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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, January 28, 2020
'Green News Report' 1/28/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Doomsday Clock nears midnight; Trump further pollutes our water supply; China bans single-use plastics; PLUS: Massive locust swarm threatens food security in Eastern Africa...
Previous GNRs: 1/23/20 - 1/21/20 - Archives...
Bolton Bombshells; Starr Hypocrisy; L.A.'s Vote System Debacle: 'BradCast' 1/27/20
Also: Tragic death of an L.A. icon and listener calls on all of the above...
Sunday 'Elephant in the Room' Toons
Another unavoidable set of the week's best toons in PDiddie's latest collection...
Dems Wrap at Senate Trial; CA Approves Unverifiable Voting in L.A.: 'BradCast' 1/24/20
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Schiff's powerful plea; CA SoS certifies new touchscreens, adds curious 'hand-marked paper ballot' provision...
'Even Puts Nixon to Shame': Damning Evidence at Senate Trial: 'BradCast' 1/23/20
Repubs called out for blocking key docs, witnesses; Dershowitz, Graham cited for flipping 1998 positions; Fox 'News' bags out; 'Doomsday Clock' nears 'midnight'...
'Green News Report' 1/23/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Big Oil rebrands for climate change; Trump DOJ and Big Oil in cahoots; U.S. drinking water more toxic than previously known; PLUS: Greta's dose of climate reality for Davos...
Previous GNRs: 1/21/20 - 1/16/20 - Archives...
Impeachment Trial Begins With a Trial About Holding a Trial: 'BradCast' 1/21/20
Repub Senate blocks document, witness subpoenas as White House offers remarkably hypocritical defense...
'Green News Report' 1/21/20
World's oceans hottest ever recorded; Climate change worries Wall Street; PLUS: Federal court dismisses climate kids' lawsuit...
My Letter to CA's SoS on L.A. County's New, Unverifiable Touchscreen Voting Systems
Dangerous VSAP system must not be certified! HAND-MARKED paper ballots needed for 2020 elections!...
Sunday 'Ding Dong the Witch is...' Toons
PDiddie documents yet another week over the rainbow in his latest toon collection!...
On Bernie's 'Electability':
'BradCast' 1/17/20
Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
A Statistical Response to the Charge That Bernie Sanders is 'Unelectable'
Analysis of 2016 primary election numbers in three key states appears to counter the allegation...
Parnas Sings, Sen. Trial Begins, Suit Against L.A.'s New Vote System: 'BradCast' 1/16/20
D.C. bombshells; Huge fail in L.A.'s $300M vote system, County Clerk finally responds...
'Green News Report' 1/16/20
GNR SPECIAL COVERAGE: Climate change pervades the final Democratic presidential primary debate before 2020 voting begins...
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...


Also: Tragic death of an L.A. icon and listener calls on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2020 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The President's defense team picked up on Monday where they left off on Saturday in their Opening (and potentially Closing) Argument in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump. But that defense was hit with a major bombshell by the New York Times on Sunday which could (emphasis on "could") turn out to be a game-changer for the previously expected course of this trial. [Audio link to program is posted at the end of this summary.]

But first, and before we eventually open the phones today, a few updates on the tragic Sunday death of Los Angeles Lakers' legend and NBC icon Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with his 13-year old daughter and seven others during a helicopter ride on a very foggy day just outside of L.A. While the shocking death of the 41-year old Bryant has reverberated around the globe, the pain of his loss was particularly acute here in Los Angeles yesterday.

In other Los Angeles news with national implications, we've got a bit more information on Friday's "conditional certification" [PDF] by CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla of L.A. County's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first-time use in the upcoming March 3rd Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. Among the updates, we've got a bit more information on the so-called "hand-marked paper ballot" that Padiila has ordered be made available at Voting Centers "for any voter that requests to cast" one. It will, according to the Secretary's mandate, be a "write-in absentee ballot," modeled on the Federal Voting Assistance Program's federal write-in absentee ballot [PDF] --- meant as a ballot of last resort for overseas voters who do not receive a normal absentee ballot in time to cast a vote --- that requires voters to write in all of the names of the offices and candidates for which they would like to vote. As much confusion and chaos as L.A. County's new, $300,000,000 "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP voting system is likely to cause at the polls this year, the provision for a second-rate, hand-marked "write-in ballot" as the only means for casting a hand-marked ballot at the polling place, is likely to make things even more chaotic. We detail that, and a few other points related to the certification of the new system on Friday, despite a newly filed lawsuit and warnings from cybersecurity and voting systems experts after its failure to meet more than 40 California Voting System Standards, according to the independent testers hired to analyze the system during Padilla's certification process.

Next it's on to the President's lawyers' case being presented once again as we went to air today, in the U.S. Senate, where Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr, the Special Prosecutor who recommended impeachment against Bill Clinton for lying about an affair) argued hypocritically that Trump could not Constitutionally be impeached for Abuse of Power (Article 1 of the two Impeachment Articles against him), even though Starr's own recent book on impeachment explains that Abuse of Power was the capstone of Clinton's impeachment case in 1998. That, and his argument that impeachment was just too divisive to put the country through without a bi-partisan political consensus was a bit hard to stomach for those of us old enough to remember the Clinton impeachment.

But the most noteworthy Impeachment-related news today is John Bolton, Trump's former National Security Advisor, reportedly charging in a manuscript of his new book, according to the New York Times, that Trump was directly involved in the unlawful freeze of $391 million allocated to Ukrainian for military assistance, unless the Ukrainians agreed to turn over documents related to an investigation of Joe Biden meant to help Trump's 2020 reelection changes. That alleged Abuse of Power is at the heart of Trump's impeachment, and the manuscript of Bolton's forthcoming book reportedly charges that Attorney General Bill Barr, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and Trump's Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were all directly aware of the scheme, according to the Times blockbuster report.

That explosive news on Sunday has, according to several different news outlets, led a number of key GOP Senators to rethink their previous votes against calling for new witnesses and documents in the Senate Trial. Will four or more Republican Senators now agree to vote in favor of subpoenaing Bolton and other related (and/or unrelated) witnesses? That appears to be the question of the moment in this matter as we go to air today, and one we open up to discuss with callers near the end of today's program...

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

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Schiff's powerful plea; CA Sec. of State 'conditionally certifies' VSAP touchscreens, adds curious 'hand-marked paper ballot' provision, Beverly Hills sues over system's critical flaw...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2020 6:17pm PT  

Our special coverage of Donald John's Trump Senate Impeachment trial continues on today's BradCast, but we interrupt that coverage briefly at the top of today's show with some breaking news out of California, on a story we've been covering closely. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

After we revealed last week that Los Angeles County's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems were found by the Secretary of State's independent testers to have failed to meet more than 40 requirements of the California Voting System Standards, we called on Sec. of State Alex Padilla to deny certification of these horrific systems and to require a verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot system instead for all voters in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. We called on listeners to send Public Comment to the SoS before the Public Comment period for certification ended this past Monday for L.A.'s new $300,00,000 touchscreen "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system.

I sent my own comment and, in doing so, cited a comment from the brainchild behind L.A. County's new voting system, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan. As we noted in that comment, Logan promised me a year ago, in January of 2019 via email, that "The equipment/system components [for VSAP] are/will be … in compliance with California's voting systems standards that exceed the federal voluntary system standards."

That vow from the County's top election official now turns out to have been untrue. Today, incredibly, Sec. Padilla "conditionally" certified [PDF] the VSAP system for first-time countywide use in the March 3rd Super Tuesday primaries, despite all of its many flaws.

He did, however, include a very curious --- and, for now, confusing --- condition, stating that "Los Angeles County shall make available in each vote center a sufficient number of blank write-in paper ballots for any voter that requests to cast a hand-marked paper ballot"...

What that means exactly, and whether this now means that every voter will be able to vote in any party's primary with a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot simply by requesting one at one of the 1,000 new Voting Centers (which replace the 5,000 community precincts we've always used in L.A. in previous years) remains to be seen. I have queries out to both the Secretary and Registrar and will report back whatever I can learn when I do.

In related news, the City of Beverly Hills announced Thursday they will sue the County, due to the fact that the VSAP system, as we explained last week, only shows four candidates in each race, before a voter is required to hit a "MORE" button if they wish to see additional candidates in the same contest. That "MORE" button, however, is very close to the "NEXT" button on the touchscreen, and takes voters to the next race without ever showing them all candidates in the previous one.

Padilla's conditional certification calls for mitigation to this enormous design flaw, but not until five months from now when "a plan" must be presented to the SoS regarding redesigned "functionality and usability". That means this flaw --- and the others --will be there for the critical March 3rd primaries and potentially changed before the crucial Presidential election in November. Whether that design change will actually be independently tested to ensure it has not introduced other problems also remains to be seen. But Beverly Hills, which has an upcoming election for City Council with five candidates on the ballot (one who will be hidden on Page 2 of the touchscreen for this race) has now filed a legal complaint, announcing they "are deeply troubled that voters will be disenfranchised by the new VSAP system."

Then, it's back to the ongoing mess on the East Coast in Trump's Impeachment Trial. We share the powerful and impassioned closing remarks from Thursday night's session from Rep. Adam Schiff. The lead Democratic House Manager spoke directly to Republican Senators about the internal dilemma that many are almost certainly facing in realizing the necessity of removing Trump before he cheats again on the 2020 election as he did in 2016 and, as Democrats have proven beyond a shadow of doubt, that he attempted to do in his unlawful pressure scheme with Ukraine to force them to announce an investigation seeking dirt on Joe Biden and an evidence-free claim about the 2016 election. Sadly, despite the power of those remarks, nobody who watches Fox "News" saw them because, as Media Matters found, the pretend "news" outlet showed live coverage of the actual, historic Senate trial "during its evening programming (between 7 p.m and 11 p.m. EST) for a total of just 22 seconds."

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to help us make sense of the past week of the trial as Democrats wrap up their opening (and perhaps closing) argument; what we can expect from the President's attorneys who begin their own presentation in response on Saturday; our best analysis of what comes next; and why Parton predicts "jury nullification" and believes "shamelessness is their superpower"...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Republican Senate votes to block document, witness subpoenas as White House offers remarkably hypocritical defense...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2020 6:10pm PT  

"Can I get a witness?" That appears to be the big question, at the moment, for Democrats in the historic U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of President Donald John Trump. On today's BradCast, we offer special coverage of the beginning of the trial, which, at least for today, is turning out to be a trial about whether there will be a real trial or not, with evidence, documents and witnesses, as Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus seem prepared to do everything in their power to ensure there will not be such an actual trial. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Before we get to today's action in the Senate, we bring you up to date on the holiday weekend's pre-trial briefs presented by the Democratic U.S. House Managers, who are serving as prosecutors for Trump's two Articles of Impeachment on Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, and the brief responses filed by the White House defense team.

Newly added to to Trump's legal team is hypocritical TV attorney Alan Dershowitz, who spent his weekend arguing on the Sunday news shows that the Articles were invalid because they did not include a specific crime. "You need proof of an actual crime," he argued. That, by way of contrast with Alan Dershowitz in 1998 during the Bill Clinton impeachment when he argued, literally, "it certainly doesn't have to be a crime" that qualifies a President for impeachment.

Trump's 6-page response to the Impeachment Managers 111-page brief describes the Impeachment as a "brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election" (which is what he is actually accused of doing in the Articles for which he is being impeached), and as "nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote." That's right. Donald Trump is now pretending to be concerned with the "fundamental right to vote." That, in the middle of an impeachment trial where he is accused of attempting to cheat in his 2020 reelection contest by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aid for war-torn Ukraine in hopes of forcing them to create dirt he can use against Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Tuesday's opening agenda was on the adoption of McConnell's proposed rules for the trial that would postpone votes on whether to include witnesses and documents previously blocked by the White House during the House's initial impeachment inquiry (the basis of Article 2's Obstruction of Congress charges) and even evidence gathered during the House Inquiry itself. Under McConnell's resolution, both sides would spend days in opening statements, and then take as many as 16 hours of written questions from Senators before they even vote on whether to allow witnesses or not. Legal observers have noted that is the opposite of how actual trials are carried out.

We share audio from today's terse opening statement by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, followed by an extended excerpt from lead House Manager Adam Schiff on the unprecedented attempt to exclude all witnesses and documents from a Senate impeachment. No trial in the upper chamber of Congress has lacked witnesses since the founding of our nation.

As we went to air for today's BradCast (and as we write tonight), all Democratic amendments to McConnell's resolution, attempting to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Dept. and elsewhere, and for witness testimony, have been rejected along strict party line votes with all 53 Republicans voting to table the amendments, and all 47 Democrats voting to move forward with the subpoenas.

Also today, a few quick points of news elsewhere regarding the public fight to stop the controversial certification of new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in Los Angeles County and the massive gun rights demonstration (over nothing) held on the Martin Luther King Day holiday in Virginia.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with exceedingly disturbing news about ocean warming, slightly more encouraging news about Wall Street beginning to wake up to worries about our climate crisis, and a big loss (for now) in the federal climate change lawsuit filed by a group of kids in California...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2020 6:45pm PT  

Is Bernie "unelectable" as many well-paid pundits and columnists have argued? We take an evidence based approach to that question on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, with the end of the Public Comment period for certification of Los Angeles County's $300,000,000 boondoggle of a new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system coming to a close next Monday, Jan 20th (Martin Luther King Day holiday!) at 5pm PT, it's great to see Libby Denkmann's comprehensive piece at LAist, on the potential nightmares for L.A. voters in the making. Her piece is headlined "LA's New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried". She picks up on many of the points we highlighted when we broke the story earlier in the week of more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards discovered by the independent testing team hired by the CA Sec. of State during the certification process.

We also follow up on Denkmann's scoop from earlier in the week, regarding the Beverly Hills City Council's recent vote to explore a lawsuit against Los Angeles County because the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system forces voters to notice a "MORE" button if they wish to see more than the first four candidates listed on the ballot in any particular race. That button is right next to the "NEXT" button that would take voters to the next race without seeing all of the candidates in the current race. A listener writes in with a couple of solutions to that huge design flaw on these incredibly expensive "electric pens" that L.A. is investing in, instead of a much cheaper, much more secure and reliable, overseeable HAND-MARKED paper ballot system.

Then, with many in the pundit class helpfully informing us that candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are just too progressive to be elected in the 2020 general election (many of these same pundits also told us Donald Trump could never be elected, by the way), we take an evidence-based look at those claims.

The question, however, begins with dismantling the notion that pack journalism and "conventional wisdom" on such matters should be trusted. For example, conventional wisdom tells us that members of the active-duty military will be big supporters of Trump's again this year. Actual evidence, such as the annual opinion poll of active-duty subscribers to Military Times, reveals a very different set of data than that presented by much of the media. That poll, taken at the end of last year, finds that half of respondents view Trump unfavorably, with 45% viewing him "VERY unfavorably". His overall ratings have dropped dramatically since the military publication's first annual poll in 2016. Moreover a plurality back impeachment for their Commander-in-Chief! (And today's Washington Post story on Trump railing at his Generals as "a bunch of dopes and babies" probably won't help him much either.)

In fact, as we discuss with our guest, historian, author and election fraud investigator RICHARD HAYES PHILLIPS, nobody really knows anything. At least when it comes to the paid pundits substituting their opinions for actual facts. Phillips published a fact-based analysis of the questions regarding Sanders electability at The BRAD BLOG on Friday, based on known raw numbers from the 2016 primary (with a particular eye on the "Blue Wall" states of WI, MN, PA, MI, IA and OH) and what can be gleaned from opinion polls today.

While avoiding punditry and predictions, Phillips' findings --- at least based on what we know at this time --- suggest that Sanders is, indeed, electable. Whether he would still be by the time Republicans got finished with him, or whether he is more electable than someone like Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, remains unknown no matter what the TV talking heads tell you. "Take your pick," he tells me when I ask whether his analysis today will hold up even after Trump and the GOP media turn their fire on Sanders if we wins the Democratic nomination. "Which three words do you want to hear Donald Trump say over and over again in the same sentence 10,000 times? Do you want to hear 'Biden Ukraine corrupt'? Do you want to hear 'Bernie crazy socialist'? Do you want to hear 'Pocahontas crazy socialist'? I don't even want to think about what he would say about Pete Buttigieg. I'm not going to go there."

Noting that his work "is based upon numbers and not opinions," he suggests voters should vote for who they like in the primary and forget about "electability", before adding his key takeaway: "The lesson to this is that the most important thing that Democrats can do is to unite behind the winner and not split the opposition. Trump's best scenario is a 3rd party candidate on the Left siphoning enough votes from whoever wins the Democratic nomination to throw the election to Trump."

Phillips argues: "My advice is that Democrats should not be afraid of a spirited primary contest between two or more viable candidates. What they need to do, as recent polling data also reveal, is united behind the ultimate winner. You can't just take your ball and go home and mope because your candidate didn't get the nomination. That's what Trump wants you to do."

It is certainly true that Republicans will say anything, do anything, to win the general election against whichever Democratic candidate ends up winning the nomination. We close with one amazingly audacious recent clip from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Fox "News" that underscores precisely that point...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Bombshells from Giuliani's right-hand man; GAO says Trump Ukraine scheme unlawful; Senators sworn to 'impartial justice' by SCOTUS Chief; Major design fail found in L.A.'s $300M vote system; L.A. County Clerk finally responds to our coverage...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2020 6:23pm PT  

Really just blockbusters and bombshells from top to bottom on today's BradCast. From historic impeachment proceedings to game-changing disclosures to potentially big legal trouble for L.A.'s imperiled new touchscreen voting system. [Link to complete show is posted below summary.]

First up, the historic Impeach Trial of Donald John Trump got officially under way in the U.S. Senate today, with a solemn oath-taking ceremony administered by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts who will preside over the trial that could determine whether Trump remains President of the United States.

But before we even got there on Thursday, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with its finding that the Trump Administration did, indeed, violate federal law last year when it withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as appropriated by a bipartisan vote of Congress. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the decision says, finding that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act." That matter is at the heart of Trump's impeachment.

But before the GAO findings were released on Thursday morning, or Senators could take their oath to do "impartial justice" as jurors on Thursday afternoon as the impeachment trial began, Rachel Maddow's Wednesday night blockbuster interview on MSNBC with Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born right-hand man to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, shook up just about everything and everybody. Parnas, facing charges of campaign finance violations, sung --- and sung like crazy. On everybody. "Everybody was in the loop," he said.

He claimed Donald Trump knew from the jump about the scheme to strong-arm Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden to help his 2020 reelection bid. So did Vice President Mike Pence, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressman Devin Nunes and even Attorney General William Barr. We share a few clips from Maddow's jaw-dropping scoop of an interview --- with a recommendation that you go check out the whole thing (which is set to have a Part 2 on Thursday night), before we move on to a few blockbusters and bombshells closer to home out here on the west coast.

Earlier in the week, we broke exclusive details on the pending certification of a brand-new, $300,000,000 unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first time use in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest --- in this year's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary elections. As we reported, independent testers hired by the Sec. of State's office to carry out certification testing of the new systems discovered more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards as the Public Comment period for certification of the County's "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system ends this coming Monday. Given the enormous problems with the system set for use in the critical 2020 Presidential election, we have been urging voters to send public comments seeking a HAND-MARK paper ballot system instead of the failed, unverifiable new touchscreen systems, to the Sec. of State at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov.

All the while, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has refused, for months, to respond to our serious questions about the systems or appear on the show. Well, we've got some new news today on all of that, including a potential lawsuit by the City of Beverly Hills, whose City Council, according to LAist's Libby Denkmann, has voted to approve a suit after discovering the effects of a serious design flaw in the system. The new VSAP tablets only display four candidates per race, before a voter must select a "MORE" button to be taken to a second page. That "MORE" button is right next to the "NEXT" button on the tablet voting system. And that "NEXT" button, takes voters to the next race on the ballot without voters ever even seeing the additional candidates in the race. This is a very serious flaw that is likely to cause havoc for candidates whose random positions on the ballot come as Number 5 or higher in any given race, including in the upcoming Presidential primaries. (If I'm Dean Logan today, I am praying that Bernie Sanders doesn't draw the fifth or later position on the March 3rd Democratic ballot!)

That matter is just one of several that Logan has either refused to speak to or has mislead on when I questioned him, or tried to, as I detail on today's program. But, given the noise we've caused over the past several days with this on The BradCast, Logan finally deigned to offer a Twittered response, excoriating our coverage of the certification testing failures. We share his misleading response in full on today's program, along with a number of the serious points that he either failed to respond to at all, or is attempting to mislead the public about in his tweeted answers. (For example, the fact that after a computer-marked ballot has been supposedly "verified" by the voter, it is sent back through the same printer path where it could be changed by the system with no way for the voter to ever know.)

Finally today, as if that's not enough blockbusters for you, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with our special coverage of Tuesday night's 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Des Moines, the last one before voting begins next month, and one in which our climate crisis, at long last, was front and center throughout much of the forum, happily enough...

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Also: Fall out from yesterday's exclusive news on major security failures discovered in Los Angeles' new $300M voting system, and much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2020 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as we wait for the House to send Donald Trump's Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, and we wait for the Senate to begin his impeachment trial, and we wait for Tuesday's night final Democratic Presidential debate before the Iowa Caucuses, and we wait for primary voting to begin in earnest next month, the fight for voting rights and for the way voters will cast their votes has been long underway, and it cannot wait any longer. [Audio link to complete show is posted below summary.]

We've got several major court victories today in the fight for voting rights, and a follow-up to yesterday's exclusive revelations of the massive failures discovered in the new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems set for first-time use in the critical 2020 Presidential election cycle in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction.

First up today, a Wisconsin state courts of appeals panel has stepped in to put a freeze on the massive voter purge of some 200,000 voters, as demanded by a rightwing legal outfit and a state court judge who was apparently willing to do their bidding. A three-judge panel on Wisconsin's District 4 Court of Appeals put the brakes on Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy's order to immediately remove the voters and on his $250/day fine against each of the three Democratic appointees to the state's Elections Commission who oppose the purge.

The voters who failed to respond to a verification postcard sent by the Commission were disproportionately found to be located in the state's most Democratic-leaning jurisdictions. They had been initially set for removal from the rolls in 2021, until Wisconsin's so-called Institute for Law and Liberty filed suit and found a very friendly judge in Malloy. He recently ordered the immediate removal of the voters, despite opposition from both the Democratic Commissioners and the state's Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. The ruling by the appellate court to protect as many as 200,000 voters is key in a battleground state said to have been won by Trump by just 23,000 voters in 2016.

Today's decision in WI somewhat echoes a ruling by a federal judge in New York State late last week, who ordered that voters determined to be "inactive" due to a failure to respond to mailings or bad information from the U.S. Postal Service, must be listed in poll books on Election Day. A failure of so-called "inactive" voters to appear in poll books at state precincts led to chaos and disenfranchised voters during the 2016 election in New York.

During the course of last year's trial in this matter, it was revealed that both members of the State Board of Elections and New York City Board of Elections found that many voters on the "inactive" list should not have even been on the list in the first place. Federal District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan ruled that State Board of Elections' procedures were in violation of both the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Then, we turn to some of the fall-out from the hornets nest we helped kick over on Monday's BradCast, when we detailed major security defects discovered by state certification testers in Los Angeles' new "Voting Solutions for All People" (or VSAP) voting system. The brand-new $300 million system, as we discussed in details on yesterday's program, is yet to be certified for use in California by Sec. of State Alex Padilla, but he is expected to sign off of it despite the massive failures discovered by the analysts that could put the 2020 elections in jeopardy in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, thanks to the completely unverifiable and highly flawed new touchscreen voting systems.

Today, we share some of the responses we've received following yesterday's blockbuster show and some of the public comments sent by listeners to the Sec. of State seeking rejection of the new system in favor of hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Letters must be sent to VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov before the Public Comment period for certification ends this Monday, January 20, at 5pm Pacific Time!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report, with some news on a family feud and potential climate change shake-up at Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp in the wake of the devastating Australian bushfires that have ravaged the country for weeks; new details on the extraordinary costs of our climate crisis; and the weekly arrests of climate action champion Jane Fonda...

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Could be approved for 2020 anyway. Public comment period ends soon! Hand-marked paper ballots needed in nation's largest jurisdiction!
Also: Booker out; Trump still lying about Iran; NBC covers huge e-vote security prob...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2020 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after a necessarily quick news round-up today (on Cory Booker dropping out of the Democratic Presidential nominating contest and the Trump Administration's continuing attempt to lie about about Donald Trump's unlawful assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani), we get on to the most important business of the day --- at least for voters in the state of California, though all across the country as well.

Brand-new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, which all voters at the polls will be forced to use for the first-time in the 2020 Presidential election in Los Angeles County, beginning with the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, are currently undergoing the CA state certification process. The $300 million system is failing state security and certification testing miserably, according to documents buried at the CA Sec. of State website, and reported on today's program for the first time.

In addition to producing a computer-marked ballot that can never be verified as reflecting any voters' intent after an election, documentation of state certification tests of the new "Voting Solutions for All People" system (or VSAP), reveal a myriad of incredibly serious security failures and violations of state law, according to experts we've consulted.

As we detail on today's program, the testers have discovered, among other very serious concerns, more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards, including findings that reveal:

  • The VSAP system can be booted from a USB drive that would bypass all security and logging protections and that access to the master account is needed for too many things, meaning that "too many people have access to the root password," according to state testers. That means "The excessive root access and the ability to boot the system from a USB port give access to the system by unauthorized individuals. Either scenario can result in undetected changes to files and data...Both scenarios can allow functions to be executed in non-intended ways. The unrestricted access to, and the ability to boot from, the USB port allows access to voting data";
  • Many problems were discovered with security regarding encryption and cryptography in the new system;
  • The testers discovered "It is possible to insert or remove ballots from both the BMD and ballot transfer boxes without detection";
  • "The printer cover allows access to the ballot box and can be opened without detection";
  • "Seals, locks, labels and sensors can all be bypassed" without detection.

Those are just some of the many findings that led one national voting system and cybersecurity expert to wryly describe the results to us as "not good" and another to describe the system as "a security fail".

Nonetheless, CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla could still certify the systems for use in the 2020 primaries and general election anyway, following the passage of a law he championed in 2013 as a State Senator that gives the SoS the ability to approve the use of new voting systems, even if they fail both federal and state testing, for actual elections.

The very quiet Public Comment period regarding certification of the unverifiable, unsecure VSAP touchscreen computer voting system ends next Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at 5pm Pacific Time. We are urging those concerned to contact the state at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov immediately to ask them to not certify this dangerous, unverifiable system, and to require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for all voters at the polling place in this year's crucial primary and general elections.

We offer much more frightening detail on all of this on today's program regarding the dangers of this type of voting system as they are proliferating not just in Los Angeles County, but also in key battleground states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and many others before the critical 2020 elections begin in just weeks time!

We appear to be the only media outlet, to our knowledge, reporting this important information on the failed VSAP tests out of California, so please share widely! We cannot afford to wait until corporate media bother to notice (such as NBC News, which just noticed on Friday a very serious concern about modems in voting systems in several battleground states that we had covered on The BradCast more than six months ago!)...

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Also: Bullock out; Hunter pleads guilty; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer questions about new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 12/2/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Don't say we didn't warn you. We'll keep trying. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • Montana's Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who won reelection on the same statewide 2016 ballot that Trump reportedly won by 20 points that year, announced he is dropping out of the Dem Presidential nominating contest on Monday. His campaign also claims he will --- sadly (shamefully?) --- not be running for U.S. Senate next year, despite his proven ability to flip a statewide seat from "red" to "blue" at a time his country needs him to do exactly that. Also, former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak dropped out of the 2020 race over the weekend as well, though odds are you're even less aware of his candidacy than you were of Bullock's;
  • Wildly corrupt conspiracist and Trump supporter Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) agrees to plead guilty --- rather than face trial in January --- in his criminal campaign finance fraud case in which he and his wife lavishly spent some $250,000 of campaign funds on personal expenses, while claiming, in some cases, that their spending was for veterans' charities;
  • The impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump moves forward, as the center of action will move from Rep. Adam Schiff's House Intelligence Committee to Rep. Jerry Nadler's House Judiciary Committee this week. The Trump White House continues to pretend they are not being allowed due process, as they informed Nadler on Sunday night that they refuse to participate in Judiciary's first hearing on the matter scheduled for Wednesday;
  • We then step through the process for Congressional proceedings on the matter as they are currently scheduled to occur over the next month, with Articles of Impeachment likely approved by the full House before year's end, followed by a trial on the removal of Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate beginning in January and leading right up to (or even beyond) the first votes being cast in the 2020 elections. The Iowa Caucuses will be on February 3, followed by the New Hampshire primary just one week later.

    By March 3, more than a dozen states will be voting on Super Tuesday, including California. For the first time that day, here in Los Angeles County --- which, by itself, is larger than 41 states --- voters at the polls will be forced to vote on brand new 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer systems.

    The new computers in L.A. are similar to the new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems that failed disastrously on November 5 this year during sparsely attended municipal elections in battleground states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania. In both states, failures of the new systems forced some voters to wait for nearly an hour to cast their unverifiable vote. (Imagine how things will go in a large turnout election...say in 2020.)

    Over the holiday weekend, The New York Times finally noticed the disasters for voters in Philadelphia and Northampton County, PA nearly a month ago, where the new touchscreens registered an impossible zero votes for some candidates in certain precincts. The failures left voters and party officials alike wondering what went wrong, and if the numbers ultimately reported by the system actually reflected the intent of the voters. As we've been arguing for some time, it is impossible to know whether results accurately reflect any voter's intent on these systems, even as they are currently (insanely) proliferating in the U.S. ahead of the critical 2020 elections.

  • Are you ready for the potential disasters? We offer a few helpful tips on how to try and avoid them. But, otherwise, we hope you'll have at least heard our warnings --- if few from anyone else --- if things go as catastrophically as they well could next year in jurisdictions where voters are not able to vote on hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place.

    (And, once again today, we are forced to detail some of the very simple questions that L.A. County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan refuses to answer about the new systems, either on the show in person or even via email.)

  • Finally, we open up the phones to some great (and chilling) calls on all of the above...

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

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Guest: Media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: Preemptive blackouts threaten CA elections; GOP tries denial as impeachment defense; Trump Campaign has bought 69,000 Facebook ads since May...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2019 6:24pm PT  

Right in the middle of today's BradCast, as we were discussing the very topic, Twitter announced that they would be blocking all political ads before 2020 from their massive social media site. As our guest today explains, however, Facebook, still refuses to even fact-check political ads purchased on their site, no matter how demonstrably false and misleading they are. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, as fires rage up and down the great state of California due to climate change-fueled winds, heat, tinderbox dry conditions and preemptive power blackouts by private, for-profit utility companies who failed to heed early warnings, it's become clear that elections in the Golden State are now also endangered. Exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, a number of large counties in the state, most notably here in Los Angeles (the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction) are moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems, rather than verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, and to e-pollbook systems at Voting Centers which rely on the Internet to establish voter eligibility before voting, rather than old school paper pollbooks.

Both new systems also require electricity for voters to be able to cast their votes at all. But what if power companies are forced, at this very same time next year, to once again preemptively shut down power to avoid the threat of utility line sparked wildfires? We have queried L.A.'s County Clerk and Registrar Recorder's office seeking information on what their backup plans are for such a situation, should it occur, next year. We'll let you know what, if anything, we hear back from Registrar Dean Logan or his office on an upcoming show.

Then, today's impeachment update includes a look at another one of the Republicans' latest attempts to find a way --- some way, any way! --- to defend Donald Trump's well-documented quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military assistance in hopes of forcing Ukraine's President to commit to a probe of Trump's 2020 political rival Joe Biden. After eviscerating, on yesterday's program, the disingenuous cries from GOPers in recent days that the inquiry was unfair to the President for lack of "due process," today we highlight several of the attempts by a number of Republicans to simply deny the entire matter even exists. From Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner's recent claim that the impeachment is little more than a "silly game" because the President "hasn't done anything wrong", to Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)'s refusal to answer even the simplest questions about Trump's documented behavior, to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)'s admission that he hadn't even attended a single impeachment inquiry hearing session, despite being a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of three that has been taking depositions behind closed doors from witnesses in the Ukraine affair over the past several weeks.

Then, with the Trump Campaign having purchased some 69,000(!) micro-targeted Facebook ads since May alone, many of them either entirely false or horrifically misleading (and amounting to more ads in total than all 18 current Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates combined!) we're joined by SUE WILSON, former Emmy and AP-award winning broadcast journalist turned media reform activist and founder of the Media Action Center, to discuss the controversial refusal by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to fact-check political ads purchased on his enormous social media site.

Wilson recently wrote at The BRAD BLOG about the controversy, sparked by Zuckerberg's refusal to block a clearly false Trump ad which CNN refused to air, and a subsequent false ad by Elizabeth Warren that she purposely ran at Facebook (and admitted was false) in order to press the point. That column, critiquing Zuckerberg's claim to be following local broadcaster ad standards (despite not being a broadcaster) as an important issue of "free speech", was published prior to some 200 employees of the social media giant signing a public letter this week calling for a number of the same reforms cited by Wilson in her recent op-ed.

"Personally, I'm offended by the idea that lying ads are the same as free speech," she tells me. "That is not free speech. It is paid speech, paid-to-misinform-people speech."

Wilson describes the breaking news about Twitter as "wonderful", adding: "It's kind of ironic that it's taking Facebook for us to start looking at these political ads that are allowed to lie to us. Not only should Facebook ban all political ads, but we should rewrite the laws so that broadcasters ban all political ads. This is a giant industry which promotes misinformation, and this is one very good way to start telling the truth to America."

Wilson debunks a number of Zuckerberg's claims about his ill-considered policy decision to allow all paid political propaganda ads by campaigns to run, no matter how many lies are included in them, and explains the arcane, nearly century-old federal requirements regarding which political ads broadcasters (versus cable channels and television networks) are allowed to prevent from running and which ones they may not censor, no matter how demonstrably false they may be.

Today's conversation with Wilson makes clear that Facebook needs to, as its own employees advise, rethink its current policy, at a minimum, before the platform is further "weaponized" by political campaigns with "destructive misinformation" that threatens our very democracy, even as concerns about political censorship by huge media outlets remains a concern. Hope you'll tune in for this important discussion in advance of next year's critical Presidential election!...

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(And we didn't even get to half of it!); Plus: Callers ring in on the Dem Primary, L.A. County's new unverifiable touchscreen vote system, more!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2019 6:08pm PT  

The weekend brought us another avalanche of news in the Trump Era. As usual, we try to catch up by focusing on the stories that actually matter. But, even at that, we couldn't get to half of what we'd planned for today BradCast. But we did have time for a bunch of great callers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the many stories we cover today that they were calling in to comment on...

  • A federal judge has restored a nationwide injunction to block the Trump Administration's likely-unlawful new policy that bars asylum to migrants who travels to the U.S. through another country before entering the U.S.;
  • Former GOP Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina becomes the third major Republican candidate to announce his intention of running against Donald Trump for the party's 2020 Presidential nomination, after previously describing Trumpism as "a cancerous growth" and charging the Republican Party has "lost our way". His long-shot bid, joining former MA Gov. Bill Weld and former IL Rep. Joe Walsh, will be made all the more difficult now that the Republican Party in South Carolina, along with those in Nevada, Kansas and Arizona, have cancelled the GOP caucuses and primaries in those states for 2020 at the behest of our thin-skinned, cowardly, unfit President;
  • Next door in North Carolina, it now appears to be full-speed ahead for Tuesday's two U.S. House Special Elections which were imperiled for a time by Hurricane Dorian. While the storm resulted in some cancelled Early Voting days last week, most of those hours were made up with extended hours over the weekend, leaving Democrats with a larger share of the early vote in the 9th Congressional District than they even had during early voting in last November's "Blue Wave" election. The Republican candidate reportedly "won" that race by about 900 votes in a district held by Republicans since the 1960s. But the election was never certified after revelations of a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme. Both Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are in the 9th district on Monday night, with two separate rallies, for far-right GOP State Senator Dan Bishop in the do-over race against centrist Democrat Dan McCready. The contest is currently being characterized as a toss-up and is being regarded as a bellwether for the 2020 elections. The other race, in NC's 3rd Congressional District is to fill the seat of the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones in an even more "red", if Hurricane Dorian-battered, district on the state's coast;
  • And in D.C. today, Trump declared that year-long peace talks with Taliban officials and the Afghan government are now "dead". That, after Trump revealed his cancellation of a secret meeting that had been set with Taliban officials this week at Camp David --- on the week when the nation commemorates the 18th anniversary of 9/11 while the nation's longest war (in response to it) continues on with no end in sight despite campaign promises from Trump to end it;
  • We also briefly reference the plan announced today by Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to hold a formal vote this week to officially begin their impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump before opening up our lines to callers on all of the above and more.

    Among the additional topics on listeners minds today: The Democratic Presidential primary and the likely-disastrous move by Los Angeles County to replace its hand-marked paper ballot voting system with an ill-considered and 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system (pictured above) before the 2020 Presidential elections. The new system (pictured above) was developed by its brainchild, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, who now refuses to appear on the show or answer our questions about the new, still uncertified system, as he used to. He calls it Voting Solutions for All People or VSAP. As one caller notes, the new system is shamefully being supported by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. One of them, longtime Democratic Supervisor Janice Hahn, has been (mis)representing the new system as an "exciting" "upgrade" from the previous system, despite the fact that the computer-marked "paper ballot" summaries the new system produces can never be known to reflect any voter's intent after an election in the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems are being implemented in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and other key states before the 2020 election, despite warnings against electronic Ballot Marking Devices from world-class cybersecurity and voting systems experts...

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

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County election chief Dean Logan 'declines' to appear or answer public queries as nation's largest jurisdiction plunges headlong into major voting overhaul for 2020 Presidential elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

Well, as detailed on today's BradCast, we've been trying, for a long time to get answers about the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems set to replace Los Angeles County's verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system for the first time in the 2020 Presidential elections. Disappointingly, however, the L.A. County Clerk/Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan, who had been very responsive and helpful in previous years, no longer answers simple questions about the new voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (VSAP), which he has been developing for more than a decade. That is very troubling, as we explain in detail today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

The new VSAP system is a touchscreen Ballot Marking Device or BMD, which prints out a computer-marked paper ballot summary of votes selected via the touchscreen, before using another computer, an optical-scanner, to read the non-human readable QR Code that is also printed on the ballot summary. The QR Codes are used to tally votes. While the QR Code (a type of barcode) cannot be verified for accuracy by voters, it is also impossible with such systems to know if any voter has even verified the human-readable portion of the ballot summary at all, much less correctly, after an election. Studies reveal that most do not verify computer-marked ballots at all, and that of the minority who do, most don't recall the details or selections on the ballot they voted just moments earlier. That's just one of the many reasons why most cybersecurity and voting systems experts warn against the use of such systems which are now proliferating --- and sometimes replacing verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems --- in many states and counties across the country before 2020. (The list of states where counties or the entire state are moving to BMD systems include a number of key battleground states. Such systems are planned for use next year, or are already being used, in OH, WI, PA, TX, WV, KY, NY, NJ, KS, TN, IN, SC, NC and, yes, CA, unless the public prevents these plans.)

We have been trying to get simple answers from Logan about the VSAP project before voters are forced to use it next year in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, but Logan has both repeatedly refused to answer many such questions and has declined repeated invitations to appear on the program, including today's. That, after he has joined us on a number of occasions over the years (the last time he joined us was in April 2013 to announce that the new system would be an unverifiable touchscreen system) and he used to be quite responsive to voter questions and concerns on Twitter and elsewhere.

Among the simple questions Logan refuses to answer of late:

  • Will voters at the polls in Los Angeles still be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots as previously mandated by the CA Sec. of State? (The office of Democratic SoS Alex Padilla, a supporter of the new system in L.A., has also not yet responded to that question.);
  • Will there be paper backups of the new electronic pollbook systems used with VSAP at the new Voting Centers which will be replacing community precincts this year? (1,000 such Voting Centers will allow voters to vote from any of them, versus the 4,000 local precincts L.A. voters have used in the past);
  • Will independent cybersecurity and voting systems experts like Harri Hursti, who has hacked many voting machines over the past decade or more, be allowed to carry out security and penetration tests on the system before it's used in the 2020 Presidential election? (Hursti has agreed to do so, but Logan has not responded, at least publicly, to take him up on his generous offer);
  • Where is the public documentation for whatever certification and security testing that Logan claims to have already carried out?
  • Why was a private, foreign-based voting systems vendor named Smartmatic given the nearly $300 million contract to build and program the systems, despite their disturbing record of mysterious foreign ownership and failed past elections?;
  • Why does Los Angeles and the California Sec. of State characterize the new VSAP system as "open source", while refusing to disclose the so-called "open source" to the public and responding to public records request to review it (even from other elections officials!) by claiming the system's code is "propriety information", "trade secrets" and that disclosure would "reveal vulnerabilities to attack or would otherwise increase the potential for an attack on the public agency's information technology system"?

We would have preferred Logan joined us on air today to answer such questions, and many more from callers. However, as he declined, we were forced to do our best to answer them ourselves.

Moreover, it would also be helpful if corporate media bothered to cover any of these important issues to the public. The Los Angeles Times ran two stories on VSAP last week, one a fawning 1,900 feature article on Logan and his years-long development process for the system. Neither story by the Times' Matt Stiles --- including the one headlined "Ready for the voting overhaul in L.A. County? Here’s what you need to know" --- mentioned anything about the many security and verifiability concerns of the new system. Following my public complaints to that end over the past week, Stiles has told me he is considering a story on those concerns. I hope so! Voters need to corporate to step up to this stuff, even a tenth as much as they cover the horse race --- while ignoring the track conditions on which the horses will be running!

Arguably, as bad or worse, Washington Post has a page up on their website headlined "How Ballot-Marking Devices Work". There is no story or text on the WaPo page, remarkably enough, just an embedded version of a two-and-a-half minute promotional video for the VSAP project created by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office. Seriously! Nonetheless, out of an abundance of fairness, we aired the full promotional video for the system on the program.

We take a deep (and often harrowing) dive into all of the above and much more --- along with listener calls, many of them furious, as they hear about this for the first time --- on today's BradCast...

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

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Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we catch up with a grab bag of stuff, most of which doesn't have to do with Donald Trump's idiocy --- you're welcome --- but a lot of which has to do with what Americans need to do about him! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • The front page of the New York Times now, officially, looks like a pre-2016 parody of what the Times might look like if Donald Trump were ever elected President;
  • Denmark still doesn't want to sell Greenland to the US. Why, after all, would its citizens want to give up "universal health care, free higher education, five weeks of annual paid vacation and 12 months of paid parental leave, subsidized childcare and more"? But the Premier of Greenland is, however, interested in buying the U.S.!;
  • Two-term WA state Governor Jay Inslee, the climate change candidate, drops out of the 2020 Presidential race, but accomplished quite a bit and will now run for a third term as WA Governor;
  • Former CO Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the Presidential contest a week or so ago, announces his run for U.S. Senate to take on vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in an already very crowded field of Dems vying for the nomination. (But, ahem....hint, hint, O'Rourke, Castro and Bullock!);
  • And, on the Republican side of the aisle, "reformed" Tea Party Republican and former one-term House Rep. Joe Walsh appears set to announce plans to primary Trump from the right next year. If his recent, blistering NYTimes op-ed is any indication, in which he eviscerates Trump for, well, just about everything, he would be a welcome participant along with already-declared former MA Gov. Bill Weld and a few other potential GOP challengers that may be coming soon;
  • In more disturbing and much-less noticed news, 22 Texas towns have been simultaneously crippled by coordinated ransomware attacks that have shut down all computerized city services. The hackers are demanding some $2.5 million to restore services to the unidentified towns which may all have used the same private contractor for municipal IT services. The attack-via-contractor is reminiscent of the 2016 spearphishing attack on voter registration services vendor VR Systems as described in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report. That attack appears to have resulted in penetration of voter registration databases in several Florida counties in 2016, and perhaps other states (such as North Carolina) serviced by the same private vendor.

    But, sadly, none of this has prevented states and counties around the country from moving swiftly to fully-computerized voting and tabulation systems, as well as computerized electronic pollbooks (all frequently serviced by a small group of private contractors) as we move toward the critical 2020 elections. If those any of those thousands of jurisdictions whose poling places now rely on such automated systems on Election Day --- often without paper backup for ballots or pollbooks --- were to be similarly crippled by a ransomware attack on or before Election Day, the result would be unimaginable chaos next year. But how likely is that, really? Why worry?;

  • Some voters in Georgia are, in fact, very worried, and justifiably so, about the state's newly certified, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems now planned for first-time use in 2020. As we reported on the show a few days ago, those voters have invoked a little-known provision in GA's election code to demand a reexamination of the new systems which the state certified just weeks ago. The multipartisan voters charge Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger violated state requirements in his initial certification, and failed to do any security testing at all. The Sec. of State's office now says the petitioners, who prefer state voters use verifiable hand-marked paper ballots systems, simply disagree with the "policy preferences" of the Georgia General Assembly and must pay the costs for the second examination themselves;
  • In similar-ish news here in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, which is also planning to move to new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices for the 2020 election --- the county's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan is refusing to answer questions by voters on Twitter as to whether they will be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place this year. That has been a mandate by the CA Sec. of State for many years.

    Also, Logan has similarly failed to respond for several days to a generous offer by legendary Finnish cybsersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti to examine the county's new, never-before-used-in-any-election BMD systems for security concerns. Hursti, the first to have hacked a Diebold voting system over a decade ago, runs the now-infamous annual Voting Village event at the DefCon hackers convention in Las Vegas --- where, year after year after year, enormous vulnerabilities are discovered in every voting system put before the attendees. Despite Hursti's offer, Logan has not responded to it via Twitter.

    Why has the previously communicative Logan gone so mum? He has been very outspoken on Twitter in the past, and still seems to have no problem citing L.A. Times stories about his new system there. (Perhaps because those stories shamefully fail to mention any of the many security and verifiability concerns about them, as cited by cybersecurity and voting systems experts.) Why is Logan, a long time, usually quite responsive and responsible election official no longer answering questions from his voters and media about such a huge sea-change in voting for some five million L.A. County voters?;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on record wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic, record Alaskan heat killing salmon in the rivers, Jay Inslee's exit and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's imminent U.S. arrival...by solar-powered boat.

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

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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

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SB 360 will also allow the use of new systems in 'legally binding elections' as 'pilots' without any state certification at all
Clears way for full development, and then sale, of Los Angeles County's planned new 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2013 3:37pm PT  

Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed SB 360, a radical new election reform bill, that will, for the first time in decades, end all federal testing of new e-voting systems approved for use in the state of California.

The measure, sold dishonestly by its supporters to the public and lawmakers, is expected to have an impact across the rest of the nation as well. It's enactment paves the way for the final development of a new, unverifiable touch-screen voting system for use in Los Angeles County, where it is then slated to be sold for use in jurisdictions elsewhere in the state and country.

Before the adoption of SB 360, new voting systems in California required two independent levels of testing, both at the federal and state levels before they could be used in an election here. Even with those two independent testing regimes in place, the systems certified by the Sec. of State over the past decade or more have been riddled with errors and security flaws that were later discovered. For those reasons, and others, The BRAD BLOG had been calling, unsuccessfully, for Brown's veto of SB 360.

As we've documented on these pages, the new law also affords sweeping new executive powers to the Sec. of State to approve new e-voting systems for use in so-called "pilot programs" without any certification testing at all, even from state auditors. Those "pilot" e-voting and tabulation systems, according to the new law, may now be used in "a legally binding election" at the sole discretion of the Sec. of State.

The BRAD BLOG has reported in great detail on this dangerous new bill, which was eventually passed along partisan lines with almost no debate in either chamber of the state legislature. It was supported by all the Democrats in both the state Senate and Assembly, and opposed by all but one Republican.

The bill, granting unprecedented power to the California Sec. of State, was authored by state Senator Alex Padilla (D) --- himself a leading 2014 candidate for California Sec. of State. It was also supported by one of his two main rivals for that job, State Sen. Leland Yee (D), who has also gone on record calling for Internet Voting systems in California.

The only one among the top three Democratic contenders to replace CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen (who is termed out in 2014), who did not go on record in support of SB 360, is former Common Cause official Derek Cressman.

As we also reported, the bill was sold dishonestly by Padilla to both lawmakers and the public...

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




Alex Padilla selling measure as needed to allow counties to own their own voting systems, which they are already allowed to do...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2013 7:05am PT  

California State Sen. Alex Padilla continues to mislead the public about SB 360, his radical election reform bill passed recently by the state legislature along partisan lines, and now waiting for a signature, or veto, from Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill, as we explained in our detailed exposé last week, would end all federal testing of new e-voting systems in the state of California. The use of only federally-approved voting systems had long been a requirement in the state. Moreover, the measure would grant unprecedented sweeping executive powers to the Sec. of State to approve new voting and tabulation systems for use in real elections without any certification testing at all, even by state auditors.

Coincidentally, Padilla, the bill's sponsor, is also a leading 2014 candidate for Sec. of State in California.

Last week, we explained how Padilla has been cynically selling this bill for many months as necessary in order for jurisdictions like Los Angeles County to own their own non-proprietary voting systems. Who, after all, other than private voting machine companies (and/or folks who'd like to use such systems to game elections), would be against the idea that voting systems should be publicly owned by the jurisdictions which use them to run their own public elections? But that explanation doesn't really tell the full story.

L.A. has been in the process of developing a new, publicly-owned, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system for some time. (See a new video of their design concepts, all quite troubling for those of us familiar with new, touch-screen e-voting systems, right here or at the bottom of this article.) The county has said they hope to sell their new system to other counties in the state and across the country. But, what Padilla doesn't mention to lawmakers or to the public while pitching his legislation, is that L.A. already owns their own current voting system and has for many years.

"I've introduced a piece of legislation that doesn't mandate, but allows, at the county level, county governments to own their voting systems," Padilla misleadingly announced on KSRO the day before the bill was finally approved by both chambers of the state legislature earlier this month. He cited L.A. County's development as the reason that counties should be able to own their own voting systems...which, he didn't mention, L.A. already does.

The audio clip of the KSRO interview is featured on Padilla's web page...

You can listen to Padilla's brief, 9/5/2013 interview on KSRO here [appx 4.5 mins]:

Since SB 360's introduction back in February, Padilla has been quoted similarly, and misleadingly, in every press release we've seen issued by his office, touting that "Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections."

The next, even more misleading part of the oft-used Padilla quote, has been modified only slightly in his press releases since the bill's introduction last February...

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




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