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Today on The BradCast: There is a great deal to be concerned about between now and November 8, when American holds its first nationwide elections since Donald Trump tried to steal the last one. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
Since then, his unrelenting lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him (ironically enough) have resulted in, among other things, newly restrictive voting laws adopted by GOP-controlled states, a shortage of poll workers following death threats from disinformed rightwingers, and concerns of both intimidation and the potential of violence at polling places (and ballot drop-boxes.)
But the Election Defenders vow to be out in force, as they were in 2020, attempting to make sure everyone can vote freely and fairly.
"One of my biggest concerns is the impact the attempts at intimidation may play on the electorate," my guest today, the group's Campaign Director, ANGELA PEOPLES, tells me. "In some places, these threats of violence are very real, and we're preparing folks to be responsive to those." But, she adds, "a lot of this is just talk, and attempts to create an atmosphere of fear. So we are planning to counter that fear with joy, with enthusiasm, to make sure that people can cast their ballot with safety and dignity."
Election Defenders is a coalition formed in 2020 by The Frontline, a joint campaign of the Working Families Party, the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project, United We Dream and Rising Majority. They deployed some 2,000 volunteers trained in de-escalation techniques to polling places in all 50 states in 2020. This year, they hope to station about 1,250 in key battleground states including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.
"We are trained not only in de-escalation, but also in what we call Voter Care --- to support folks at the polls, making sure folks have information about what those new laws may be and how to make sure that, if they feel like they are denied their ability to vote, they have a chance to address that and to not be denied their ability to cast their ballot, whether it's provisional or otherwise, on Election Day," Peoples explains.
"We'll be making sure that things stay calm, stay joyful, stay energetic and are the type of experience that can keep people engaged all the way through to casting their ballot," she says. The group hopes to counter so many who have been lied into rage on the Right over the past two years. "A lot of their playbook is about intimidation [and] fear tactics. So we have really focused on the joy that we can bring to people and reminding folks that, as much as some may try to make voting seem like something that is privileged, or something only a few should be able to do, that everyone that has the right to vote in this country should be able to exercise that."
Critically, she adds, "we are reminding our volunteers that this Election Defense opportunity is something that we need to do from voting, to counting, all the way to certification."
And, yes, the group is still welcoming volunteers and helping to train them all over the country. If you'd like to join the effort, you can get more details and sign up for trainings here or text FRONTLINE to 20403.
Also today, the outer bands of the coming Trump Accountability Hurricane continue to blow in...
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It's a grab bag on today's BradCast, as we cover a ton of stuff from around the world and here at home, just over two weeks before another critical Election Day. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]
Among our many stories covered today...
It's all "self-immolation" and it echoes financial and political chaos repeatedly sown by our own "conservative" party here in the U.S. And yet, for some reason, a majority of the American public reportedly remain disinformed enough to believe, somehow, that Republicans are better on economic issues than Democrats. It's yet another sign of a failed corporate U.S. media, frankly. More thoughts and details in today's actual show, of course.
“Voter fraud?," said one perplexed man as he was told he was being hauled off to jail for voting illegally years earlier. "Y’all said anybody with a felony could vote, man." Other arrestees, nabbed out of the blue at their homes just hours before DeSantis' news conference, were similarly stunned. Local law enforcement officials participating in the arrests also seemed unable to explain exactly why any of this was happening. The majority of the arrestees, according to the paper, were black and/or Democrats, "a throwback to the worst images of the Jim Crow South and a preview of a dystopian future under GOP authoritarianism," writes the Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch today.
Yes, the authoritarian dystopian future envisioned by Swalwell's fictional video of cops rounding up a woman who had an abortion is shockingly similar to the videos published this week by Tampa Bay Times.
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Biden orders release of more oil from nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve; NJ latest state to sue Big Oil over climate science lies; FL sees surge in flesh-eating bacteria after Hurricane Ian: PLUS: Midterm elections will determine course of climate action for decades to come... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Ocean heat is accelerating and fueling extreme weather events; Clean energy transition gains speed, despite global tumult; What Biden’s $2.8B EV battery boost means for jobs; Missouri school to close after radioactive waste report; EPA to further slash emissions from climate super-pollutants; 'Ecocide': The US-Mexico border wall is blocking the movement of wild animals; Australia to replace coal plant with record-busting 850MW battery; How Koch Industries, fake scientists, and Rush Limbaugh invented climate denial... PLUS: Greta Thunberg: "Our politicians will not come to the rescue of planet Earth".... and much, MUCH more! ...
We've spent quite a bit of time of late on The BradCast discussing what could happen if Democrats are able to hold their majority in the U.S. House this year and pick up two more seats in the Senate. Codifying privacy rights and reproductive freedoms into federal law; passage of the much-needed Freedom to Vote Act; expansion of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court to un-corrupt it. That all become possible in such an event, just to cite a few of the most pressing issues. But what happens if they don't? [Audio link to today's full show follows this summary.]
We've noted that it remains an uphill battle for Democrats to hold their majorities in either chamber of Congress this year, much less expand one of them. So, what happens if Republicans win a majority in one or both?
In short, it would be very very bad for a host of reasons, including for democracy itself. But TPM's Kate Riga detailed just some of the political nightmares that are likely to occur, as Republicans have revealed in their own words. From endless Congressional investigations of nonsense (think "Benghazi on steroids") to pointless culture war legislation that would be vetoed by President Biden even if it somehow overcame a Senate filibuster, to impotent efforts to impeach the President and various members of his Cabinet...for something or other.
But, even without majorities in both chambers, Republicans can wreak extraordinary damage to both the U.S. and global economies simply by re-upping their 2011 "Tea Party" scheme to hold the nation (and world) hostage to any number of demands in exchange for raising the dumb debt ceiling next year. ("Dumb", because it's absurd that the U.S. even has such a statute requiring Congressional permission to borrow money to pay for stuff that has already been purchased with Congressional and Presidential authority. Also "dumb" because Republicans only use it as a dangerous bargaining chip when a Democrat is in the White House. Despite blowing up the deficit by trillions during the Trump Administration, the debt limit was raised three times by Congress with nary a peep.)
As Riga and others have reported this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP's presumptive House Speaker if they take back a majority, has signaled that his party intends to hold cuts to Medicare and Social Security among hostages in exchange for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling. That, in the words of our guest today, would be "catastrophic" on several levels.
We're joined today by Congressional historian, political scientist and author NORM ORNSTEIN, who has been covering Congress for nearly 50 years via the conservative American Enterprise Institute, where he is a Senior Fellow Emeritus and now as contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic.
Last week at The Atlantic, Ornstein warned that it's not just "democracy at stake this fall", as he asked "how far would a Republican majority go?" in undermining the U.S. economy in advance of the 2024 Presidential election. He recounts the first real use of the debt ceiling as a blunt political instrument to wreak havoc on U.S. policy and the economy along with it by the "Tea Party" back in 2011. While a last minute compromise at the time avoided a first-ever default of the U.S. government and the inability to pay its debts, the brinkmanship and hostage-taking cost the economy billions. Our credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever and the Dow plunged some 2,000 points.
But Ornstein is now more worried about what may happen next year if the GOP wins a House majority. As he explains today, "back in 2011, there were grownups in the room who kept it from getting out of control." Today, however "we're in a different world."
"In the past," he tells me, citing Donald Trump as an "accelerant" for GOP "dysfunction," "we still had what we could think of as a political party, even as it began to go downhill. But now it's a full-blown cult. The willingness of new members coming in, joining with a lot of radical members who will be returning to blow the whole thing up, the lack of interest in fundamental institutions or in the need to be responsible at governance is astonishing."
"I have never, in fifty-plus years of being immersed in the institution, seen a weaker or more pathetic leader than Kevin McCarthy," he says. "The idea that he would stop them from mayhem is, at this point, not believable."
"Other than that the fact that these are radicals dominating the party, they can't pass legislation on their own. They can't impeach and convict and remove from office the officials they would want to, including the President and the Attorney General and Sec. of Homeland Security, among many others."
But, as Ornstein adds, they will have "the power for the purse" with which they can cause extraordinary damage both here and around the world. He details both the chaos and what Democrats can do to try and preempt it during the Lame Duck period after the November midterms in the event that Republicans win back a majority in one or both chambers.
"The best thing to do is to do as every other country does and eliminate this ridiculous device [the debt ceiling]," but, since Dems can't do that on their own via reconciliation, they could invoke "the ironically named McConnell Rule" through reconciliation to stave off the threat of GOP debt ceiling brinkmanship that could result in a first-ever financial default by the nation. Tune in for an explanation of that ironically named rule and much more on all of this today.
Or, of course, Americans could simply reelect Democrats to majorities in both chambers and avoid the guaranteed nightmares that lie ahead with GOP control of either, now that they have wasted away into little more than a radical, extremist, "full-blown cult."
Finally, we close today with a fascinating spy story, of sorts, regarding retiring, eight-term Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the U.S. intel agencies during the lead-up to the Iraq War (which he voted against), based on false evidence of WMDs hyped by the Bush/Cheney Administration...
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Democratic voters, it seems, are an easily spooked bunch. A few bad polls and some seem ready to all but throw in the towel on the November midterms. But now is not the time for that sort of thinking. As discussed on today's BradCast, there is simply too much at stake this year --- Constitutional freedoms, democracy itself, survival on Planet Earth, just to name a few --- to get sidetracked by despair. To paraphrase Obama, don't boo-hoo! Vote! (And make sure everyone else you know does the same!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
It was always gonna be an uphill fight this year. It still is. But it makes no sense to wallow. It does make sense to get to work. As President Biden correctly noted this afternoon, "Today we face an inflection point, one of those moments that only come around every several generations where there's so much change happening --- technologically, politically, and socially --- that the decisions we make now are going to determine the future of our nation and the future of your generation for the next 30 or more years."
With all of that in mind, these are among the stories covered on today's program...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: In both Florida and the U.K., rollbacks of climate policies exacerbated climate disaster impacts; Toxic smoke blankets Pacific Northwest as record heat and wildfires drag on in October; GOP Senator suggests government should do less to help disaster victims; PLUS: Tomato soup, a priceless painting, and the tactics of climate protest... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Clean Water Act at 50: Environmental gains, challenges unmet; Animal populations shrank an average of 70 percent over the last half-century; Radioactive waste found at Missouri elementary school; China gives Tesla tax break 3 days after Musk's Taiwan 'advice'; The cost to capture carbon? More water and electricity; Bengali "Water Machine" is serendipitous science for climate resilience; Billions in tax revenue being lost to storms, sea level rise; Study reveals 'staggering' scale of lost fishing gear drifting in oceans... PLUS: The next frontier for climate action is the great indoors.... and much, MUCH more! ...
We are finally beginning to see the start of some real accountability for so many of the countless rightwing hoaxsters, fraudsters and scam artists who enjoyed their hey days during the Trump Era. Specifically on today's BradCast, we're beginning to see accountability for rightwing hoaxsters Steve Bannon, Alex Jones and the fraudsters calling themselves True the Vote. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
WE KICK THINGS OFF today with Donald Trump's former aide Steve Bannon, a guy willing to allegedly hoax millions of Trump's own supporters to raise money to build a border wall, while secretly keeping millions for himself and his fellow hoaxsters. He will face trial for those charges in New York. But this week he's facing sentencing after being found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to respond to subpoenas for documents and testimony from the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. The DoJ is recommending 6 months of prison time and a $200,000 fine. The sentencing hearing will be before a Trump-appointed federal judge this Friday.
NEXT UP, we're joined by award-winning broadcast journalist turned media activist SUE WILSON of Media Action Center to discuss the dangerous lies of rightwing hoaxster Alex Jones. Last week in Connecticut, Jones was ordered to pay $965 million in damages to parents of children killed in 2012's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Jones was previously held liable in Texas in a separate defamation suit by other parents who also lost children in the mass shooting that resulted in the murders of 20 first graders and 6 adults.
Jones, as Wilson reported at The BRAD BLOG last week, denied that anyone was ever killed at Sandy Hook, claiming the parents of the children were "crisis actors" and that it was all a hoax by those who support gun safety measures. After years of using our public airwaves to repeat those false claims, many of the parents in question were traumatized, confronted by Jones' supporters and were forced to move, thanks to continuous harassment from some of Jones' deranged fans.
But the critical point Wilson asked in her piece was why it is that Jones is still broadcasting over our public airwaves at all? She notes today that some activists have complained to radio stations to successfully have his show removed from the air. But, she says he still remains on about 25 stations which are licensed to broadcast in exchange for "serving in the public interest". As Wilson details on today's show, there are still FCC regulations on the books barring the use of our public airwaves to promote hoaxes that involve crimes such as murder. Nevertheless, no action has been taken by the federal government against Jones or the stations who air him. We discuss why that may be, how listeners can take action to change that and the First Amendment issues surrounding the matter.
THEN, we've spent too much time on past shows already detailing how the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster group calling itself True the Vote (TTV) attempted to hoax the nation by creating a fake documentary with fellow hoaxster (and convicted election fraudster) Dinesh D'Souza called 2000 Mules.
The premise of the film is that TTV claims to have purchased third-party cellphone geolocation data that supposedly reveals thousands of phone users repeatedly visiting absentee ballot drop-boxes in multiple battleground states in 2020 to cast hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes. Moreover, the group claims they have thousands of hours of surveillance camera video footage revealing the same "mules" visiting these drop-boxes over and over to cast the phony ballots.
The film was thoroughly debunked as nonsense almost immediately upon its release earlier this year. In fact, it includes no actual footage of anybody casting fraudulent votes. But certain rightwing dupes, including the former President, falsely insist that it does. Just last week, for example, in response to the House J6 Committee voting to subpoena Trump, he responded with an absurd 14-page reply [PDF] citing dozens of (long-ago debunked) instances of fraud in the 2020 election. He cited TTV's 2000 Mules film, claiming the group "collected over 4 million minutes of ballot drop box video, showing ballot stuffing at a level not seen before." The result, he falsely asserted, proved that "millions of ballots were stuffed...an Election-changing number many times over."
All of it, of course, is nonsense. And, as it turns out, even the office of Arizona's far-right, voter-suppression friendly Attorney General Mark Brnovich has now noticed. On Friday, the Criminal Division in his office referred TTV to the FBI and IRS for investigation. The AZ A.G. explains in their two-page referral letter [PDF] that, despite multiple meetings with the group's founder Catherine Engelbrecht and researcher Greg Phillips, who both claimed to have video evidence of fraud they promised to turn over, they never actually did. Furthermore, as the letter explains, the pair also met with FBI officials in Phoenix and claimed to have turned over the data to Brnovich's office. They later met again with Brnovich's office and claimed they gave the data to the FBI!
"Given TTV's status as a nonprofit organization," the Chief Special Agent in Brnovich's criminal division office wrote to the FBI and IRS on Friday, "it would appear that further review of its financials may be warranted."
FINALLY, on one of our programs last week, I broke down the five Republican U.S. Senate seats (in PA, OH, WI, NC and FL) that appear to have a plausible possibility of flipping to Democratic in November's critical midterm elections, and the two Democratic seats (in GA and NV) that could plausibly flip to Republican. But over the weekend, the Des Moines Register poll --- considered the Gold Standard for political polling in Iowa --- released an eyebrow raising survey finding that the state's 89-year old seven-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, now running for his eighth term, is only three points ahead of his Democratic challenger, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Franken, among likely voters. The poll shows Grassley leads with 46% of the vote to Franken's 43%. Could that seat really be up for grabs in the Hawkeye State next month?!...
As another exhausting week wraps up on The BradCast, we've got a number of follow-ups today on several stories we've been covering throughout the week, and a few all-new reasons to be concerned about the critical upcoming midterm elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Among the stories covered today...
On Wednesday, a jury in Waterbury, Connecticut awarded parents of schoolchildren slain by a gunman's bullets an extraordinary $965 million in damages because far-right propagandist, conspiracy theorist and huckster Alex Jones publicly defamed them. He did so on U.S. radio stations which are licensed by the federal government to serve in the public interest. (The jury's award on Wednesday follows a $49 million award to Sandy Hook parents in a separate case decided in Texas on August 5.)
Jones and guests on his InfoWars show, broadcast as a radio program over our public airwaves and over the Internet, falsely and repeatedly claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a hoax. He told millions of listeners no children were shot; that grieving parents were actually paid "crisis actors"; that the entire shooting, which took the lives of 20 first-graders and six adults, was staged by gun opponents to somehow further their agenda.
As determined by both the Texas and Connecticut cases, these radio broadcasts caused some of Jones' deranged listeners to threaten the grieving parents' lives. According to court documents, Leonard Pozner, whose six-year old son Noah was killed, received threatening voicemails: "You gonna die. Death is coming to you real soon." Pozner and his wife relocated seven times to avoid harassment based on Jones' remarks. Each time they moved, Jones' followers published their new addresses online. "Sometimes I lie awake at night worrying that despite our efforts at security, a determined conspiracy fanatic might gain entry to our home," said Noah's mother, Veronique De La Rosa.
Why is Jones allowed to use our publicly-owned radio airwaves to spread these dangerous lies? To encourage his listeners to cause direct harm to innocent individuals who have already suffered more grief than we can imagine? It should be against the law. It already, kind of, is...
It was a very bad day for our disgraced former President. So, it was a good day for the nation and for today's special BradCast coverage of what is likely to be the final public hearing of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited insurrection of January 6, 2021 and his many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
The Committee on Thursday presented both new video footage and documents obtained since their last public hearing back in July. Among the new video: Chilling footage of Democratic and Republican lawmakers attempting to fill the leadership gap left by the President during the three hours the Capitol was under siege while Donald Trump sat in the White House dining room watching Fox "News" coverage of the violence he sparked unfolding.
Among the new documents: email and chat messages from the Secret Service revealing they knew damned well about the threat of violence on Jan. 6, long prior to the insurrection. Also: more evidence from well before Election Day revealing Trump planned to falsely claim the election was stolen from him, and that he knew damned well that he lost and there was no evidence of election-changing fraud.
But, of course, the biggest news from Thursday's hearing was the panel's unanimous, 9 to 0 vote taken at the end to subpoena documents and under-oath testimony from the ringleader of the riot.
"Our duty today is to our country and our children and our Constitution. We are obligated to seek answers from the man who set this all in motion, and every American is entitled to those answers so we can act now to protect our republic," explained Republican Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, introducing the motion. "So, this afternoon I am offering this resolution that the Committee direct the Chairman to issue a subpoena for relevant documents and testimony under oath from Donald John Trump in connection with the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol."
That wasn't the only bad news for the disgraced former President today. As the hearing was playing out, his corrupt, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority rejected his emergency motion regarding the classified documents he stole from the White House and retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago in early August. The High Court nixed, without comment, his appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked the documents marked as classified from a privilege review by a Special Master.
All of that came the day after Washington Post and New York Times each published stories last night reporting that a Trump employee was captured on security camera video from inside Mar-a-Lago moving boxes of documents both in and out of a storage room both before and after Trump had been subpoenaed by the Dept. of Justice earlier this year for the return of all documents that he had stolen from the White House upon leaving office. The reports allege that the employee is said to be cooperating with DoJ, at least to some extent, and was ordered to move the documents by Trump himself.
Like I said, a bad day for Trump...but a great day for everyone else!
Joining us for a very lively conversation attempting to make sense of all of this madness and much more today in our Special Coverage, are HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and 'DRIFTGLASS' of the Professional Left Podcast. And while both of them have been right about pretty much everything over the last 20 years, they disagree today on whether Trump will actually answer that Congressional subpoena to testify. Tune in to find out why.
As usual, they offer smart insight today on the new video footage and many other fresh revelations from this afternoon's J6 hearing, and we discuss whether Trump will now finally be indicted; on which of the several different criminal investigations he's now facing; and when such charges will --- or won't --- finally come...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Climate change is causing more billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S.; When it rains, it pours more than ever before, new study confirms; Clean energy and EV manufacturers accelerate investment in America; PLUS: Biden establishes first national monument of his presidency... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Researchers report staggering decline in wildlife; US law protecting endangered species is hampered by poor resources; Greenland Ice Sheet may be more vulnerable to climate change, study finds; Supreme Court wrestles with case on pigs, cruelty and commerce; Europe turns to Africa in a bid to replace Russian natural gas; New Zealand proposes taxing cow burps to reduce emissions; General Motors launches electric grid division; 'Steam loops' under many cities could be a climate change solution... PLUS: Arizona's clean energy future could swing on governor's race.... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast we've got an excellent idea for Democrats, Republicans and everyone else who has any concerns about accurately reported election results in this year's critical midterm elections. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
But, first up, a few thoughts on a Republican Party in dangerous decline and what at least some long-time GOPers are now doing to put country over party.
We start with the sad tale, frankly, of how the GOP is using and/or abusing Georgia's former football hero and clearly unstable U.S. Senate nominee Hershel Walker for grotesquely partisan political purposes, despite the costs to the man who had no business or qualifications being put up as a candidate for U.S. Senate in the first place. In a thoughtful Twitter thread this week, Illinois' Democratic Rep. Sean Casten worries that Walker is on "a trajectory that does not end well." He describes him as "just one in a long, tragic legacy of disposable black men" for the Republican Party. Even now, Casten notes, elected GOP officials who put him up for the job have no interest in his well-being if there is any hope he might defeat GA's incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and help the party win a majority in the upper chamber of Congress.
There are some Republicans, however, who are proving to be much better than that. We are happy to laud some of them today, including Rep. Liz Cheney and (gasp!) Bill Kristol. Both are among a growing group of longtime GOPers who are not just calling out their party for the threat they now pose to American democracy itself, but are putting their money where their mouth is by actively supporting and endorsing pro-democracy Democratic candidates for office in battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona --- and even in ruby-red states like Idaho.
"I don't know that I have ever voted for a Democrat, but if I lived in Arizona now, I absolutely would...for Governor and for Secretary of State," Cheney said last week at a McCain Institute event at Arizona State University. She supports the Democratic bids for Governor by Katie Hobbs and for Sec. of State by Adrian Fontes. "We cannot be in a position where we elect people who will not fundamentally uphold the sanctity of elections," Cheney explained, referring to GOP Gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and SoS hopeful Mark Finchem, both of whom falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. If elected, both would be in a position to block state certification of a legitimate Democratic Presidential victory in 2024.
Of course, despite the complete lack of evidence to suggest that the 2020 election was stolen by anybody in any state, the lack of transparency and public oversight of our brittle and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems makes it easy for charlatans to dishonestly claim otherwise.
We have long advised that voters show up to their local polling place at closing time in order to take photos and videos of the cash register-style poll tapes that are printed out by voting machines and optical scanners. They are supposed to be printed and publicly posted there at the end of the night. Public documentation of those records can be very helpful when compared to results eventually reported for those precincts by towns, counties and states.
A new smart phone app called Actual Vote makes that process much easier for voters of all parties or no party at all, promises our guest today, DANIEL WOLF, CEO of AmericaCounts.us, a non-profit tech company that developed the free app.
Wolf has been observing elections since 1984, when he was sent to research election systems in Nicaragua. He explains today how he was struck after the controversial 2004 Presidential election in Ohio when poll tapes from dozens of Counties went missing well before the 22 months they are required to be preserved under federal law. Comparison of contemporaneously printed results at the precinct on those tapes with final results reported later can be helpful in ferreting out fraud (either foreign or domestic) or simple programming errors. As importantly, this sort of oversight, he argues, can also offer confidence to the public that results were tabulated and reported correctly as per voter intent.
"If people took a picture of the [poll] tape in the past, the question was, 'Who do I send it to?," he explains. But Actual Vote, in addition to assisting in the recording of poll tapes, allows the user to press a button to send those videos to a secure public server, where they are posted and where analysts can transcribe their numbers and compare them to final results in key jurisdictions.
"Anything that pops out, we then would go back to the election administrators and say, 'Look, we found a discrepancy. What about it?'," Wolf details. "Most of those discrepancies are going to be resolved. But those that aren't resolved can then be looked at more deeply. And if they cannot resolve that, then it gives the candidate or anybody else who is concerned about that particular race the ability to go into court and say 'I have documented evidence of discrepancies in the results reporting'."
Wolf notes that while "laws vary" from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction regarding the use of cameras at polling places, "once public information is posted in the public" after polls close, "you have a First Amendment right to take a picture of it."
His hope is that while Actual Vote could help surface fraud or simple error, broad use of the app may ultimately add confidence in election results for Republicans and Democrats alike, among whom he hopes to "ignite a war of mutual assured accountability."
A no-uncertain-terms brief [PDF] submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by all 50 state Supreme Court Chief Justices eviscerated the so-called "Independent State Legislature" (ISL) theory being pushed by far-right legal activists.
Their rare decision to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) SCOTUS brief reflects the unanimous recognition by all of the nation's State Chief Justices that the fringe ISL "legal" theory is so dangerous that, if it were to be embraced by a majority on our nation's highest federal court, it could hasten an end to our Constitutional democracy. And that is not hyperbole.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, now dominated by six unelected "radicals in robes", granted review in Moore v. Harper, a case brought to SCOTUS by North Carolina's Republican-controlled State Legislature after their partisan gerrymandered Congressional redistricting plan was struck down by their state's Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated NC's Constitution.
Ironically, Tar Heel State Republicans owe their own control of the General Assembly to partisan gerrymandering. When Democratic Governor Roy Cooper was reelected in 2020, he defeated his Republican opponent 51.5% to 47% statewide, yet GOPers were able to retain control of 56% of NC Senate seats and 57.5% of the House thanks to extremely partisan state district maps.
In Moore the NC Republican petitioners to SCOTUS rely upon the same ISL theory advanced by disgraced former Chapman Univ. Law Professor John Eastman as part of Team Trump's effort to steal the 2020 Presidential election.
Their argument is that, absent a federal law to the contrary, a State legislature has a plenary right to engage in what NYU's Brennan Center for Justice describes as "deeply undemocratic" partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts. They contend that, when it comes to laws regarding federal elections, state legislatures may not be constrained by a state's constitution as interpreted by its state courts.
In their brief, the 50 State Chief Justices argue that the ISL, as advanced by NC Republicans, does violence to the meaning of the word "Legislature" as envisioned by the framers and as it appears in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause (Article 1, Section 4), which provides that the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."
Embrace of the ISL theory by a SCOTUS majority in Moore could similarly result in approval of Eastman's radical theory that state legislatures enjoy a Constitutional right to override the will of state voters to choose electors in the next Presidential election. It all underscores President Joe Biden's recent assessment that, come November, "democracy will be on the ballot"...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
· Brilliant at Breakfast
· Crooks and Liars
· Dan Froomkin
· Fired Up! Missouri
· Freedom's Phoenix
· Freeway Blogger
· Glenn Greenwald
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· Jesus' General
· Juan Cole
· Washington Monthly
· Media Matters
· Nashua Advocate
· Oliver Willis
· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
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