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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, November 16, 2018
FL 'Machine Recount' Exten-sion Denied, 'Hand Recounts' Begin: 'BradCast' 11/15/18
Also: The prob w/ Vote-by-Mail ballot sig-natures; Dems win House seat in ME Ranked Choice 'runoff'; GA's illegitimate Guv election...
'Green News Report' 11/15/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Death toll still rising as CA fires rage and state preps for tomorrow's disasters; Top EPA official indicted on corruption charges; PLUS: New Dems push for bold action on climate change...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/18 - 11/8/18 - Archives...
Lawsuits Fly in FL 'Recount' Mess: 'BradCast' 11/14/18
The fight to count every vote in FL and GA gets messier still, as Dems pick up another U.S. House seat; Also: Ernie Canning on CNN's lawsuit against Trump White House...
CNN Files Legal Action Against White House to Restore Acosta Press Credentials
News oulet cites violations of Constitutiional First and Fifth Amendment rights by Trump, Huckabee-Sanders, U.S. Secret Service...
New Court Rulings Favor Voters Amid FL, GA Counting Fiascos: 'BradCast' 11/13/18
Guest: Common Cause GA's Sara Henderson; Also: Dems flip Senate seat in AZ; First Lady calls for firing of top Admin official...
'Green News Report' 11/13/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
N. California fire now most deadly in state history; Kids' landmark climate lawsuit against placed on hold, again; PLUS: Federal judge halts all work on Keystone XL pipeline...
Previous GNRs: 11/8/18 - 11/6/18 - Archives...
FL 2000 'Recount' Chief: State 'Cannot Physically' Complete 'Recounts' by Deadline: 'BradCast' 11/12/18
Guest: FL's Ion Sancho; Also: CA fires; Sinema wins Senate in AZ; Legal fight for GA Guv...
Sunday 'VFW' Toons (Veterans Forgotten by Washington)
PDiddie's weekly toon collection nods to those gone and forgotten by some, and those not gone, but who we might like to forget...
Election Battles Rage in FL, GA: 'BradCast' 11/9/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ latest on ballot fights in Senator, Guv races and other news; Also: Law360's Amber McKinney on DACA; D.D. Guttenplan on progressivism's future...
Dems' Challenge to FL 'Sig-nature Mismatch' Law Could Determine Guv, Senate Races
Even former Democratic Rep. Murphy disenfranchised when ballot was rejected...
Statewide 'Recounts' Likely in FL, GA, AZ Senate, Guv Races: 'BradCast' 11/8/18
Campaigns fight to 'count every vote' amid uncounted and rejected ballots, undervotes, computer-tabulation concerns; Also: CA mass shooting; RBG hospitalized; Trump Crisis...
'Green News Report' 11/8/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR Special Coverage: Big wins, losses for the environment in 2018 midterms -- Science to return to the House Science Comm., Big Oil money crushes state energy ballot measures...
Previous GNRs: 11/6/18 - 11/1/18 - Archives...
Election Day 2018 An Entirely Predict-able Mess (Again): 'BradCast' 11/6/18
Hours-long lines, failed vote systems leave voters, ballots stranded; Also: Lulu Friesdat on tabulation mysteries, unlawful Wi-Fi in Dallas County, TX counting room...
'Green News Report' 11/6/18
SCOTUS allows kids' climate trial to proceed; 90% of kids breathe highly polluted air; Plastic pollution everywhere, even in humans; PLUS: World Bank nixes coal...
GA's Kemp Falsely Reports Voter Database Flaw as Dem Hack: 'BradCast' 11/5/18
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks on Kemp's repeated 'cybercrimes' lies parrotted by media, while he oversees own Guv election against Abrams...
Sunday 'Fear Itself' Toons
If only the only thing we had to fear today was PDiddie's latest toon collection...
2018 Sec. of State Races Key to 2020 Presidential Election: 'BradCast' 11/2/18
Guest: Ari Berman on suppression and key down-ballot races; Also: Election nightmares previewed in WI, TN, ND?; Third-party pull-outs in AZ, MT Senate races...
2018 Guv Races Key to House Majorities in 2022, Beyond: 'BradCast' 11/1/18
Guest: Vox' Dylan Scott with encouraging news for Dems in several 'red' states; Also: More trouble at polls...
'Green News Report' 11/1/18
Criminal referral for Zinke; Ocean heat worse than known; G.M. wants e-car mandate; Our most crucial election; PLUS: Teen activist launches kids' strike for climate...
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...


Hours long lines, failed voting systems leave voters, ballots, stranded; Also, journalist Lulu Friesdat reports on tabulation mysteries, unlawful Wi-Fi computer hook-ups in Dallas County, TX counting room...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2018 5:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have foreseen it? Oh, yeah, we did. For months. Years, actually. At this point, even decades. [Audio link to show follows below.]

American voters finally had their chance on Tuesday to respond to the ongoing, two-year national emergency precipitated by the 2016 election of Donald Trump and full Republican control of Congress. Control of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and dozens of governorships were up for grabs today. But Election Day 2018 was --- yet again --- marred by completely predictable disasters for voters, including hours-long lines and failing voting and registration computers at polling places across the country.

Today we cover just some of the worst reported messes (there are still more to come to light and many more that we simply couldn't get to)...

  • In New York City, where paper ballot computer scanners failed leading to hours-long lines across city;
  • In Georgia, where many voters in African-American precincts stood in line for hours due to failing electronic pollbook systems and too few 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting machines (amid the tight race between the vote-suppressing GOP Sec. of State and Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp and his African-American Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams);
  • In South Carolina, where oft-failed, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by ES&S were reportedly flipping votes and officials were (outrageously) said to be making calibration adjustments to them in the middle of Election Day (a very dangerous idea!);
  • In Kansas and Missouri where voters also reportedly fought with many problems, incluing long lines, voting systems that failed and poll workers unlawfully demanding Photo IDs to vote. In Kansas, Sec. of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach is overseeing his own very tight race for Governor, and in Missouri, Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is fighting for her life as Democrats hope to claw back a majority in the U.S. Senate or keep Republicans from expanding their current one.

Then, we're joined by Emmy award-winning journalist and documentarian LULU FRIESDAT with a troubling exclusive report for us out of Dallas County, Texas, amid the reportedly close contest for U.S. Senate between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and his popular upstart Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.

Friesdat reports on two different serious concerns out of the Long Star State's second-most populous county, where numbers reported by the County's ES&S tabulators from the state's March primary are still not adding up correctly (yes, months later, questions are still emerging), and from the County's counting room, where a Texas election integrity group is reporting today that a computer in the tabulation facility appears to be hooked up to WiFi. That Friesdat tells me, is highly unlawful and potentially very troubling for a number of reasons.

"It is not okay for it to be around voting machines and tabulators, because that is one of the easiest ways for election results to be hacked," says Friesdat, who has been covering concerns about voting systems for many years now. "So there are usually very, very clear laws regarding internet connectivity or Wi-Fi in a tabulating area. And that is the case in Texas. They have laws that forbid Wi-Fi or connectivity." That, in a county where their vendor is ES&S, the nation's largest voting machine vendor, which recently lied to the New York Times about whether their systems include remote access software. (Turns out many of them do, but that's not what they initially told the Times, even as it still remains unclear which counties use ES&S systems with such capabilities, and even with cellular modems.)

Friesdat does close on a positive note, however, noting that many in the public are becoming aware of these concerns and that observations by the public are helping. "The more people get involved and keep looking, down to the nitty gritty, what's going on in your elections --- it's helping, folks! Keep it up!"

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with some bad news about plastic and the air we breathe, but some good news from the U.S. Supreme Court (believe it or not) and from the World Bank, which has now said it will no longer help finance coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world, because renewables are now cheaper than coal.

Results --- as reported...probably --- tomorrow...

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

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Guest: Dylan Scott of Vox with good news for Dems in a bunch of states; Also: More trouble at polls in GA, TX, IL; Accountability for Zinke?...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2018 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Nobody said it was going to be easy. But the fight to vote in next Tuesday's crucial midterms continues, and beyond the House and Senate, there may be some very good news for Democrats in dozens of currently GOP-controlled states. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up: More trouble at the polls today reported out of Texas, where voter intimidation is said to be higher than seen in decades; In Georgia, where voters are still trying to overcome suppression in absentee Vote-by-Mail voting in DeKalb County (suburbs east of Atlanta) and with failing, unverifiable voting machines at all polling places across the state; And in Illinois, where voters are also reportedly encountering failures on DuPage County's similarly unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the Chicago suburbs.

Meanwhile, there's been a fair amount of coverage of high profile gubernatorial races with Democratic takeover chances in Florida and Georgia (where Oprah is now lending a hand), and in a number of the similarly tight U.S. Senate races that will determine partisan control of the upper chamber in Congress for the next two years. But there has been far less national coverage of several other gubernatorial contests around the country where Democrats are also in very close "Toss Up" contests to take control of dozens of executive mansions.

These races are crucial not only between now and the next Presidential Election, but could well determine control of the U.S. House over the next decade. That's right. The way voters vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, may well help determine who is in charge of the U.S. House beginning in 2022, once redistricting takes place around the country following the 2020 Census --- and then for another ten years thereafter!

While Dems hope to win a majority in the House next week, control of Governorships by Democrats in a number of key swing states could help add anywhere from 15 to 30 more winnable seats in the U.S. House over the next decade, according to experts.

Political reporter DYLAN SCOTT of Vox.com joins us to detail which states will be most important to that decennial reapportionment and why state Governors are so crucial to the process.

"Republicans won a lot of governor seats in 2010," he explains. "That gave them a lot of control over redistricting in 2011. And even though in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the Democrats actually won more votes for their House candidates across the country, the maps were drawn as such that Republicans were still able to hold a majority for all of the last decade. I think the stakes should be pretty clear to people after what we've seen with GOP control across the country over the last ten years," Scott argues. But are they? We discuss.

Also, Scott breaks down what appears to be a host of very good opportunities for Democrats in more than a dozen states beyond Florida and Georgia, currently controlled by GOP Governors, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Maine, Alaska and even South Dakota! We cover a lot of ground on this today --- along with the politics and polling involved --- and much of it should be very encouraging for Democrats.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on some potential accountability for Donald Trump's corrupt Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, more disturbing indications that the effects of global warming will be much worse, much sooner than previously thought, and more related news underscoring why Tuesday's election is so crucial to the existential fight against man-made 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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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...

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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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!...

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: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Trump fan charged in mail bombings...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2018 6:45pm PT  

Among the many stories covered on today's BradCast, a bit more than one week from the crucial midterm Election Day. [Audio link follows below.]...

  • A 56-year old white man from Florida, suspected of sending mail bombs to about a dozen perceived enemies of Donald Trump, is arrested and charged with federal crimes. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the alleged MAGABomber, Cesar Sayoc, Jr. turns out to be a huge fan of Donald Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fails to call it terrorism;
  • In Tennessee, a state court rules in favor of voting rights advocates who sued to require Shelby County (Memphis) election officials to allow thousands of new registrants to cure any alleged omissions or errors on their voter registration applications through Election Day, and to allow those voters to vote on normal, not provisional, ballots. The Republican-majority commission in the very Democratic-leaning county, has said they would appeal the ruling. The matter could be crucial to the tight race for U.S. Senate between popular former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the contest to fill the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker;
  • In Georgia, massive attempted voter suppression overseen by Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, should qualify the entire state as a crime scene, at this point. More troubling news along those lines today, as the DeKalb County Election Commission appears to have lost nearly 5,000 vote-by-mail applications. The Democratic Party claims they turned in 4,700 requests, but the County tells the NYTimes they only received 48! The potential disenfranchisement of thousands of voters could effect the tight gubernatorial race between Kemp and African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams. Given the massive suppression attempts in the state, I don't see how a Kemp victory could possibly be seen as legitimate;
  • In Texas, amid the very tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke, many of the 100% unverifiable electronic voting machines used across the state are reportedly selecting Cruz during some attempts at straight ticket Democratic votes. State and county election officials confirm the problem with their voting systems made by Hart-Intercivic of Austin has existed for years. Nonetheless, they are blaming voters, rather than themselves or Hart, their private election vendor, for the failure. That, despite conceding that it is those systems, used in many TX counties, that are at the root of the problem for voters;
  • Finally, we're joined by energy and politics writer DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, to discuss a very important initiative on the ballot in Washington state this year. Roberts explains Initiative 1631, which, if adopted on November 6th, would create a price for carbon pollution by creating a fee for the use of fossil fuels that cause global warming. The revenue raised by the measure would be used to fund key initiatives to improve the environment and help middle and lower income Americans. Roberts describes, as he recently wrote in much more detail, how the new initiative differs from the revenue-neutral carbon tax which failed at WA polls in 2016, and how the fossil fuel industry is spending tens of millions to crush this effort (just as they did in 2016).

    All of this on a week, which we also discuss, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has staked his 2019 re-election chances on a new national carbon tax and dividend policy. The politically courageous effort was announced this week, despite what is predicted to be a neck-and-neck contest next year with his Conservative Party opponent. The scheme would tax the use of fossil fuels and send all revenue from the measure straight back to Canadians each year in the form of a check.

    Expect to see many more such efforts both in North America and across the world, to place a price on carbon pollution, as the globe continues to warm while fossil fuel companies continue to pollute the atmosphere for free. As Roberts notes: "Civilization is on the line."

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: 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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Guest: Shelby County, TN Democratic Chair Corey Strong; Also: Good news for GA voters; Bad news for ExxonMobil; Pipe bombs sent to Obama, Clinton, CNN, other Dem targets of Trump's 'right-wing ire'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2018 6:29pm PT  

It was a dark day on Wednesday, but there were a few rays of light that managed to shine through anyway on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We'll start here with the grim news. Pipe bombs were discovered to have been sent to perceived political enemies targeted by Donald Trump, including former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and CNN. The explosive devices each appear to have been sent by the same person and follow on a similar one sent to Democratic Party funder George Soros earlier this week. All the intended targets have been widely derided for months, if not years, by Trump, Fox "News" and their many Republican followers.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But, as discussed today, the biggest surprise may be how long it has taken for something like this to happen, given the President of the United States --- and his fellow Republicans --- targeting their opponents and the corporate media as the "enemy of the people" with increasingly vitriolic attacks as the midterms approach.

Next up: Tens of thousands of voter registrations were recently rejected by Shelby County (Memphis), Tennessee election officials, with thousands more not yet even processed, even as Early Voting began in the state last week, and the November 6th midterms are now less than two weeks away. Moreover, many of those rejected voters haven't been notified and given a chance to cure the problem, in the very Democratic-leaning, majority-minority county.

The non-partisan Tennessee Black Voter Project, which submitted some 36,000 registration applications in recent months, has threatened the County with legal action. In turn, the County's Republican-led Board of Elections has blamed the Project for turning in a "staggering" number of registrations, many allegedly with what they claim to be errors or missing information. (The group is required to turn in ALL registration forms collected, whether or not they contain either major or minor errors when filled in by prospective voters.)

We're joined today by Shelby County Democratic Party Chair COREY STRONG to explain the hurdles that voting rights advocates there are now actively attempting to overcome, and the history of voter suppression that, he explains, African-American voters in Memphis continue to face this year.

He charges that local officials are disenfranchising minority voters. "We have a history of our Election Commission in Shelby County not necessarily taking it upon themselves to really uphold the values of fair and just elections," he tells me. "If all of the issues end up affecting one side --- the Democratic, urban, poor, minority voters --- then you have to start asking questions, and somebody's got to be held accountable."

The battle on behalf of Shelby County voters comes amidst a reportedly very tight U.S. Senate race between popular Democratic former Governor Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, in the contest to fill the U.S. Senate of retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker. The strongly "blue" county (which went to Clinton by 30 points in 2016 in a state that went to Trump by 25 points) is "very pivotal to statewide elections," Strong explains. In this case, it's central to the state's Senate race as well as Democratic hopes of gaining control of the upper chamber and Republican efforts to hold on to their thin majority.

Strong also discusses concerns about problems during Early Voting, the failure and dangers of electronic pollbooks used across state, and the 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that voters in Memphis are still forced to use to cast their votes at the polling place

But, as noted, we do have a few rays of encouraging news on today's show as well!

On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered an injunction on Georgia's rejection of absentee ballots from disproportionately African-American voters. The rejections are said to be based on ballot signatures that allegedly do not match ones voters' signatures on file. The court found [PDF] voters were being disenfranchised by the scheme that allowed partisan, non-handwriting expert election officials to discard ballots without allowing voters an opportunity to cure any suspected problems on their mail-in ballot envelopes. According to several voting rights groups who sued Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, today's ruling is a big victory amid Kemp's tight race for Governor against African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams.

And, in a bit more good news today, the New York Attorney General, following a three-year investigation, has filed suit against ExxonMobil for an alleged "longstanding fraudulent scheme" to defraud shareholders by publicly downplaying --- and spending millions to deny and confuse the public about --- the serious risks that climate change poses to the company's bottom line. The suit could cost the company hundreds of millions, if not more, and expose Exxon to additional litigation elsewhere. According to the complaint, while publicly claiming concern about global warming as caused by their products in recent years, the company “employed internal practices that were inconsistent with its representations, were undisclosed to investors, and exposed the company to greater risk from climate change regulation than investors were led to believe"...

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Guest: Voting systems expert Dr. David Jefferson on the myth of 'secure' blockchain voting; Also: Suppression continues in GA, ND, elsewhere...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Debunking the myth of "secure" Internet Voting schemes --- even with "blockchain" technology --- as West Virginia allows overseas military voters to use their mobile phones to vote for the first time in a general election. What could possibly go wrong? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, plenty is already going wrong for voters hoping to participate in midterm elections, whether via hand-marked paper ballot or, as in Georgia, where early voting began this week, on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polling place. We've been closely following voting in the Peach State recently, given the many voter suppression schemes that have come to light in the state this year, such as the recent purging of hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls, the suspensions of more than 50,000 registrations for failing to exactly match names or addresses, down to the letter or punctuation, and an abnormally high rate of rejected absentee mail-in ballots.

Thus, it was disturbing to see a busload of elderly African-Americans from a county-run senior center blocked from voting on Monday (someone didn't like the "Black Voters Matter" bus they were using) in Jefferson County, and three-hour long lines to vote near Atlanta, on just the third official day of advance voting in the state. While some may see the reportedly huge early turnout as good news, there are also reasons to be concerned that state election officials, led by Republican Sec. of State and Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, are under-prepared for what could be enormous turnout on Election Day. Several new lawsuits have now been filed against Kemp charging racially discriminatory election practices, as his race for Governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an African-American, is believed to be very tight.

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, Native American voting rights advocates say they will be posted outside of polling places with laptop computers in hand, ready to assign official addresses and new Tribal IDs to thousands of Native Americans who will now not otherwise be allowed to vote. The effort is in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week which permitted a last minute change to ID requirements sought by state Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp this year. Some 5,000 voters who live on tribal reservations using P.O. boxes, rather than street addresses, are now blocked from voting under the new law, enacted in the wake of Heitkamp's 2012 victory by less than 3,000 votes.

But in West Virginia, officials believe they've got a sure-fire way to make sure overseas military voters are able to cast votes this year: Internet Voting via smartphone! The state is the first in the nation to allow such voters to cast a ballot via smartphone --- on a mobile app called Voatz, created by a private Boston-based technology firm --- in a live (and crucial!) general election. But, don't worry! The state and the Voatz company are quick to claim that their scheme is completely secure, since it "employs blockchain technology to ensure that, once submitted, votes are verified and immutably stored on multiple, geographically diverse verifying servers."

Blockchain, in short, is a widely distributed public ledger, or database, that is used to track Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But, as long time voting system expert and Internet Voting critic DR. DAVID JEFFERSON of Livermore National Laboratory and of Verified Voting explains on today's show, the technology solves none of the many problems with using the Internet to cast votes in American elections, as he recently detailed at the non-partisan Verified Voting site.

Jefferson, an internationally recognized expert on voting systems and elections technology, has spent much of the past two decades advising five successive California Secretaries of State on voting technology. He has also been instrumental in helping to block a number of attempted Internet Voting schemes, including one he helped analyze (and stop in its tracks) as devised by the Pentagon during the George W. Bush era.

Today, he explains why use of blockchain technology, which he describes as a "fad", fails to make the Internet any more secure or auditable when it comes to American democratic elections. "All of the most serious threats to Internet voting occur before the ballot even ever gets back to the database or the blockchain," he tells me, detailing how malware on smartphones can change votes, how the authentication of the voter is also endangered by the use of such schemes and how, despite claims to the contrary by advocates of such technologies, the accuracy of results based on votes cast via the Internet can never be audited by the public after an election.

He's hardly the only technologist to decry the scheme. TechCrunch for example, recently called the Voatz app "a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea", and Vanity Fair cited experts who describe the plan as a "horrifically bad idea". But, none of that has stopped either WV or Voatz from pressing ahead, even with this year's midterms (and potentially control of the U.S. House and Senate) on the line.

"The blockchain back end of it doesn't do anything more to secure an election than any of the other technologies do," Jefferson argues. "It doesn't even play a role until the very last stage of balloting --- after you've authenticated yourself, after you've made your ballot choices, after you've transmitted them back, only then does the blockchain play any role." And by then, he says, your vote may have been tampered with, and it's unlikely that you or anybody else would ever know.

"What if there is malware on the phone or the computer that the person is voting from? Malware that is exposing the person's vote to some third party, or is modifying the vote, or is just throwing the vote away without telling the voter, making him think he's voted but he hasn't voted. That malware is not affected by, and cannot be detected by, the blockchain or the back end at all."

"That vote may be blocked or thrown away, or otherwise disturbed by a denial of service attack, for example, on the server. A blockchain server is no more invulnerable to a denial of service attack than any other service," he warns, adding "there just isn't any possibility of auditability in any online voting system, and blockchains don't change that fact."

Jefferson's preferred technology for elections: "Hand-marked paper ballots." He details why on today's program, and also notes that newer technologies, such as Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) that require voters to use touchscreen computers to print out their selections on a paper ballot --- which many jurisdictions (including Los Angeles, the largest in the nation) are moving towards --- present similar dangers when it comes to the authentication and public auditability of election results.

"I endorse your idea that if you're going to vote in person at the precinct, the best system is to use is hand-mark a paper ballot," he explains near the end of our conversation, allowing --- as I do --- that some voters may need assistive technology to vote, but that most voters do not. And worse, as we saw today at early voting cites near Atlanta, when computers are needed to vote, it can result in long lines and suppressed votes at the precinct.

"Only three or four voters per precinct can be voting simultaneously when you only have three or four ballot marking devices. With hand-marked paper ballots, you can get twenty voters voting in parallel if you have cardboard privacy booths around, and twenty cheap pencils. There are far fewer lines built up, and the cost is so radically reduced."

Finally today, a word or two from some older voters who would really REALLY prefer if young people did not bother to vote at all this year...

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Guest: Fordham Law's Jed Shugerman; Also: More reported vote.org registration probs; Vote-flipping in MO; Willie Nelson's 'Vote 'em Out!'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP's far-right take-over of the U.S. Supreme Court for generations --- including one blatantly stolen seat and two men accused of sexual misconduct and/or assault --- is now all but complete, and we discuss an upcoming SCOTUS case that some have cited as reason for the Trump/GOP panic to get their man on the bench as soon as possible. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

On Friday, the four theoretically previously-undecided U.S. Senators announced how they planned to vote on the confirmation of accused sexual assaulter and confirmed liar Brett Kavanaugh for his lifetime appointment to SCOTUS. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced her intention to vote against him, while Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Joe Manchin all declared they will vote in favor of the most contentious nominee to the high court, perhaps in U.S. history. We discuss what all of that means today, moving forward, as the far-right cements its stolen majority. As you might imagine, both Desi and I have some thoughts on all of that today.

Then, we're joined by legal historian and Fordham Law School professor JED SHUGERMAN, author of The People's Courts, to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court case that many Trump opponents have cited in recent days as one of the explanations for Republicans' apparent panic to seat Kavanaugh on the Court as quickly as possible. The case, Gamble v. U.S., involves what some on both the Right and civil libertarian Left consider to be unconstitutional double jeopardy regarding an Alabama man who was convicted at both the state and federal levels for unlawful possession of a firearm. Some Trump critics have suggested, depended on how its decided, that the case could result in states being barred from prosecuting Donald Trump, his associates, or his family members in the event that they are pardoned at the federal level.

Shugerman --- who was one of more than 2,400 legal professors to sign on to a recent letter published by the New York Times calling on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination due to his lack of appropriate judicial temperament --- explains why he believes the Gamble case poses no threat to state prosecutions of Trump and/or his associates, nor to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Team Trump.

He also explains today why he signed the public letter opposing Kavanaugh, how it now may affect lawyers who signed it when arguing cases before Justice Kavanaugh, why he believes the GOP has been in such a hurry to seat Kavanaugh, and the "completely unprecedented" public opposition to him by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Shugerman also describes some of his major concerns for the Court once Kavanaugh is finally in place: how Chief Justice John Roberts is going to be forced to deal with it. "How is he going to manage this explosive controversy and the unprofessional conduct, the injudicious conduct, of Judge Kavanaugh? How will he restore consensus to this Court? How will he manage Judge Kavanaugh, given that he should have reason to fear that Judge Kavanaugh cannot be balanced, and won't be perceived to be balanced when he's on the Court?"

Finally today, some listener mail regarding more voter registration problems via the vote.org service (we recommend registering either in-person or via your Sec. of State or County website, rather than via third-party app, is possible); the first reports of 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote-flipping in the general election (in the very close U.S. Senate race in Missouri between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP challenger Josh Hawley); and Willie Nelson's new song, Vote 'em Out!, debuted for the first time at last weekend's 55,000-person rally in Texas, in support of Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke's surging campaign against Lone Star State Republican Sen. Ted Cruz...

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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...

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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...

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Also: NV's primary election failures much worse than previously known; Mystery group seeking copies of MI 2016 Presidential ballots revealed...
By Brad Friedman on 8/29/2018 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, results, as reported by computer tabulators, from Tuesday's primary elections in Florida and Arizona and primary runoff elections in Oklahoma. Also, more details on what went so terribly wrong in Maricopa County, AZ which kept many voters from being able to cast a vote at all. Nevada's June primary disasters were far worse than reported. And an answer to at least one mystery regarding 2016 Presidential ballots in Michigan. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

First up, among the noteworthy results we cover from yesterday's midterm primary elections...

  • In Florida, progressive Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum came from seemingly out of nowhere for an upset win of the Democratic nomination for Governor. If the Bernie Sanders-endorsed Democrat defeats the Donald Trump-endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis in November, he'd become the state's first African-American Governor. That, as the current two-term Governor Rick Scott won his primary to vie for incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's seat, in what will likely become the most expensive U.S. Senate race this year (and, possibly, in U.S. history).
  • In Arizona, establishment favorite Rep. Martha McSally held off two challengers from the hard right to win the GOP nomination to fill the seat being vacated by the state's retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R). She'll face off against Democratic nominee Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November for a seat that Dems believe they may be able to flip from "red" to "blue", even in a state like Arizona, in a very anti-Trump year. And Republican Gov. Greg Ducey --- who will soon name a replacement for the state's other U.S. Senate seat, vacated by the death of Sen. John McCain --- will now face off against David Garcia, a Latino and former educator who won the Democratic nomination for Governor, in a year in which teachers have walked out in protest of education funding cuts in so-called "red" states Arizona and Oklahoma. (Also of note, Republican Sec. of State Michelle Reagan lost her primary for re-election to the hard-right Steve Gaynor who is calling for English-only elections in AZ. Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs should see an opening there in the race to become the state's top election official)
  • And, speaking of teachers and Oklahoma, it was a "bloodbath" in the primary runoff elections for incumbent GOP state legislators who voted against recent tax hikes to pay for new education funding. Just 4 of the 19 Republican state legislators who voted against the tax hike to give teachers a long-overdue raise have survived to run for re-election on this November's ballot.

Then, we turn to the massive problems at polling places in Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ on Tuesday, as at least 62 polling places were unable to open for hours in the morning. It now appears that the reason was electronic pollbooks which were not properly set up, or set up at all, or which couldn't get Internet access. That effectively prevented voters from being checked in to vote on the County's hand-marked paper ballot voting systems (which use computer optical-scanners to tally votes.)

Remarkably, the County's Republican-majority Board of Supervisors rejected the recommendations of both Sec. of State Michelle Reagan (R) and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes (D) to seek a court order to keep polling places open for an extra two hours at precincts which failed to open on time on Tuesday.

As to the electronic pollbook disasters that kept them from opening in the first place, Fontes blames an IT contractor for not supplying as many personnel as promised for polling place installation and tech support. The contractor, Insight Enterprises, blames Fontes for being under prepared. What's clear for the moment is that voters --- potentially thousands of them --- were prevented from voting entirely because, once again, a voting jurisdiction has relied on oft-failed, mission-critical computer systems, supported by private vendors, to run our public elections without backup plans, such as paper pollbooks in this case.

We also learn this week that the failures reported during and shortly after Nevada's primary elections in June were much worse than officials and the private voting system vendor admitted to the public when the state's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems failed across the state. A new report from the Reno Gazette-Journal, based on public records requests, finds that complaints about candidates missing from ballots and selections already filled in on the screen for some voters, were far more numerous than previously known. Nonetheless, election officials in the state are standing by their vendor (Dominion Voting, which took over for Sequoia Voting Systems) and, as the paper notes, parroting back talking points almost word-for-word from the voting machine manufacturer in hopes of minimizing the massive problems as little more than "human error" that did not effect reported results. (Sound familiar?) Evidence reported by the RGJ strongly suggests otherwise.

Finally, with the 22-month federal requirement for retaining all ballots and other elections materials from the 2016 Presidential election ending next week (September 8th), a voting rights group now known to be allied with the Democratic Party has requested copies of all 2016 general election ballots from the state of Michigan. The massive, and expensive, public records request should prevent the ballots, in that state at least, from being destroyed for now, after an attempt to hand-count them by Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein was ended by a Republican court challenge in 2016. That, despite Trump's stunning, if unverified, upset win in the state by just over 10,000 votes and some 75,000 ballots said to have contained no vote for President at all, according to the computer-tabulated results. No such records request has yet been filed in either Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, however, despite the fact that had just three votes at each precinct in those three states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump, she, not he, would now be President of the United States...

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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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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!... ---




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