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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, May 16, 2022
Sunday 'Undesirable Outcomes' Toons
You can chalk up PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection to the rightwing radicalism still unmooring our nation from facts and reality...
Attempted Stolen Election, Stolen Docs, and Yes, Murder: 'BradCast' 5/12/22
McCarthy subpoenaed for J6; New fed grand jury for Trump; Eastman advised 2020 election theft in PA; Trump, meatpackers deadly collusion; DeSantis FL gerrymander nixed...
'Green News Report' 5/12/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Great Barrier Reef bleaching again; Global warming and new diseases; Interior cancels offshore lease sales; PLUS: AZ, CA move to enact more severe drought restrictions...
Recent GNRs: 5/10/22 - 5/5/22 - Archives...
It Ain't the Supply Chain or War. It's the Greed: 'BradCast' 5/11/22
Guest: Inequality.org's Omar Ocampo: Also: NE, WV primary results (who cares what they mean for Trump?); Federal court allows assault weapon sales to CA kids...
Greene Let Off Hook in GA for 'Insurrection', Challengers Appeal: 'BradCast' 5/10/22
Guest: FSFP President John Bonifaz with updates on ballot eligibility challenges in GA, AZ, NC; Also: Leaked SCOTUS 'Roe' opinion shaking up midterms...
'Green News Report' 5/10/22
Raging wildfires in NM; Siberian fires out of control as Russian military otherwise busy; CA plan to cut cow burps; PLUS: Arctic wildfires speeding Arctic ice melt...
'2000 Mules', 74M Repub Dupes, and GOP Fraud Continues: 'BradCast' 5/9/22
Convicted election fraudster D'Souza makes a 2020 election fraud doc; Also: White GOP voter fraud criminal gets no jail time for voting twice...
Sunday 'Mothers Day' Toons
'More of a collection that reflects a future for women who'll be forced to become mothers as a result of someone else's edict'...
After Justices Lied About 'Roe', GOP Ducks, Dems Mount Response: 'BradCast' 5/6/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Biden's record jobs; Trump wanted to bomb Mexico...
Not Everything Sucks. Organized Labor is Rising: 'BradCast' 5/5/22
Guest: Jordan Zakarin of Progress Report, More Perfect Union; Also: Obamas on SCOTUS gutting Roe's Const'l freedoms; Big Oil's record profits, wartime profiteering...
'Green News Report' 5/5/22
EU proposes Russian oil embargo; Plummeting reservoirs prompt 'unprecedented' cutbacks, expose grim secrets in West; PLUS: CA A.G. probes plastic recycling scam...
Midterm Primary Season Kicks of With Voting System Failures in OH: 'BradCast' 5/4/22
Also: Brown defeats Turner in OH; Trump-endorsees win in OH, IN; Amazing appeals court hearing in Cawthorn eligibility case; Trump wanted to shoot BLM protesters...
'Green News Report' 5/3/22
Unprecedented heat in India, Pakistan; 20% of reptiles face extinction; Denmark to ditch natural gas; PLUS: Mass extinction in oceans could be avoided...
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...


Open letter to CA's Sec. of State calls for 'urgent mitigating action' with an immediate mandate for statewide post-election Risk-Limiting Audits...
By Brad Friedman on 9/2/2021 11:35pm PT  

Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts warned in a letter sent to California's Secretary of State on Thursday night that "emergency action is warranted" in response to a recent leak of key voting system software used in nearly 60% of state jurisdictions amid CA's ongoing Gubernatorial recall election.

The bluntly --- and urgently --- worded, 3-page letter [PDF] from the longtime experts in this field to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber calls for a specific type of public, post-election audit as the "one critical action" that should be announced immediately, in response to software recently stolen from Mesa County, Colorado and Antrim County, Michigan. The software in question, Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS), was released over the Internet for broad download during a so-called "Cyber Symposium" run by Trump supporter, conspiracy theorist and pillow impresario, Mike Lindell three weeks ago. The EMS software, used in both CO and MI and many other states, including CA, is used to manage virtually every aspect of elections, from ballot creation to tabulation. Forty of California's 58 counties, according to AP's coverage of this matter tonight, use a version of the Dominion EMS that, according to the experts' letter, while "not identical" is virtually the same with only "relatively minor" differences.

"The release materially elevates threats to the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and to public trust in the election," the experts inform Weber, as they urge her to, in advance of the election, mandate a robust statewide post-election audit in each county in the state.

The computer scientists explain that "a statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA) of trustworthy paper ballots...can substantially mitigate these threats," as posed by the recent breach. They define "trustworthy" as hand-marked paper ballots with a secure chain of custody, and advise that Weber mandate RLA's to both to ensure accuracy of computer-tallied results of those ballots and to offer confidence to the public in the results, no matter the outcome of the September 14th GOP recall targeting Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

One of the letter's signatories, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC-Berkeley, is the inventor of the well-regarded RLA protocol. It consists of a manual, public tally of a certain percentage of ballots as devised by the protocol to gain scientific certainty in the computer-tallied results. Stark recently discussed the alarming new security breach on The BradCast, comparing this release of proprietary election software into the wild as akin to having a life-sized, identical version of a bank and its vault with which to practice breaking into it...

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




Guest: UC-Berkeley's Philip Stark; Also: Deadly edicts by FL, TX Guvs and Recall candidate circus in CA underscore importance of defeating GOP attempt to unseat Newsom amid pandemic, climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2021 6:56pm PT  

California Republicans know they can't win normal statewide elections. Hence, the attempted Recall election of progressive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom amid several crises that the GOP candidates hoping to replace him will make considerably worse. But now, voting system and cybersecurity experts tell The BradCast there is reason to be very concerned about the voting and tabulation systems used in some 60 percent of the state, following the recent theft and release on the Internet of Election Management System software, allegedly by a far-right County Clerk in Colorado during the MyPillow CEO's so-called "Cyber Symposium" last week in South Dakota. One of those experts joins us to explain the concerns, and what can be done about it, today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But, first up, the circus of some 46 candidates on the ballot hoping to become Governor of the nation's most populous state, if Newsom is removed by the first question on the Recall ballot, serves as a reminder that this special election, while seemingly ridiculous, is also potentially deadly for residents of the Golden State. Nonetheless, recent polling suggests that it is currently a dead heat as to whether Newsom will be removed and then replaced by someone likely to get little more than 20% of the vote on the ballot's second question about who should take his place.

In the middle of a debate between several GOP "front-runners" on Tuesday in Sacramento, one of the candidates, multi-millionaire John Cox (the guy who actually campaigns with a grizzly bear), got served in a Court process as he was introducing himself, as "ordered" by a San Diego Superior Court Judge finding that he owes about $100,000 to a contractor the Republican businessman failed to pay during his failed run against Newsom in 2018.

While neither of the top Republican or Democratic candidates on question two of the ballot were at the debate (Trump-loving, climate change denying, woman-hating Rightwing radio talk-show host Larry Elder and Democratic real-estate millionaire Kevin Paffrath), both of them oppose Newsom's mask and vaccination mandates. The BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning, in a "Progressive's Guide to the California Recall" published today, explains why CA voters must vote "NO" on the Recall's first question, before he goes on to explain who he believes progressives should support on question two.

Sky-rocketing rates of infections, hospitalizations and deaths under GOP Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and Texas' Greg Abbott (who tested positive himself on Tuesday), should serve as another reminder of the importance of both elections and having Governors who do not place political ambition over science. Despite pleas to the contrary from health officials, both DeSantis and Abbott have issued edicts blocking local governments and school districts from instituting mask mandates, even as hospitals in both states are reaching or exceeding capacity, and children under 12 (unlike Abbott and DeSantis) are ineligible to become vaccinated. (Fortunately, President Biden reiterated today that the federal government will cover the salaries of school officials who chose to protect children, even if their paychecks are cut by the TX and FL Governors. And one school district in TX has come up with a very clever way of trying to get around Abbott's ban on mask mandates.)

Meanwhile, thanks to Newsom's various statewide mask and vaccine mandates here in California, infection, and death rates are all now coming back down once again.

Of course, facts such as these mean little to those pushing for the removal of Newsom, and many on the right have demonstrated of late that there is little they won't do in order to "win" an election. Thus, the theft and release of important voting system software by a far-right County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado last week during Mike Lindell's "cyber symposium" (at which he didn't release the promised "absolute proof" that China stole the 2020 election from Trump), has a number of actual cybersecurity and voting system experts very concerned today.

We've been covering this story in detail over the past week, as both the national media and California media haven't covered it at all. But they should. Colorado media finally jumped in, a bit, this week after their Sec. of State on Monday announced that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters --- who appeared on stage several times at Lindell's forum last week --- was behind the theft and copying of two hard drives at the Mesa County Election Division containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software.

Democratic CO Sec. of State Jenna Griswold's office, in a news release Monday night, explained how Peters pulled off the heist with two accomplices in the middle of the night back in May, before the software was released into the wild during last week's symposium. Since then, we have reported on this show about the concerns expressed by voting system and cybersecurity experts like Harri Hursti, who warns that the release of the critical software "lowers the barrier for attack planning and therefore increases the likelihood of future attacks." That, just after another top expert in the field, University of Michigan's J. Alex Halderman, filed a 50,000 word report in a long-running federal lawsuit in Georgia, which seeks to ban Dominion's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. The report, which he says [PDF] details disturbing, newly discovered vulnerabilities in those systems, which reportedly could allow votes to be changed without detection, has now been sealed by the federal judge due to its sensitivity --- even from the plaintiffs and defendants in the case!

Dominion's vulnerable touchscreens are used in several large jurisdictions in California, even as the recall is now ongoing, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside County. Their EMS software --- released to the Internet and downloaded by thousands just last week --- is used to tabulate votes, both hand-marked paper ballots and touchscreen votes, in every county where Dominion's systems are used. The software is used broadly in enough counties here that it could easily effect the computer-tallied results of the Recall election.

Another top expert who is worried about all of this joins us on today's program to explain why, and what can now be done about this serious security breach. University of California-Berkeley Professor PHILIP STARK is an expert witness in the Georgia case, the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit protocol, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

He joined Hursti this week in telling me that they were both dubious about vague claims from the CO Sec. of State's office that the U.S. Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was not particularly concerned about the leak of the Dominion software.

"It is a serious risk," Stark makes clear today. "The best metaphor I've been able to come up with is, if I were trying to break into a bank, how helpful would it be to have blueprints of the bank and the bank vault? How helpful would it be for me to have an actual exact copy of the bank, completely at my disposal, to try different ways of breaking in and so forth? Not even a scale model, but literally the exact same thing, just in a different place. That's what having a copy of these disks amounts to."

"To the extent that these systems were not that secure in the first place, this doesn't make the systems more vulnerable. But it gives a would-be evil-doer lots of help and information to plan an attack, figure out what's going to work, which then can be conducted later by someone with less technical skill," Stark warns.

He explains that "these Election Management Systems are used, among other things, to configure the ballot marking devices" as well as "results from the precinct-based scanners" and the high-speed centralized scanners used to tabulate Vote-by-Mail ballots. "The release of the EMS code gives someone a blueprint for how to write malware to infect the ballot marking devices, etc., when they're configured using these systems."

We go on to discuss what can and should now be done by California in regards the ongoing Recall election (as well as other jurisdictions, with elections coming up in November, where Dominion systems are used in more than a dozen states) to ensure that results are accurately tabulated and reported, and can be known by the public, after the election, as such. His recommendations include the use of both hand-marked paper ballots and a far more robust post-election audit process than is currently mandated by CA state law.

Moreover, he cites a critical lesson that should be learned from Tina Peters, the Republican County Clerk in Mesa, CO who is alleged to have brought accomplices into the Elections Division in the middle of the night on May 23rd, and turned off the security cameras in order to steal the software and copy it for release into the wild. (She is now under criminal investigation and has been relieved of her duties by CO's Secretary Griswold.) "This is a very clear reminder that insider threats are real," observes Stark. "This is a wake-up call. It is very difficult to mitigate insider threats."

We are still waiting for a response from the CO Sec. of State's office, as to who they spoke with at CISA and what exactly that person said, given that the cybersecurity folks I've spoken with are quite dubious that the nation's top cybersecurity watchdog actually downplayed this voting system breach. Or, if they did, that they fully understood it. Meanwhile, CA's Sec. of State, to my knowledge, has said nothing about any of this publicly. But that may be because neither state nor national media --- other than us --- have bothered to connect the dots between California and these very serious concerns...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Cybersecurity and voting system expert confirms security breach, software authenticity to BRAD BLOG, as Mike Lindell's event to 'prove' stolen 2020 election, 'reinstate' Trump goes criminally off rails
Also: Rightwing radio hosts hospitalized, dying from COVID; Trump judge allows Dominion's defamation suit against Giuliani, Powell, Lindell to proceed; MUCH MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2021 6:51pm PT  

Okay. Now it's not just insane. It could also be criminal, as a leak of actual voting system software at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's three-day, so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota may have imperiled the security of the Gubernatorial Recall election now under way in California. We've got some exclusive details on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, before the details on what appears to have happened at Lindell's bizarre circus show in Sioux Falls, some very quick news, on the Census Bureau's release of 2020 data today and the GOP's plans to use it to gerrymander themselves into a U.S. House majority; U.S. plans to evacuate the embassy in Kabul as the Taliban retakes much of Afghanistan; Support from national teacher's unions to mandate vaccination or testing for the nation's school staff; and Rightwing radio host COVID and vaccine deniers findings themselves dead and/or hospitalized...with COVID.

Then, it's on to the 2020 "stolen election" Crazy Train still unfolding in MAGALand.

On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge appointed by Donald Trump, ruled that Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuits against Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and, yes, Mike Lindell, may proceed. Judge Carl J. Nichols' 44-page ruling [PDF] denied all parts of the defendants various Motions to Dismiss. Suffice to say it did not go well for them, on any front, leading former crack-addict and current phony stolen-election addict Lindell to declare the ruing "the worst decision a judge has made in the history of this country." (Which someone named Dred Scott would likely dispute.)

But the real madness has been unfolding in South Dakota this week, at Lindell's three-day "Cyber Symposium" that was promised to reveal "absolute proof" that the 2020 election was stolen through a massive, sophisticated cyberattack by China (I think.) Lindell's promised "proof" of the steal was so unimpeachable that it was to result, he's been declaring for weeks, in an immediate 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Trump to the White House this Friday the 13th!

It may not work out that way, however. The far-right newspaper Washington Times published a gob-smacking story on Wednesday, in which a cyber expert hired by Lindell himself to examine and explain the super-secret 37 terabytes of data --- said to have been captured from Internet transfers just days after the November election, revealing that China flipped millions of votes --- told the paper that the data and claims about them were illegitimate.

It's a simply coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs story --- again, from a Rightwing outlet --- detailing how none of Lindell's claims appear to be real, and seem to be sourced to a former Government contractor who was also the source of (false) claims that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016. But, as Lindell's own experts explained to the Washington Times, the data doesn't show what it is supposed to show...but that may only be because the source dude supposedly had a stroke the day before the symposium!

Lindell's expert, who says there still could be some evidence of something anyway in the data they did examine, told the paper: "We were handed a turd. And I had to take that turd and turn it into a diamond."

But now the loony toons story takes a potentially much darker turn, albeit a somewhat confusing one. Mother Jones' AJ Vicens does a fine job attempting to make at least some sense of what has happened with this part of the story over the last several days. It seems to involve an election official named Tina Peters, County Clerk of Mesa County, Colorado (who is now apparently being investigated by state law enforcement authorities), a guy named Ron Watkins, widely thought to be "Q" of the infamous Q-Anon MAGA conspiracy world, and potentially a former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). See Vicens for that part of the story.

The upshot is that duplicate images said to be of stolen hard drives containing actual, proprietary Dominion Voting System software, seemingly from Mesa County, was released at Lindell's Cyber Symposium and is now said to be out in the wild, as it was made available for download to pretty much anybody with the technical know-how to grab it.

This afternoon, we confirmed with legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, who is at South Dakota conference, apparently serving as an analyst for a news outlet, that the hard drives do, in fact, contain Dominion's Election Management System (EMS) software, though not its source code, as some have reported via Twitter. As Dominion explains on its website, the EMS "Drives the entire election project through a single comprehensive database...From election definition to results reporting." It is, in short, the heart of the entire Dominion election system suite.

"What was shared were 3 different images of installed EMS systems," Hursti told me via email from Sioux Falls. "I can confirm that those were circulated for copying. It [isn't] source code as such, but part of the code is interpreted code, there is human readable and editable things there."

Hursti is well known in the voting system world, where his most notorious "white hat" hack of a Diebold voting system was revealed in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy; He was also featured in their 2020 Emmy-nominated Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections; and, in what may have been Hursti's first American film interview, my own with him in 2010's award-winning Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. He also heads up the infamous DefCon Voting Village in Las Vegas each year, and most recently was tapped by the state of New Hampshire to oversee a very thorough, professional and transparent post-election audit to determine why the Diebold optical-scanners in the town of Windham miscounted several hundred votes in a State Representative race last November.

In other words, his credentials here are impeccable. Though what the dangers of the release of Dominion's software into the wild may be is still less than clear. Particularly as it pertains to the September 14th Gubernatorial Recall election now underway here in California. It's something that I am still trying to dig into. Dominion's EMS software is used in a number of large jurisdictions in the state, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside Counties.

Earlier this week, I spoke on The BradCast with cybersecurity and voting system expert Rich DeMillo, founder of Georgia Tech's School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, about serious vulnerability concerns that have recently emerged [PDF] in a long-running federal lawsuit seeking to ban Dominion's touchscreen vote systems across the state of Georgia. How this new security breach may now come into play in either that case, here in California, or in any of the other many jurisdictions which use the same software across the nation, is unclear at the moment. One expert I spoke with this afternoon, however, said it does seem to prove yet again that "security by obscurity" (attempting to keep vulnerable software safe by keeping it a secret) doesn't actually work, especially when it comes to voting systems.

More on this story, I suspect, in the days ahead.

Finally, we close today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as Senate Dems move forward with critical climate legislation in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, even as deadly, climate change-fueled wildfires, heat waves and floods continue to wreak absolute havoc around the globe this week...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' continues to fall apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2021 6:23pm PT  

Today's BradCast, by and large, serves as another fine example of why we fight, and what we fight for. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • We've got an update following yesterday's lively interview with John Brakey, the longtime, progressive Election Integrity and audit expert who has been serving as an observer and advisor at the Maricopa County, Arizona 2020 election "audit", alongside the state's Republican former Sec. of State Ken Bennett. Bennett was tapped by the GOP state Senate in April to serve as its liaison to the ill-considered clown show "audit" they hired the inexperienced, partisan, conspiracy theorist company named Cyber Ninjas to carry out. Last week, Bennet was shamefully locked out of the building after he'd shared information from the third count of the County's ballots with experienced outside experts who seem to confirm that the Ninjas' original ballot tally was wrong. In fact, they suggest that the original County count was accurate (as expected, by all by the Trump MAGA mob). As of yesterday's show, Brakey had confirmed that Bennett was resigning his post after the dust up. But shortly after we got off air, Brakey reports, Bennett met with Senate President Karen Fann and, essentially, unresigned. We explain what happened and what may happen next, as even Republican members of the state Senate are now describing the effort as "botched" and turning hard against both the Ninjas for their incompetency and Fann for her folly in having hired them.
  • Despite the obvious failure of the Ninja's disastrous pretend "audit" in Arizona, Republicans across the country are noticing the millions of dollars raised by the grifters running that spectacle, and have decided they'd like some of that sweet sweet "audit" theater in their own home states. But on Wednesday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice issued new guidance documents, warning that they intend to enforce federal laws that may be violated by such exercises.
  • In separate, but related guidance on Wednesday, the DoJ also also made clear they intend to enforce federal voting rights laws against states enacting new voter suppression measures, as GOP-controlled legislatures are now doing all over the country. That, even as recent rulings by the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS has made such enforcement much more difficult, in lieu of new federal laws needed to protect the franchise.

    To that end, the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday held a hearing on, among other things, the Texas state legislature's attempt to adopt such a bill. Texas Democrats left the state two weeks ago to prevent the quorum needed to pass such a bill during the ongoing special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott to do just that. And today, 82-year old state Rep. Senfronia Thompson --- the longest serving woman and African-American woman in Texas history, now in her 25th term --- offered moving testimony about her and her family's personal experiences with Jim Crow voter suppression laws in the Lone Star State. We share some of her must-listen remarks in response to GOP Congressmembers at the hearing who downplayed the difficulty of minority voters to exercise their right to vote.

  • With COVID surging again, thanks to the Delta variant and those who have refused to get life-saving vaccinations, President Biden announced new initiatives at the White House today, following impassioned remarks to encourage Americans to get their shots. "This is an American tragedy," he said. "People are dying --- and will die --- who don't have to die. If you're out there unvaccinated, you don't have to die," the President pleaded before detailing the new incentives. Among them: Paying the unvaxxed $100 to get their shots; Expanding federal reimbursement for employers and employees to take time off to get both themselves and their families inoculated; and a new requirement for federal workers and contractors to either get vaccinated or face regular testing and other restrictions.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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Guest: John 'Bamboo Ballots' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators say agreement reached on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vaccination or weekly tests for federal work force...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2021 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just when you think the joke of a post-election "audit" in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona couldn't get more absurd...it does, as the official GOP Senate Liaison for the Cyber Ninjas' super-secret, partially taxpayer-funded tally of last year's election results gets locked out of the building, threatens to quit, and now may be reinstated. Our very colorful guest today --- who much of America may now recognize --- has been inside the "audit" in Phoenix since it began in April, working side-by-side with that Liaison. He tries to help us make sense of what's really going on right now...if that's even possible. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, some quick news out of D.C., where a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators on Wednesday reached an agreement with each other and the White House for a $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure deal, that includes some $550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges and broadband Internet. If adopted, according to AP today, it would be one of "the most significant long-term investments in nearly a century, on par with building the transcontinental railroad or the Interstate highway system."

If it's adopted along with a much larger, $3.5 trillion Democrats-only package --- including "human" infrastructure such as a broad expansion of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, child care, parental leave, the electric grid, an electric vehicle charging network and other long overdue climate-related projects --- it would be a landmark victory for President Biden and on par, according to experts, with FDR's New Deal.

Also today, the Administration will reportedly formally announce on Thursday that all civilian federal workers must either be vaccinated against COVID or be forced to submit to regular testing. The announcement comes as the Delta variant continues to spike across the nation, requiring new masking recommendations from the CDC in indoor public spaces and all K-12 public schools this fall.

Then, it's on to our guest, friend and longtime election integrity and transparency advocate, JOHN BRAKEY, Director of the Arizona-based AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us earlier this year, as the "audit" theater clown show in Maricopa County was just getting underway, after the GOP state Senate forced the County (against the wishes of its Republican-majority Board of Supervisors) to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in the Presidential election last year, along with the County's brand-new Dominion Voting Systems equipment that tallied the hand-marked paper ballots. That, so that private contractors hired by the Senate could look into an array of evidence-free conspiracy theories charging the election was stolen from Donald Trump in the state.

Brakey, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, quickly found himself serving as the right-hand man to Arizona's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett, who had been tapped by the state Senate to serve as its Liaison and spokesperson for the hand-count and forensic audit they hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida company, to carry out, despite the contractor and their CEO, Doug Logan, having zero experience with elections, voting systems or any kind of auditing. Logan is a hard-right Republican and, before being hired by AZ, had advanced ridiculously false and evidence-free conspiracy theories on social media about the election being stolen from Trump.

For his part, Brakey joined us on the show back in April, as the "audit" (AZ's current Democratic Sec. of State describes it as a "fraudit") got underway, to offer insight into what was going on inside the Coliseum, as most of the media were locked out entirely from what would normally be a fully public process. And though, at the time, he discussed the Ninja's laughable theory that they could prove tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots were stuffed into boxes in favor of Joe Biden by examining them for signs of bamboo fibers from China, most of the nation probably first learned of Brakey when his comments about the Ninja's examining ballots for bamboo was taken out of context by a local CBS reporter and echoed all over the national media. (The reporter, CBS-Phoenix' Dennis Welch, shamefully failed to include Brakey's comments that he didn't believe any of the bamboo nonsense, when he originally released the video of Brakey discussing it.)

But, the "audit" originally set to take three or four weeks, has now taken three or months and is still underway. Late last week, however, the GOP Senate's Liaison Bennett, was summarily locked out of the building by either the Ninjas or Senate President Karen Fann, after, they claim, he shared partial results of what is now a third county-wide tally of ballots. This third count --- of ballots only, as opposed to the votes on them --- is supposed to be completely independent from the Ninjas' earlier tally, which appears to have been greatly flawed (no surprise) and reportedly fails to match the number of ballots originally reported by the County after last year's election.

Earlier today, the Arizona Republic reported that Bennett was resigning due to the conflict, and Brakey confirmed as much on today's show. However, shortly afterward, Brakey called to notify me that he had spoken to Bennett and that he and Fann met late today and struck a deal for Bennett to continue with his supposed oversight of the project. An announcement to that end should come within the next 36 hours, he tells me.

If all of that sounds like a mess, it's because it is. Brakey speaks to all of it on today's show, including being targeted as a right-winger (which he decidedly is not) and for inappropriate national ridicule after that out-of-context "bamboo" video.

He also speaks today to...

  • My concerns expressed to him the last time he was on, about the absurd lack of public oversight in the Ninja's "audit", which is supposedly predicated on the need for "transparency"(!) after Trump and his supporters circulated false, evidence-free claims about the state's certified results finding that Biden defeated Trump by 10,400 votes in the state;
  • Why Bennett was locked out from the "audit" last week, and whether he had actually tendered his resignation this week;
  • Why a third count of ballots (after the County's official count and the Ninja's subsequent hand-count) became necessary, and whether that new count is truly independent from the Ninjas'. (It isn't, as the Ninjas' own attorney, Brakey reports, is actually working on that third count!)
  • Whether recent reporting is true that the "audit" team is concerned because they now believe the data actually proves Biden won.
  • How rightwing huckster Jovan Pulitzer is "a complete con-man", spreading ridiculous claims about China having "hacked the election system through the thermostat" and that "65 countries [were] involved in hacking the United States, in 6 states [and] 600 counties."
  • Multiple recent false and misleading claims by Ninjas CEO Doug Logan (who Brakey refers to as Doug-anon Logan) suggesting fraud, as subsequently echoed, expanded upon and further falsified by Trump this past weekend at a rally in Phoenix, where Trump falsely claimed the Maricopa County election database was found to have been completely deleted (it wasn't); that 18,000 voters were purged from the rolls only after they voted in November (they didn't vote in November); that 74,000 mail-in ballots were falsely added to the total (they weren't); and that 168,000 ballots were printed on illegal paper, suggesting they were fraudulent (the paper was not illegal, and the ballots were not fraudulent. "None of it is illegal. It's crazy!," says Brakey. "This is what we put up with --- these authoritarian-type leaders who talk like they know something, and these people are gullible. That's why I'm there, to help them understand!)

We also discuss --- and at times disagree on --- whether this entire exercise is helpful or harmful to the overall cause of legitimate election integrity and post-election audits, as disinformed GOP dupes have coughed up millions for a giant grift in Arizona, even as they call for similar (almost certainly fruitless) "audits" of the 2020 results in states across the country.

Buckle up for today's show! It's a doozy!...

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Guest: Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: COVID vaccine deniers now learning they were wrong...the hard way...
By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2021 6:25pm PT  

We've spent many years on The BradCast and at The BRAD BLOG explaining why touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, like those used across the entire state of Georgia and in Los Angeles County, can never be known to accurately reflect the intent of any voter. We've also spent some time discussing why Voting Centers --- where voters in a county may vote at any center, rather than at their precinct --- may be convenient for voters, but are otherwise a terrible idea. As today's guest illustrates, those two terrible ideas came crashing down together at the expensive of election integrity and citizen oversight in a ballot measure election in Long Beach, California last November. And he's got the lawsuit and incredibly close election results to prove it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the tragic stories from the COVID vaccine denier set, who are realizing --- only once it was too late --- that their denialism was, to say the least, ill-considered, continue to roll in. A state lawmaker in Missouri. A Trump-supporting couple in Sacramento. A rightwing radio host from Tennessee. A 34-year old anti-vaxxer in Los Angeles. Those who survived have come to regret their denialism. The families of those who didn't survive are now wishing their loved ones had taken their shots, and hope that you will do so now, if you haven't already.

The stories are tragic. But if continuing to tell them may help save a life, I'm happy to keep doing so on the air, as COVID spikes across the nation, almost entirely among the unvaccinated. That is thanks to the delta variant of the coronavirus and the 97% of the hospitalized who dreamt up all sorts of reasons to not take readily accessible and highly safe and effective vaccines. Many of their reasons for having failed to do so are based on misinformation spread by power hungry and/or ignorant politicians and personalities. The results are deadly and affect all of us, even the vaccinated.

In the meantime, thanks to the vaccine refuseniks, the vaccine mandates are now coming. Not a moment too soon. In New York City. In California. At the federal Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Then, we've spent years reporting on California's election recount laws. In one sense, they are very good in that they allow any voter in the state to request a hand-count of any race, in any precinct or precincts they like, as long as they pay for it. (They are refunded if the count reverses the certified results.) But the law also allows each county Registrar of Voters to determine the price for those counts. As we've reported over and again for the past 15 years or more, the state law results in County Clerks arbitrarily and capriciously setting prices to pretty much anything they like, with a huge disparity among counties. It may cost a few cents per ballot to hand-count in Orange County, while Los Angeles is now charging well over two dollars per ballot.

The price in L.A. County, set by Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, has just sky-rocketed, thanks to Logan's new touchscreen voting systems and the ill-considered use of Vote Centers that allow voters to vote at any Center they like, rather than the old precinct model of voting. One of the many problems with Voting Centers is that they make it almost impossible for Election Integrity advocates and the public in general to oversee tallies to ensure they are accurate and ballots are not stuffed into the boxes.

Another problem became crystal clear when the City of Long Beach held a ballot referendum last November to extend a city sales tax. The initiative, Measure A, passed by just 16 votes out of some 100,000 cast. When a group of citizens who opposed the measure sought a recount (California has no automatic recount law, no matter how small the margin, and though Logan could have chosen to recount it himself, he did not), they were in for a shock.

The County Clerk's handbook published before the election suggested that the count would cost them around $50,000, which they raised to pay for the count. That was before Logan informed them, just before the hand recount was to begin, that the cost would actually be closer to the $200,000 range, putting any kind of oversight out of reach to the local activists.

Why the change in pricing? Thanks to Vote Centers, ballots cast across L.A.'s county of some 4 million voters, are not sorted by precinct, even though state law requires that recounts be done by precinct. That means the County must spend HOURS sorting through millions of ballots to find the ones that included Long Beach's Measure A. Logan, who developed both the new touchscreen systems and the Vote Center model here, is charging the recount requesters for those hours, due to his failure to create an overseeable, sorted system of ballot tracking.

We're joined today by IAN PATTON, co-founder and executive director of the Long Beach Reform Coalition, to explain what happened, why the group was forced to call off their request for a recount, and why they are now suing the County instead, to charge them the original price they had expected to pay.

"This has been really eye-opening to me. Like waking up out of a slumber to a nightmare," Patton, who used to work as a staffer in Congress tells me today. "A paper trail is useless if you can't actually count it."

As the Long Beach Press-Telegram suggests in its reporting on this, the "Future of LA County election recounts could hinge" on this suit. It will be heard next month. But the future of Vote Centers, not just in Los Angeles, but across the country, where a number of jurisdictions are moving to them or considering the model, could also be affected by what goes on in L.A., the nation's most populous county...

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Guest: Voting rights champion Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, after her GOP removal from Morgan County, GA's Board of Elections; Also: More tragic ends for COVID vaccine refusers; More evidence that AZ's election 'auditers' are clueless...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2021 6:49pm PT  

We've been reporting for months on the voter suppression laws being adopted by Republican-controlled states around the nation. But, in addition to disproportionately blocking minority groups from access to the ballot, we've also warned that many of these GOP state laws allow for the removal of qualified election officials, for virtually any reason, and replacement with partisans who may now undermine election laws and overturn election results. One of those longtime election officials who has just been removed in Georgia following the passage of the state's SB202 suppression law --- a woman who also happens to be a fierce, longtime voting and civil rights champ --- joins us on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, however, it's like the early days of the pandemic all over again in a number of very sad ways. Today, we have more sad news of misinformed, Trump-loving Republican COVID deniers and vaccine refusers who believed the pandemic was a hoax, and who are now tragically --- an unnecessarily --- being felled by the virus, despite the widespread availability of life-saving vaccines in the U.S. One doctor in Alabama wrote this week about sick patients begging for the vaccine, just before being intubated and told "it's too late."

Next, we add one important point to our detailed fact-check on yesterday's program in response to Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan's ridiculous (and uninformed) suggestions that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes may have been cast last year in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. His remarks were offered to a state GOP Senate panel last week, after the three month-long (and counting) "audit" theater his company was contracted to carry out of last year's election results, despite their lack of experience in elections or knowledge of voting systems. Those comments were then misinterpreted and amplified by the former President of the United States to falsely suggest the election in Arizona was stolen from him last November.

But there was one point from last week's forum that we didn't have time for yesterday. It included testimony claiming that Maricopa's computer voting and tabulation systems were wildly unsecure because their operating systems and anti-virus software hadn't been updated since the day Dominion Voting System's software was installed on the machines. It's true that those computers had not had security updates and patches applied since their first use in 2019. It's true that that is a "tremendous vulnerability" for those systems, as claimed at the forum. And it's also true that there is a very good reason why the software has not been updated since then --- which, had the AZ GOP Senate hired people who actually knew anything about voting systems, they would already have understood. We explain.

The story underscores the value of election officials --- and election auditors --- who are actually experienced and qualified for the job. Unfortunately, since Donald Trump launched his evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen from him, Republicans have been adopting laws in several states making it easier to remove experienced election officials and replace them with partisan patsies.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the great state of Georgia, where the GOP-controlled state legislature recently adopted SB202 in order to prevent certain voters from easy access to the ballot. That law, and others being adopted locally around the state, have resulted, according to the New York Times last month, in "members of at least 10 county election boards [who] have been removed, had their position eliminated or are likely to be kicked off...they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."

HELEN BUTLER was one of them. She is one of the state's most prominent advocates for voting rights and the award-winning Executive Director of The Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, founded by the late civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr.) She is also a ten-year veteran of the bipartisan Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections in the Republican-leaning rural enclave east of Atlanta. Or, at least, she used to be. After approval by the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, Butler and the rest of the Board Members were replaced at the end of last month. The Board Members will all now be selected by the partisan County Commission, instead of built from members selected by local political parties.

On today's show, Butler, who testified on voting rights at a U.S. Senate Rules Committee field hearing this week in the state, explains the reason the Commission voted to remove the Board, claiming that it was "dysfunctional", but never explaining what that meant. "We were never brought up for any Secretary of State's violations as long as I was a member of the Board," she explains. In short, Butler suggests, she was removed because the Board hired a diverse group of pollworkers and worked hard to make sure everyone, of all parties in the County, could vote and that their votes were counted as cast.

SB202, among other things, now makes it harder to vote by mail, bans absentee drop boxes, and blocks the distribution of food or water on long voting lines. Eight different lawsuits, including those filed by The People's Agenda and the U.S. Dept. of Justice (as well as the Coalition for Good Governance, for which, FULL DISCLOSURE, I am serving as a named plaintiff representing media) have now been filed in hopes of blocking the law for a host of reasons, including the disproportionate difficulties that will now be faced by minority voters. Butler describes SB202 as a "voter suppression takeover".

But the ability to remove and replace long-serving, qualified election officials with partisan appointees who can refuse to certify elections is certainly among the most chilling aspects of the law, Butler warns. She argues that, had these new laws been in place last year, Trump's attempt to "find" enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden in the Peach State --- as we all heard in his recorded (possibly illegal) telephone call with Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger --- would have been easy.

Our broad conversation, on a lot of these issues, also includes her thoughts on the ongoing investigation by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney into Trump's attempt to overturn the election. Butler also offers her plea for federal legislation, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to help overcome the state-based attacks on voting.

The delightfully optimistic Butler then ends our discussion with an ominous warning: "This is our darkest hour," she tells me. "This is our Selma moment, and we must act.  This is not just for black people or people of color. It's for all of us, for all Americans to have equal access to the ballot. Democracy is at stake here.  So people have to understand it's not about black people voting, this is about democracy. This is the moment. We really need to be paying attention and act to get the right people elected that will preserve democracy for America."

Please tune in for today's important show...

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Also: Chair of Trump Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, arrested, charged with acting as foreign agent, lying to FBI...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2021 6:44pm PT  

Among the many sad legacies of the awful Donald Trump years, is how angry everyone has become in its wake. For always-angry Trumpers, ticking off "the libs" is a feature, not a bug. For progressives, however, while there is much to be justifiably angry about, we are wise to hold our outrage for points that actually matter...and happen to be true. We've got plenty of both on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, shortly before airtime today, the Dept. of Justice arrested and charged Trump's longtime friend, advisor and top fund-riser, Tom Barrack, who chaired the disgraced former President's corrupt Inaugural Committee in 2017. Barrack was charged on seven federal counts, including using his access to Trump to lobby for the United Arab Emirates and lying about it to federal agents. As an unregistered agent for the UAE, Barack allegedly lobbied both the Trump Campaign and Administration on their behalf, joining a growing list of Trump friends, officials and associates found to have unlawfully lobbied the so-called "America First" Administration on behalf of foreign nations like Turkey, Ukraine and the UAE, before lying about it to the FBI.

In other news out of Joe Biden's Dept. of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland, on Monday, issued a new policy prohibiting federal prosecutors from seizing phone, text and email records from journalists, with a few reasonable exceptions. While the Obama Administration did some of that, the Trump Administration took it to new heights, secretly spying on reporters at Washington Post, New York Times and CNN --- as well as Democratic members of Congress, their aides and even their family members --- all considered (by Trump) to be his political enemies. Freedom of Press advocates applauded Garland's "historic" Monday memo [PDF], as the A.G. also called for federal legislation to buttress the new DoJ policy.

That rather important story was somewhat overshadowed on Monday, however, by outrage from the progressive Left over a misreported story about the DoJ's failure to file charges against Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who, the agency's Inspector General found, lied twice to Congress about his roll in unsuccessfully attempting to add a question on immigration status to the 2020 U.S. Census. After the IG's investigation, which began in 2019, the office referred the matter to the DoJ for criminal prosecution.

Progressives were up in arms yesterday after it was inaccurately reported by several legit outlets, including Government Executive and AP, that Biden's DoJ, under the direction of A.G. Garland, had declined to prosecute Ross. However, as both outlets later acknowledged with corrections to their stories, it was actually the Trump DoJ which refused to prosecute Ross. He was at least the fifth Trump Cabinet member to have been referred for criminal prosecution to Trump's corrupt DoJ. (The others include his Interior Dept. chief Ryan Zinke, his HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Trump's second Secretary of Veteran's Affairs Robert Wilkie and his Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who happens to be Mitch McConnell's wife. They all skated.) Whether Biden's A.G. can or will revive those recommendations to bring charges is a separate matter --- and there is plenty of other stuff to be disappointed and/or outraged about regarding some of Garland's seemingly inscrutable decisions since taking the helm at the Department --- but the outrage on Monday from progressives over the declination to charge Ross appears to have been both premature and misdirected.

Next, speaking of fact-checking and going off half-cocked (or, in Trump's case, fully-cocked), late last week, Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the rightwing, conspiracy-promoting company contracted by the Arizona state Republican Senate to carry out a post-election "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2.1 million ballots cast last year, offered public testimony on the progress of his three-month (and continuing) efforts to date.

Logan's remarks vividly demonstrated the dangers of hiring someone who knows absolutely nothing about elections or voting systems (or audits, for that matter) to carry out, in secret, what should have been a fully public exercise. It has been referred to as a "fraudit" and clown show by critics, including both Republican and Democratic state and county officials.

The former President offered three statements on Logan's remarks over the ensuing two days, the most detailed of which charged, falsely, that Logan's testimony "showed 168,000 fraudulent ballots printed on illegal paper (unofficial ballots), 74,000 mail in ballots received that were never mailed (magically appearing ballots), 11,000 voters were added to the voter rolls AFTER the election and still voted, all the access logs to the machines were wiped, and the election server was hacked during the election."

You'll be shocked to learn that absolutely NONE of Trump's claims are actually true.

Over the weekend, AP, CNN and others published lengthy fact-checks responding to the false claims by Logan and the wildly inaccurate nonsense from Trump. Today, we walk through some of false claims, detailing how both Trump and Logan got pretty much everything completely wrong, in the state where Joe Biden was certified by the Republican Governor to have defeated Trump by more than 10,400 votes last November. To date, there has been zero legitimate evidence to suggest otherwise in AZ or any of the other several states that flipped in 2020 from Republican to Democratic after four hellish years of the failed Trump Presidency.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on last week's catastrophic flooding in Germany and Central Europe, wildfires continuing to explode in the parched U.S. West, and disturbing news regarding both the Amazon rainforest and the near future of high-tide flooding...

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Also: GOPers laughing at, thanking Manchin, Sinema; Encouraging news on Dems' landmark infrastructure bill; Trump's COVID Death Cult rising...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2021 6:41pm PT  

Democracy, politics and death. Ya know, just another day on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Maricopa County, Arizona will now be forced to spend millions on new voting systems after state and County officials determined that their previous machines, which they only began using in 2019 and still haven't paid off, cannot be used again, and will be destroyed. That, after potential corruption of the systems during the Arizona GOP Senate's secret "audit" process, carried out by a private, conspiracy theory contractor named Cyber Ninjas. So much for those "fiscally conservative" Republicans (just in case you're wondering why we almost never refer to Republicans as "conservative" in almost any context. It's because they ain't. And folks in the media and in Congress and everywhere else should stop doing them the favor of playing along with their friendly, if utterly false and misleading, branding.)

    As we also discuss today, Maricopa doesn't actually have to spend millions of dollars on new computers to scan their hand-marked paper ballots. They could simply count them publicly by hand in the first place!

    The real cost of the phony, completely non-transparent and still-ongoing "audit" clown show in Phoenix, however, is that it is likely to make Democrats even more reluctant to seek recounts and post-election audits in the many cases where they absolutely should. (Here's just one such example.)

  • The wingnuts at CPAC over the weekend were laughing at Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) for their gullible willingness to do their obstruction bidding for them. A group of Republican officials were caught on video tape, laughing, applauding and urging others to call and thank the two Democrats for blocking reform of the Senate filibuster. "We don't want the people's will to be done," says former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in the clip. "Call Joe Manchin an say thank you, seriously. Call Kyrsten Sinema and say thank you," the failed Presidential candidate and fired CNN pundit says. That, as Senate filibuster reform (or elimination entirely!) is desperately needed right now in order to adopt federal protections for voting rights in hopes of countering GOP voter suppression measures now being adopted in Republican-controlled state after Republican-controlled state.
  • But, in somewhat brighter Manchin-related news, he does seem at least mostly willing to go along with the Democrats' landmark, "transformative", $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation package, which --- unlike a voting rights bill --- can be adopted by the U.S. Senate with a simple majority vote...so long as Manchin and Sinema, and all of the other Democrats, play along.
  • In the meantime, back in the states, the COVID infection rates are on the rise again nationally, along with surging hospitalization and death rates in areas of the country with the lowest vaccination rates. That, as the Delta variant is quickly gaining a foothold across the nation. Last week, we discussed Missouri's horrific situation in the rural, Southwestern part of the state, where hospitals are already overwhelmed. Today, we discuss the similarly horrific numbers out of Mississippi, where state officials issued new recommendations for masking indoors once again, and warned the unvaccinated last week that "people are going to die needlessly."

    But the Trump Death Cult appears to be in full flower now in Tennessee, where the State Health Department's new directive bars state health officials from vaccination outreach to teens, incredibly enough. But that's not only for the COVID vaccines, but any and all vaccines --- from Measles to HPV to flu shots! They are no longer allowed to even remind teens when it is time to get their second COVID shot, despite the lack of protection against the Delta variant after only one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That, just one day after the same brainwashed wingnut ghouls of Trump's Death Cultists at CPAC last weekend actually broke into cheers when a panelist discussed the unwillingness of millions of Americans to save their own lives by getting vaccinated.

    There is, however, a bit of apparent good news regarding some of these Trump Death Cult states. Vaccination rates have suddenly been increasing by double digits in some of them over the past week. So, maybe they're finally getting the fear of God in them. Not everywhere, unfortunately. In Tennessee, the number of doses administered over the past week, versus the prior one has fallen by 70 percent as of today. In Mississippi, it's fallen by 80 percent! It's only worse in Joe Manchin's home state of West Virginia, where the rate of vaccination has fallen 94 percent since the previous week, according to Washington Post's vaccine tracker.

  • Finally, I'm happy to say that Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report has much more encouraging news packed into it than usual, including a breakdown of the many long-overdue climate and clean energy provisions currently set for inclusion in the Dems' new infrastructure package (if Manchin doesn't kill them), and in a similar new "Green Deal" initiative being launched this week in the European Union...

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Guest: Robert Brandon of Fair Elections Center; Also: We're back! But with a week of news in one segment to get you (and us) all caught up!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2021 6:48pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much-needed week off, which turned out to be a really big news week. But don't worry. We get all caught up somehow (mostly) on everything you need to know in just one segment today! Plus, an excellent guest to explain how the Republicans' packed U.S. Supreme Court has undermined both democracy and the Constitution yet again at the end of this year's term. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the stories from last week (and this week) that we catch up on before moving to our guest...

  • The thought-to-be-extinguished Lava Fire in Northern California erupts with two others;
  • Last week's deadly, climate-change fueled heat wave in the Pacifica Northwest and British Columbia resulted in hundreds of deaths in the U.S. and Canada;
  • The confirmed death toll at the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida ticks up over 30 with more than 100 still unaccounted for, as recovery is hampered by the incoming, already record-breaking Hurricane Elsa;
  • An ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on video admitting to the company's years of subterfuge about our climate emergency caused by the unmitigated burning of their products;
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland declared a moratorium on federal executions;
  • George W. Bush's "war criminal" Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, died;
  • The U.S. finally, permanently evacuated Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as President Biden tries to finally end America's longest war before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11;
  • COVID infections spiked 10% over the previous week as the Delta Variant continues to pose a quickly growing danger, effecting mostly unvaccinated people (so far);
  • Despite its low infection rate, Los Angeles County urged residents to wear masks indoors again, thanks to the increasing spread of the much more infectious coronavirus variant;
  • More than 180 people were shot and killed over the July 4th holiday weekend in more than 540 shootings in the U.S. over a 72-hour period;
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named her selections, including one Republican, to a House Select Committee to investigate the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol after Republicans in the House and Senate recently reneged on a deal with Democrats for a bipartisan independent commission;
  • Sexual predator Bill Cosby was freed from jail thanks to a ridiculous deal made years ago by one of the lead defense attorneys in Donald Trump's second impeachment trial;
  • The Boy Scouts of America agreed to an $850 million settlement with victims over thousands of sexual abuse allegations;
  • The Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted on multiple state criminal charges including Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud and Falsifying of Business Records;
  • The NYC Mayor's election, already made ridiculously complicated by Ranked Choice Voting, went sideways last week after it was discovered that 135,000 sample ballots were accidentally included by NYC election officials in the weeks-long, impossible-to-oversee RCV tabulation procedure;
  • Arizona's months-long "audit" theater was extended yet again, as the rightwing, QAnon conspiracy company called Cyber Ninjas continued its secret examination of 2.1 million ballots cast during last year's Presidential election in Maricopa County (Phoenix). That's the partially taxpayer-funded clown show that, as I reported weeks ago now, according to the Ninjas' own documents [PDF], allows them to miscount a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes without setting off any internal alarm bells, in a race that was decided by a statewide margin of just 10,000 votes;
  • And, the Dept. of Justice called on Congress to adopt new laws to protect voters after the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court ended their term last week by undermining democracy and the U.S. Constitution yet again.

In Brnovich vs. DNC [PDF], the Court's 6 to 3 Republican majority overturned a lower appeals court decision that had blocked two new restrictions on voting in Arizona. One barred the counting of ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct and the other banned the collection of ballots by third-parties (derisively known as "ballot harvesting" by Rightwingers implying it's used by minorities to defraud elections...despite the lack of any evidence in support of that assertion). Both laws were shown to have disproportionately impacted minority voters in the state. That is supposed to be barred by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. But, writing for the Court's majority, activist Justice Samuel Alito made up new "guidelines" that ignore both Congress' intent in its passage of the VRA and the Constitution's own plain language that "Congress shall have the power to enforce" the 15th Amendment decree that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

So, how will the Court's ruling in Brnovich, allowing for discrimination in voting laws, effect the spate of pending challenges to new voter suppression laws now being enacted by GOP-controlled states around the country? What, if anything, can Congress do about it? And, if they do, will this hard-right anti-democracy Court allow any such new laws to stand?

We're joined today to discuss all of that and more by longtime public interest attorney ROBERT BRANDON, President, CEO and co-founder of the Fair Elections Center. He describes the Republican Justices' opinion as "a real departure" from the claims of so-called originalism and Constitutional textualism --- a literal reading of the plain words of the Constitution --- which the rightwing Justices have long pretended to believe in. This decision, he explains, is "clearly is going to make it harder to challenge and defeat, in court, the laws that disenfranchise the most Americans, particularly black and brown voters, and other marginalized voters. In the case of Arizona, including disabled voters, who often need help delivering their ballots."

Alito's ruling, according to Brandon, essentially says "discrimination is okay as long as it's not a whole lot." But Brandon also explains why the Court's decision, as terrible as it is, doesn't necessarily mean that the multiple legal challenges to dozens of new GOP suppression laws adopted since last year, in the wake of Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen, will fail.

"It's a great irony, of course, that we just had the highest turnout election in history," he says, "yet now we're talking about adding all of these new barriers to voting around the country."

Finally, on this four-day work week following the Monday Independence Day holiday, a new analysis of a years-long study in Iceland finds that productivity either remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces when the work week was cut to just four days. How can we get this progressive idea --- now also being studied in Spain and New Zealand, and found to benefit workers' health and lives without harming corporate bottom lines --- adopted here in the U.S.? Working on it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Windham, NH auditor, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC Berkeley...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2021 7:04pm PT  

In support of his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, Donald Trump has been telling anyone who will listen that "thousands and thousands" of ballots have recently been discovered from the 2020 race, including in New Hampshire, where the state's Republican Governor certified his loss to Joe Biden by some 55,000 votes. But something troubling was discovered during a post-election hand-count last November in a small New Hampshire town, revealing that the state's decades-old Diebold optical-scan computer tabulators undercounted some Republican votes and overcounted some for a Democrat on the ballot. Thanks to a real (non-clown show) forensic audit in Windham, NH, which is finally wrapping up, we now know why, as explained in detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this article.]

On November 3rd, there were four seats up for grabs for State Representative in Windham, NH. There were eight candidates --- four Republicans and four Democrats --- running for those four seats. The top four vote-getters in the contest would win the seats. On Election Night, according to the computer tabulation, the four Republican candidates swept all four slots. One of the Democrats, Kristi St. Laurent, came in 5th by just 24 votes in the small town where some 10,000 votes were cast. So she asked for and received a hand recount about a week later.

The hand-marked paper ballots cast in Windham were tabulated on Election Night, as they are across most of the Granite State, by decades-old optical-scan devices originally manufactured by the now-defunct Diebold Election Systems, Inc., and long programmed and serviced by a company with a shady background named LHS Associates. The intellectual property of the systems themselves is now owned by the private vendor Dominion Voting Systems, which acquired many of Diebold's assets some years ago.

St. Laurent's requested hand-count, about a week after Election Day last November, discovered that the four Republicans in the State Rep's race each should have received another 300 votes or so, while St. Laurent actually was found to have received about 100 fewer votes than she was credited with in the Election Night computer tally.

So, what happened? How could the numbers have been so wrong? The NH state legislature subsequently adopted a measure to allow for a post-election forensic audit to answer those questions. It was a real audit. A professional one. Very much unlike, in almost every way, the long-running "audit" theater clown show still running in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. This one was run as a fully open and completely transparent public exercise over about three weeks in May, as organized and run by three voting system, cyber-security and post-election auditing experts tapped by the state.

We're joined on today's show by one of those three experts, PHILIP B. STARK, Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, regarded as the gold standard for post-election audits.

While the auditors are still wrapping up a few items before issuing their final report, the weeks of fully transparent recounting of ballots and physical audits of the scanners has yielded what Stark --- and the other auditors, including the legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti and Mark Lindeman of the non-partisan Verified Voting --- regard as the answer to the mystery of what actually happened.

Via painstaking and extraordinarily well-document public experiments, they determined that folds in absentee ballot papers that went right through the oval next to St. Laurent's name resulted in the scanners incorrectly recording those folds as votes in many instances. That means, that if a voter had voted for all four Republicans on the ballot and the fold went through St. Laurent's "target", the systems may have seen that as an overvote in the State Rep's race and, therefore, wouldn't count any of the votes in that contest. Similarly, if the voter hadn't voted for four candidates and the fold went through the Democrats' oval, she might have picked up a vote that she didn't actually deserve.

"We're confident that we've identified the primary contributors to the mistabulation of the votes in the State Representative contest in Windham," Stark told me. "They are, namely, ballots that were folded through vote targets in contests, including in particular, Kristi St. Laurent's vote target in the State Representative contest."

"That, by itself, is not the only thing going on, because in the experiments that we subsequently did with the folded ballots, we found that there was a great deal of variability across machines and their ability to correctly interpret folds through vote targets, folds through ovals," he explains, noting that another problem discovered was dust on the optical eye of some of the very old scanners. "Maintenance does matter, because just using compressed gas to blow the dust out of the reader on the machine that was performing worst made it perform substantially better."

As Stark details, through experimentation, folding ballots in varying ways and by various means, the auditors were able to replicate the problem. "We have a pretty good understanding of how the ballots came to be folded the way they were folded, which was generally not along the score lines that the printer puts on them to guide where they should be folded. If they'd been folded in the right place, this wouldn't have been an issue."

Stark also explains why human eyes --- as in the hand recount last November --- are generally much better than computers at actually determining voter intent, even in normal cases, because scanners are simply not programmed to read certain types of marks made by voters as actual votes.
v
We also discuss the critiques and even threats from some Trump supporters that the auditors have endured from Trump supporters throughout the official audit, despite the auditors extraordinary, landmark efforts at transparency and public oversight, including answering hundreds of questions both at the audit site and via Twitter throughout the process.

"The complaints seem to be largely based either on a misunderstanding --- whether deliberately or not --- on the things we have said and a lack of understanding of the [Diebold] AccuVote OS [systems]; a lack of how New Hampshire runs its elections or understanding of New Hampshire election law; also, people somehow thinking Twitter is a definitive source of information about the audit, rather than the live [audio and video] feed and the New Hampshire Dept. of Justice's website, where we've been posting all of the evidence as we've accumulated it," Stark responds. "There are some people who are definitely accusing us of fraud, lying, of being on George Soros' payroll, of trying to cover something up."

"There are definitely people who think that Mark, Harri and I were hired to cover something up. I don't know what it is we are supposed to be covering up. The idea that we are not motivated to not find malware, if malware is there, is kind of laughable. It would be a career-making thing for us. We'd like nothing more than to find malware if malware is there! But we're not going to pretend it's there if it isn't."

Of course, Hursti himself has already made his career previously by hacking these very same AccuVote systems, back in 2005, as seen in the climactic finale of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy and its chilling 2020 follow-up, Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections.

"There was no evidence of malware...And the effect that we've observed is just completely consistent --- every test that I've thought of to throw at it, every thing that we've done --- it really looks like it's the folds. Now, people are saying maybe somebody 'weaponized' the folds and knew exactly how to fold the ballots to take away votes from the Republicans, which is kind of the Wayne's World test: It could happen...and monkeys could fly out of my butt."

Stark also answers questions about how this audit compares to the very very different one ongoing in Maricopa. "The way that they're doing their hand-count is guaranteed to produce an inaccurate count," he charges. "You really need multiplicity and redundancy. You need to reconcile things as they go along. And putting ballots on a Lazy Susan and having them spin around in a hurry is not a way to get an accurate count."

Moreover --- and, of course, this is the only thing the disgraced former President actually cares about --- Stark speaks to whether or not this problem could have possibly affected other races on the ballot, including the Presidential contest.

Also on today's show: A few more thoughts, for now, on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s obstruction of safeguarding democracy in the U.S. Senate, and Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report with a whole lot of very disturbing news for the climate, and a longtime, genteel British environmentalist who is no longer pulling his punches on what he describes as the "crime" of climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Election integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn with callers ringing in...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2021 7:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast, (riddled with a few tech probs at the station, so apologies for any incoherence on my part!) we bring you up to date on some of the latest developments in the insane, dangerously non-transparent "audit" theater in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona being carried out by the Trump-supporting Cyber Ninjas company. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.

[ALSO: See important "SHOW NOTE" at end of this summary!]

Notably, a story we broke some weeks ago, after the Ninjas were forced by a state judge to publicly release what suffices as their procedural documents [PDF] for the "audit" (they had claimed their procedures for counting public ballots from the 2020 election were "trade secrets") was confirmed, at least in part, by an excellent article at Slate this weekend by Jeremy Stahl. In short, we had explained weeks ago how the Ninjas poorly documented procedures (see p. 178 in the PDF linked above) allows them to change a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes in their so-called "audit", without setting off any internal or external alarm bells. Stahl's lengthy, well-reported story on the Maricopa mess, headlined "What if the renegade Arizona audit declares Trump won?" details, among many other things, the same point, that the Cyber Ninjas' own procedures allow them to change far more votes than would be needed to falsely declare Trump actually won the state. Any such mistally is considered an acceptable rate of error in their own documented procedures --- even though Joe Biden was certified to have won the state by just over 10,000 votes.

Moreover, if and when they do declare that AZ was somehow stolen from Trump, there is little that can be done to dispute such a claim, since the secure chain of custody for the 2.1 million actual ballots cast in Maricopa last year has now been irrevocably broken. Only yet another hand-count could prove or disprove such a claim by the Ninjas, since --- unlike real audits --- they have not allowed the public to track or oversee their daily tallies. But, after the private, Florida-based company took custody of the County's ballots weeks ago, they could have added, removed or changed ballots at any time since.

All of that, meanwhile, as a real audit continues in Windham, NH, being run transparently by actual voting system, cybersecurity and post-election audit professionals who are allowing full public oversight. And as a judge in Georgia just granted permission for yet another post-election audit of copies of the 2020 ballots cast in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's Presidential race last year.

Of course, all of these questions about the results of last year's elections --- whether offered in good or bad faith --- might have been avoided years ago had Democrats insisted on fully overseeable public elections, instead of allowing private voting machine companies to, by and large, take over America's election with computers that tally votes, essentially, in secret. We have been warning about this nightmare for years, and now it is coming home to roost.

As our guest today, San Francisco-based attorney, election integrity advocate and Twitter rockstar JENNIFER COHN pointed out in a recent smart Twitter thread, Republicans spent years blocking Democratic legislation, the SAFE Act, which would have at least mandated post-election audits for federal races in every state. Now, Republicans are claiming they are needed all over the country. But, oddly enough --- for reasons that Cohn has been unable to determine so far --- Dems have failed to reintroduce the SAFE Act in this session of Congress.

She speculates today that the legislation may now be seen by Democrats as feeding into the GOP's evidence-free claims of fraud in the 2020 election, not unlike how Dem fears of being labeled as "conspiracy theorists" over the years prevented them from challenging and demanding hand-counts after what her thread describes as "fifteen years of poll-defying victories" for Republicans.

"I don't want to imply that I think they are equally to blame," Cohn tells me. "But I do think that it's a failure of leadership. Because leadership isn't about just reacting always to what the other party does. It's about standing for something." She goes on to correctly note that Democrats "had an opportunity after 2016 to really be the champions of election security, and to even incorporate that into their campaign platforms, and they didn't do it." Doing so, "behind the scenes does not win the court of public opinion" and now that has "allowed Trump to hijack that narrative."

"It should have been the Democrats to take that to the people, to take that to the court of public opinion. Had they done that, Trump would not be in a position to play the victim. Had the public known about the SAFE Act, and that Republicans blocked it, they would not be in the position they were to pretend to be victims" today.

Cohn is a longtime, dyed-in-the-wool Dem. So she does not level such accusations lightly. We discuss those concerns and many other points regarding the various audits --- and several splits in the Election Integrity community about them --- before opening up the phone to listeners with thoughts and questions for her and/or me on all of the above today.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

SHOW NOTE!: We've just learned from my landlord that major construction --- tearing up a walkway to install a new security gate --- will begin on Tuesday and last anywhere from 7 to 14 days! That means jack-hammers outside of our studio will make it impossible for Desi and I to do shows for the rest of the week and maybe even next week. Our beloved guest host Nicole Sandler has agreed to fill in for us for the rest of the week...and then we'll see where we are after next Monday's holiday. It could be a week of re-runs, but I hope not! Just letting you know why we are forced to suddenly and unexpectedly disappear for at least the rest of the week! My apologies. Though, as usual, Nicole will do a swell job of covering for us in our unexpected absence! Thanks for your understanding! --- BF

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Also: OH's million dollar COVID vaccine lottery is working; Millions of parents will soon get monthly checks from Dems' American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2021 7:08pm PT  

There is nothing wrong with citizens --- no matter how partisan or misinformed --- demanding to know for themselves that election results have been accurately recorded and reported. That's true even in cases where they have been blatantly lied to by, say, a disgraced, failed President of the United States. But post-election audits must be done in full public view from top to bottom, with all processes and evidence from the election kept within a transparent, well-documented, secure chain-of-custody at every step. Two ongoing post-election audits from the 2020 election are currently underway. One offers an example of exactly how not to do such a probe, the other one is shaping up to be a model for the nation.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show follows this summary]...

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's scheme to hold a $1 million lottery each week for the next five weeks for any Buckeye Stater 18 and over who has received at least one COVID vaccine shot, appears to be working. While we've got a few suggestions on how it could have been done more effectively, at least it appears to have slowed and even reversed (for some ages) the state's recent drop-off in the number of folks getting their shots. As it turns out, Ohioans seem to like DeWine's plan to offer federal government-sponsored cash prizes (yes, socialism!) courtesy of the America Rescue Plan in exchange for receiving life-saving inoculation from a deadly disease. More states should consider the same and the federal government oughta just pay people to get their shots! We suspect a crisp $100 bill in exchange for a shot in the arm would do the trick. (By the way, Ohioans need to opt-in for the lottery, at OhioVaxAMillion.com, to be eligible for the prizes!)
  • Another direct benefit for Americans from the American Rescue Plan (Biden's emergency pandemic relief and stimulus bill adopted by Democrats while being VOTED DOWN BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS), is the expanded child tax credits which will, beginning in July, send monthly checks of $300 per child under 6, and $250 for kids between 6 and 17, to parents making less than $150,000 over the next year. If Americans liked the Democrats' $1,400 individual payments from the ARP, they may love its expanded child tax credits which start this summer. Experts say the payments are likely to help cut child poverty in half this year. Hopefully, Dems will remember to loudly remind Americans of all parties which party it was that made those payments possible, and which party attempted to prevent them. Democrats are not usually very good at that. And hopefully they'll be able to extend those payments through at least 2025 as Biden has proposed in his American Families Plan --- which Republicans also oppose.
  • Then it's back to the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the county's 2.1 million public ballots from the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections last year are being inspected, in secret, by a private company with no experience in elections, voting systems or audits named Cyber Ninjas. Now, it seems, the Ninjas and a number of their allegedly false claims made about the materials turned over to them by the County (as ordered by a state court in response to the Republican-controlled state Senate's mandate) were the final straw for the majority GOP Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and its new Republican County Recorder.

    On Monday, the 5-person Board (4 Rs, 1 D), denounced the audit as a "sham" and a "con," lamenting the "spectacle" that they say "is harming all of us" and turning Arizona into "a laughingstock". The new Republican County Recorder, Steven Richer, now in charge of elections in one of the nation's largest counties, blasted the Ninjas for what he describes as blatantly false claims that election databases were unlawfully deleted and for ensuring attacks on his new staff. The Board also sent a blistering 13-page letter [PDF] to the state Senate's President detailing their anger, frustration and embarrassment, calling for the audit to be ended, while responding to charges they claim to be lies coming out of process. The Maricopa "audit" is now in it's third week in Phoenix, but reportedly nowhere near complete.

  • Meanwhile, by way of a critical contrast, another post-election forensic audit is underway in Windham, New Hampshire, led by actual experts in post-election audits and voting systems. Unlike the evidence-free claims of fraud in AZ, there is reason to be alarmed by the results of a state House of Representatives race in the town of 14,000 people. There, on election night last November, in an 8-person race (4 Ds and 4 Rs) for 4 seats in the state House, all four Republican candidates won. According to the computer tabulations, they were the four top vote-getters for those seats, with the Democratic candidate, Kristi St. Laurent, coming in 5th by just 24 votes.

    Last November, after she requested a hand-count of the town's hand-marked paper ballots --- previously tallied only by 20-year old, easily manipulated, oft-failed Diebold optical scanners --- it was discovered that the 4 Republicans actually received about 300 more votes each than the tabulators had reported on Election Night. And St. Laurent, the hand-tally found, actually received 99 fewer votes than initially credited with. So what explains the discrepancy between the computer count and the hand count? That's what the auditors began to investigate last week in one of the most open, professional, well-documented and transparent such processes I've ever seen in my nearly twenty years on this beat.

    This week, the auditors explained --- via the live streaming audio and video coming out of the audit room, their own Twitter feed, as well as in interviews with local media --- their leading working theory that could explain the numbers seen one way (incorrectly) by the computer scanners and another way (correctly) by the hand-counters last November. Their working theory, if it bears out, would explain the disparity between the two separate tallies last November. We explain that theory today. And, no, unlike our disgraced former President's recent false claims about both Arizona and New Hampshire, the reasonable hypothesis does not involve "massive election fraud" with "thousands and thousands" of newly "found" ballots. It involves the scanners misreading folds on mail-in ballots as votes.

    But, of course, most critically, the side-by-side comparison of the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa, which the public (and even local officials) are not allowed to fully oversee, versus the methodical, transparent, public process being carried out in Windham, should be an illustrative model for all future such probes. In the case of Windham, we are likely to have an answer to the mystery that everyone can agree with when all is said and done in the next few weeks. In Maricopa, I think its safe to say, little is expected to be settled one way or another after this ill-considered exercise is finally finished...if it ever is.

  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as calls grow for increased cybersecurity for the nation's energy infrastructure in the wake of last week's Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack; another pipeline company defies a shutdown order from a state Governor; and the EPA finally shuts down --- at least for now --- a disastrous, toxic mess of an oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands...among other American disaster tales hastening our worsening climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC Repubs killing 'slam dunk' hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computerized voting and tabulation has allowed my election nightmares to come true...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've got two lede stories really on today's BradCast. You can decide for yourself which one is the more maddening. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Late last week, the bi-partisan Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced they were ignoring the advice of their own General Counsel by voting down further investigation of the Stormy Daniels hush-money case payoffs by a former disgraced President. Two Republican appointees voted to kill, two Dem appointees voted to continue the probe (with one Repub recusing and one independent absent for the vote). The way the broken, six-person FEC is structured, no investigations of campaign finance reform violations --- no matter how obvious and blatant, as in this case --- can move forward unless there are four votes to do so.

Here, it's a slam dunk. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was already found guilty and sent to prison for the criminal campaign finance conspiracy in which he paid off the adult film star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. The affair took place ten years before the 2016 election. The payments were given to her just days before the election. It was clearly an election related expense, yet the Trump Campaign failed to report it, and Trump himself paid Cohen back for the payouts during his time as President.

Both Cohen and the DoJ stated in Court, before Cohen went to prison, that the payments were part of a criminal conspiracy "directed by" and "for the benefit of" Trump himself.

The explanation of the Republican commissioners on the FEC for killing the probe is ridiculously laughable, as we discuss with our guest today, former FEC Chair ANN RAVEL. She was appointed to the Commission under President Obama in 2013 and served until 2017. She, too, agrees this was a "slam dunk" case against Trump, which serves to highlight how the GOP have permanently "captured" the Commission in order to make certain that Republicans are never held to account for violations of federal campaign finance laws.

"Wanting to do nothing is exactly how the Republican Commissioners have always been able to assure that the Commission doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make elections and the electoral process fair, and to make sure that there is total disclosure of campaign finance activities," Ravel explains. "You're right to say that it's a 'slam dunk' case. In particular, because the [FEC's] General Counsel said [Trump's behavior] was 'knowing and willful', which it clearly was. 'Knowing and willful' is the criminal standard. So that may be an alert to the Justice Department that they need to now go forward and prosecute the case."

The DoJ prosecuted Cohen for participating in the conspiracy. Now the nation's top law enforcement agency needs to prosecute the man that the DoJ has already said "directed" it!

Ravel also offers her insight on how the FEC became so captured and broken in the first place (Hint: Trump's former White House Counsel and longtime GOP operative Don McGahn struck a corrupt bargain with Mitch McConnell years ago) and on the Democratic plan in the For the People Act (otherwise known as H.R.1 and S1) to reform the FEC. The plan would restructure it from a 6-person panel designed to deadlock and never move anything forward, to a 5-person panel of appointees selected by non-partisan judges and attorneys, with the fifth appointed by the President. No more than two people from any one political party could serve on the Commission at once, and appointees would have to have spent a number of years not working on political campaigns or as staffers for elected officials, among other sensible restrictions.

"The positive about what they have proposed in HR1 is that there would be a blue-ribbon commission, comprised of people who actually believe in the law and enforcement of the law, who would be nominating and reviewing particular individuals to be on the commission who would abide by the law. That is key to making the change --- to have people who are not beholden to a particular political party, who independently would look at the law and make decisions based on what the legal requirements are."

Naturally, Republicans oppose the reform (along with HR1 in its entirety) and are lying about it to say that it would turn the Commission from a bi-partisan commission into one that gives Democrats partisan control.

Ravel also explains how the Stormy Daniels case --- which can still be prosecuted on a criminal level by the DoJ --- is not necessary over at the FEC either, since the vote to kill the inquiry can now be appealed in a court of law by an outside group.

Then, I've got a bit of a today on the absurd clown show of an audit of the 2020 Presidential election still under way in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (which we've been covering in detail for the past several weeks); the legitimate audit, being led by several top shelf election and voting systems experts set to begin this week in Windham, New Hampshire (as we detailed in some length last Friday); and the remarkable 8,500 word deep-dive investigative report published over the weekend by Washington Post, detailing how the phony myth of Donald Trump's "stolen" 2020 election came together beginning way back in 2018.

In short (which is not easy with an 8,500 word story!), a wealthy Texas businessman and some Republican operatives calling themselves Associated Specials Operations Group (or ASOG) took the research on vulnerabilities in computer voting and tabulation systems compiled by folks like Bev Harris of Black Voting, Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, myself and others, to morph those very real vulnerabilities into phony claims of actual election fraud. Simply because a system is vulnerable, does not mean the vulnerabilities have been exploited. But such distinctions did not matter to this group which is clearly operating in bad faith, or to Trump who was happy to highlight any lie to cover for his shame of having been a failed, one-term President.

As I have been trying to explain for nearly 20 years on this beat, whether an election is stolen or not, the fact that we now use privatized, non-overseeable computers to cast and tabulate votes is itself a grave threat to democracy. Ultimately, as I've warned over and over again over the years (and as we are now seeing play out), it doesn't matter if an election is 100% accurate and secure if the public can't know that it is. Secret software and concealed vote counting inside computers run by private companies --- even when done perfectly and securely --- allows those operating in bad faith (as is the case with Republicans right now), to claim an election was stolen, even when there is no proof to support such an extraordinary charge. It's nearly impossible to refute such claims, bogus or otherwise.

I have warned about exactly this scenario as a dangerous threat to democracy itself for years, and now, as I explain on today's show, my worst nightmare is now playing out before all of our eyes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Never listen to Frank Luntz; Newsmax apologizes, admits Dominion 'fraud' claims were phony...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2021 6:48pm PT  

Will we ever escape the 2020 "Big Lie"? Maybe. But it's gonna take a while. That said, we've got some very good news on today's BradCast about the next "Big Lie" 2020 ballot audit! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, GOP pollster Frank Luntz appeared on a podcast this week to offer some sage insight about the 2022 elections. We would caution you to take it much of it with some very large grains of salt! Among the points he made, which we discuss (dispute) today: Trump's "Big Lie" is working to con his supporters, but that may cost the Republican Party some wins in the House and/or Senate next year, because, as Luntz claims, voters don't turn out if they believe their vote doesn't count. We explain, based on our own 20 years or so on this particularly beat, why Luntz is probably very wrong and why Dems would be making a huge mistake to take too much comfort from his point on that. Luntz is also dangerously wrong about what he beliefs will happen if Trump becomes the nominee for President in 2024, as we also discuss.

Then, the far-right cable outlet Newsmax has issued a statement apologizing for its false "Big Lie" claims that the 2020 election was stolen for Joe Biden by the Dominion Voting Systems company and, specifically, by its Director of Product Strategy and Security, Dr. Eric Coomer. He sued the wingut outlet for defamation last December, naming the Trump Campaign, Team Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and even farther rightwing outlet, One America News Network (OANN) as defendants as well.

All of them had forwarded baseless claims that Coomer was on a conference call with "Antifa", promising to steal the election for Biden. Seriously. That's what they claimed. It was an absurd charge that nonetheless was repeated and reported over and again in MAGA Land after they were confirmed as losers in the November election. It resulted in death threats and doxxing for Coomer, his family, his co-workers, etc. Newsmax has now admitted their reporting was false, and that they have no evidence to support Dominion or Coomer having stolen anything.

Newsmax has now been removed from Coomer's lawsuit in exchange for the public apology and an undisclosed sum of money. Looney Toons MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, however (who is being sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion [PDF]), can't seem to sleep at night now. He is furious about the development, and is now reportedly calling on the MAGA Mob to boycott Newsmax and watch OANN instead because Newsmax caved...by telling the truth.

Next, taking a break (mostly) today from our recent in-depth coverage of the clown show "audit" theater playing out in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, we move to the next post-election audit of 2020 ballots demanded by the MAGA Mob. This one will now be in Windham, New Hampshire and will be very different from the non-transparent shell-game being carried out largely in secret by the clueless, experience-free Cyber Ninjas nitwits and cretins in Phoenix.

In Windham, a November recount of four local state Representatives races were found to have been off by about 300 votes from the initial tally. That, of course, is cause for concern [PDF]. Particularly since the town still uses really old, easily-manipulated, oft-failed Diebold AccuVote optical scanners to tally voters' hand-marked paper ballots. (Their systems are also programmed and maintained by a disreputable company named LHS Associates.)

The reason for the discrepancy in the state Rep results is apparently still unclear. This has led the MAGA Mob to believe they've finally found evidence that the election was stolen from Trump (somehow) and --- in his best fat, sad Jake LaMotta at the end of Raging Bull impression --- led Trump during a wedding at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend to declare "massive election fraud" has been discovered in NH, which he was certified to have lost by about 59,000 votes.

But, here's the fun twist! The Windham audit will not be overseen by Cyber Ninja clowns with no experience in elections or voting systems. Longtime post-election audit expert Mark Lindeman, Ph.D., who currently serves as Acting Co-Director for the non-partisan, non-profit voting system watchdog, Verified Voting, has been tapped to run the audit. In turn, two longtime friends of both The BradCast and The BRAD BLOG, whose expertise for this audit is unparalleled, have also been tapped to work on it.

UC-Berkley's math professor Philip Stark, who invented the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, tells me that he is now on board. BradCast listeners may remember him as a guest on this show. Also now on board is the legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert, Harri Hursti. He is the first known hacker of a Diebold optical-scan system, as witnessed in the climactic final scene of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy (along with our guest from this past Wednesday's show, veteran Florida election official, Ion Sancho), and as the central figure in HBO's chilling 2020 follow-up to that doc, KILL CHAIN: The Cyber War on America's Elections. Moreover, Hursti is one of the organizers each year of the Vote Hacking Village at DefCon in Las Vegas and was first interviewed by myself in the award-winning 2008 documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story.

These are serious experts in the field, and hopefully will result in a serious examination of whatever went wrong in Windham in this past election --- even if it's unlikely to uncover that the election was stolen from Trump. Whether the MAGA Mob, who were elated about the Windham audit initially, will be as happy about the serious, non-hack professionals running it remains to be seen. So far, they are not.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest news-packed Green News Report, with bad news about "new normal" global temperatures and the planet's glaciers, but better news about California stopping Nestle from stealing its water and Biden canceling Trump's wall...and using the saved tax-payer dollars to repair the environmental damage from the stupid project...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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