On today's BradCast: It's the first day of early voting in two U.S. House Special Elections, both in North Carolina, one of them a do-over election after a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme last November resulted in the State Board of Election's refusal to certify the fraudulent results. And this week, as our guest today discovered, the RNC has already stepped in it again at one of their websites supposedly meant to help voters apply for absentee ballots in the two contests. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]
But first up today, a few thoughts on why we cover what we cover, and how difficult it actually is to make those decisions in the Trump Era. One story we haven't covered --- until today --- is the absurd effort by Donald Trump to purchase Greenland. While we've ignored the ridiculous story before today, the events of the past 24 hours, including the international incident caused by Donald Trump's abrupt cancellation of a planned state visit to our allies in Denmark next month, due to their refusal to sell him Greenland, have led us to rethink our coverage.
Trump's erratic behavior (on that and several other matters) suggests a quickly deteriorating state of mind for the President of the United States, leading George Conway, the conservative attorney and husband of one of Trump's senior advisers, Kellyanne Conway, to call today, in no uncertain terms, for the Vice President, Trump cabinet members and Republicans in Congress to begin seriously considering the use of the 25th Amendment to remove the "mentally unstable and unfit to serve" Trump from office.
Also today, a short follow up on our detailed coverage on yesterday's BradCast of what is clearly now a nationwide epidemic of domestic terrorism by white American rightwing men. There have now been at least 27(!) arrests across the country since the El Paso and Dayton shootings just over two weeks ago, of such men who have threatened mass slaughter and more against immigrants, Jews, African-Americans, LGBTQ people, and abortion clinics. They frequently cite Trump while doing it and most of the alleged terrorists also appear to own the high-powered military-style weaponry and ammo to pull off their threatened mass shootings.
Then, we're joined by North Carolina's DR. WILLIAM BUSA of the campaign consulting and data firm EQV Analytics. Busa --- who may be better known as "DocDawg" of the progressive website DailyKos --- joins us to detail his alarming findings this week after carefully reviewing the Vote.GOP website. The site is run by the RNC and offers various voting services, such as registration and absentee ballot applications for voters. With early voting now underway in the NC-03 and NC-09 special elections for the U.S. House, Busa discovered that the RNC's online application for North Carolina voters to apply for absentee ballots on the site was misconfigured in a way that would result in the potential purge of voters who used it!
Moreover, Busa found, as he documented at EQV Analytics in an article headlined "Political Malware", "Every visit to Vote.GOP peppers the user's browser with tracking cookies, web beacons, and data-harvesting code, including code attributed to a division of Tremor International, an Israeli advertising technology company whose RhythmOne subsidiary touts its ability to harvest web users' 'demographics, psychographics, shares (including dark social media), interests, purchase behaviors, and browsing habits'." Between those trackers and the information provided by voters seeking to register or request an absentee ballot, Busa describes, the GOP is scraping up what "the holy grail of campaign advertising [which] enables precision micro-targeting of just the right message to exactly the voter most likely to be persuaded by it, just as Cambridge Analytica did for the Trump campaign in 2016."
Since publishing these details in his exposé late Monday night, he reports, "the Republican Party appears to have hit the kill switch on their website. The site itself is still up, but it now no longer offers any voter assistance services," he tells us.
Busa also offers updates on the two U.S. House Special Elections now at stake on September 10th. One is to fill the now-vacant seat of the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3) in a very "red" district. The other much more "exciting" race, is the do-over election following the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud Scandal that resulted in some 7 recent indictments of Republican operatives, no certified winner and a new election called after last November's U.S. House election in the state's 9th Congressional District.
Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate in that race had reportedly lost by just 905 votes to Republican preacher Mark Harris last year, until the scandal carried out by a GOP contractor and known fraudster hired by Harris finally came to light. McCready is running again for the Dems in the do-over, but the Republicans have put up Dan Bishop, the State Senator who wrote NC's controversial "bathroom bill" several years ago, a measure which ended up costing the state about a "billion dollars in boycotted business," according to Busa. Moreover, he explains, the notorious Bishop has also been revealed as an investor in the alt-right social media site called GAB, which might be better described as simply Twitter for White Supremacists.
A lot of money is now being spent by both sides on the NC-09 race, where McCready has reportedly been able to out-raise Bishop by more than 2 to 1 in the longtime Republican district. Busa believes the contest is currently a "toss-up" that will come down to turnout, especially that of independent voters.
We also get a quick update from Busa on the amazing battle raging at the State Board of Elections right now regarding whether new, very expensive, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices made by ES&S will be certified by the state, or whether the state will move to all hand-marked paper ballots. As we reported on the program several weeks ago, that battle took a number of astonishing twists and turns triggered by the resignation of the SBE's Chair after he told an off-colored joke about a cow and woman to a convention of some 600 NC election officials.
So...tune in for the latest skinny on that particular madness and more today in the increasingly-notorious swing-state of North Carolina!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)