly week --- and weekend --- filled with Rightwing hate and hate mongering (coincidentally, one week before Election Day for the most important election most of us have ever lived through). So, today we kick open the phones to callers on all of the above to get a sense of where things stand at this point and to help answer a bunch of questions about the crucial midterms.

Listeners ring in with questions about reported voting problems and voter suppression around the country and failing voting machines. Also, we discuss what voters can do beyond voting to participate in democracy over the next week or so.

And then there's the caller who rang in to explain why he says he has never voted, and doesn't plan to this year either. As you might imagine, both I, and a whole bunch of callers, have a few thoughts for that guy on today's program. Enjoy!...

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Guest: DuPage, IL County Clerk candidate Jean Kaczmarek; Also: In wake of still more mail bombs, Trump, White House return to attacks on media, Rightwing pounces on conspiracies...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Like clockwork the righwing conspiracy theories regarding pipe bombs begin, as do the voting system failures around the country, less than two weeks before this year's crucial midterm election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, a few quick updates on the mail bombs sent to several of the many vilified political critics of Donald Trump. In addition to explosive devices sent this week to former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, John Brennan, Rep. Maxine Waters, George Soros and CNN, additional similar packages were reported today to have been delivered to former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert DeNiro. Where Trump and the White House called for unity and an end to divisive rhetoric on Wednesday, for about 5 minutes, both Trump and WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly renewed their vitriolic attacks on the media shortly thereafter and again on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, as investigators reportedly focus on Florida as a possible source for the packages, the rightwing quickly cranked up conspiracy theories about the explosive devices being "fake bombs" meant to discredit the President in advance of the November 6 midterms.

Meanwhile, voting is already underway for those elections, as are the lawsuits aiming to prevent voter suppression and election fraud. A federal judge on Wednesday determined that Georgia may not discard absentee ballots on the basis of "signature mismatch" as determined by partisan officials with no training in hand-writing analysis. The state's legal defense for that statute was rather amazing, as we discuss. Happily, it was thoroughly dismissed by the U.S. District Court judge.

Also, the NAACP has filed official complaints with the state regarding reports of votes flipping in at least four counties on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Votes are reportedly hopping repeatedly from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to her opponent, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees and has long defended the states easily-hacked and oft-failed Diebold touchscreen systems. We explain, however, why the reported flips are not likely to be hacks, but why that also doesn't really matter.

Similar, completely predictable voting system and ballot programming failures are beginning to rear their ugly head in other states as well with early, in-person voting now underway in some 30 states. The name of the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State in Arkansas was discovered left off of the touchscreen ballots in one Arkansas county, leading to lost votes and poll closures. And in DuPage County, Illinois, a fiasco erupted this week surrounding the appearance on the ballot (or lack thereof) for a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives, resulting in election officials scrambling to distribute paper ballots to early voting locations where, normally, only touchscreen systems are available to voters.

We're joined today by longtime DuPage County election integrity champion and government watchdog JEAN KACZMAREK, who is now the Democratic candidate for County Clerk in DuPage. She joins us to explain what is only the latest mess in a years-long stream of computer voting and tabulation system boondoggles by the Election Commission in the heavily Republican-leaning suburban county west of Chicago, where she has now been endorsed by the local Daily Herald.

Kaczmarek also details the County's astonishing refusal to provide her with serial numbers for the replacement paper-ballot scanners scavenged from unknown sources and recently supplied to the County by its private voting system contractor to replace more than 100 of the machines (originally purchased from Diebold in 2001) after they were damaged by an astounding failure during this year's March primary. The County has told the County Clerk candidate that their refusal to provide her with the serial numbers --- so she may try and determine where the machines were previously used --- is due to a bizarre "security risk" claim.

"I'm concerned mostly because of the lack of a chain of custody. At least the old machines that are in DuPage County have been stored here, and have been maintained here. Yes, I do have issues with those machines, but we do have that," Kaczmarek tells me. "But these other machines, we have no idea where they've been, who has maintained them, how much mileage they have. And I'm concerned there might be problems on these machines, perhaps a virus."

Her concerns are not without warrant, and are similar to such replacement schemes by mystery machines in other states, such as Wisconsin and elsewhere. Earlier this year, for example, at the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, attendees discovered Chinese pop tunes and other software on voting systems recently discarded by elections officials around the country. "Here we are again," she says. "We have no transparency and accountability, and we're told to trust the results."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with a bunch of pretty major environment news regarding a massive hurricane striking U.S. territories in the Pacific, a record year for tropical cyclones, New York state's new lawsuit against ExxonMobil charging the company defrauded investors regarding climate change, and a landmark new carbon tax announced this week by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau...

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Guests: AUDIT-USA's Emily Levy and attorney Chris Sautter; Also: Reports of FBI ignoring dozens of Kavanaugh witnesses persist, Trump mocks accuser, Americans can't wait to vote...
By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2018 6:56pm PT  

We work hard on today's BradCast to stay focused on the crucial upcoming elections, even as Brett Kavanaugh's cavalcade of shame continues in D.C. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

Senate Republicans intensified their push for a floor vote as soon as possible, even as reports persist that the FBI is either refusing or failing to interview dozens of witnesses in their supplemental background probe of Kavanaugh following sexual assault against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee. At the same time, former classmates and clerks of Kavanaugh are retracting previous support for him, and three key Republican Senators (Flake, Collins and Murkowski) gently rebuked Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night.

Amidst that circus, it's no easy feat to stay focused on the crucial upcoming midterm elections. But we try. And so are an extraordinary number of Americans. Today we learn that last week, on National Voter Registration Day, more than 800,000 signed up to vote, stunning organizers and smashing the previous record of 771,000 who registered on National Voter Registration Day in 2016, before the Presidential election.

But, even with all of the apparent enthusiasm, will all of those new and previous voters be allowed to vote this year? If so, will their votes be counted, tallied accurately, and in a way that the public can know they have been tallied accurately? In recent days, corporate media --- right on schedule --- has suddenly begun to churn out articles questioning the accuracy and security of our wildly insecure and frequently inaccurate electronic voting and tabulation systems...once its largely too late to do much about any of it, just weeks before an election. (That, of course, is why we have been trying to do so year 'round over the past 15 years!)

The corporate election vendors who have been allowed to privatize our public elections with systems that have long ago (over a decade ago) been found to be easily hacked --- and which have failed in election after election --- continue to sell their flawed systems to officials and offer false claims about security to the public.

One of those companies, Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S), the nation's largest voting system vendor, has now threatened a lawsuit against a small, non-profit election transparency organization which has been fighting to encourage election officials to take advantage of a security setting available on newer models of paper ballot scanners made by ES&S and others. The group, AUDIT-USA, has been sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] by ES&S corporate attorneys objecting to the organization posting user manuals for their scanners that capture digital images of ballots when they are scanned. The group has been working to encourage states and counties to make sure those which use the newer systems have them set to retain all such ballot images so they can potentially be reviewed by the public after an election. That, in lieu of the public being allowed to examine paper ballots themselves in order to assure unverified computer-tabulated results are accurate.

We're joined today by long-time election integrity champion EMILY LEVY of AUDIT-USA and their long-time election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER of American University, to discuss the ES&S threat letter sent to the group last week, charging copyright infringement for making their instruction manuals available to the public. The letter, as we discuss, fails to even cite security concerns. Levy notes the irony in this case, given that AUDIT-USA is actually supporting the newer ES&S systems for their security feature that many election officials appear unaware of.

"What we've found from talking to election officials around the country is that a lot of them don't really understand the systems that they're using in their own counties," Levy tells me. "They don't understand why they need ballot images when they have the paper ballots. And they don't understand that, in order to preserve the ballot images, all they need to do is not change the settings that the machines come with. The default settings on the machines are to preserve the ballot images, and it's only by having someone --- whether a vendor working for them or elections officials themselves --- changing those settings that the ballot images get destroyed.

"So we want people to understand both the importance of the ballot images and preserving them --- that it's legally required to preserve them, just as it is to preserve all election materials. And that's it's not a difficult thing to do."

Sautter argues the information in question, as posted to their website, is in the public interest and, therefore, falls under the Fair Use Doctrine. "Cease and desist letters like the one that ES&S sent AUDIT-USA are a common form of intimidation," he says. "These companies have a lot of money, and sometimes they figure, well, we can overpower them, we'll file this lawsuit and we'll try to break this little non-profit in attorneys fees and we'll set an example."

As we also discuss, threats of lawsuits by voting system vendors against voting system experts and computer scientists have been going on for years (here's The BRAD BLOG exclusive from 2008 that I cite on the show), even as tax payers continue dolling out billions of dollars to these shameless and irresponsible private companies...

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Guest: Plaintiff, Election Integrity advocate Marilyn Marks; Also: Flooding, toxic crisis worsening after Florence; Midterm voting officially begins...
By Brad Friedman on 9/21/2018 6:14pm PT  

Voting is now officially under way in the 2018 midterm general elections, as Early Voting finally began on Friday in Minnesota and South Dakota and, very shortly, in at least half a dozen other states around the country in advance of Election Day on November 6th. Voting, however, will not be nearly as simple and verifiable for voters in Georgia, as we discuss in some detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

Meanwhile, as media continue to focus on the extraordinary allegation of sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (and Trump's new response to them), as made by Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, and whether or not she will appear to give testimony about it to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee next week, the continuing danger and toxic fallout from Hurricane Florence continues in both North and South Carolina a full week after the storm first made landfall. An urgent warning Thursday from Duke Energy about the imminent rupture of a giant holding pond reservoir where toxic coal ash waste is stored became a reality on Friday. At the same time, the human death toll from the storm rose to at least 42, with new evacuations called for in South Carolina on Friday due to still-rising rivers as thousands remained dislocated or without power in North Carolina.

Next, we move to the shameful situation in Georgia, just weeks out from the crucial midterm elections, where Sec. of State Brian Kemp --- the Trump-endorsed Republican who is running for Governor this year against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams --- is allowing inaccurate voter registration forms, falsely instructing first-time voters that they must mail in proof of residence when registering, to be used across the state.

Even more disturbing is the fact that Peach State voters will be forced, once again, to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems on Election Day, despite a U.S. District Court Judge finding them this week to be "unverifiable" and featuring "serious vulnerabilities" which are "not just a theoretical, paranoid notion at this point," as defendants in the case, including Kemp, had argued in court. Nonetheless, in response to a motion filed by plaintiffs seeking to force the state to allow Election Day voters to use the same hand-marked paper ballots used for absentee voting for years across the state, Judge Amy Totenberg is allowing GA's unsecurable and unverifiable 16-year old Diebold touchscreen voting machines to be used yet again this November. In her ruling [PDF], she cites defendants' claims of "chaos" and forced poll closures they threatened would ensue if hand-marked paper ballots were ordered for use at polling places this year.

We're joined today by longtime Election Integrity advocate and one of the plaintiffs in the GA case, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, to discuss this week's ruling and Kemp's disingenuous defense of his indefensible voting systems.

"The defendants put the judge in a very difficult place because they essentially threatened that they would sabotage the election. They didn't really use those words, but they said, 'We're going to shut down early voting locations in Fulton County'. Fulton County [Atlanta] has 21 early voting locations. They said 'We'll go down to three'. In their briefing, they said they'd go down to one. They also said they may close Election Day polling places if she were to require them to go to a paper ballot," Marks tells me. "And so the vast majority of Georgia's voters are going to vote on what the judge has basically said is going to be an unconstitutional system."

"The court was already very well aware of the science, and she was quite aware of the lack of any effort, and lack of any science, and lack of any expert testimony put on by the defendants. So I think that her decision didn't rest on the science. It was this whole threat of chaos."

Moreover, she says, the state has also falsely claimed that counties were required to use the unverifiable touchscreen systems. "The state not only had been saying it was required by state law, but they had threatened the counties who began to recognize it wasn't required by state law, and that the counties, local authorities, have the ability, on their own, to go to paper ballots. The Secretary of State has been threatening them, telling them 'No, you do not have that authority.' They even told the press that they would punish counties that went to paper ballots."

While Marks, who is a Republican herself, reports the multi-partisan plaintiffs are justifiably disappointed in the court's ruling for the short term, she also details several key findings from the ruling which will be important to the continuing efforts both in this case and other federal challenges like it around the country. Among the favorable finding are that plaintiffs do, in fact, have Constitutional standing to challenge such voting systems in federal court, and that "further delay", according to Judge Totenberg, in moving the state to a verifiable voting system after this year's elections, is "not tolerable".

"The important thing here," Marks explains, is that the judge "said that we were likely to prevail on the merits as we move forward in this case, and our claims are related to constitutional claims. And that is what the scholars, the lawyers, the election advocates across the country are recognizing as such a very important finding in the ruling she has made here. That we are likely to prevail in our argument that this is an unconstitutional system, when the voters cannot rely on an auditable, verifiable system."

Marks also explains one moment from the hearing where she said she thought later: "Man, I'm glad Brad isn't here to hear this, or his head would have exploded." My head subsequently explodes when she relays the story and for much of the rest of my interview today.

While Abrams, Kemp's African-American opponent in the Gubernatorial election, is calling for voters to cast hand-marked paper absentee ballots this year to increase the likelihood of them being accurately tallied, Marks explains why she is not certain that is actually a better option for voters in the state. She details the Catch-22 that GA voters are once again facing, not unlike the Catch-22 Judge Totenberg said she found herself in while deciding how to rule on plaintiffs' motion this week.

And again, my head explodes...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Florence fallout made worst by Trump tariffs; Judge allows use of GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreens...
By Brad Friedman on 9/18/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast, things are not looking good for Republicans and Donald Trump's second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up, before we get to our guest today, a quick update on the damage wrought by Hurricane Florence on the East Coast and the huge expected costs for rebuilding that is being exacerbated by Trump's trade wars, including his announcement on Monday that the Administration is imposing a 10% tax (which may be raised to 25% next year) on another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. That, home construction experts in the Carolinas charge, will raise the costs of rebuilding and repairs following the damage from the record rainfall and flooding of Florence, as it continues to wreak havoc and death on the East Coast.

Then, late last night, a federal court in Georgia issued a ruling, following a full hearing last week, on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, seeking to force the state to switch from the unsecurable, 16-year old, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems used in all precincts across the state, to the hand-marked paper ballot systems already used by every county for absentee voters. While U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg made clear [PDF] she was very sympathetic to the concerns of the plaintiffs --- and that they have the legal standing to sue --- she appears to have bought into the defendants argument that a switch to paper ballots this late before the November midterms would result in chaos at polling places.

Next, the Republican panic to save the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the November midterms continues to evolve by the hour, on the heels of the revelation of the allegation by Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh and a friend by the name of Mark Judge sexually assaulted her during a party more than thirty years ago when they were all high school students. Kavanaugh denies the allegation completely, says neither the attempted rape nor anything like it ever happened, and that he was never at the party in question (even though Ford hasn't identified the specific party).

We're joined by Salon and Hullaballoo's HEATHER DIGBY PARTON today to try and make sense of the charges, the GOP's ham-handed response to it, Kavanaugh's ugly history as a Republican operative, and the newly announced hearing scheduled by Senate Republicans in the Judiciary Committee for next Monday. The Committee's chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) insists that only Kavanaugh and Ford will be allowed to testify, even before there has been an FBI investigation of the charges and, apparently, before Grassley even bothered to hear back from Ford as to whether she's willing or able to show up.

"The idea that they're saying, 'Oh, we have to hurry up, there's a deadline on this,' it's an arbitrary one," says Parton. "And they're trying to say now that 'this accuser, this alleged victim, if she doesn't show up at a moment's notice, sorry, there's nothing we can do about it, what choice do we have but to put an accused sexual assaulter on the Supreme Court?' It's absurd on its face."

With Kavanaugh's complete denials, the matter is no longer really even about a sexual assault 36 years ago. It's about a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land seemingly lying about it today. Can this nomination even survive at this point...much less make it to Monday?! We discuss.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with more news on the ongoing fallout from the deadly Florence, the even larger and deadlier Typhoon Mangkhut currently ravaging The Philippines and China, and an update on the chain of natural gas pipeline explosions in dozens of homes near Boston late last week...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Attorney, election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2018 6:20pm PT  

Well, it was one of those days again on today's BradCast, with an avalanche of huge, incoming breaking news which we do our best to cover --- even as we keep our eyes on the November prize on what may officially have been the worst day of Donald Trump's Presidency, to date. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Our first piece of breaking news: Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was convicted on 8 felony counts related to bank and tax fraud in his Virginia trial. The jury couldn't agree on 10 other counts brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, so the judge declared a mistrial on those counts. Manafort now faces another federal trial on felony charges, also brought by Mueller, in Washington D.C. next month, related to his undeclared work with a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.

Also, in arguably bigger and worse breaking news for Trump, his longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 federal felonies related to bank and tax fraud, as well as campaign finance law violations related to a hush-money payoff of $130,000 made to porn actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, Cohen admitted in a NY federal courtroom on Tuesday, was carried out "at the direction of" Trump "for the principal purpose of influencing the election". Now facing 4 to 5 years in federal prison, he may be inclined to cooperate with Mueller to receive a shorter sentence. With Cohen's plea deal ending that particular investigation in NY, it may also mean that Trump will now be forced to sit for an under-oath deposition in the lawsuit filed against Trump by Daniels.

All of that, after Microsoft announced last night it had discovered and shut down several fake Russian websites said to have targeted U.S. Senate offices and two conservative think tanks in advance of the November primary.

Then, as voters head to the primary polls in Alaska and Wyoming today, we're still working to make sense of two still-unexplained election night tabulation failures in both Michigan and Kansas during their August 7th primaries. We're joined today by JENNIFER COHN, attorney turned election integrity advocate and journalist, following her recent trip to Kansas to investigate the reported "computer glitch" in Johnson County, KS which crippled election night tabulation in the state's most populous county.

That "glitch" resulted in GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, Secretary of State, reportedly defeating KS Gov. Jeff Colyer to secure the GOP nomination for Governor by just over 100 votes out of 311,00 cast on Election Day. The still-unexplained failure occurred on the county's brand new, unverifiable ES&S ExpressVote touchscreen voting and tabulation system, approved just months ago by the county's election chief who was appointed by Kobach. The same unverifiable voting system will be used by voters in some 16 states and D.C. this November. (For the record, they will be used in AZ, D.C., FL, IA, ID, ME, MI, MO, MS, NV, OH, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI and WV.)

Her must-read article published by The BRAD BLOG in March on the dangers of such systems --- which produce barcoded "paper ballots" that can't be verified by voters after an election --- foretells many of the problems that occurred in Kansas on August 7. "All the problems that I predicted came to fruition, with the long lines, and machines failing, and then not having paper ballot backups," Cohn reports, noting that some voters were disenfranchised and others were given confusion instructions about whether or not they should try "to even verify those computer-marked, so-called paper ballot summary cards" produced by the systems.

During her short visit to Kansas, Cohn was denied an interview with the Kobach-appointed JoCo Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker and blocked from viewing the ES&S voting systems as well as the tabulation of provisional ballots. "We were just stonewalled, really, all day long, about everything," she tells me. "On the tabulating, they wouldn't even tell me if they were tabulating in the building."

She goes on to explain why we should all be very concerned about all of this, and what can possibly be done to try and oversee the validity of computer-marked paper ballots and electronically tabulated results on similar systems in use across the country this November.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the story which was supposed to have be Trump's great triumph today, the announcement of his EPA's new plan to replace Barack Obama's 'Clean Power Plan' with a scheme that will allow coal plants to keep polluting, global warming to worsen, and, as the documentation of the plan admits, result in the avoidable deaths and illness of tens of thousands of Americans each year...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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