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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *
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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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
ONE-TIME DONATION


Choose monthly amount...


(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)