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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Kavanaugh's Desperation, NYTimes' Failure; Trump's U.N. Humiliation:
'BradCast' 9/25/18
Guest: Media critic Eric Boehlert; Also: National Voter Registration Day!...
'Green News Report' 9/25/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Florence ain't over: New evacuations in SC, Coal ash spills in NC; Media failed to connect Florence to climate change; PLUS: Endangered species at stake in GOP Kavanaugh push...
Previous GNRs: 9/20/18 - 9/18/18 - Archives...
FL Guv Working to Steal Three State Supreme Court Seats
Rick Scott has issued order to usurp his successor's power to nominate three State Supreme Court Justices. Good government groups file 'emergency motion' to stop him...
Sunday KavaNO Toons!
PDiddie's latest weekly toon round-up, including a few blasts from the 30-years-ago toon past!...
Federal Judge Rules GA Vote Systems Insecure, Unveri-fiable. Allows Them in Nov. Anyway: 'BradCast' 9/21/18
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Toxic crisis worsens in Carolinas; Midterm voting begins...
Defining 'Disaster' One Year After Maria, One Week After Florence: 'BradCast' 9/20/18
Guest: Disaster historian Scott Knowles; Also: Kavanaugh's accuser is willing to testify next week under certain conditions...
'Green News Report' 9/20/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Florence floodwaters pose toxic public health threat; NC begins long road of recovery; PLUS: Trump Interior Dept. formally rolls back still more methane regulations...
Previous GNRs: 9/18/18 - 9/13/18 - Archives...
GOP's Panic to Confirm Kavanaugh 'ASAP':
'BradCast' 9/19/18
Also: Toxic disaster begins after Florence; AL SoS sued for Twitter blocking; Bad news for 'dark money', good news for voters...
Kavanaugh Nomination Falling Apart: 'BradCast' 9/18/18
Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Florence fallout made worst by Trump tariffs; Judge allows use of GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote systems in Nov...
'Green News Report' 9/18/18
Florence wreaks havoc, death in 4 states; Strongest storm of year (so far) slams Philippines, Hong Kong; PLUS: Aftermath of Boston-area natural gas pipeline explosions...
'I Believe Christine': 'BradCast' 9/17/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ guest Chris Hedges on his new book; Also: some thoughts on the sexual assault allegation against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh...
Sunday Gale Force Toons
There are more storms and responses to them than we can possibly keep track of over this past week -- and in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Progressive Wins, Losses in NY End Primaries That Redefined Dems: 'BradCast' 9/14/18
Guest: David Dayen; Also: Florence flooding, nuke threat; Manafort guilty plea; MA NatGas explosions; 10 years after the crash...
'Disaster's at the Doorstep':
'BradCast' 9/13/18
RI primary results; NY registration probs; Florence rolls ashore; Olivia threatens HI dam; Trump denies Maria death toll; Fires explode in MA homes...
'Green News Report' 9/13/18
Florence impacts could be felt for weeks; 10 million also threatened by Super Typhoon Mangkhut; Trump releases methane; PLUS: U.N. chief warns climate at tipping point...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: 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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Also: Toxic environmental disaster begins after Florence; AL SoS sued for Twitter blocking; Bad news for 'dark money', good news for voters...
By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2018 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Except for our Florence coverage, it's all about November 6th, including the GOP's rush to seat another alleged sexual predator on the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, a quick update on the still-ongoing disaster of Hurricane Florence, with the human death toll rising to 37 and the poultry and pork death tolls in the millions, after three feet of rain fell on parts of the Carolinas, thousands remain in shelters, and the environmental disasters --- including toxic human waste and animal waste now streaming into swelling rivers and floodwaters --- may just be beginning.

Next, the reason why Republicans are in such a panic to minimize the allegations of attempted rape by Brett Kavanaugh, their nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, in any way they possibly can in advance of the quickly arriving November 6th midterm elections. That minimization includes avoiding both time and an FBI investigation at any cost. The White House could have already requested one, which Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) insisted was "the very right thing to do" --- at least during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the 1991 sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill against then-nominee, now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Then, you may recall at the beginning of the year I reported on a strange conversation I had on Twitter with Alabama's Sec. of State John Merrill regarding the state's voting systems, resulting in Merrill blocking me on the social media site. It wasn't the first time Merrill had blocked election experts or journalists or his own constituents. But, even after a federal court later in the year found that Donald Trump was violating the First Amendment rights of his constituents by blocking them on Twitter, Merrill still refused to unblock anybody. A query to his office about that, just before the state's May primary elections, resulted in a bizarre and unhinged exchange via phone and email with the Secretary. Today, Merrill is being sued by the ACLU of Alabama for violating his constituents' First Amendment rights for blocking them and, of course, that means that AL taxpayers will likely be on the hook to pay for the so-called "conservative" Merrill's knowingly unconstitutional behavior.

Also, speaking of transparency and the rule of law, the U.S. Supreme Court, just weeks before the 2018 midterms, has allowed a lower court ruling on "dark money" to take immediate effect, meaning that some political non-profits will now have to disclose the names of wealthy donors who spend more than $200 per year in hopes of buying elections. The Koch-sponsored hit squads, including their ringers on the FEC, are none too happy it.

Finally, we've got some good news for voters in California, where the Governor has now signed a bill requiring election officials to notify voters when local officials believe signatures on Vote-by-Mail ballots don't match the one on their registration file. Such voters will now be notified at least eight days before any results are certified, so they have a chance to fix the problem, which could happen for many reasons, before the ballot is simply discarded (as tens of thousands have routinely been tossed in previous elections).

Also, good news for Democrats in Wisconsin, where the "gold standard" of Wisconsin polling outfits finds divisive, two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker now trailing Democrat Tony Evers in this year's Gubernatorial race.

And, in Kansas, yet another top former Republican official has endorsed Laura Kelly, the Democratic candidate for Governor, in her race against controversial GOP nominee Sec. of State Kris Kobach...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chaos continues at Kavanaugh hearings; 'Total meltdown' at White House after anonymous NYTimes op-ed; Dirty tricks in TX; Election fraud in VA; Court reinstates ban on straight-ticket voting in MI; And our 900th 'GNR'!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2018 6:43pm PT  

Everything --- EVERYTHING --- is not normal right now. From an imploding Presidency to the GOP's unprecedented withholding of documents for a SCOTUS nominee, to the more "normal" abnormalities we've become shamefully accustomed to, like mass shootings, election fraud and voter suppression in advance of another huge election and, yes, a global climate in crisis. Among the related stories covered on today's very busy BradCast [Audio link to show follows below.]...

  • At least four were killed, including the shooter, in another mass shooting today, this time in downtown Cincinnati. Shamefully, the bloodbath barely cracks today's national headlines."This is not normal, and it shouldn't be viewed as normal. This is abnormal. No other industrialized country has this level of active multiple shootings on a regular basis," Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said at a news conference today;
  • It was day 3 of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans continue to rush through his confirmation while withholding tens of thousands of documents from both the Senate and the public, leading Democratic U.S. Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Mazie Hirono (HI) and others today to risk expulsion by releasing several "committee confidential" documents which are being withheld from the public. The documents being withheld, as suggested by several of the Senators, either reflect poorly on Kavanaugh or show him as having misled Congress in previous Senate testimony during his years as a George W. Bush staffer. "We are in uncharted and unprecedented territory here that the process has broken down, reflecting what is happening in our nation generally," warned Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT);
  • The White House is reported to be in "total meltdown" and the President "absolutely livid" after Wednesday's publication of a bombshell New York Times op-ed said to have been written by "a senior official in the Trump administration". The explosive piece claims the President is unstable, out of control, and that a group of Administration insiders have been working to contain the worst of his impulses. One top Administration official after another on Thursday denied penning the column, as Trump has suggested it to be "TREASON", called for the Times to turn over the writer's identity to "government at once", and as a former CIA Director (and Trump critic) John Brennan warns the situation is "dangerous" and "will get worse before [it] gets better."

Then, after a short remembrance for the late Burt Reynolds, who died today at 82, we move to the one thing Americans can and must do to try and restore a semblance of normality to the nation: participate in the November 6th midterm elections! To that end, we have several items of note regarding election integrity...

  • In Texas, the 2018 dirty tricks are officially under way. An infiltrator into Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D)'s surging campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R) used the campaign's text messaging system to send fraudulent messages regarding bringing "undocumented immigrants to polling booths" and "the dangers of socialism";
  • In Michigan, two white, male, Republican-appointed federal appeals court judges overturned a lower court judge who, after a full trial, blocked the state GOP-majority legislature's ban on straight-ticket voting, finding the measure "a disproportionate burden on African Americans' right to vote". Both the lower court judge who previously blocked the measure and a third appeals court judge who dissented from her fellow appeals court panelists, were African-Americans appointed by a Democratic President. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the recent past, has blocked a host of court rulings that change election law just before elections, even when they might have protected thousands of voters from disenfranchisement. Will they step in to block this late federal court ruling?;
  • In Virginia, Shaun Brown, an independent candidate for the U.S. House in the Commonwealth's 2nd Congressional District, was removed from the November ballot after a judge determined fraudulent petition signatures were used to place her on the ballot in hopes of peeling off votes from Democratic candidate Elaine Luria. Staffers from the office of first-term incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Taylor are said to have submitted many of those fraudulent signatures. Five of Taylor's staffers invoked the Fifth Amendment in the case, refusing to answer whether they were acting on Taylor's instructions. (We also take the opportunity to review just a few of the similar cases of election and signature petition fraud from former top GOP officials, such as Newt Gingrich, Thaddeus McCotter and Mitt Romney).

And, finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our 900th(!) episode of the Green News Report! In which we cover the dangers posed by Kavanaugh to the environment as illustrated during his Senate confirmation hearings, and a round-up of the latest havoc being wreaked around the globe from our climate in crisis.

If you are able and/or haven't done so recently, please consider a donation to support our work on both The BradCast and in celebration of the 900th Green News Report! We rely only on you to keep going! Really. Please stop whatever you are doing and take about 60 seconds to help us continue! It's greatly appreciated and much needed!...

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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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: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and WV GOP's state Supreme Court coup; Also: Massive voting system failures in AZ primary...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Details on the extraordinary court ruling out of North Carolina on Monday, and the judicial coup being staged in West Virginia. But first, voters went to the polls for Tuesday's primary elections in Arizona and Florida and in Oklahoma for primary runoff elections. It did not go well in Arizona. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s paper ballot optical-scan computer systems failed in at least 100 precincts, according to the County Recorder. Many polling places were closed entirely this morning, and it was nearly noon before the systems were said to finally be working in all precincts. It's still unclear what the precise failure was, but the new County Recorder Adrian Fontes (who won his election after the previous, long-time Recorder was booted out for shutting polling places during the 2016 Primaries), tied it to pre-election tests that failed on Monday, and then a lack of contractors from the voting machine company (Dominion Voting) on hand to properly set up the systems before polls were to open today. "The contractor responsible for the voting machines was supposed to provide more than 100 technicians to assist with issues, but only 70 were available," the Arizona Republic reports Fontes as telling them at a news conference this morning. If we learn more, of course, we'll share it on tomorrow's show along with noteworthy problems and results in all three states holding elections today.

Then, following up on a story that broke minutes before airtime on Monday, we're joined today by Slate's excellent legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to detail the extraordinary ruling issued by a three judge federal court panel finding all of North Carolina's U.S. House districts --- for a second time --- to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Remarkably, the judges are considering ordering new maps to be drawn up before this November's elections, after already having found last January that Republicans had unlawfully gerrymandered the state's U.S. House districts. That ruling, however, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which punted in June by ordering the lower court to review matters of standing. After having done so, the three-judge panel found the same Constitutional infirmities.

"The real villain here, in a sense --- aside from the Republicans, who obviously drew these incredibly gerrymandered maps --- is the Supreme Court and Justice Anthony Kennedy," says Stern. "A virtually identical ruling came down in January, at which point the US Supreme Court could have and should have acted on this question of partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the Supreme Court punted [and] sent this case back down for reconsideration. Now the [lower] court has reached the same conclusion it did in January."

The map in question was the one drawn up in 2016 after the state's previous GOP-drawn map, used in 2012 and 2014, was found to have been an unlawful racial gerrymander. So, Stern explains, the federal judges in North Carolina seem to have had enough and may now order new maps "on this incredibly compressed timetable where the election is looming" in just over 70 days, ballots need to go out to overseas voters 45 days in advance, and the state's primaries were already been held in May.

The unconstitutional maps have resulted in a wildly unbalanced 10 to 3 GOP majority in the state's Congressional delegations, despite North Carolina's status as a very divided swing state which narrowly elected Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016, and a Democrat to be its Governor in that same election. If the matter is appealed to SCOTUS by the state (as it almost certainly will be), the Supremes could deadlock 4 to 4, if Justice Kennedy's seat has yet to be filled, and the lower court ruling would stand. We could be in for a lot of chaos ahead (as if we need any more this year.)

Stern also explains the astonishing situation in West Virginia, where that state's Republican-majority House of Delegates recently impeached all four sitting members of the state's Supreme Court. (Its 5th member had already resigned after been charged with a felony crime.) The move, Stern reports, was timed in such a way to avoid allowing voters to replace the justices at the ballot box this year. That means the previously 3 to 2 Democratic-leaning court may soon become a 5 to 0 Republican court, and stay that way through 2020. Following impeachment trials of the justices in the state Senate, any vacancies will be filled by the appointments of Trump-loving Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat when he ran and won the Governor's race in 2016, but who flipped parties shortly thereafter.

"There are no good guys, per se, in this story," Stern notes. However, it serves as yet another example of Republicans blatantly hoping to pack the courts, and could prove to be another useful example that Democrats could cite in the future. If they ever re-take control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House, they'll be able to cite such moves when and if they decide to move to add seats to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to restore a majority that should have been theirs, until Senate Republicans stole a vacant seat in 2017 after holding it open for nearly a year following the early 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Speaking of that stolen U.S. Supreme Court, Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Senate Democrats will be able to block --- or even stall --- the seating of Donald Trump's second nominee to the Court. Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Confirmation hearings are currently scheduled to begin next week and, Stern argues, "he owes an explanation as to why he thinks it's perfectly valid and legitimate and acceptable to be nominated by a racist and openly corrupted President to the Supreme Court."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on, among other things, the record rainfall in Hawaii following Hurricane Lane over the weekend, and the complicated climate legacy of the late Republican U.S. Senator and former GOP Presidential nominee, John McCain.

(And, on a related note, next week will be our 900th episode of the GNR! If you have not contributed lately to our efforts to continue connecting the climate change dots over your public airwaves for the past 10 years --- along with all else that we do --- please consider doing so now by stopping by BradBlog.com/Donate! Thanks! We rely only on you to keep going! But, don't do it for me! Do it for Desi! Pretty please?)

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Guest: Stuart Naifeh of Demos; Also: 500k disenfranchised voters in AZ?; Trump says he's quitting NAFTA; DNC scraps 'SuperDelegates'; U.S. Govt student loan ombudsman quits in disgust; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2018 6:30pm PT  

Lots of news (for a change?) on today's BradCast after a tremendously busy news weekend (for a change?) [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program: In a fairly transparent attempt to distract from all of his Administration's --- and his own personal --- scandals, Donald Trump announed today that he plans to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and is striking a new trade agreement with Mexico only. We caution to be very aware of that claim.

Then, we're joined by STUART NAIFEH, Senior Counsel at Demos to discuss the lawsuit recently filed by his group and a number of Hispanic-American organizations against 32 counties in the state of Florida. Following last year's catastrophic Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, more than 133,000 U.S. citizens living on the island relocated to the Continental U.S., according to the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, which estimates [PDF] more than 54,000 of them now live in Florida. These U.S. Citizens, many of whom speak Spanish only, can now re-register and vote in the state, but the counties named in the lawsuit make election materials available in English only, in violation, the groups argue, of Section4(e) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The groups are suing to force those counties to produce election materials in Spanish before the November 2018 midterms and argue that the English-only procedures have led to lower than expected registration by these potential voters in the Sunshine State. Naifeh says this has been a longstanding issue in Florida, but even more of an issue since Maria, since there are suddenly "a lot of people coming all at once with limited English," he says.

Naifeh also explains another lawsuit just filed by the group against the state of Arizona, where the Secretary of State is not properly re-registering voters who have changed their addresses on their drivers licenses through the DMV. That, he argues, means that some 500,000 registered voters, whose registrations should be automatically moved, may find themselves unable to vote or will have their provisional ballots tossed out this November, because "Arizona has been systematically failing to update voting addresses," as required by 1993's National Voter Registration Act. Voters in both states --- Florida and Arizona --- are heading to the polls on Tuesday for their state's midterm primary elections.

Then, some breaking news out of North Carolina, where a federal court panel has found the state's U.S. House Districts to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. That, after the federal courts found the previous maps were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The court may order new maps to be redrawn in advance of the November election! If they do, and if the U.S. Supreme Court is deadlocked 4 to 4 on an emergency appeal by the state before a new Justice is seated, then the lower court's order to use new maps for the November 6th election would stand!

Next, over the weekend, the DNC voted to change their bylaws to restrict the role of so-called SuperDelegates (party insiders, activists and elected officials) in the nominating process for Presidential candidates. Under the new scheme, adopted by an overwhelming voice vote at the weekend's annual Summer meeting in Chicago, SuperDelegates would have no vote for the party's Presidential nominee on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, leaving the selection of the nominee (if he or she can get a majority on the first ballot) up to state primary and caucus voters, rather than party insiders, before the Convention.

Also today, the Government's student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has resigned, charging in a scathing resignation letter that the Trump Administration is using the Bureau "to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America" by allowing private for-profit colleges, universities and student loan companies to run roughshod over American families, despite mandates from Congress to end the decades-long ripoffs by such companies.

Finally, we open up the phone lines today to calls on all of the above!...

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Guest: Conrad Schneider of Clean Air Task Force; Also: Presidency collapsing; Hawaii v. Hurricane Lane; McCain's cancer battle nears end; GA county nixes poll closures; Repub wins U.S. House Special Election...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2018 6:36pm PT  

Before we get to our guest on today's BradCast, a number of news items (and that may be an understatement) of note. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • First, the latest in the quickening collapse of the Trump Presidency, as his darkest week gets darker by the day, now including the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization reportedly being granted immunity to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their ongoing probe(s) of all manner of criminality by Donald J. Trump and his 2016 campaign;
  • Hurricane Lane is already wreaking havoc in Hawaii as it very slowly sweeps near the islands, dumping catastrophic amounts of rain (35 inches in 48 hours on the Big Island!) in its wake; And, speaking of Hawaii, listeners answer our call in response to a question we had yesterday regarding a slang Hawaiian term used by Sen. Mazie Hirono's (D-HI) in cancelling her planned meeting with Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, charging that "an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal matter, does not deserve the courtesy of a meeting with his nominee --- purposely selected to protect, as we say in Hawaii, his own okole";
  • Senator John McCain's family announced on Friday that he will no longer accept medical treatment in his year long battle against terminal brain cancer. We discuss, a bit, what that could mean for Trump's Supreme Court nominee in advance of Arizona's midterm primaries, with Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who would appoint McCain's successor, on the ballot next Tuesday. Also, we note, the President's appalling recent behavior towards the ailing Senator;
  • In Ohio's 12th Congressional District, Troy Balderson (R) is finally officially declared the winner over Danny O'Connor (D) in the U.S. House Special election held nearly three weeks ago. Balderson is said to have won by a razor-thin 1,680 votes out of more than 200,000 votes cast on the 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems used on Election Day in the previously very Republican district. The margin is just over the amount that would have triggered an automatic, state-sponsored "recount". The two candidates will face off yet again in November's general election, when a number of factors, as we discuss, could tip the advantage to O'Connor;
  • And, in Georgia, as we predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the Randolph County Board of Elections quickly rejected a proposal to shutter 7 of 9 precincts in the majority African-American county in advance of the November midterms. The scheme, which used the pretext of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was proffered by a consultant hired by the County at the recommendation of GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. The plan had drawn national outrage in a year when Kemp is running for Governor against Stacey Abrams, who could become the nation's first female African-American chief of state;

Then, as the nation is justifiably distracted by a Presidency quickly spiraling out of control, his policies continue to move forward nonetheless, including this week's major new (if little covered) Trump EPA proposal to "repeal and replace" Obama's landmark 2015 "Clean Power Plan", which would otherwise reduce deadly and climate change causing emissions from coal-fired power plants with something the Administration is calling the "Affordable Clean Energy Rule". By the Administration's own admissions, the Trump scheme would lead annually to at least 1,400 premature American deaths over Obama's plan, and result in tens of thousands of news cases of respiratory illness each year.

CONRAD SCHNEIDER, former U.S. Dept. of Justice trial attorney and current Advocacy Director at the non-profit Clean Air Task Force and lecturer on Environmental Law and Policy at Maine's Bowdoin College, joins us to explain the dangers --- and coal-industry corruption --- of what he calls the EPA's new "Dirty Power Plan".

"Thousands and thousands of Americans would die prematurely under the Trump plan whose lives would have been saved under the Obama plan," Schneider warns. "And that's just the tip of a pyramid of health effects that include hospital visits, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, children missing school days and adults missing work as a result of the pollution that would occur here" in what he describes as "just the latest of [Trump's] efforts to try to resuscitate the coal industry."

But, he also cautions, "this political promise" to the industry "runs headlong into the requirements of the Clean Air Act" and so, Schneider predicts, the plan may well face problems in court, where he promises, "we'll be arguing that as much as they might want to throw a lifeline to coal, the Clean Air Act is not the appropriate venue to do that."

"What we are doing here is we are fiddling while the planet burns. We're fighting things in court, when we really don't have the time to waste," he tells me, as we discuss why it is that the Trump Administration's many attempts at reversing Obama Administration environmental protections --- from water rules, to chemical plant safety regulations, to the Keystone XL pipeline (to name only a few from the past few weeks) --- continue to be blocked, overturned or delayed, by one federal court after another...

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Trump's dark week gets darker; Dems nix SCOTUS nom meetings; Majority of Repubs support 'Medicare for All'; Very bad polling news for GOP; GA county poll closure scam falls apart; Hurricane Lane threatens Hawaii...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2018 6:30pm PT  

Like the news cycle, we're all over the place on today's BradCast with politics, accountability and corruption news, democracy and voting news, green news and court news and much much more. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered today...Some Democratic Senators are now refusing to meet with Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, following the convictions of Trump's campaign chair Paul Manafort and the guilty pleas of his personal lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, implicating the President himself in a conspiracy to commit serious criminal campaign finance felonies.

On related fronts today: Trump has now finally admitted (after years of lies about it by him and his staff) that he did, in fact, make hush-money payouts to women before the 2016 election; Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis offers more details on what his client may know regarding Trump's early knowledge of hacked DNC emails before they were released in 2016; and Trump's longtime friend David Pecker [pictured above], who runs the National Enquirer and helped kill stories about Trump's mistresses, is reportedly now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after being granted an immunity deal.

Also, a Trump-supporting juror from the first Manafort trial says there was only one person on the jury who prevented him from being found guilty on all 18 counts of tax and bank fraud, versus the 8 on which he was found guilty. A mistrial was declared on the 10 other counts.

A new Reuters poll today finds that more than 70% of Americans now support a "Medicare for All" styled universal healthcare program, including a majority of Republicans. And a new poll from Fox "News" offers an avalanche of bad news for Trump and Republicans in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. (For example, Mueller is more popular than Trump by double-digits, and other numbers that may spell trouble in November.)

Speaking of which, following a public outcry, Randolph County, Georgia, whose two-person Board of Elections is set to vote on a proposal to close 7 of 9 polling places before the November election in the majority African-American county, now admits it has no evidence to support the claim that those precincts need to be closed due to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moreover, it has now fired the consultant --- hired on the recommendation of GA Sec. of State Brian Kemp (the Republican nominee for Governor this year) --- who urged the poll closures at, what he initially said, had been Kemp's recommendation.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the Trump EPA's deadly new proposed rule to replace Obama's landmark "Clean Power Plan", the Administration's spate of recent court failures blocking their attempts to overturn environmental protections, and the latest news on Hurricane Lane which is bearing down on Hawaii and threatening record rainfall among other potential dangers which, the Governor warns, could cripple the island for several weeks...

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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...

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And other news, both good and bad, around the country and world, 78 days out from the midterm elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some good news and bad for voters in New Hampshire and Georgia. Bad news for breathers. And Donald Trump has the worst. Attorney. Ever. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories we cover on today show...

  • A federal court has struck down New Hampshire's law that allowed local election workers, without expertise in hand-writing analysis, to toss absentee ballots, essentially, due to bad penmanship. The law had allowed officials to disenfranchise voters --- without notice or time to cure the problem --- if they judged a signature on an absentee ballot does not match closely enough with the signature on the voter's absentee ballot application form. We discuss the story of one of the plaintiffs in the case, 94-year old, legally blind Mary Saucedo, whose 2016 Presidential election ballot was tossed, without her knowledge, until she was contacted by the ACLU months after the election. This is a problem with absentee vote-by-mail ballots in many states. The good news is, it may stop in NH, at least.
  • A two-person county election board in Randolph County, Georgia will vote this Friday on a scheme to close 7 of 9 precincts for this November's crucial midterm elections in the rural, poor, predominantly African-American county. There is no public transportation in most of the county, where many do not own cars. The closures would result in some voters needing to walk three and a half hours to cast their votes, the ACLU of Georgia argues. Voter registration at one of precincts to be shuttered is 97 percent black. That, in a year when Georgia could elect the nation's first African-American female governor, Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.
  • The blistering summer of record heat, fire, flooding and related deadly disasters continues around the globe. Monsoon rains have, so far, killed hundreds and dislocated more than 800,000 in the southern Indian state of Kerala. That story underscores, yet again, the horrible if expected news that...
  • The Trump Administration is set to announce a plan this week which would roll back President Obama's "Clean Power Plan" which would have, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, greatly curbed carbon dioxide and other deadly emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Trump EPA scheme would allow states to devise their own plans for emissions reductions at coal plants. Where Trump's plan would result in the equivalent of 2 to 5 million cars being taken off the road, Obama's would have removed the equivalent of 75 million vehicles and more than 265 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. The reduction of carcinogens that cause diseases such as asthma and lung cancer in the Obama plan similarly dwarfs the toxins expected to be reduced by Trump's plan, which the dying (and deadly) coal industry is applauding today.
  • Finally, Rudy Giuliani may be the worst lawyer ever. And his client, the President of the United States, deserves him. We discuss Giuliani's already-infamous "truth isn't truth" statement on NBC's 'Meet the Press' on Sunday, and what the documented truth actually is, regarding the Trump Campaign's 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian government-allied attorney said to have been promising dirt on Hillary Clinton that year. Giuliani's gob-smacking admissions that Team Trump committed a crime in 2016 by meeting with the Russian attorney "for the purpose of getting information about...Clinton" --- along with his evidence-defying claim that "she didn't represent the Russian government" and that Team Trump may not have known "that she was Russian at the time" --- will certainly be of note to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the alleged conspiracy to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election...

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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...

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!... ---




Guest: Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center; Also, new numbers in OH-12, KS GOP Guv primary, Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2018 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Understanding two new, seemingly conflicting directives on "dark money" in campaigns --- one of them very encouraging --- and a new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission charging several GOP Senators unlawfully colluded with the NRA during the 2014 and 2016 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, adjusting some numbers! In this past Tuesday's very close U.S. House Special Election in Ohio's (previously, very Republican) 12th Congressional District, the Trump-endorsed GOP candidate Troy Balderson was reportedly up over Democrat Danny O'Connor by just over 1,700 votes out of about 200,000 tallied on election night in the closely watched, bellwether race. On Wednesday, however, Franklin County's Board of Elections discovered an electronic cartridge from one precinct, with 588 votes stored on it, had not been included in the original unofficial tallies. With those ballots now added, O'Connor has netted 190 additional votes over Balderson, lowering the current unofficial margin in the contest to just 0.8 points. A margin of 0.5 or less would trigger an automatic "recount", as thousands of provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots are still being processed.

In Kansas, Tuesday's even tighter race between Sec. of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, saw its margin cut by more than half, from 191 votes to just 91, out of some 311,000 cast. The adjustment appears due to an incorrectly entered number by the Sec. of State's office on Tuesday night. The controversial, hard-right Kobach's razor-thin lead may further erode (or expand) as some 10,000 provisional and late mail-in ballots are still to be processed. A recount in that contest is all but certain.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, in an official statement to Congress, now acknowledges that at least 1,427 were killed during and after Hurricane Maria last year, a vastly different figure than the island's still-official death toll of 64. The new numbers place Maria's death toll much closer to the 1,833 said to have been killed during and after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. We discuss why it has been so difficult for Puerto Rican officials to acknowledge those far-higher numbers, long ago estimated by many experts.

Then we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Washington D.C.'s Campaign Legal Center (CLC), to help explain several important, if seemingly conflicting, pieces of campaign finance related news. About two weeks ago, the Treasury Department announced that non-profits who spend money on political campaigns --- so-called "Dark Money" groups --- would no longer be required to disclose the names of their donors to the IRS. The timing of that new policy, Fischer notes, "was pretty terrible. It happened on the same day that federal prosecutors charged Maria Butina with being an unregistered Russian agent who tried to influence American politics through the NRA, which had spent at least $35 million through its 501c4 [non-profit political action committee] arm during the last election cycle."

"So, if you're concerned about foreign money in elections, you should be really concerned about the Treasury Dept. stating that 501c4s, like [Karl Rove's] Crossroads GPS or the NRA, no longer have to disclose their top donors to the IRS."

Then, a week or so later, last Friday, a federal judge ordered the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to rewrite their current rules, within 45 days, in order to require the disclosure of the names of donors to many of those same "dark money" groups. Fischer details how the new mandate from Judge Beryl Howell, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, differs from the Treasury Dept. directive and, in fact, could be very good news indeed for those who believe in transparency and public oversight of elections!

"If the FEC was doing its job, then it wouldn't matter quite so much if the IRS was not collecting this information," Fischer tells me. "Judge Howell said that the FEC has been failing at its job, and it needs to go back to the drawing board and draft new rules that are going to ensure effective donor disclosure for certain types of political advertising."

"Judge Howell's decision is a reminder that the FEC is largely to blame for the rise of dark money. It's not just the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, it also is in large part the fault of the FEC for failing to enforce the laws that are on the books. The Supreme Court has endorsed donor disclosure, and the laws passed by Congress say that donors to politically active dark money groups must be disclosed. It falls to the FEC to draft the rules that interpret laws passed by Congress and to enforce those rules. But what the FEC has done is draft rules that narrow the donor disclosure laws passed by Congress, and then they failed to enforce even those narrow rules."

While acknowledging the new ruling as "a very big deal", Fischer explains why questions remain as to whether the ruling will be (or even can be) appealed and how the current vacancies on the FEC may prevent them from being able to act within the time ordered by Judge Howell.

In a separate, if somewhat related matter, Fischer details CLC's recently filed complaint with the FEC charging that the campaigns of four different Republican U.S. Senators unlawfully coordinated with the NRA's political action committee in violation of long-standing campaign finance laws during the 2014 and 2016 elections. The GOP Senators named in the complaint: Ron Johnson (WI), Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Thom Tillis (NC).

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with still more record heat, pushback from California against the Administration's attempt to undermine state mileage and emissions standards, and the extraordinary revelation that Trump's EPA is actually attempting to bring deadly asbestos back! Seriously!...

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

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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...

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

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