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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, October 20, 2018
Harvard Law Prof: Dems Must Pack SCOTUS or Face 'Political Suicide': 'BradCast' 10/19/18
Guest: Harvard's Michael Klarman; Also: Trump praises GOP Rep's violence against journalist in MT, as Khashoggi murder roils...
GOPers Rethink Climate Change, Elections in NC, FL: 'BradCast' 10/18/18
Also: NC Election Board 'unconstitutional'; FL Guv 'bends' election rules after Michael; More Repubs endorse Dems for Guv in WI, KS...
'Green News Report' 10/18/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly flooding in TX and France; Death toll rising after Michael; Global warming coming for your beer; PLUS: O'Rourke, Cruz asked about climate in Texas U.S. Senate debate!...
Previous GNRs: 10/16/18 - 10/8/18 - Archives...
WV Smartphone Vote Scheme Threatens Midterms, Security: 'BradCast' 10/17/18
Guest: Dr. David Jefferson on myth of 'secure' blockchain voting; Also: More suppression in GA, ND, elsewhere...
Repubs Attempt State Supreme Court Coups in FL, WV: 'BradCast' 10/16/18
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: SCOTUS stealing Senate; GA Early Vote failure; Michael death toll rising...
'Green News Report' 10/16/18
Florida Panhandle facing catastrophe; Michael was 4th 'major' hurricane to make US landfall in 15 months; PLUS: GOP still denying science, economic impacts...
GA Rejecting Alarming Number of Mail-in Ballots: 'BradCast' 10/15/18
Guest: WhoWhatWhy's Jordan Wilkie; Also: Despite cost of recent hurricanes, Rubio, Trump offer false claim about economy to justify lack of climate action...
Sunday Category 5 Distraction Toons
Anything and everything to keep us looking away from stuff that matters, in PDiddie's latest toon collection...
Ignoring Cries of Stranded Kids:
'BradCast' 10/12/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Tina Vasquez on ICE; Bill Browder on Khashoggi; Sarah Craft on the death penalty; Eliza Griswold on a family's fight against fracking...
Where is Khashoggi?: 'BradCast' 10/11/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro on Trump protecting Saudis; Also: Power of women's rage w Nelini Stamp, Soraya Chemaly...
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...


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...

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

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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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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: 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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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: Journalist, documentarian Lulu Friesdat...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2018 6:15pm PT  

After a quick report on Saturday's primary elections in Hawaii (moderate Democrats did well, more progressive candidates less so), we head straight out to Las Vegas for today's BradCast, where the 26th annual hackers convention, DEF CON, held its 2nd annual Vote Hacking Village. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After every voting system on display at last year's event was hacked within minutes by conference attendees, organizers tried to make it a bit more difficult this year. They made unverifiable electronic voting systems, optical-scan paper ballot tabulators and electronic pollbooks from a number of companies --- almost all of which will be in wide use across the country once again for this November's crucial midterms --- available for investigation and penetration. Once again, the hackers in attendance made short order of pretty much all of them.

Stunning vulnerabilities [PDF] were discovered, including some that officials have known about (and ignored or tried to keep secret for years) while others were revealed for the first time. Things like Chinese pop song files were found on one system used in actual elections recently, along with a host of other disturbing findings, which we summarize today.

Other disturbing findings regard the ES&S m650, an optical scanner used to tabulate paper absentee ballots in more than half of the country. Hackers discovered several severe vulnerabilities (some of which have been known for more than a decade, and others which election officials hoped to withhold from the public), including the ease with which the machine's entire operating system can be overwritten by inserting a zipdrive with a file named "update" before powering it on. Also, electronic pollbooks were found to be corruptible in seconds and found to store unencrypted administrative passwords --- in plain text format! --- on their removable memory cards (one of which was simply "password".)

There was also a mock election run on the systems still used in states like Georgia. In that election, a candidate not even on the ballot ending up winning. In another case which officials should take note of, a ballot cast via email was intercepted and changed. "The selection of the candidate was changed so that when it was received it was different from what was sent," the organizers note. "This is a big deal for the real world because we already allow for email balloting, in special cases for Americans living overseas [such as active military]. This is allowed in 30 states plus DC."

Moreover, the Voting Village organizers also offered replicas of swing-state Sec. of State website available to some 50 children from ages 6 to 17. You'll be shocked to learn that most were able to hack the mock SoS websites in some fashion, including changing candidates names and parties, and tampering with reported elections results to show, for example, 12 billion votes cast. The fastest exploit of a Sec. of State replica site (Florida's) was by an 11-year old who did it in 10 minutes!

We're joined today to discuss all of this by Emmy-award winning journalist and documentarian LULU FRIESDAT whose video from last year's DEF CON Voting Village went viral (several times) since then, and who was on hand to document this past weekend's conference once again. She details the extraordinary "sea change" since last year's event, as many elections officials and U.S. Intelligence Community representatives were on hand for this year's festivities.

"What's really great about this year's Def Con is that we are starting to see a collaboration and communication between three groups that really have been working more as silos previously, and that is election officials, security experts, and hackers," Friesdat reports. "It was very deliberate on the part of the organizers, Jake Braun, Harri Hursti and Matt Blaze, to really try to bring those three groups together... Because we're not going to make progress on this issue unless these three groups start communicating with each other."

"We don't have a one-size-fits-all solution for this. Every county is going to have to have some different solutions. What we have are principles. And I think the principles remain the same. The principles are yes, every voter who can mark a ballot by hand, needs to mark a ballot by hand. And security experts across the board are really starting to say that, openly publicly."

"There is a sea change happening. You really could feel it. This year, there was an entire panel of election officials, whereas last year almost none of them actually came," Friesdat tells me, adding cautiously: "There are thousands of election officials all over the country who are still dragging their feet. You look at states like Georgia, and they are doing everything they can to stay in basically an unauthenticated election protocol. So it is a wide spectrum."

Among the noteworthy accounts from Friesdat, we discuss California Sec. of State Alex Padilla's call for more federal funding for election systems (meaning, more money for more computers) and Colorado Elections Manager Dwight Shellman who, though a fan of electronic tabulation, calls for routine post-election audits everywhere (which almost no states do at all.)

We also discuss the remarks at the conference by DHS Asst. Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Jeanette Manfra, who admitted last summer during U.S. Senate Hearings that the agency never found evidence that votes were changed in the 2016 Presidential election, in no small part, because nobody ever bothered to look! DHS never carried out any forensic investigations of voting systems, nor even bothered to count ballots to make sure they were accurately tabulated by counting computers in the election, despite the ongoing warnings by the Intelligence Community of Russian cyberattacks and interference. "Could it be done?," Friesdat asks rhetorically, "The answer, over and over and over again, is yes, it could be done. Election results could be manipulated. And is it difficult? No. It is a piece of cake."

While this year's DEF CON Voting Village was another huge leap forward in bringing concerns about all of these systems to the public, it appears we have a long way to go until American figures out the solution. I'd suggest that solution is public oversight of tabulation of hand-marked paper ballots (Not computers, but people! I call it "Democracy's Gold Standard".) But, hey, computers --- all of which are obviously wildly hackable --- could work too, right?

Speaking of which, we close today with an email from a listener who turned one of my recent rants on this issue into a poem...

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Recognizing the 'gravity and importance' of right to an accurate count, court directs parties in lawsuit to focus on 'practical realities' of converting to hand-marked paper ballot system within 3 months...
UPDATE: Court schedules hearing for Sept. 17; rejects defense motions to dismiss...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/13/2018 10:46am PT  

Plaintiffs in a Georgia lawsuit seeking to force the state to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system in time for this year's midterm elections, promise to produce expert testimony to the court, demonstrating that "Georgia's voting system is a catastrophically open invitation to malicious actors intent on disrupting our democracy."

The Coalition for Good Governance and a group of multi-partisan individual plaintiffs filed a motion [PDF] on July 31, seeking a preliminary injunction in the federal case, to prevent Georgia from conducting this year's midterms on the state's notorious Diebold AccuVote TS (touchscreen) Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. Instead, plaintiffs seek an order that Georgia's election officials utilize, for in-person voting, the same already-certified, Diebold paper ballot-based optical-scan system currently used for tabulation of the Peach State's absentee ballots.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ordered an expedited briefing schedule on plaintiffs' motion to compel the State of Georgia to adopt this simple method for conducting a verifiable paper ballot election on November 6, 2018.

The plaintiffs cite a massive body of scientific evidence finding the 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems as essentially electronic black holes, prone to unintended systemic failures and vulnerable to all manner of undetectable malicious manipulation by insiders or anyone else who acquires minimal access to the system or any of its machines. They also point to evidence that the statewide system was previously compromised via the Internet. Plaintiffs argue the 16-year old system deprives the electorate of their constitutional right not only to cast a vote but to have their vote accurately counted.

Recognizing "the gravity and importance of the constitutional issues," the court directed the parties (principally GA Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state's GOP nominee for governor), as well as the plaintiffs to address "the practical realities surrounding implementation of the requested relief in the next one to three months." Judge Totenberg asks defendants to address the "practical realities" issue in a response by August 14. Plaintiffs' reply is then due by August 20.

The question before the court is monumental and could help set a precedent across the country in other jurisdictions where voters are forced to use unverifiable touchscreens on Election Day, rather than a paper ballot system that is already available via the absentee systems used in all 50 states.

As we documented last year, in "Why Do Georgia Election Officials Insist on 100% Unverifiable Elections?", if the court issues the preliminary injunction, November 6, 2018 would mark the first time in more than a decade and a half that the State of Georgia will have held an election in which it will be possible for human beings to verify or refute the accuracy of an electronic vote tally, thanks to the use of hand-marked paper ballots...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Also: Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-Trump) indicted for insider trading...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2018 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Election Administrator's (and Election Integrity journalist's) Prayer was decidedly not answered on Tuesday, based on reported results in at least two key races, and problems in the four states (Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington) which held midterm primaries and the one (Ohio) which held the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

But, first up today, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York, the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's candidacy, was indicted Wednesday morning, along with his son and the father of his son's fiancee, for an insider trading scheme, after he had tipped off his son to failed testing for a multiple sclerosis treatment by an Australian company in which Collins was the top shareholder and a member of its board. According to the indictment by the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, it sure looks like they've caught Collins red-handed. Though he vows to fight the charges and remain on the ballot this November, his once-safe seat is now believed to be in danger.

Then, onto yesterday's Election Day and the very long night that followed.

In the OH-12 special election, Democrat Danny O'Connor trails Republican Troy Balderson by about 1,700 votes out of some 200,000 cast, mostly on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems across seven Ohio counties. About 3,500 uncounted provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots could change the outcome in the days ahead, or at least lead to a state-mandated "recount" in the district that, for decades --- until Tuesday --- had been solidly "red". In 2016, Trump carried the district by 11 points and the now-resigned House GOP incumbent had carried it by 36 points. That has clearly changed with a virtual dead heat contest on Tuesday, leading to growing confidence in a "blue wave" this November by many Democrats and, yes, a "RED WAVE" in the same crucial midterms, as predicted today by Donald Trump.

In Detroit, where voters cast hand-marked paper ballots, they were able to continue voting even during power outages at more than a dozen polling places on Tuesday, following storms the night before. We have results from MICHIGAN's closely-watched Gubernatorial primaries and the somewhat bizarre, two separate Democratic primary races (one normal, one special) to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant last year by Rep. John Conyers resignation. State Dems will now host an historic, all-female slate at the top of the ticket for Governor, U.S. Senator, Attorney General and Sec. of State, and Rashida Tlaib will become the first Muslim woman in Congress.

In KANSAS, $10 million wasted on new, unverifiable touch-screen voting systems didn't help voters as some of the brand new ES&S ExpressVote ballot marking devices failed to work at all on Tuesday morning, and electronic tabulation grounded to a halt all together in Johnson County, the state's most populous, due to a problem that remains unclear at this hour. All of it resulted in another "too close to call" race today, in the GOP's gubernatorial primary between current Gov. Jeff Colyer and the controversial Trump-endorsed Sec. of State Kris Kobach. He leads, according to unverifiable touch-screen results finally reported on Wednesday morning, by just 191 votes(!) out of some 300,000 cast. A "recount" (overseen by Kobach himself) almost certainly awaits, as do future failures on the ExpressVote systems which produce unverifiable barcoded "paper trails" instead of hand-marked paper ballots. Sadly, the same systems are also being adopted by many other jurisdictions around the country as well.

In MISSOURI, a few Republicans came up with a novel new way to stop voters from voting. But that didn't deter the state which voted for Trump by double digits in 2016 from soundly rejecting a GOP anti-union (so-called "Right-to-Work") measure by a 2 to 1 margin. And, in St. Louis County, in a triumph of democracy, Bill McCulloch, the 7-term Democratic prosecutor who failed to bring charges in the 2014 police killing of Ferguson's Michael Brown, was defeated by Wesley Bell, one of the African-American leaders of the 2014 protests there. Bell had become a City Council member in Ferguson in 2015 and he will now be St. Louis County's Prosecuting Attorney.

And finally today, in WASHINGTON state, results of several U.S. House primaries suggest incumbent Republicans previously thought to be in safe "red" districts --- including Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest ranking female in Congress --- may not be quite as safe in this November's midterms as they had thought...

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Also: Why 118,000 voters were left off the pollbooks in Los Angeles; Buyers remorse as Trump trade war, immigration policies undercut his own voters...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While voters head to the polls today in Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas and Washington state (results and problem reports from those states on tomorrow's show), we look at some of the problems still emerging from primary races earlier this year, and new documentation on Donald Trump's now-disbanded hoax "voter fraud" commission, headed up by Kansas' con-man Secretary of State Kris Kobach (who is on the KS ballot seeking the GOP nomination for Governor today). We also look at some of the Trump voters who say they've had enough, and the "idiots" still with him, even as he continues to undermine them, the economy and small business across the country. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Maine's Democratic Sec. of State Matt Dunlap who, as a Commissioner on Trump's so-called "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity" was forced to sue the Commission to get documentation on what they were actually doing, calls his time on the panel "the most bizarre thing I've ever been a part of". After finally receiving some 8,000 documents by court order, Dunlap concedes the Commission was little more than a scam to try and prove Trump's evidence-free theory that anywhere from 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election (in which some 3 million more votes were cast for Hillary Clinton than Trump.) Long-time GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach responds to Dunlap today, by citing two easily-debunked "reports" on "voter fraud" created by rightwing outlets to hoax the nation into instituting disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions at the polls.
  • New evidence and testimony submitted with a new court filing in a lawsuit against Georgia and its Sec. of State (and, now, GOP gubernatorial nominee) Brian Kemp, reveal massive problems during the state's May primaries and July primary runoffs, including voters given the wrong ballots, the wrong precincts at which to vote, and, in at least once precinct, 670 ballots cast despite only 276 registered voters in the precinct. (The lawsuit challenges GA's use of 100% unverifiable voting systems and seeks to force the state to move to hand-marked paper ballots before November. My most recent interview with plaintiff Marilyn Marks, the Exec. Dir. of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, is here.)
  • Los Angeles County finally has an explanation for why more than 118,000 names were left off the printed polling place voter rosters during California's June 5th statewide primary. The County's official explanation is posted here, along with a link to the Executive Summary [PDF] of the report by IBM Security Services, the group commissioned to carry out an independent probe of what happened. The County has chosen to not share the full investigative report with the public.
  • Trump's trade war is continuing to take its toll. Toyota recently announced that as much as $3,000 could be added to the sticker price of some of its most popular models, and thousands of U.S. jobs may be imperiled in the bargain. And, as NBC News finds Trump's anti-immigration policies are costing small businesses dearly --- particularly in "Trump Country" from the Midwest to Texas to Maryland --- CNN finds that some, but not all, Trump voters are regretting their 2016 votes and deeply embarrassed by this President.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as record heat takes its toll across the globe, thousands of fire fighters in California are battling some 16 wildfires, including the largest in state history, toxic algae is stinking up the state of Florida, and something really stinks in North Carolina.

Enjoy!...

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Important U.S. House Special Election next Tuesday in Columbus, OH; Trump, GOP Congress lying about election security; Admin announces deadly scheme to rollback mileage, air quality standards; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2018 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, if you're waiting for the government to save us by protecting elections --- or anything else --- that's not going to happen. But you can save us, as I explain today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, voters in Tennessee head to the polls for their midterm primaries (yes, on a Thursday! --- perhaps that's one of the reasons the state has among the lowest turnout rates in the country?), as voters elsewhere are preparing for next Tuesday's primaries in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington.

Also next Tuesday will be the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year before the midterms. The race is in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, a normally very "red" district centered in Columbus, where Republican Troy Balderson had, as recently as last month, been favored by some 10 points over Democrat Danny O'Connor. The race, however, has now become a dead heat, according to new polling from Monmouth and others. So, we have a few very specific and important thoughts for our friends and listeners in Columbus (on WGRN 94.1FM!) today regarding that contest. In short, as I explain: this long-held Republican seat --- in a district which both Romney and Trump reportedly won by some 10 points --- is now flippable, but it will require all hands on deck to do it next week (yes, including independent and Green Party voters!)

In the meantime, Donald Trump's White House paraded out a bunch of their top intelligence community officials to try and convince us all that they give a damn about election security before the November midterms. Don't believe them for a second. I explain why. Similarly, do not believe the Republicans in Congress who now pretend that they give a damn about election security, since, on Wednesday, they proved once again they do not. Every Republican Senator present, with the exception of TN's Bob Corker, voted against an appropriations amendment to give $250 million for additional election security to states. All Democrats voted in favor of the amendment, which received a majority 50-47 vote. But that wasn't enough to overcome the 60 vote filibuster threshold (which Republicans could have waived). That, on the same day the GOP-majority Senate easily approved a $717 billion defense authorization package --- in case you're wondering where their priorities really are.

As explained in an impassioned rant today, in response to all of the above, it's unclear that more money thrown at our computerized election systems would even result in more secure elections or those that Americans can have confidence in. When it comes to our elections and our democracy, and so much more, one thing is clear: "We are not going to be protected by Congress, or the White House, no matter who is in charge of either. The government is not going to save us here. We are going to save us here. We are the only chance that we have."

I offer a number of ways for folks to do exactly that on today's show, which I hope you'll share loudly and broadly. [Update: Desi has transcribed a bit of today's rant for easier sharing right here.]

Speaking of, as we warned on a recent BradCast, the Trump Administration has now formally announced their new scheme today to roll back automobile fuel-efficiency standards that had previously been worked out in an agreement between the Obama Administration, automakers and states like California who have stricter air quality standards than the federal government's. Trump's EPA, however, is hoping to block those new standards --- which experts say will save 40,000 lives per year thanks to cleaner air --- in favor of dirtier air more costly gas mileage for consumers. The Administration justifies the change with a dubious assertion that 1,000 lives per year will be saved, because it will be cheaper for Americans to purchase newer, safer cars --- never mind the higher fuel costs (approximately $170 billion over all) they'll have to pay.

The Administration which pretends to believe in "states' rights" is also moving with their newly proposed regulation to block California's legal right under the federal Clean Air Act to determine their own air quality and mileage standards. The state, and 16 others, have already filed suit against the proposed regulation. A public comment period is now open in response to the measure at this Regulations.gov docket page.

Our own Desi Doyen has a few words about all of that. And then she joins us for our latest Green News Report, with 2017 now officially found to have smashed global heat records, deadly global warming-fueled wildfires continuing to devastate Northern California, and the U.S. Supreme Court (surprisingly) giving their unanimous go-ahead for a landmark climate change lawsuit against the federal government, as filed by children, to move ahead!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Trump, Giuliani 'obliterate' the 'collusion' goalposts as Manafort goes on trial...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desi and I are back today. (Our thanks to Angie Coiro of In Deep Radio for filling in over the last couple of shows!) And we've got a lot to catch up on today --- including the fact that the crucial midterm elections are now less than 100 days away, and the paper ballots and other materials from the 2016 Presidential election may be destroyed entirely in just over one month, with nobody, to this day, actually knowing for certain who actually won it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, for some reason Donald Trump's lousy personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has spent the last few days seemingly making things much worse for his client. Most notably, in addition to suggesting that Trump may have known in advance about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, son-in-law, campaign chair Paul Manafort and a team of Russians promising "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, both Giuliani and Trump have now extended their ubiquitous claims of "no collusion" to become "no collusion, but even if there was collusion, that's not illegal."

They are both wrong, however, as we explain today. Collusion --- better known as "conspiracy", in this alleged case, with a foreign power working to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election --- would most certainly be unlawful. But why the sudden media offensive by Team Trump on this point, just before the first of two federal trials for Manafort was scheduled to begin today? We discuss.

Then, just over than three months from the crucial 2018 midterm general election, U.S. computerized voting and tabulation systems remain wildly unsecured and virtually impossible for the public to oversee (for the most part) in order to confirm that computer-reported results actually reflect the will of the voters. Today, better late than never, I guess, the Dept. of Homeland Security announced a new cybersecurity task force to help protect against attacks on critical infrastructure such as the power grid, our banking systems and, yes, the election system. But, in announcing the new effort, DHS once again misled the American people by suggesting that no votes were manipulated in the 2016 election. In truth, that point that remains unknown since, as DHS admitted last year, they never actually conducted forensic analyses of voting and tabulation systems --- nor even bothered to count existing hand-marked paper ballots --- to determine if the most startling election result in U.S. history was, in fact, manipulated or accurate.

Moreover, the ballots in question from 2016 (where such hand-marked paper actually exists) may be destroyed as early as September, after the 22-month federal requirement for retention of all election materials --- such as ballots and ballot programming code, etc. --- expires. We call today on citizens and legal organizations --- and the media --- today to file public records request to examine those ballots and/or at least ensure they are retained beyond the September expiry date, since almost none of the ballots cast in 2016 have ever been examined by human beings to determine if they were accurately tallied.

That is true in all 50 states. But nowhere in the U.S. is it more difficult to oversee the accuracy of election results than in Georgia, where Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp reportedly won his GOP primary runoff for the gubernatorial nomination last week against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution describes, based on a new study, Cagle's failure to defeat Kemp in the runoff election, after easily placing first in the state's May primary, was the most dramatic runoff collapse in Georgia political history. And the paper doesn't note, though we do, that it was all done on the state's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen voting systems "overseen" by Kemp himself.

Today we're joined by longtime Republican election integrity advocate MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance, to discuss all of the above and, specifically, her group's ongoing lawsuit against Georgia. The complaint demands the state dump their 15-year old, easily manipulated, unverifiable electronic vote-casting system before November, in favor of the state's existing hand-marked paper ballot system long used for absentee voting.

Marks tells me how this can easily be done in time for this year's general election (and in other states as well!), how SoS Kemp has been lying about state law in order to avoid such a switch, and whether or not we have learned any more, since last year, about the mysterious wipe of the state's long-vulnerable election server (and its backup) just days after her lawsuit was originally filed last summer.

On destroying the 2016 ballots, Marks joins our call for folks to file FOIA requests to keep the ballots from being destroyed: "I fear that many election officials in those swing states, that they are standing there over their records with a can of kerosene in one hand and a book of matches in other, just waiting for a month from now. ... People need to understand that there is no requirement that the records be destroyed after 22 months. That is up to each election official in each county. They can retain them as long as they want. They can't destroy them before 22 months, although I fear some of them have. But even if local citizens can convince their election official not to destroy them, even that is progress."

On the claim by the Trump Administration that results were not manipulated in 2016: "I have never have any confidence in that. That's not to say that I believe that voters were changed, but I don't have any belief one way or the other because there is no evidence. How do these people make this claim when no one has looked, and no one has any evidence one way or the other?"

On what citizens can do in locations where voters are forced to vote on unverifiable touch-screen systems: "Go now --- I mean NOW --- to your local election boards, local board of county commissioners, and demand paper ballots. Because they can get it!"

Much more, must-listen thoughts in our conversation today!

Finally today, the Koch Brothers' Republican political network --- which has spent hundreds of millions each election cycle over the past decade or more, supporting GOP candidates and attacking Democrats --- say they're now having second thoughts about Donald Trump and his toady Republicans in Congress. We explain why you shouldn't believe their crocodile tears of disappointment for a second...

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Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein; Also: ES&S misleads officials after lie about remote access of election systems; Deadly storms slams Midwest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2018 6:09pm PT  

First up on today's BradCast, a follow-up to yesterday's important show on the wildly vulnerable remote access software installed with computerized election systems sold --- and lied about --- by the nation's top voting system vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), as well as by other U.S. vendors who have helped privatize our public election systems. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After Kim Zetter's report at VICE's Motherboard earlier in the week revealed the company had lied to her about their use of the dangerous software for her New York Times report earlier this year, ES&S apparently sent an extraordinarily misleading email to their "valued customers" (election officials in counties around the nation), hoping to minimize concerns over their ill-considered practices.

As they --- and the other corporate vendors who have taken over our public elections with poorly designed, oft-failed and easily-manipulated computer voting and tabulation systems --- have been doing for years, the letter misinforms their "customers" about the dangers of including remote access software on election management systems which program ballots for electronic voting machines and tabulate votes. We explain how the company --- and, sadly, most of the federal government --- continues to lie and mislead about the dangerous of such systems, all of which, despite claims to the contrary by many officials, are, in fact, vulnerable to both Internet hacking and insider manipulation.

Then, as a new federal court deadline looms in less than a week for the Trump Administration to reunite more than 2,500 children separated from their parents at the border, we're joined by Talking Points Memo reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN, who has been keeping up with a dizzying array of federal court motions, hearings and rulings in recent weeks.

The consequences of Trump's so-called "Zero Tolerance" policy at the border has somewhat fallen off the front pages over the past week of mind-bending Trump/Russia news, so Ollstein catches us up with much that we have missed, including one court loss after another for the Trump Administration and federal judges --- appointed by Democrats and Republicans alike --- quickly losing patience with them. Heartbreaking stories of thousands of separated families continue to come out, as the Administration, from all reports, appears nowhere close to meeting a July 26 deadline to reuinite thousands of children over 5 years of age with their parents.

"It's just a huge mess, and it has been for weeks," she tells me. "The administration has been saying things in court and in legal filings that are just blatantly untrue. They have made promises and not kept them. They've blown past the deadlines for the reunification. So these federal judges are losing their patience and stepping in."

Ollstein describes reports from legal groups and immigration advocates of kids still being snatched from their parents at the border and facing "deep, deep trauma" within government detention, while novel (and seemingly unlawful) new interpretations of asylum laws are challenged in court and Congressional Republicans refuse to take substantive action.

"This has been pushed off the front page by other crazy, breaking news in this crazy administration," she observes. "Obviously, people are still outraged, still upset about this and want to see a solution. But it seems Republicans are not feeling enough heat to take action."

Finally, with way too much heat in the Midwest, extreme weather turned deadly on Thursday, as 17 were killed when a sudden storm overtook an amphibious "duck boat" on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, and as a swarm of as many as 27(!) tornadoes seem to have appeared out of nowhere to devastate several towns in Iowa...

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Guests: SC GOP activist Frank Heindel and attorney Larry Schwartzol; Also: New Senate bill finally calls for HAND-MARKED paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2018 6:44pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On the eve of Donald Trump's scheduled Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought eleven new felony charges against twelve Russian military intelligence officials on Friday. They were charged with various crimes related to cyber-interference in the 2016 Presidential election. And, a bi-partisan federal lawsuit is filed in South Carolina in hopes of finally terminating the state's easily-hacked, repeatedly-failed, 100% unverifiable voting system. [Audio link to show follows at end of article.]

The Russian military officials cited in today's indictment [PDF] relates to hacking into and stealing documents from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, and releasing them to the public in hopes of manipulating the election. The charges also relate to attacks against state and county election officials and a voter registration company where email spearphishing schemes are said to have implanted malware onto the computer networks in question.

The new indictment does not allege any Americans knew of the hacking scheme detailed by Mueller, though it notes that Trump's public July 2016 call for Russia to find and release "missing" personal Hillary Clinton emails was followed by attacks, "for the first time", on an Internet domain used by her personal office.

While the filing details at least one state voter registration system where some 500,000 private records were accessed, it does not allege that voting results were manipulated (although the DHS admitted last year they never examined either ballots or voting systems.) During Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's announcement of the new charges, he also excoriated partisan and media speculation regarding the probe, as well as attacks (presumably by Congressional GOPers and Trump) on the FBI itself.

Meanwhile, much media coverage was given on Thursday to the insanely chaotic ten-hour long U.S. House hearing featuring testimony by Peter Strzok, the top FBI counter-intelligence specialist who initially led the investigation into Russian interference back in 2016. At the same time, a hearing in the U.S. Senate this week on safeguarding our election infrastructure received little or not coverage. Today, we try to correct that a bit, with some of the testimony offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), sponsor of a new election reform bill in the Senate --- the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act --- which is the only one that would require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter in the U.S. His testimony calls out ES&S, the nation's largest computer voting system vendor, for failing to show up for the hearing or answer any of his basic cyber-security questions he's sent to the company over the past year.

Then, after more than a decade of failed elections on the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems used across the state of South Carolina --- including the still-remarkable and still-unexplained story of Alvin Greene, the completely unknown, unemployed man who somehow managed to win the state's 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary without campaigning at all, against a longtime, well-known state legislator and circuit court judge --- a lawsuit was filed this week in federal court to force the state to offer a secure system to voters.

The complaint [PDF] was filed on behalf of two plaintiffs. One, a former eight-term Democratic state legislator, the other a longtime Republican Freedom of Information Act champion and election critic in the Palmetto State. The Republican plaintiff, FRANK HEINDEL, and attorney LARRY SCHWARTZTOL, of the non-partisan, non-profit ProtectDemocracy.org, join me to explain the lawsuit, Heindel's years of work attempting to oversee state elections (and their accompanying disasters), and whether the new complaint might make any difference in the state before this year's crucial 2018 midterms.

"I've just always been skeptical of the 'black box' mentality where you go in and you just trust the machine, and there's no way to verify the results," Heindel explains. "I've just never really trusted that system. I've tried to push us towards a more paper-based way to vote, and it's taken many years here, but I'm starting to get a little optimistic that the worm has turned and we're going to make some progress."

"You need a system where the winner knows that he won, the loser knows that he lost, and everybody knows that their votes were cast and counted directly. We don't have that today," he tells me. The longtime businessman has spent the last decade or more filing some 47 FOIA requests attempting to personally investigate election results and related problems in the state. (We've been following Heindel's efforts for years. You can watch part of Dan Rather's 2010 report on Heindel, right here.)

The longtime litigator Schwartztol, for his part, explains: "What we're arguing for in the lawsuit is to replace that system with one that meets basic, common-sense principles. Secure in its basic architecture against cyber-attacks. The main way to do that, most people agree, is a pretty simple one. And that's building a system around paper ballots, that can be verified, that can be audited, that can be the subject of a recount if that's necessary."

"What we describe in the lawsuit is a voting system that contains unnecessary vulnerabilities and that is not sufficiently reliable to do the work," he adds. "The work of ensuring that votes are accurately recorded and counted."

He lauds the state's election commission chair, Marci Andino (one of the suits defendants), for stating her desire to move to a new system, but is critical of the claim that it would require $50 million to do so. A paper ballot system he says, citing a recent report from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, would cost much less. He also tells me that one of the solutions they hope to pursue in the case, potentially before November, is the use of the state's absentee paper ballot system that could be used for all voters this year.

"You saw today where Rosenstein was saying that the Russians had sent phishing emails to various state and county folks," notes Heindel. "Our county election people, they're hard-working and they mean well, but I can get tricked on a phishing email. The idea that we have state and county election people that are trying to fend off sophisticated attacks from foreign adversaries, it's crucial that we get our arms around this thing, and get to paper sooner rather than later."

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Also: D.C., AR election results; Why 'both sides are the same' argument from progressives is pathetic; Canada legalizes recreational pot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump gets even uglier as he's forced to back down on his lies about his immigration policies. A few election results out of D.C. and Arkansas. And some thoughts for progressive voters as we barrel towards this November's crucial midterms. [Audio link to show posted below.]

First up: A quick round-up of results and problem reports following primary elections on Tuesday in Washington D.C. (where voters adopted a $15 minimum wage measure for those in the service industry, despite a cynically and wildly misleading "Save Our Tips" campaign funded by the restaurant industry in opposition to Initiative 77) and in Arkansas (where runoffs were held following primaries and a computer tabulation "fiasco" late last month on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by ES&S.)

Next: After repeatedly claiming he didn't have the legally authority to keep parents and children together after they were arrested crossing the border, Donald Trump buckled under growing political pressure and signed an executive order on Wednesday to allow parents and children to stay together after being arrested crossing the border.

Many questions (and legal challenges) lie ahead regarding the new policy and what will now happen to those 2,300 children ripped from their parents over the past month following the Administration's chaotic and ill-considered "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border.

We cover a number of related stories to all of that today, as well as some response to our coverage of the issue over the past week. That response includes a bit of a rant in return, regarding the necessity of voting for Democrats this November --- good ones or bad ones --- in service of putting some brakes on the disastrous cruelty and incompetence of Trump/GOP rule in D.C. (Or, for those who prefer the chaos and cruelty of the Trump Administration, and there are many who do, the option to vote for Republicans or stay home entirely in support of still more of it.)

I've got a bit of a rant today (and so does Desi) on the incredibly lazy argument, still heard from some progressives --- even after all that we've seen in the Trump Era --- that "both sides are the same". We've got a few words for those who forward arguments which support that notion, which serves only to perpetuate the worst of the Trump/GOP's inhumane and horrifically destructive policies.

Finally: As a reminder what can happen in a mostly normal, progressive country, Canada, on Tuesday night, ended 90 years of failed prohibition policy, by approving the sale and use of recreational marijuana across the entire country...

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News on several massive Election Day failures in L.A. and some more noteworthy results in CA and elsewhere; Also: The continuing jaw-dropping kleptocracy of Trump's shockingly still-employed EPA chief...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2018 5:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We continue our coverage of fallout following this past Tuesday's midterm primary elections in eight states, as the counting and canvassing moves forward. [Audio link to show follows below]

In California on Wednesday night, Sec. of State Alex Padilla (D) sent a stern letter to Los Angeles County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan demanding answers and actions following a still-unexplained "printing error" that resulted in the names of more than 118,000 registered voters (including Fonzie!) being left off the printed rosters at more than 1,000 polling places.

Voters found missing from the rolls were to have been given provisional ballots on Tuesday, according to Logan, but there are questions as to whether all of them were. Also, there are concerns about whether those provisional ballots will all, in fact, be counted (or tossed for bad reasons, as some provisional and vote-by-mail ballots are), and if those ballots will be included in the county's 1% post-election manual "spot check", meant to determine whether hand-marked paper ballots were tallied as per voter intent by the county's computer tabulators. A new state law adopted last year exempts both provisional ballots and late vote-by-mail ballots post-marked by Election Day (which may arrive several days after the election and still be included in tallies) from that mandated 1% "random audit". We've got a bit of exclusive news on that front today.

That disaster was not the only problem for voters on Tuesday in L.A., the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. One blind voter reports on her failed attempt to vote on four separate audio voting systems for disabled voters at three separate polling places. All four machines failed to work, echoing a very similar problem that I had while attempting to vote on those very same systems in L.A. ten years ago. In a 2008 primary, 4 out of 12 of my own votes were misprinted by the computer-marked paper ballot audio voting system. (Luckily, I'm not blind, so was able to notice the computer-printed failure before casting the ballot!) Two years later, in 2010, when I tried the system again, it failed to work altogether on two different machines.

Also in CA on Tuesday, voters in a recall election successfully removed a state judge who had issued a controversially lenient sentence to a Stanford University athlete last year following his sexual assault of an unconscious woman. Another recall election, engineered by state Republicans, resulted in the removal of a Democratic state Senator for having voted in favor of a gas tax hike last year. The successful recall strips Dems of their two-thirds super-majority in the state Senate, which is required for the passage of any new state taxes or fees.

In Alabama, the unbalanced Republican Sec. of State John Merrill --- who blocked me on Twitter last December for being correct about the state's computer tabulation systems, before sending a barrage of insanely bizarre emails to me last week --- won his primary for re-election on Tuesday.

And Joseph Siegelman, son of the former Democratic AL Gov. Don Siegelman, (both guests on the show over the years) won his primary for Attorney General in the state. Depending on the results of a primary runoff on the GOP side, Siegelman may be running this November against a former AL Attorney General who was part of the GOP cabal who helped imprison his father on seemingly trumped up bribery charges more than a decade ago. (Tune in for a wild summary of the incredible GOP corruption in that state around all of that, which still echoes throughout state politics today. And, with all of the madness I quickly summarized on the show, I now realize I forgot to mention, incredibly enough, that the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who convicted and sentenced Gov. Siegelman was later forced to resign after being arrested for beating his wife!)

And, in South Dakota, some remarkable fallout from a Sheriff's race in one county, underscoring, yet again that elections have consequences and that so-called "Right-to-Work" states are anything but.

Then, after a smart observation from longtime BRAD BLOG reader "Dredd", who points out that more Americans appear to have been killed by one climate event --- Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico --- than in our (so far) 17-year long war in Afghanistan, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. Among other things in today's report, still more outrageous corruption news revealed from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. But, we had more on that front than we could fit into our GNR today --- and more that has broken since recording it Wednesday morning --- so we follow up with that additional news about Trump's kleptocratic EPA chief, including a Republican U.S. Senator who has some choice words for the shockingly still-employed Pruitt...

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Guest: Jim Dean of DFA is 'celebrating' after contests in 9 states, but wants 'institutional' Dems to let state voters decide elections; Also: More on polling place failures in L.A. and SD; Huge wins for Dems in NM, MO...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a wild ride on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, particularly in California, as eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) all held their held their mid-term primary elections, along with another special election for MO's state legislature.

Most eyes were on the Golden State Tuesday, as Democrats see as many as seven U.S. House seats currently held by Republicans that they may be able to flip this November. But, thanks to California's "Top Two" or "Jungle Primary" system, where all candidates, from all parties, run in the same primary --- with the top two vote-getters going on to compete in November --- there was a very real chance that Dems could have been shut out of some of those flippable races altogether, due to the sheer number of Democrats on yesterday's ballot. That bullet appears to have been dodged, so far. As of Wednesday afternoon, it appears that Dems will place in the two top in each of those races, though votes are still being tallied across the state, and a number of Election Day concerns have muddied some of the water.

One such concern is the more than 118,000 voters whose names were left off of the printed voter rosters at the polls in Los Angeles County, due to a "printing error". Though voters were all supposed to have been given provisional ballots if their names did not appear, the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads the national Election Protection coalition, reported in a statement last night that "many were not".

Meanwhile, in the northern part of the state, it was a failure of electronic pollbooks in CA's San Mateo County that forced some voters to cast hand-marked paper provisional ballots (arguably better than the county's 100% unverifiable electronic voting system, however!) And a similar failure of computerized e-pollbooks from a private vendor in eight different South Dakota counties also jeopardized that state's election on Tuesday.

We're joined today by JIM DEAN, longtime chair of Democracy for America (DFA), which has has been fighting to build a broad, progressive grassroots coalition since Dean's brother Howard famously ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination back in 2004. Dean, whose DFA-endorsed candidates won some and lost some on Tuesday, excoriates the national, "institutional" Democratic Party for meddling in state primaries, including in CA, where, he argues, voters, not the party, should be allowed to decide who will run in November.

"If we aren't good enough to expand the electorate in these districts, to have enough support so that one of the Democratic candidates is going to survive this top two 'jungle primary' system --- if we're not good enough to do that, then it doesn't matter whether they engineer a Democratic second place finisher or not," he contends.

He also suggests that this week's primaries in CA, may signal that it's time to end the state's "experiment" with the Top Two system, while otherwise observing that Tuesday, overall, was a very good day for Democrats and progressives alike. Dean tells me he is "celebrating" the "plethora of candidates that are out there running and putting themselves out" in response to the nation's "little Fort Sumter moment in 2016."

We also discuss what effect the 2nd place finish by Republican businessman John Cox to take on Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Gubernatorial race this November in CA is likely to have on Dems chances of flipping several House seats from "red" to "blue" and how the U.S. Senate contest between two Democrats, Sen. Diane Feinstein and the more progressive (DFA-endorsed) second-place finisher, state Senate President Kevin de León, might effect voter turnout across the state as well.

As to the party's national message, such that there is one to date, Dean believes the candidates who are running this year will force the party in the right direction. "Last year, canvassers were being told not to talk to voters about immigration and gun control," he says. "It's time for us to start standing up. The thing that is so great about these candidates, they're pushing this out. You may not agree with their positions, but they are pushing this stuff out. We are having a lot of progressive positions that do have traction. $15 an hour is another one. Medicare For All. A lot of things are going to come out in the primary process, and we just have to make sure the leadership doesn't buckle that down" as they have in years past.

"I think the candidates are going to change that. I'm confident their aggressive style is going to force the leadership to actually say what they're for, and not say 'you gotta vote for us because the other guy's really bad', which is not a winning message."

There was more good news elsewhere for Democrats and progressives on Tuesday, including in New Mexico where Debra Haaland now appears poised to become the first Native American woman ever in the U.S. House after winning her primary. And progressive grassroots upstart Susan Herrera unseated a long-serving, rightwing corporatist Democrat in the state's House of Representatives, making reform in NM for things like automatic voter registration and gun safety legislation now much more likely. There is no Republican running against her for the seat this fall.

Finally, in Missouri, Democrat Lauren Arthur won a special election for the state Senate, in a district that has been held by Republicans for more than a decade. Her whopping 19-point victory (a nearly 25-point swing since Trump won the district by 5 points in 2016), appears to be freaking out many Republicans in MO and elsewhere, who worry about the potential "blue wave" that Dems hope to see crashing ashore this November...

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

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