Today was Election Day in a bunch of states across the U.S. Important contests and ballot measures were before voters in this off-year election, including in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Mississippi, parts of California and elsewhere. And, as covered on today's BradCast, things did not go well for voters in parts of at least two of those states on Tuesday. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
- As we reported at The BRAD BLOG earlier today in some detail, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting machines made by ES&S were reportedly flipping votes in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This wasn't the type of "flipping" that we've seen many times in the past, where the screens on the voting system are not calibrated correctly and when one tries to select a candidate, a different one gets highlighted instead. This was quite different.
At a number of precincts across Northampton, a largely suburban enclave outside of Philly, when voters selected either "Yes" or "No" in a statewide retention election for each of two judges (one D and one R), everything presumably worked as expected. But if voters chose "Yes" for one of the judges and "No" for the other, their votes would get reversed to the opposite selections. Making matters worse, the computer printout of those votes would be reversed, while the screen itself would show the voters' actual selections.
Back in 2019, as we reported at the time, just after the ES&S ExpressVote XL systems --- wildly expensive computerized electronic pencils --- were first purchased for use in Northampton, there were a number of candidates who learned after the election they had received ZERO votes on them. That, of course, was not true, and the paper printouts from the systems were eventually used to discern what were believed to be the correct results of the elections. But, of course, there is no way of knowing if the printed paper records were actually accurate, whether voters bothered to verify them, or if they did so correctly even if they tried to. That's just a few of the problems with every touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) used across the country. (For example, every voter at every polling place in the entire state of Georgia is still forced to use similarly unverifiable BMD systems made by Dominion Voting Systems.)
Shamefully, after the 2019 disaster, PA's Northampton County didn't dump the machines then and there and move to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots instead. Today, those same systems melted down for voters again. And, perhaps even more shamefully, the County officials who approved them for use in the first place were blaming everybody but themselves for it, including election officials and ES&S. Perhaps most shameful of all, one of the candidates who, in 2019, was reported to have received "zero" votes in his election at the time for Northampton County Judge, but later found that he had actually won the election, presided over what to do about today's mess. After the problems came to light, he was the Northampton County Judge who, rather than ordering a move to hand-marked provisional paper ballots, instructed election officials to continue using the machines despite the fact that they were reversing votes.
One local outlet reporting on the mess described today's "solution" to the problem this way: "In cases where the error would pop up for the retention question, the county would flip the results during the post-election canvass." (!!!)
As noted, this is just a mess. Much more on all of this on today's show. And, I suspect, we'll be covering it more in the days ahead. Let's hope there are no close elections either statewide or in Northampton when PA results are tabulated tonight.
- Also today, it is being reported that, according to several nonpartisan voting rights groups, "an extraordinarily high number" of voters in the zip code of Ohio State University never received their requested absentee ballots by mail. The state held a critical election for a Constitutional measure today to protect abortion rights, as Republicans in the state, including its Sec. of State Frank LaRose, have pulled out all the stops to block the Amendment from passage (including recently purging 26,000 voters quietly from the rolls after the election had already begun.) There is also a proposal to approve recreational marijuana on Tuesday's ballot. Once again, the results, whatever they may be, better not be close, or there will be some hell to pay in the Buckeye State, I suspect.
- In Wisconsin, Republicans appear to be working hard to ensure chaos for next year's critical Presidential election in the Badger State. State Assembly speaker Robin Vos, last week, advanced 15 articles of impeachment against the state's top election official, as part of their years long effort to blame someone --- anyone! --- for Donald Trump's 2020 loss in the battleground state.
- And, speaking of 2020, Mark Meadows, Trump's former Chief of Staff and current co-defendant in the conspiracy case against them and 17 others for attempting to steal the Presidential election in Georgia, is being sued by his own book publisher. The publisher, All Seasons Press, claims that Meadows' reported cooperation in Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal indictment against Trump for his attempt to steal the 2020 election, contradicts Meadows claims in his book that the election was "rigged" and "stolen". ASP is now suing Meadows for millions. And it's hilarious.
- Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia braces for another record bushfire season amid an El Nino; October 2023 is officially declared the hottest October ever recorded on the planet; Michigan enacts sweeping climate and environmental legislation; and President Biden unveils the nation's largest investment in rail travel in 50 years...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)