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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Good News, Bad News!
It's 'The Caveat Show!':
'BradCast' 10/20/20
All sorts of reasons for Dems to feel good about Biden and re-taking the Senate...And plenty of reasons to remain concerned about both...
'Green News Report' 10/20/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Massive CO wildfires; Trump flip-flops on disaster aid to CA; Wind, solar energy now the cheapest energy in the world; PLUS: Biden talks clean energy at ABC Town Hall...
Previous GNRs: 10/15/20 - 10/13/20 - Archives...
Voting is Not Enough: How YOU Can Help Oversee and Protect Our Elections!: 'BradCast' 10/19/20
Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Bad news for MI voters; FL voting website fails...
Sunday 'A Bigger Boat' Toons
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth...PDiddie offers his latest collection of the week's best toons...
2020's Federal Court Voting Rights Roller Coaster: 'BradCast' 10/16/20
Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
'Deranged Power Grab': Barrett SCOTUS Hearings Conclude: 'BradCast' 10/15/20
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: E-Pollbook systems fail in GA; FBI reports 'unauthorized access to elections systems'...
'Green News Report' 10/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Barrett sure sounds like a climate denier during Senate hearings; Sen. Whitehouse breaks down dark-money polluter capture of judiciary; PLUS: Sept. 2020 hottest ever recorded...
Previous GNRs: 10/13/20 - 10/5/20 - Archives...
'Hypocrisy in Daylight? Look for Power in the Shadows': 'BradCast' 10/14/20
Guest: Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's revelations of GOP's $250M SCOTUS-packing coup; Also: Good voting news in VA, TX, AK!...
Barrett's Hypocritical, Scalia-Fueled 'Originalist' Hoax: 'BradCast' 10/13/20
Also: Touchscreens fail on 1st day of Early Voting near Houston; Trump judges okay absentee suppression in TX; Online registration fails on deadline day in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/13/20
Cleanup, recovery in battered LA in wake of Hurricane Delta; PLUS: Climate change in the spotlight (sort of) at the one and only 2020 Vice-Presidential Debate...
Judge Finds 'Serious Security Vulnerabilities' in New GA Vote Systems, Allows Them Anyway: 'BradCast' 10/12/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: GA systems fails on first day of early voting...
Federal Court Upholds NJ Canvass of Mail-In Ballots Prior to Election Day
Also upholds counting of mail-in ballots received by 11/5, two days after Election Day, even without a postmark...
Sunday SuperSpreader Toons
Look! Up in the sky! It's COVID-19 being spread by the goddamn President of the United States! That and many more sick toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
Tyranny Loves Company:
'BradCast' 10/9/20
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with 'Strongman' author Kenneth C. Davis...
Buzz-worthy, But Otherwise Refreshingly 'Normal' VP Debate: 'BradCast' 10/8/20
Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton, David Faris; Also: Suspended on Twitter for tweeting completely accurate news about GA's flawed voting system...
BRAD BLOG Suspended by Twitter for 100% Accurate Tweet About GA's New Touchscreen Vote Systems
The tweet in question and federal court evidence proving it's true. [UPDATED x 2!] ...
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: Attorney, former FCC official Art Belendiuk and media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: FBI Director says no evidence of widespread ballot fraud; Federal Judge orders Census to continue until completed...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2020 7:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A good answer to the question of how the hell we got here. We have an FCC that appears fully captured by the very (rightwing) corporate entities it is supposed to be regulating while overseeing control of our public airwaves. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, before we get to our main story today, which is a scoop you probably haven't heard about elsewhere, Donald Trump's own FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday that he is unaware of any evidence to suggest widespread absentee ballot fraud is underway. That runs completely contrary to the President of the United States' continued, persistent, repeated, evidence-free claims that Democrats are running some kind of massive absentee ballot fraud scam to steal the election from Trump.

On the other hand, Donald Trump was and is trying to steal the U.S. Census from the people of the United States. But on Friday, a federal judge ordered a stop to it, based on testimony and email from Census Bureau officials revealing that the Commerce Department's order for the Constitutionally-mandated decennial head count to be prematurely ended this month would result in fatally flawed headcount data. The Trump Administration has been trying to complete the tally in time to turn it over to the President for final approval by the end of this year, to avoid the current deadline of April 2021 when Joe Biden could be in office to approve it instead. The attempt to force an under-count, according to critics, would bastardized U.S. House seat apportionment, as well as thousands of state legislative seats and the distribution of some $1.5 trillion in federal spending for the next ten years. It would also result in the under-count of minorities and the shifting of political power to white, rural Republican districts.

And speaking of politically captured federal agencies, earlier this week at The BRAD BLOG, award-winning journalist turned media reform activist SUE WILSON broke the story of a "Petition to Deny" license renewals filed against three broadcast television stations in the Baltimore market. The petition, filed by longtime, D.C.-based Republican communications attorney and former FCC official ART BELENDIUK, charges that the giant, rightwing corporate TV station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group is unlawfully violating the Telecommunications Act [PDF] by secretly owning or controlling three stations in the Baltimore market, when they are only allowed to own one.

Belendiuk and Wilson join me on today's program to explain how the far-right Sinclair, which own Baltimore's WBFF, also secretly controls the ownership of Cunningham Broadcast, which nominally owns WNUV and Deerfield Media, which holds the license to WUTB in the same market. Belendiuk explains how that violates federal restrictions on media ownership, while noting that his "Petition to Deny", filed in Baltimore in hopes of blocking the stations' licensing renewals, is just the first such Petition, given that Sinclair is pulling the same corporate shell game scam with stations all across the country.

"You can have relationships with other stations in the market, but they're carefully regulated by the FCC," Belendiuk tells me. "But Sinclair has gone way beyond that, down to the point of setting the salary of the president of Cunningham. That's not the kind of thing you do at arm's length. Cunningham, which is the main partner of Sinclair, has twenty stations in twenty different markets and they're all paired with Sinclair. So this isn't a Baltimore problem, it's just that the petition had to be filed in Baltimore because of FCC reasons. The first place you could file was in Baltimore."

Wilson detailed in her recent report how, under the FCC's regulation of the Telecommunications Act, "In a single local broadcast market, one company may apply to own two stations --- if there are nine or more stations in that market. [But] Baltimore has just eight stations, and three of them are actually owned by Sinclair."

Sinclair, which officially owns almost 200 hundred TV stations across the county in more than 100 markets, largely in the South and Midwest, first came to national prominence when they mandated their hundreds of otherwise trusted local TV news anchors to read a script on air about "fake news" being a threat to democracy, back in early 2018. As their stations are affiliated with various networks such as ABC, Fox and The CW, local viewers often have no idea they are actually watching a Sinclair station, with a far-right corporate owner controlling the local station's newsroom.

"What's really at stake here are the diversity of voices that we the people get to hear on our local TV stations," Wilson explains. "Local television news is really the medium that most of us trust more than any other today for our news. This is really cutting away at that kind of trust, when you allow one company to own so many stations." She says "the law is clear," but the FCC, whose chairman Ajit Pai was appointed by Donald Trump, is failing to enforce it, even though the details of the sham ownership of the stations and companies controlled by Sinclair were discovered in both FCC and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents, according to Belendiuk's petition

"The commission is aware of this," Belendiuk insists. "Enough is enough. it's time for the FCC to stop looking the other way."

The self-described "political conservative" also shares the progressive Wilson's concerns about the dangers of the lack of diversity over our public airwaves. "In many markets --- take Columbus, Ohio --- they own two major network affiliates, Fox and I believe an NBC station. That means every day at 6 o'clock there are two local newscasts going out holding one political view. That's not what the Communications Act intended. The Communications Act intended that there should be a diversity of views. If there's a Sinclair with a clear rightwing view, there should be another station that has a middle-ground view, and one that maybe has a leftwing view. There shouldn't be one voice."

He goes on to discuss the serious "impacts" all of this has on our politics and elections. "It really, really matters to the people of Columbus, Ohio. And they're being deprived of the information they need to vote for the candidate of their choice. Whether you're voting Republican or Democrat, that vote should be an informed vote. When you control the local news, which is really what I see as the problem, then I'm no longer getting that kind of information that I need to make an informed decision."

Belendiuk notes that station license renewals, which come up every eight years, will also be happening soon in other markets around the country where, he says, "any citizen can file a petition saying why they don't serve --- and this is in the Communications Act --- 'the public interest, convenience, or necessity'," before he details how Sinclair has been repeatedly fined by the FCC for other violations over the years when they were found to not be acting in the public interest as mandated.

Sinclair has until October 1 to respond to the Petition, after which the matter will either be decided by the FCC or, if they ignore or attempt to whitewash the complaint, by a federal Appeals Court, Belendiuk vows.

There is much more on all of this in today's show, including information on how you can reach him and take action locally if you feel, like he does, that "enough is enough".

Finally today, because this week has been more than "enough", we end with the overdue return of one of our favorite Trump-era musical satirists! Randy Rainbow sends us off into the weekend with a tune that we dare you to get out of your head after you hear it...

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

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An investigation of FCC, SEC documents in a citizen-filed 'Petition to Deny' licensing for three stations controlled by the media behemoth may finally help put an end to the 'sham' control of our public airwaves...
By Sue Wilson on 9/23/2020 11:03am PT  

Baltimore's crowded TV market highlights the shell game that media goliath Sinclair Broadcasting plays across the nation to illegally dominate the information Americans can consume over our public airwaves. The agency tasked with overseeing those airwaves, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has long turned a blind eye to allow Sinclair, the very powerful purveyor of rightwing propaganda, to violate US law.

Congress passed the Telecommunications Act [PDF] so no single television company could dominate the news and information available to "We the People" in any single market or even nationwide. Under the law, a single TV company is permitted to reach no more than 39% of viewers in the United States over all. In a single local broadcast market, one company may apply to own two stations --- if there are nine or more stations in that market.

Baltimore has just eight stations, and three of them are actually owned by Sinclair: WBFF, WNUV, and WUTB.

Sinclair lawyers (who also represent Cunningham Broadcasting and Deerfield Media) will say Sinclair owns WBFF, Cunningham owns WNUV and Deerfield owns WUTB. But, in a September 1 legal Petition to Deny the renewal of all three stations' licenses, due to both the shell game and the lies Sinclair has told to protect its unlawful ownership, Republican attorney Art Belendiuk researched Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents to prove that both Deerfield and Cunningham are actually both controlled by Sinclair.

"Sinclair controls three television stations in Baltimore, while the FCC rules do not permit it to control more than one," the petition, filed on behalf of local viewer Ihor Gawdiak, argues, while detailing how the shell game of nominal ownership by the other two companies is simply meant to mask Sinclair's violation of federal law...

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




Judge blasts new Postal Service mandates as 'intentional effort to disrupt' and delegitimize the 2020 elections and to disenfranchise voters...
UPDATE 9/22/20: 2nd federal court enjoins USPS; separate preliminary injunction motion pending in D.C. federal court...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/18/2020 3:30pm PT  

On Thursday, by way of a 13-page Order [PDF] issued in State of Washington v. Trump, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley A. Bastian not only enjoined the United States Postal Service (USPS) from continuing to implement the "transformative" nationwide changes to its mail delivery capacities effectuated since July under the direction of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, but also ordered USPS to "replace, reassemble or reconnect" all of the high-speed sorting and labeling machines that had previously been decommissioned.

In his decision, Judge Bastian found that the 14 State Plaintiffs --- Attorneys General in WA, CO, CT, IL, MD, MI, MN, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, VA, WI --- "established a likelihood that they will prevail on their claims that the [USPS] and Postmaster General violated 39 U.S.C. §3661". He characterized DeJoy's mandates as an "attack on the Postal Service [that] is likely to irreparably harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election."

As we explained last month when covering the States' complaint, under Section 3661(b), DeJoy had a "non-discretionary duty" to request and obtain an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) before instituting "a change in the nature of postal services which will generally affect service on a nationwide or a substantially nationwide basis." Under that statute, the PRC cannot issue that advisory opinion "until an opportunity for a hearing on the record...has been afforded to...users of the mail." At that hearing, "an officer of the [PRC]...shall be required to represent the public interest."

DeJoy's failure to comply with those statutory requirements, Judge Bastion noted, "suggests" the USPS "acted ultra vires" --- beyond its power --- when it effectuated DeJoy's "transformative" changes.

The court also found that the Plaintiffs established a likelihood that the USPS "actions have infringed" upon the "States' constitutional right to appoint presidential electors and set the time, place, and manner of elections; that the current changes are the result of an effort by the current Administration to use the [USPS] as a tool in partisan politics, which violates the spirit and purpose of the Postal Reorganization Act and the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act."

In his written ruling, Judge Bastian blasted the USPS actions, charging they would result in "voter disenfranchisement"...

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




Multi-State legal challenges expose illegality, but it may be too late to fully repair damage even if Trump's Postmaster General is ordered to do so...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/24/2020 7:35am PT  

Even if several multi-state legal challenges result in a federal court order directing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to repair the damage wrought by his allegedly "illegal" sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service's mail delivery capabilities, absent significant additional funds, it's unlikely DeJoy could fully comply with that order.

The facts laid out in one of the recently filed cases and echoed in the others, along with subsequent developments, suggest that DeJoy was, at best, disingenuous when, in an August 18 formal statement [PDF], he claimed he was "suspending" his nationwide mail sorting, labeling and delivery changes until after the Nov. 3 Presidential Election.

The complaint describes how, pursuant to an Equipment Reduction Plan [PDF], Defendants removed, dismantled and/or destroyed 671 high-speed sorting and labeling machines that had a combined hundreds of millions of dollars in value. As a result, the States allege, "some major cities have already had their ability to sort mail reduced by hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail per hour." (Emphasis in original text).

On the same day that DeJoy issued his "suspension" statement, emails were submitted by Kevin Couch, the USPS Director of Maintenance Operations, informing Maintenance Managers that, irrespective of instructions from their plant managers, they must not reconnect or reinstall sorting machines that had previously been disconnected absent approval from USPS HQ.

Last Friday, while testifying before the U.S. Senate, DeJoy made it clear that he has "has no intention" of reinstalling the sorting machines, even as he claimed that election related mail would receive top priority from the Postal Service. Contrary to DeJoy's rosy predictions, however, the USPS's own Service Performance memo reflects a significant drop in overall performance which precipitated a USPS warning to 46 states that their deadlines for Vote-by-Mail ballots "might impede the timely delivery of mail-in ballots, possibly disenfranchising millions of voters"

While there's ample reason for a court to order reinstallation, absent significant additional USPS funding, which Trump opposes, it is doubtful that DeJoy could fully undo the damage even if he were ordered to do so.

VOTERS BEWARE: Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by DeJoy's "suspension" of changes at the USPS until after Election Day, or by his unsupported assurance that USPS can timely process and deliver every ballot. The wiser course, as laid out in our previously related article, is to deposit your mail-in ballots in secure, state-supplied drop-boxes (where available) or at designated drop-off locations. Check your local jurisdictions to learn what options may be available where you live. In some jurisdictions, voters can deposit their mail-in ballots at the polls either during early voting or on Election Day. In some jurisdictions, voters can link to election official websites to track the processing of their own ballots as well...

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




Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala as VEEP; Jeanne Dufort on why the Peach State's new, $100 million digital-scanners failed to count thousands of valid votes and how to fix it before November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2020 7:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two mysteries solved in one single, if hectic, show! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The first is the mystery of who presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden would select as his Vice-Presidential partner. Now we know. Less than an hour before showtime today, it was announced that California's first-term U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will become the first black woman (and first South Asian American woman) to be part of a major party's Presidential ticket. On short notice, we were able to scrounge up the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog to join us for her "top-line, knee-jerk, hot-take" response to the big news and how she thinks it will play both among the electorate at large and the far, FAR more picky progressive electorate.

Parton, a progressive herself, who says she was rooting for Elizabeth Warren to be named for the slot, describes Harris as a "a very skilled politician"; argues that her selection "says something nice about Biden"; discusses the "legitimate concerns that progressives have had about Harris"; and whether she believes "the Left" will be able to "put aside their differences" to get behind the ticket, before "going to fight tooth and nail about the things that we care about" in the event that Biden actually becomes President next January.

Today's other solved mystery is much trickier. And it has to do with Georgia, which is holding primary runoff elections today, along with state primary elections on Tuesday in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (We'll have noteworthy results from all of those states, as available, on tomorrow's BradCast, of course). Naturally, because it's Election Day in Georgia --- a key battleground state which some believe could finally flip from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time in decades --- there are problems at the polls. While hopefully not as terrible as the meltdown caused by the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks that resulted in hours-long lines in largely Democratic-leaning precincts during the state's June primary, we have early indications that the same, new, overly-complex, computerized voting systems failed voters again today in at least some of the 94 (of 159) counties participating in today's runoffs.

Despite that distressing (if unsurprising) news today in Georgia, there was some good-ish news from the State Elections Board (SEB) there. They met on Monday to adopt new procedures in advance of the November 3rd Presidential election. The SEB unanimously agreed to allow voters to request absentee ballots for November via a new online webpage to go live by the end of the month. That's good news for those who have easy online access. But, shamefully, it comes along with the news that Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, after successfully sending out Vote-by-Mail applications to all of the state's active registered voters before the June primary, will NOT be doing so before this year's Presidential election. Apparently, that plan worked too well and allowed too many to easily vote from home, when they might otherwise have had to struggle with long lines and Raffensperger's failed electronic voting systems at the polling place in the middle of an ongoing global pandemic.

Also at Georgia's SEB meeting on Monday, the Board agreed to make a change to the state's new computer-tabulation systems that scan and count those hand-marked paper absentee ballots. (Voters at the polls are forced to use unverifiable touchscreen systems.) The SEB's change to a software setting on the systems came about, thanks in no small part, to our guest today, JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance.

Following the June primaries, Dufort was on a bi-partisan citizens' panel reviewing digital images of hand-marked paper absentee ballots on which the computerized digital-scanners believed there were over-votes with, for example, more than one oval in a single race seen by the computer as being filled in. State law requires manual examination of such ballots to determine if the voter's intent is discernible or not. While reviewing those ballots, Dufort and the other panelists in Morgan County noticed that the tabulation system had marked some clearly discernible votes on many of those same ballots as containing "no vote". Why were those votes not counted by the new, $100 million tabulation system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting? And would elections officials manually examine ALL of the hand-marked ballots to count those "lost" votes? As Dufort told us on this program at the time she discovered the problem after the June primary, there were potentially tens of thousands of perfectly legitimate votes that had gone uncounted.

Well, today we finally have the answer to the mystery of why the system had failed to count some of those votes. It has to do with a sensitivity setting on the digital optical-scan tabulators that the Secretary of State's office claims they did not originally know about when they initially dismissed Dufort's concerns back in June. That setting, apparently, directs the computer to ignore votes in which less than 12% of the bubble was filled in. (Often, instead of inking in the entire bubble, voters will use a check-mark or an X. While the voter's intent is easily discernible to the human eye, the new computers that tabulate votes were set to record such marks --- that filled less than 12% of the bubble --- as a "no vote".)

"It assigns it a 'percentage of fill'," Dufort tells me. "In our case in Georgia, what we later found out was that these Dominion factory settings said if a vote was deemed to cover more than 35% of that area...if the threshold percentage hit 35% or above, the system said, 'Yep, that's a vote! It counts!' If the threshold was between 12-35%, it said, 'that's ambiguous, I'm not sure something is there, better get a human to look at it.' If it fell below 12%, it said, 'I see that, but it's not a vote, so I'm going to label it unvoted, and I'm not even going to call it to the attention of the humans.'"

While Dufort says that it is good news that the SEB has now agreed to lower the bottom of the software sensitivity range setting to 10%, the longtime Election Integrity advocate says that she and others in the state believe it should be set lower still, to avoid more lost votes, in advance of the Presidential Election. "We think 10% is still too high," she says. "So we're going to be out talking to them. This rule is out for 30 days of public comment. We'll be saying thank you, but you really need to take it down to 5, which we have learned is what Colorado uses. And they've been doing hand-marked paper ballots statewide for a very long time. We think that's a good benchmark for Georgia."

She also observes that the the old settings, less sensitive settings, are still being used to tally today's runoff elections, which could be a problem in the event of close races. Moreover, she explains, "the color of the ink [and] the brand of the ink in your pen can change how the computer measures it." We discuss all of that, how the changes may affect results this November, and whether we should be worried that such a software setting could be abused by ill-intentioned election insiders (or hackers) in the critical battleground state (or others that use similar systems) during the Presidential election.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more deadly fossil fuel disasters, a warning about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season, and some very disturbing climate change news out of Canada, where the last intact ice shelf has finally collapsed and broken away...

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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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/11/2020 11:19am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: More fossil fuel disasters --- Deadly natural gas explosion levels homes in Baltimore; Fuel spill creates ecological disaster for island nation Mauritius; Buckle up for a hyperactive hurricane season; July 2020 was the third hottest July ever recorded globally; PLUS: And then there were none --- Canada's last intact ice shelf collapses... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Trump EPA lifts controls on climate-warming methane; Interior proposes easing royalty calculations for public lands extraction; Deadly derecho leaves path of destruction across Midwest; Investors launch climate plan to get to net zero emissions by 2050; Warming world will be 'devastating' for frozen peatlands; Big oil remembers 'friend' Trump with millions in campaign funds; BP's green energy targets will be tough to meet... PLUS: 'As the tundra burns, we cannot afford climate silence': a letter from the Arctic... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Biden takes OH; Mfume wins in MD; Yang sues NY state; MI's Amash likely running for Prez; Kobach loses again in KS; Also: Trump and economy sink like stones and a NYer on the government's f**ked up response...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2020 6:51pm PT  

We've got a boatload of news today (for a change) on The BradCast. And yes, we still need a much bigger boat. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Democrat Kweisi Mfume surprises nobody by winning back his old seat in the U.S. House in Maryland's special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings in Baltimore (according to incomplete, unverified results.);
  • Joe Biden surprises nobody by winning the first quickly conceived and rescheduled statewide almost-all absentee ballot primary election during the COVID era in Ohio (according to incomplete, unverified results.);
  • Donald Trump's approval rating for his handling of the COVID crisis plummets in new poll, though his national head-to-head numbers against Biden remain the same;
  • Andrew Yang sues New York state over this week's cancellation of the Democratic Presidential Primary by two Democrats on the State Board of Elections;
  • In what could be game-changing news for the Presidential race (though how it will change the game precisely is still unclear), Michigan's Republican-turned-independent U.S. House Rep. Justin Amash announces likely plans to run for President on the Libertarian Party ticket;
  • Kansas' former Secretary of State, long time GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and current Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kris Kobach loses again, this time at a U.S. court of appeals which upheld a lower court ruling finding Kobach's "papers please" proof-of-citizenship voter registration law to be in violation of the Constitution's Equal Protection clause and the National Voter Registration Act, after it prevented 30,000 legal Kansas voters from voting;
  • New numbers from the Commerce Department confirm that the U.S. economy is in big BIG trouble;
  • Steven Colbert explains why Trump can't lie his way out of the coronavirus disaster;
  • And New York comedian Vic DiBitetto offers a rant FOR THE AGES (the uncensored version we couldn't play on air is here) in response to the federal government's pathetic response to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus...in a way that only a real New Yorker can...

I'm short on time tonight. So to find out my thoughts on any or all of the stories above, you'll have to tune in. Enjoy!

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert on press coverage of the President's historically unparalleled failure and knee-jerk 'Dems in disarray!' narrative; Also: OH, MD elections; Trump ignored intel warnings on Coronavirus...
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2020 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As of today, more than one million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 58,000 in the U.S. have been killed by it, according to official counts (which are likely no more than half of the real number of those who have died either directly or indirectly because of COVID-19.) More Americans have been killed by the virus over the past two months than all of those who were killed throughout all of the years of the Vietnam War. The unprecedented crisis has also resulted in unemployment numbers on par with, and potentially worse than, the Great Depression. So, given the historic enormity of this moment, are the mainstream corporate media covering the failure of the Donald Trump Presidency with the unprecedented historic context warranted by what my guest today describes as 'Trump's Vietnam'? [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Before we answer that question and many related others, a quick update on the voting that is concluding today in two different states. In Maryland's 7th Congressional District there was a Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. In Ohio, voting is concluding across the state for the Democratic Presidential Primary, hundreds of local ballot issues, and a number of contested Congressional primaries in a state where, thanks to extreme gerrymandering of its 16 Congressional Districts, primaries often determine who goes to the U.S. House to represent the Buckeye State. The elections in both states (each with Republican Governors) are being held almost entirely by mail, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Complete results are unlikely to be known for several days as ballots are being quarantined for 24 hours in MD and may still arrive by mail for 10 more days in OH. Both cases, however, offer a glimpse of what elections are likely to look like in about 20 states which still have primary elections upcoming in the next several months, and potentially in all 50 states this November.

Then, we're getting a glimpse of how COVID infection rates could soon begin increasing again as some Republican Governors begin taking Donald Trump's advice to start lifting stay-at-home restrictions to allow businesses to reopen. Germany began lifting similar restrictions just last week, and early evidence suggests infections may be on the rise again there already.

Washington Post is reporting today that U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned Trump about the threat of the virus to the health of Americans and to its economy in "more than a dozen classified briefings" prepared for him in January and February. Despite the "drumbeat" of warnings reportedly in those Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs), Trump publicly ignored them and/or downplayed the dangers of the virus throughout those months and even into March. WaPo's report, based on sources that include "current and former U.S. officials", provides yet another data point underscoring the epic failure of Trump to protect the American people when he had the chance to prepare for and hope to contain the deadly pandemic.

We're joined today by longtime media analyst ERIC BOEHLERT, who, in his new thrice-weekly free newsletter, PressRun.Media, has been comparing this historic moment to the failure of leadership and years of deceptions presented to the media during the Vietnam War. Given that far more Americans have already been killed by the virus in about six weeks --- versus the 9 years of that tragic conflict --- the comparison seems apt, especially during an election year for reasons we also discuss today. "No President, obviously, in the history of our country, has ever tried to run for re-election with those staggering statistics on his resume," Boehlert explains, as he has been reporting on the media's failure to adequately cover "the truly historic and once-in-a-century events that have quickly unfolded this year" or even just how "unhinged the Trump Presidency has become."

We also discuss the corporate media's years-long and still-continuing obsession with reporting their "Dems in Disarray!" narrative, despite facts suggesting otherwise --- or, at least in comparison to their years-long downplaying of a Republican Party that is literally falling apart before our eyes with a President facing historically low approval numbers and his continuous losses in head-to-head polling with the Democrats' presumptive Presidential nominee.

Boehlert cites "this drumbeat of Joe Biden stories," from the New York Times and others. "'Joe Biden doesn't have enough money,' 'Joe Biden doesn't have enough YouTube followers'. Those are all fair topics, but when you do it against backdrop of a pandemic, and you do it against the backdrop of a sitting President with 30 million lost jobs, that seems pretty trivial. But they are just determined to stick with it," he says, before offering evidence from the Obama years and the Clinton impeachment of "the epic double standard that [the media have] used for years."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as the U.S. oil industry continues its stunning collapse and as the Trump Administration desperately tries to find a way to employ Big Government Socialism to try and bail it out...

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NY State Dems under fire for removing Sanders/Biden contest from ballot; Native American Tribes settle ND Photo ID voting lawsuit; Drano Don still swirling after dangerous disinfectant remark; Plus Callers and more!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2020 6:33pm PT  

We've got good news and bad --- and a whole lot of facts to go with it --- on today's BradCast. And we even have some time to open the phones to listener calls today!. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]

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

  • Backlash is growing against COVID-19 financial relief measures adopted by Congress, signed by the President, and failing to help the Americans that they were supposedly designed to be help;
  • But, in what appeared (at least as of early this morning) to be much better news, Donald Trump had been planning to stop endangering public health with his appearances at White House coronavirus task force briefings. He did not appear at any briefings over the weekend and, as of Monday morning, on the heels of continuing blowback in response to his musings at last Thursday's briefing in which he discussed injecting people with disinfectant to "cure" coronavirus, his Press Secretary confirmed he would be reducing his role in those nightly briefings which, long ago, turned into Trump Campaign TV shows. A few hours later, however, the White House backtracked. Sure enough, by Monday evening, Trump was back at the podium. But we're still ignoring him. You're welcome.;
  • We can't, however, ignore everything he says, particularly when he continues to put out dangerous misinformation from that podium. Thankfully, we have more trustworthy news sources like....Saturday Night Live to correct him! Brad Pitt played Dr. Anthony Fauci on the show over the weekend, and we share it today because a) it was very funny and b) it helps correct a whole bunch of deadly BS that Trump has been misinforming the American public with. (So much so that even Republicans have been forced to come out and correct the President's dangerous misinformation on poisoning people to try and kill the coronavirus, after calls to emergency poison control hotlines spiked around the country following Trump's remarks.);
  • Shifting to elections news --- the only way we'll ultimately be able to turn the page from many of our ongoing nightmares --- some very good news out of North Dakota today. A settlement has been reached, according to the Campaign Legal Center, with two Native American tribes who sued the state over the GOP effort to prevent them from voting with a law that mandates a Photo ID voting restriction requiring IDs with residential street addresses. That, even though thousands of tribal members living on reservations in the state do not have residential addresses. The settlement, agreed to by the state in hopes of avoiding a trial, will (theoretically) ensure that all Native Americans voters will be able to do so without a problem in ND's upcoming June 9th primary and beyond. That good news also allowed us to report another related good news story from the 2018 election that we've being trying to cover for the past year and a half! It has to do with the three Republican members of the ND state legislature, incuding the House Majority Leader, whose seats were flipped from "red" to "blue" in the 2018 mid-terms in response to the GOP-majority's purposely-disenfranchising Photo ID measure. The best part: The guy who sponsored the 2013 law which took effect in 2018 for the first time, was ousted in the same election by Democrat Ruth Buffalo --- a Native American!;
  • With that good election news out of the way, we move on to New York for some much-less-than-good election news. On Monday, the Democrats on the State Board of Elections voted to cancel the June 23 Democratic Presidential Primary, even though Bernie Sanders, who has suspended his campaign and endorsed Joe Biden, has said he wishes to remain on the ballots for the 20 or so remaining primaries. Over the weekend, his campaign asked the NY Dems to NOT cancel the primary. While most NY voters, due to the coronavirus, will be allowed to vote via absentee ballot in the June 23 election (where there will still be other primaries and issues on the ballot), Democratic state officials said that removing the Presidential race from the ballot would lower turnout in hopes of making in-person voting safer.

    The Sanders Campaign is furious and calls the move a "blow to American democracy". Democratic NY Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also angry and called for the DNC --- which claims they did not call for the cancellation --- to override or reverse the decision, in some fashion. She notes that "Sen. Sanders explicitly stated that he intended on continuing to collect delegates in order to advance wage, healthcare, climate & other priorities into the platform at the convention," adding "unity isn't a feeling, it's a process. Undemocratic, unilateral decisions that disenfranchise millions of progressive voters & volunteers is extremely destructive to the process of unifying the party for Nov."

    The Sanders Campaign has now petitioned the NY State Board of Elections to keep his name on the ballot, with his attorney noting that the Vermont Senator "is concerned that his removal from the ballot would undermine efforts to unify the Democratic Party in advance of the general election." The vote today --- which neither Biden, nor the state Party, nor Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked for --- comes despite the reasonable argument detailed last week at The BRAD BLOG by Ernie Canning, who explained why he believes the more votes Sanders receives in the remaining primaries, the more likely that presumptive nominee Biden will actually win this November!;

  • Also, speaking of elections, voting in Ohio's postponed-at-the-last-minute March 17th election will finally end as of tomorrow (April 28). Absentee ballots postmarked by Monday night will be counted if they arrive at County headquarters by May 8 or if voters deliver them to County Boards of Election by Tuesday night at 7:30pm. In-person voting will be available on Tuesday for disabled or homeless voters, though the state's Secretary of State has said that any voter who claims disability or that they are unable to receive mail will not be challenged and will be allowed to vote in person at County Boards of Elections on April 28;
  • Finally, we take some calls on any number of things discussed on today's show and even much that we didn't!...

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Guest: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the bill? Who's now holding it up? And how Governors are dismissing our idiot President...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Avery important lesson from the coronavirus crisis for progressives and for all Americans that I hope we are all able to remember once this crisis has finally ended. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article. Please click it!]

Britain's 71-year old Prince Charles, 71-year old Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and 81-year old playwright Terrence McNally all tested positive. The prolific playwright succumbed on Tuesday in Florida. They were all able to get tested for coronavirus. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans still cannot. Add it to the list of national disgraces we are collectively enduring as we stay-at-home as much as possible in hopes of slowing the spread to keep our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.

That said, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have come to an agreement on another emergency spending bill to address a bit more of the growing fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. The bill, if allowed to pass in the Senate by four Republicans now blocking it, and if House Democrats can pass a similarly acceptable bill, will cost a record $2 trillion. That's half the size of the nation's annual $4 trillion annual federal budget, and many experts agree, there will need to be much more spending hereafter.

And yet, nobody --- not Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives or White House --- seems to be complaining that we don't have the money to pay for it, or that we must cut somewhere else or raise taxes to be able to afford it. It is as if, as our guest today, Stony Brook University Professor of Economics and leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory STEPHANIE KELTON notes, we are able to just "conjure into existence, in a matter of days, a couple of trillion dollars," enough money for the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And, as it turns out, she is right!

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted recently in response to the sudden disappearance of so-called "Deficit Hawks" on Capitol Hill: "It's actually a fascinating progressive moment, because what it's shown is that all of these issues have never been about 'how are you going to pay for it?' It's never been about whether we have the capacity to do these things. All of these excuses that we have been given as to why we can't treat people humanely have suddenly gone up in smoke. And what has been revealed is that all of these issues were really about a lack of political will and who you deemed worthy to be in an emergency or not."

Kelton, the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has been trying to make these points of late in Twitter threads, New York Times op-eds, and her upcoming book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy. As she tells me today, "Congress will always find the funds to accomplish the things that it considers a priority. If that's tax cuts, then that's the priority, and the money will be there. If it's wars, that's the priority. If it's dealing with a global pandemic, then that suddenly becomes a priority."

She laments that Democrats, over months on the Presidential campaign trail, have not been able to educate the American public about these facts and how difficult it has now become --- after years of phony claims from politicians (of both parties) that the U.S. was going broke or that government should be run by the same fiscal rules that govern households and businesses --- "to disabuse people of these myths that we have heard from our politicians, pundits and reporters."

She argues "There is a time and a place for offsets. It's not a free lunch", but Bernie Sanders' call for "canceling $81 billion of medical debt is nothing. It's everything to the people who have medical debt. But from the perspective of the federal budget, it's practically a rounding error, it's so trivial. We could have done that and not offset it," she says. "The federal government's finances don't work like ours. They're not subject to the same constraints as a household or a private company. Once you get your head around that, a lot of other things follow."

"A year ago, could we have just done free college or Medicare For All or whatever? The answer is yes. Congress can write and pass any bill it chooses, period. The risk, though, is that if you don't include offsets, and you're simply authorizing these huge spending bills left and right, at some point you're going to eat up all of the fiscal space left in the economy. In other words, it's going to become inflationary. So there is a time and a place for offsets." That time, apparently, is not now, however. And she hopes that after this emergency finally passes, enough Americans will remember what happened here, how easy it was to "find" all the money when it was needed, to finally do away with the notion that endless wars and corporate subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy are the only things we can afford to spend money on to "promote the general welfare" of the American people.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including details on what the proposed Phase III emergency coronavirus spending bill will and won't pay for, and the good news that America's Governors --- both Democratic and Republican --- seem to be rejecting our corrupt, man-child President when it comes to his dangerous coronavirus idiocy.

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Guest: Montgomery County, MD Dep. Election Dir. Alysoun McLaughlin; Also: Progressive U.S. House candidate wins in IL; With all market gains since inauguration gone, Trump declares self a 'wartime president'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Former Vice President Joe Biden trounced Bernie Sanders in three more states on Tuesday. The coronavirus pandemic continued to spread as all of the stock market gains since Donald Trump's inauguration were finally wiped out. And the nation's elections officials --- at least some of them --- began eyeing the need to move to Vote-by-Mail elections as a temporary mitigation for the foreseeable future. But is that a good idea? Are we ready for it? [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

First up, however, some good news, believe it or not! Marie Newman, a progressive challenger to far-right anti-abortion Democratic U.S. House Rep. Dan Lipinski, appears to have won her primary race against the conservative eight-term Congressman in Illinois 3rd Congressional district. The victory in the very "blue" suburbs of Chicago virtually guarantees Newman's election to the House in November, mirroring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' 2018 defeat of longtime (if less execrable) Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in New York.

Beyond that, Biden appears to have delivered a thumping to Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, increasing his lead in the nominating contest to a seemingly insurmountable 300 delegates. All three states held low-turnout primaries on Tuesday amid warnings from health officials to avoid large gatherings, polling places that were closed or moved at the last minute, and a shortage of pollworkers due to cancellations in the wake of coronavirus concerns. Ohio, which was also supposed to vote on Tuesday, postponed its Presidential primary until June at the very last minute.

Both Biden and Sanders addressed supporters on Tuesday night via live Internet streams due to the cancellation of live rallies. They both focused mostly on actions needed to address the pandemic. Despite rumors throughout the day on Wednesday, and the cancellation of online digital ads, the Sanders campaign maintains that they are not suspending, but reassessing their campaign with three more weeks until the next scheduled primary, given all of the various states which have now postponed elections amid the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate finally passed an emergency relief measure adopted by the U.S. House last week to guarantee paid sick leave and expanded unemployment benefits to certain workers, while extending some food security programs, even as a FAR larger stimulus package will be required in response to the ongoing crisis, as markets fell again on Wednesday, reversing all of the gains since Trump took office. For his part, the President vowed to invoke the Defense Production Act to allow the federal government to commandeer private U.S. facilities to manufacturer various needed medical supplies such as masks and ventilators. With the economy in tatters and after weeks of bungled responses, Trump has now declared himself a "wartime president", even as he continues to attack his perceived political enemies and employ racist terms to describe the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid all of this, the nation's elections officials are turning their efforts toward quickly devising ways to safely hold upcoming primary elections as well as the general election in November. On Tuesday, the Governor of Maryland postponed the state's April 28 primary elections until June 2, but allowed the scheduled U.S. House Special Election to fill the Baltimore seat of the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings to proceed as an all-mail contest. Joining us today to discuss the efforts now underway to quickly move to Vote-by-Mail elections in Maryland (and elsewhere) is ALYSOUN MCLAUGHLIN, longtime Deputy Election Director for Montgomery County, MD. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and as Vice Chair of the National Association of Counties.

Following her Governor's executive order postponing the statewide primary while calling for an all-mail U.S. House Special Election next month, McLaughlin explains some of the many challenges officials face in turning to VBM elections in the state. "The way we see it, we don't have a choice. The way we see it, there's a whole lot of really challenging problems in conducting an election under these circumstances right now, and the best way for us to serve everyone --- and to serve everyone avoiding the kinds of stresses and strains that we saw on polling places on Tuesday --- is for us to mail everyone a ballot. And immediately that takes the pressure off of the polls. That allows us to deal with the fact that our workforce is so significantly diminished in staffing a polling place election."

She tells me that officials in all 24 counties in the state feel the move to mail every registered voter a ballot is necessary for the newly-reschedule primary, though the state Board of Elections will still need to approve the plan. At the same time, there are many challenges and concerns in turning to such a system, particularly in such short order. We discussed a number of them on yesterday's program and Washington Post's Cybesecurity 202 column detailed several more. I've laid out even more such concerns over many years counseling caution, as I have long opposed VBM elections except where voters were unable to vote at the polls on Election Day or where a jurisdiction forces voters to vote by unverifiable, unsecure --- and, yes, germy --- touchscreen voting systems at the polls. (Thankfully, Maryland, which, with Georgia, was first in the nation to adopt statewide touchscreen voting in 2002, no longer does so, having moved recently, and sensibly, to hand-marked paper ballots for all.)

My conversation with McLaughlin today highlights some of those concerns, including questions about signature verification which, she says, her state does not use at all in determining if absentee ballots are to be included in the tally or rejected from the count. It's an eye-opening and important discussion that we will, necessarily, continue to have, in hopes that states adopt new temporary election practices in line with recommendations from health experts, even while observing best practices required to make sure VBM elections are secure, inclusive and publicly overseeable...

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Guest: Legendary FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More states postpone primaries, consider moving to Vote-by-Mail; GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 11 months...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: America continues to adjust to the pandemic, as the most critical election in our nation's history is now threatened by a virus, even as voters in three major states hit the polls on Tuesday. At least some of them did. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

We begin another bizarre day in the Coronavirus Era with just a spot of good news. California's wildly corrupt GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., who, with his wife, was charged with more than 60 felonies, but pleaded guilty to just one in a deal last December after it became clear his wife would testify against him, was sentenced to 11 months in prison today. The couple had stolen as much as a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal luxuries during Hunter's six elected terms before he finally resigned in disgrace in January. He, along with New York's GOP Congressman Chris Collins (who was recently sentenced to 26 months for insider trading), were the first two members of the U.S. House to endorse Donald Trump's run for the Presidency.

And with that somewhat good news out of the way, it's on to the more disturbing news we must try and make sense of today. Even as Florida, Illinois and Arizona all decided to hold their Presidential primary elections on Tuesday amid quarantines, closures, lock-downs and social distancing directives, other states continued to take more responsible measures.

Ohio, which was also scheduled to vote on Tuesday, postponed their primary election today amid no small amount of chaos, with the state's Governor taking extraordinary measures to do so late Monday night after initially being blocked by a state court.

Maryland's Governor today announced that his state would join others, such as Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky in postponing their primary until June. It was previously scheduled for April 28. They will, however, still hold the April 28 Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. That election, however, will now be an all Vote-by-Mail (VBM) election. That as other states consider either postponing or changing to all-VBM elections for the foreseeable future during the virus outbreak.

The affects of the pandemic were seen in all three states which voted today, including poll closures, low turnout, and shortages of poll workers, many of whom are elderly and the most susceptible to the worst affects of the virus. Hundreds of them in South Florida, for example, decided to cancel at the last minute rather than be exposed to hundreds of people all day in crowded polling locations left open despite the CDC's recommendation to avoid all crowds larger than 10 at this time.

We're joined today by a guest well-accustomed to both chaos and elections. ION SANCHO is Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida's former longtime Supervisor of Elections as well as a champion voting rights advocate and opponent of private voting system vendors. During his nearly 30 years as one of the state's (and nation's) most respected election officials, he has held elections amid hurricane catastrophes and political ones. He was tapped by his fellow state officials in 2000 to oversee the eventually-aborted Presidential election recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Sancho has plenty of thoughts and insight to offer today amid the current chaos and challenges now faced by elections officials and voters alike. We discuss the likely necessity of all states moving to VBM elections for the duration of the crisis, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure such elections are carried out with integrity.

"The entire primary and elections process is going to have to be re-examined, given this crisis," he tell me. "This pandemic provides a challenge like no other in my lifetime. Mail ballots may be the way out of this, but mail ballots require machinery. Mail ballots require high-speed counting devices. It can be done, and it can be done excellently, but it can't be done cheaply. So if that's something we're going to need to go to, we're need to prepare for that." He warns that voters, many of whom do not bother to change their address on their registration when they move within a county, should check their registration record to assure it's up to date immediately, or else they risk not receiving a ballot at all, when and if states begin moving to VBM.

And while money will need to be spent to transition to high-speed optical-scanners to tally hand-marked mail-in paper ballots in many locations, the cost and benefits would still be far greater for voters than in jurisdictions such as Georgia which recently spent more than $100 million dollars for new equipment that will force all voters at the polls to vote on new, germy, unverifiable, touchscreen voting systems which violate voters' privacy by revealing secret ballots to everyone in the polling place. "The COVID-19 virus may be a blessing in disguise for the citizens of Georgia," Sancho explains. "Using a hand-marked paper ballot system is not only more secure, it's three to ten times more inexpensive to operate and maintain."

But in addition to money, guidance will be needed on the federal level to ensure a move to mail-in voting is done in a way that doesn't disenfranchise voters, since, he explains, it is so much easier for VBM ballots to be rejected by officials for dubious reasons and without notifying voters so that they have sufficient time to cure any perceived deficiencies on their ballots. VBM would be a "fair solution [during this crisis] if you have fair elections administration. Jurisdictions like Oregon, for example, which has pioneered mail voting in the United States, provide 14 days for an individual to present themselves to cure a problem, a deficiency, in the mail ballot. States like Arizona, Washington and California provide 2-3 weeks of days to allow the voter to cure a problem. Then you run into states like Florida, that had to be sued to allow voters to cure their ballot after the election. The deadline for Florida to cure all deficiencies --- so how could you know about it? --- is the day before the election."

While some elections officials, he believes, would be careful to institute best practices, others, he warns, would not. "They don't concern themselves with how actual machinery is working in other places. They just depend upon their voting vendor to tell them what to do. We don't really have any kind of mechanism nationally to provide the best practices, to give guidance. Our national elections administration is a debacle," he says, along with much more that you'll want to hear.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the coronavirus epidemic has now cleared the air in both China and Italy, at least as far as toxic greenhouse gas emissions go, and has given Donald Trump yet another excuse to try and shore up the oil industry amid crashing prices. And, though much of it has now been lost to time and the global pandemic, we also examine the substantive debate on Sunday night between Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders regarding our climate crisis...

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Coronavirus, lack of leadership, wreak dangerous havoc on country and economy amid most important Presidential election in nation's history...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

To quote Donald Trump when he thought the cameras had stopped rolling after his disastrous Oval Office address last week: "Oooookaaay...." So, we are now living in a new world. For the time being. Millions are being instructed to stay home from work. Markets are tanking. Major states and cities are shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters and casinos. Some are instituting full "stay at home" lock-down orders. And Congress is scrambling to pass emergency legislation to try and help displaced workers and families as the coronavirus crisis threatens to shut down the nation entirely for weeks, months or longer. All of this amidst a Presidential election under the most dangerously inept and dishonest Administration in the history of the nation.

On today's BradCast, we try to get you caught up with the unfolding, bizarre and disorienting mess that we are all going through together in hopes of "flattening the curve" of the rate of infections to try and ensure that the U.S. hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed with patients. Like you, we have no idea how this is supposed to work, but we're all working through it together, even as Trump literally told the nation's Governors today they are on their own in coming up with enough respirators and other medical equipment to keep their residents alive, and as he continues to lie to the country about the availability of testing and eventual arrival date of a vaccine (which is most likely more than a year from now, even as a single live test began today).

And, speaking of that Presidential election, states --- particularly those which are touchscreen-voting heavy, like Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio --- are beginning to announce postponements of their primary elections. Ohio's Governor has attempted to do so before tomorrow's planned election that was to be held along with Florida, Illinois and Arizona. But a state judge, late today (minutes ago, justt after we got off air) has now blocked the Republican Ohio Governor's attempt to postpone. So, full-on chaos for a change in the Buckeye State tonight. The other three big states (at least at this hour) are planning to go through with their own elections tomorrow, even as polling sites at senior citizen centers are requiring last-minute relocation and frequently-elderly poll workers are (justifiably) calling in to cancel.

Other states, such as New York are considering postponement, while Maryland considers moving to all-Vote-by-Mail primaries. More than a dozen states, such as Texas, do not even currently offer no-excuse absentee voting. That needs to change. [CORRECTION: I had initially cited Pennsylvania as one of those states that do not allow no-excuse absentee voting. In fact, no-excuse absentee voting was instituted late last year as part of a package of election reforms in the Keystone State. My apologies for the error!]

We cover all of that AND wave very briefly at Sunday's Presidential Debate (which we hope to revisit in a bit more detail soon - but we'll see) before opening the phones to check in with callers today, including one from Minneapolis who describes the situation there as dire, others from Southern California who wonder where the head of the CDC has disappeared to, and another who questions both the threat and infection numbers currently being reported. All of that and way too much more on today's BradCast...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden plummets, Harris and Warren spike in new polling after first 2020 Dem debate; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2019 6:22pm PT  

After our two-day Special Coverage of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate last week (Night ONE here, Night TWO here), we begin on today's BradCast to get caught up with some of the important news that we were unable to adequately focus on last week. (Even it may take a few days to get fully caught up, if ever!) [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, we're joined for one last time this SCOTUS term by MARK JOSEPH STERN, the great legal reporter at Slate who has helped us make sense of the Court's most recent term under its stolen Republican majority, including many of the oral arguments since last Fall in a bunch of important cases and all of the subsequent rulings handed down in the past several weeks. The last of those rulings were, perhaps, the most consequential, and both came smack dab in the middle of Nights ONE and TWO of the Dem debate last week.

Today, Stern details the Court's horrendous (if not unexpected) 5 to 4 partisan ruling finding partisan gerrymandering to be perfectly Constitutional, despite all of the lower federal courts which have found otherwise. That, even though the practice, taken to new computer-precision extremes by the Republican Party following the 2010 Census, has bastardized the notion of fair representation at both the state legislative and Congressional levels. (eg. See North Carolina, which largely votes 50/50 for U.S. House members over the past decade, but has been represented in the House by just 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans over all of those years!) Stern describes the majority ruling, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, as a "crushing defeat for voting rights" and a "fiasco for democracy". He explains how the rightwing majority ruling debunks the Chief Justice's own claim that he is the Court's "most aggressive defender of the First Amendment" in that extreme partisan gerrymandering blatantly robs voters of their First Amendment rights by punishing Americans for their partisan leaning, stripping them of the ability to be fairly represented.

"Partisan gerrymandering is uniquely evil and difficult to fix," Stern argues, "because it attacks the foundations of democracy. It entrenches a certain political party's power almost indefinitely, and creates a map that will hold even if the state votes against that party." Now, says Stern, the legal battle to rollback rigged election maps moves to the state court level instead, since SCOTUS has now determined that federal courts have no say in the matter (even though they long ago found racial gerrymanders, if not partisan ones, to be a violation of the Constitution.) "That's why this is the 'nightmare' scenario," he tells me. "Because if the legislature can't fix it --- and why would it fix it, they love what they've done --- you really have to rely on the courts to step in and fix it. And now Chief Justice Roberts has said that the federal courts are not going to hear these claims, that they're shut out forever. That leaves few avenues for relief for voters in these states."

We also get Stern's thoughts --- and callers who ring in on the topic as well today --- on whether Democrats, in states which they control after the 2020 Census should similarly use extreme partisan gerrymandering tactics to balance the scales by keeping Republicans out of power in such states, given that the High Court has granted its blessing for such tactics.

And, speaking of the Census, the other major ruling dropped last Thursday by SCOTUS was on whether or not the Trump Administration may add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. In that case, Roberts joined with the Court's liberals to reject the government's claim that they were simply hoping to add the question at the request of the Dept. of Justice in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. That transparently false claim was rejected by Roberts who wrote that it "appears to have been contrived".

In fact, it was, as several lower courts have ruled, even before the evidence from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering expert revealed the entire charade was specifically meant to decrease the response rate by Hispanic and other immigrant communities in order to shift federal funding and voting power to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. So, that decision was the good news. The not-as-good-news is that Roberts also left the door open for the Administration to try again with a less pretextual reason for adding the question, if they can come up with one. Or, as Stern sums up Roberts' directive in four words today: "Lie better next time." Whether the Trump Administration can do so before the deadline to send the Census to the printer (which, the Admin previously argued in court was a hard deadline of July 1, but now says "well, maybe October would be fine?") remains to be seen.

Next we open up the phone lines to listeners on last week's Democratic debate in Miami. Who do listeners feel did better than expected? Who did worse? The first polling is out today from CNN following last week's debate, finding a pretty huge shift among the Dem and Dem-leaning electorate. The survey finds Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are up 9 and 8 points respectively, while Joe Biden has fallen 10 points since the last CNN poll. That places Harris, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (whose support dropped a few points) all now within just over 5 points from the former Vice President and perceived "front runner" for the Democratic nomination. That pretty seismic shift all comes after just one single debate...with about 11 more to come in the months ahead...

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

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Dave Johnson; Also: Bad news from SCOTUS on partisan gerrymandering, slightly better news on next year's U.S. Census...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2019 5:11pm PT  

Our special coverage of Wednesday's night's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate from Miami is momentarily waylaid at the top of today's BradCast, for quick coverage of two major, long-awaited opinions released by the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court this morning, the final day of its term before Justices leave for summer recess. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The first opinion, featuring a 5 to 4 Republican- versus Democratic-appointee split, is very bad news for voting rights and democracy advocates on partisan gerrymandering cases out of Maryland and North Carolina. Writing for the GOP majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared federal courts have no place entering disputes over extreme partisan gerrymandering of state legislative and U.S. House districts, giving a green light to majority-party state lawmakers to use sophisticated computer programs to slice up maps in a way that guarantees majorities for the party in power during the redistricting process following a decennial U.S. Census. Despite lower court rulings finding Republicans in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin violated the Constitution by drawing statewide U.S. House maps meant to assure Republicans remained in power, even when receiving fewer votes over all, the partisan divided SCOTUS decision now overturns all of those previous rulings, and one out of Maryland where a U.S. House district was drawn Democrats to keep it out of the hands of Republicans.

Critics, including Justice Elana Kagan who penned a blistering minority dissent, note that the SCOTUS majority now leaves it to the very same gerrymandered legislatures who created the undemocratic problem to somehow work it out, even though it may be impossible for opposition lawmakers to gain enough of a foothold to actually change the process under the bastardized maps. In her dissent, Kagan notes partisan gerrymanders "debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people." Her opinion, representing the High Court's four liberal justices, concludes: "Of all times to abandon the Court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court's role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections."

All of which makes the Court's other major opinion today, on whether the Trump Administration will be allowed to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, all the more crucial, but slightly better news, for the moment, anyway. In that case, Roberts joined with the court's progressives for a 5 to 4 ruling that bars the Administration, at least for now, from adding the question to next year's Census. In this case, the Chief Justice notes that the Administration's pretextual reasoning for doing so "appears to have been contrived". Indeed, despite warnings by experts at the Census Bureau itself that the question would decrease the response rate by millions, officials at Trump's Dept. of Commerce (which runs the Census Bureau) and the Dept. of Justice lied to both Congress and the Courts about their reason for adding the question.

Evidence has revealed that, in fact, the Administration hoped to include the question specifically in order to under-count immigrant communities in hopes of shifting billions of dollars in federal funding --- and still more voting power --- to "Republicans and non-Hispanic whites" over the next decade. That fact was made clear by, among other things, evidence revealed from the hard drive of the GOP's recently deceased gerrymandering expert. The good news in the Census ruling today is somewhat tempered by the fact that the case has now been sent back to the lower court for further consideration, allowing the Trump Administration another bite at the apple to come up with a more plausible justification --- or at least one that the stolen SCOTUS can more easily accept --- for why they insist on adding the new question before the deadline for printing the 2020 Census. The Administration had previously said that deadline was at the end of this month, though Trump has now asked his attorneys to see if the Census may be postponed.

Then it's on to our Special Coverage of Night One of the first Democratic Debate of the 2020 Presidential cycle, which featured ten candidates in all, including MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; former HUD Secretary and San Antonio, TX mayor Julian Castro; NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio; WA Gov. Jay Inslee; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former MD Rep. John Delaney; and HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

We're joined for today's special coverage by Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and Seeing the Forest's DAVE JOHNSON, formerly a Senior Fellow at the progressive Campaign for America's Future.

Parton and Johnson offer post-debate analysis and smart insight on as many of those candidates as we can possibly fit in to the hour, along with thoughts on which of them exceeded, met or under-performed expectations; why it is that Democrats appear (foolishly) to be shying away from taking on Donald Trump directly, despite the extraordinary threat he and his Presidency pose to the nation and the world; how Democrats, as a party, now appear to be approaching issues such as taking on corporate monopolies, the need for universal access to healthcare as a human right (and the strange question about abolishing private health care insurance), foreign wars and more. We also discuss, as raised --- but largely unanswered --- during Wednesday's debate, how a Democratic President might counter obstructionist Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should the GOP maintain control of the U.S. Senate after 2020.

All of that, of course, is just a sampling of the sweeping ground we cover on today's very busy and very lively BradCast, as we await Night Two, with another ten candidates, to be covered on our next program!...

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

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