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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 24, 2019
NC Elections Board Ignores Voters, Approves Touchscreen Barcode Ballot System: 'BradCast' 8/23/19
Guest: Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB's new cancer; Trump blows up markets, China trade war...
Ransomware Attack Hits 22 TX Cities. Why Worry About 2020?: 'BradCast' 8/22/19
Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
'Green News Report' 8/22/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic; Salmon dying in hot Alaskan rivers; Swedish teen climate activist sails for US on solar boat; PLUS: 2020 climate candidate drops out...
Previous GNRs: 8/20/19 - 8/15/19 - Archives...
GOP Website 'Political Malware' Exposed as NC Special Elections Begin: 'BradCast' 8/21/19
Guest: Bill 'DocDawg' Busa; Also: Greenland debacle; More Trump-fueled domestic terror...
The Domestic Terror Mass Shootings by White American Men That DIDN'T Happen Last Week: 'BradCast' 8/20/19
Also: Trump cow-tows to NRA on gun reform; Luntz' advice to Dems on discussing climate...
'Green News Report' 8/20/19
Newark lead crisis; U.S. fracking causes spike methane emissions; Air pollution like a pack of cigarettes a day; PLUS: End the Senate filibuster to save the climate?...
Multipartisan Petition Effort to Recall Alaska's New GOP Governor Catches Fire: 'BradCast' 8/19/19
Guest: AK Dem Party's Jeanne Devon; Also: GA voters mandate new voting system review...
Sunday Big Baby Toons!
You'll laugh, you'll cry -- you may even get rattled -- by PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Officials Scramble As Election Software Goes Obsolete, Election Servers Discovered Online: 'BradCast' 8/16/19
Guest: Kim Zetter on voting systems found connected to the Internet and vendor denial...
'Green News Report' 8/15/19
Warming-fueled algae blooms killing dogs; Big Oil pushing plastic; Plastic found falling in Arctic snow; PLUS: Dem states sue to stop Trump EPA's dirty power plan...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: SMART Elections co-founder, documentarian Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB treated for pancreatic cancer; David Koch dies; Trump blows up markets, trade war with China; Amazon burning...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2019 6:38pm PT  

Just before airtime for today's BradCast, everything seemed to blow up at once (figuratively!) But we do our best to navigate through the most important explosions, including one that is likely receiving little coverage around the country. An astounding vote by the North Carolina Board of Elections --- led by a new appointee of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper --- has allowed the certification of controversial, new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the state for the 2020 elections. The Board's vote was 3 to 2 against a motion that would have blocked the dangerous and expensive voting systems made by ES&S, with the newly-appointed Democratic chair voting with the Board's two Republicans to kill the motion. It had been put forward and supported by the two Democratic Commissioners and supported by virtually every public commenter who packed today's SBE meeting. We discuss that remarkable news and much more with our guest today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first, a few of the other items blowing up in today's news that you have likely heard a bit more about than the very bad news out of NC today. The U.S. Supreme Court released a statement that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has completed radiation therapy for a malignant cancerous tumor discovered on her pancreas at the end of July, but that there is no evidence of the disease remaining in her body at this time. The 86-year old Justice underwent surgery for lung cancer in December and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Rightwing billionaire David Koch has died, according to his brother Charles. Collectively, the pair had raised and spent about $1 billion on elections and in support of almost exclusively Republican candidates and causes in recent years. Just last week, brother Charles was allowed to absurdly opine in a Washington Post op-ed that "both sides" of the political spectrum "have made it harder to come together as a country."

And, the Dow Jones took another 600+ point dive on Friday, after China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods and as Donald Trump pitched a tirade on Twitter in response. Not only did he announce intentions to double-down several times in kind today, but he also attacked his own Fed chair Jerome Powell by calling him an "enemy" of the U.S. and comparing him to China's Chairman Xi. But, that's not all. He then absurdly declared that he has "hereby ordered" U.S. companies to stop doing business with China and their 1.4 billion consumers. White House officials, as well as Republicans in Congress and rightwing business groups were reportedly left dumbstruck by the President's latest and increasingly unhinged Twitter pronouncements as he headed off to France for a G-7 summit with allies --- and as the market headed sharply "south" in response to it all.

With the figurative national cancer in the White House seemingly metastasizing quickly at this point, and with corporate media focused almost exclusively on the horse race elements of the 2020 Presidential election, we look once again toward the quickly deteriorating track conditions on which next year's horses will be running. That issue has received a lot of coverage on The BradCast over the past several weeks, if not from the rest of the media, including news of the federal judge finding Georgia's entire touchscreen voting system unconstitutional; voting and tabulation systems discovered online in at least ten states, including several battleground states, despite claims by elections officials and private vendors that the systems were never connected to the Internet; ransomeware attacks that have shutdown city government computer systems in 22 Texas municipalities over the past week; and the successful efforts by citizens in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia to demand new security reviews of recently certified, hackable touchscreen voting systems.

But the wild twists and turns in the battle against the new systems in the battleground state North Carolina came to a shocking and disappointing conclusion today, after scores of citizens spoke out against the dangers of the new computer-printed, barcoded ballot system being unleashed in the state. While largely the only person to testify in favor of the systems was a representative of the company selling and servicing them, the State Board of Elections certified them for use anyway, with the help of the Board's new Democratic chair voting with its Republican Commissioners in a series of stunning 3 to 2 votes.

We spoke to a number of folks on the ground in NC today, who testified against the new systems, and they were both stunned and furious. Frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (a plaintiff in the successful federal case against Georgia's touchscreen voting machines) is a North Carolina resident who testified today. She sent me a statement just before airtime: "As a North Carolina voter I am embarrassed by the level of ignorance shown by three of the five members of the Board. The arguments they made wouldn't pass muster in fifth grade civics class." Another opponent of the new systems, Lynn Bernstein, an election security advocate, aerospace test engineer and ardent supporter of hand-marked paper ballot systems also spoke today and told me afterward that the new Chairman Damon Circosta "couldn't cite a single reason" for his vote, "other than he has confidence the new system will be fine."

We're joined today by longtime, award-winning journalist, columnist, documentarian and SMART Elections co-founder LULU FRIESDAT for her response to today's stunning news from NC, which she says she regards as a "coup" that will allow the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems next year in the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina as well as other jurisdictions such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles, unless the public can rollback this alarming trend.

"We have state after state after state --- we have this in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, we've had it in New York, they had it in Kansas --- it's the same ES&S machines. And now you're seeing it in North Carolina, where you have a vast majority of citizens coming to these Board of Election meetings saying 'We want hand-marked paper ballots! We want voting systems that we can trust! We don't want touchscreen barcode systems!' And the election officials are putting in place those electronic touchscreen barcode systems that are the exact ones that people are protesting against."

She cites broad donations by vendors to many of the officials tasked with selecting the systems and passing statutes which allow them.

We also discuss the disturbing news out of DefCon's Voting Village a week ago, where she witnessed new voting and electronic pollbook systems --- like the ones now set for use in NC --- being easily hacked by attendees in minutes time. "This is the third year that they've had a Voting Village, where they have voting machines that are in use in the United States available there. And each year it becomes more clear that really, every system is extremely vulnerable. There was not a single system there, to my knowledge, that was not penetrated in some way, or they didn't find vulnerabilities," Friesdat tells me.

And, finally, we discuss her newly-launched effort at SmartElections.US to help train and organize voters nationally to help oversee our own public elections via her new #CountTheVote citizens initiative to help people "get involved on a very local level" .

CountTheVote will be "training people who care across the country, in county by county, especially targeting states where we know this is really going to come down to the wire, swing-states, giving people the toolkits that they need and the skills and information they need.," she explains. "You can have conversations with your election officials to try to influence them to purchase secure voting equipment. Get other groups involved to start pressuring them. This is happening all over the country."

Finally, if it seems that the world is on fire of late, that's because it is --- both figuratively (see everything above) and literally, from the Arctic to the Amazon. We close with a few words on the troubling developments in the Brazilian rainforest where that country's Trump-like authoritarian climate science-denying leader, Jair Bolsonaro, is actually blaming non-profit groups fighting to save the Amazon rainforest for the global warming conditions and Bolsonaro policies that are actually helping to spark the massive fires in a region of the world that otherwise helps turn climate warning C02 into oxygen. At least it did before the record fires have become to consume the region...

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

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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa; Also: Trump's Greenland debacle worse than it looks; Trump-fueled domestic terror epidemic growing...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2019 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the first day of early voting in two U.S. House Special Elections, both in North Carolina, one of them a do-over election after a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme last November resulted in the State Board of Election's refusal to certify the fraudulent results. And this week, as our guest today discovered, the RNC has already stepped in it again at one of their websites supposedly meant to help voters apply for absentee ballots in the two contests. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first up today, a few thoughts on why we cover what we cover, and how difficult it actually is to make those decisions in the Trump Era. One story we haven't covered --- until today --- is the absurd effort by Donald Trump to purchase Greenland. While we've ignored the ridiculous story before today, the events of the past 24 hours, including the international incident caused by Donald Trump's abrupt cancellation of a planned state visit to our allies in Denmark next month, due to their refusal to sell him Greenland, have led us to rethink our coverage.

Trump's erratic behavior (on that and several other matters) suggests a quickly deteriorating state of mind for the President of the United States, leading George Conway, the conservative attorney and husband of one of Trump's senior advisers, Kellyanne Conway, to call today, in no uncertain terms, for the Vice President, Trump cabinet members and Republicans in Congress to begin seriously considering the use of the 25th Amendment to remove the "mentally unstable and unfit to serve" Trump from office.

Also today, a short follow up on our detailed coverage on yesterday's BradCast of what is clearly now a nationwide epidemic of domestic terrorism by white American rightwing men. There have now been at least 27(!) arrests across the country since the El Paso and Dayton shootings just over two weeks ago, of such men who have threatened mass slaughter and more against immigrants, Jews, African-Americans, LGBTQ people, and abortion clinics. They frequently cite Trump while doing it and most of the alleged terrorists also appear to own the high-powered military-style weaponry and ammo to pull off their threatened mass shootings.

Then, we're joined by North Carolina's DR. WILLIAM BUSA of the campaign consulting and data firm EQV Analytics. Busa --- who may be better known as "DocDawg" of the progressive website DailyKos --- joins us to detail his alarming findings this week after carefully reviewing the Vote.GOP website. The site is run by the RNC and offers various voting services, such as registration and absentee ballot applications for voters. With early voting now underway in the NC-03 and NC-09 special elections for the U.S. House, Busa discovered that the RNC's online application for North Carolina voters to apply for absentee ballots on the site was misconfigured in a way that would result in the potential purge of voters who used it!

Moreover, Busa found, as he documented at EQV Analytics in an article headlined "Political Malware", "Every visit to Vote.GOP peppers the user's browser with tracking cookies, web beacons, and data-harvesting code, including code attributed to a division of Tremor International, an Israeli advertising technology company whose RhythmOne subsidiary touts its ability to harvest web users' 'demographics, psychographics, shares (including dark social media), interests, purchase behaviors, and browsing habits'." Between those trackers and the information provided by voters seeking to register or request an absentee ballot, Busa describes, the GOP is scraping up what "the holy grail of campaign advertising [which] enables precision micro-targeting of just the right message to exactly the voter most likely to be persuaded by it, just as Cambridge Analytica did for the Trump campaign in 2016."

Since publishing these details in his exposé late Monday night, he reports, "the Republican Party appears to have hit the kill switch on their website. The site itself is still up, but it now no longer offers any voter assistance services," he tells us.

Busa also offers updates on the two U.S. House Special Elections now at stake on September 10th. One is to fill the now-vacant seat of the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3) in a very "red" district. The other much more "exciting" race, is the do-over election following the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud Scandal that resulted in some 7 recent indictments of Republican operatives, no certified winner and a new election called after last November's U.S. House election in the state's 9th Congressional District.

Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate in that race had reportedly lost by just 905 votes to Republican preacher Mark Harris last year, until the scandal carried out by a GOP contractor and known fraudster hired by Harris finally came to light. McCready is running again for the Dems in the do-over, but the Republicans have put up Dan Bishop, the State Senator who wrote NC's controversial "bathroom bill" several years ago, a measure which ended up costing the state about a "billion dollars in boycotted business," according to Busa. Moreover, he explains, the notorious Bishop has also been revealed as an investor in the alt-right social media site called GAB, which might be better described as simply Twitter for White Supremacists.

A lot of money is now being spent by both sides on the NC-09 race, where McCready has reportedly been able to out-raise Bishop by more than 2 to 1 in the longtime Republican district. Busa believes the contest is currently a "toss-up" that will come down to turnout, especially that of independent voters.

We also get a quick update from Busa on the amazing battle raging at the State Board of Elections right now regarding whether new, very expensive, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices made by ES&S will be certified by the state, or whether the state will move to all hand-marked paper ballots. As we reported on the program several weeks ago, that battle took a number of astonishing twists and turns triggered by the resignation of the SBE's Chair after he told an off-colored joke about a cow and woman to a convention of some 600 NC election officials.

So...tune in for the latest skinny on that particular madness and more today in the increasingly-notorious swing-state of North Carolina!...

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: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system unconstitutional is a victory for voters across the nation...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2019 6:10pm PT  

We've got some pretty huge and long-overdue breaking news today from a federal court in Atlanta. It's huge enough that we dumped what we were previously planning to cover to devote today's BradCast to the judge's new order in a case that we have been following now for years. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg, in a 153-page ruling [PDF], finds that Georgia's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen voting systems, in use in the state since 2002, are not fit for U.S. elections because they are "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated". They are so unsecure, in fact, that they violate the Constitutional right of voters to have their votes counted as cast.

"Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack," Totenberg writes.

She excoriates the state Defendants --- former Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and current Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger --- for lying about facts and evidence in the case (though she is only slightly more polite in her wording, by describing the "Defendants' inconsistent candor with the Court") and for dismissing the many long-proven security concerns about these systems as "fantasy" forwarded by Plaintiffs.

While Judge Totenberg will allow the old Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems to be used one last time in Georgia's municipal and county elections this November, she makes it clear they may not be used again in 2020 or thereafter under any circumstances. She also offers several hints that the state's recently selected new touchscreen systems, now planned to replace the old ones, may also be found unconstitutional in further proceedings, leaving the clear preference of cybersecurity and voting systems experts --- hand-marked paper ballots --- as the only option likely to meet requirements for auditability and Constitutionality.

We're joined to explain all of these details and much more today on what is a clear, overdue --- if not (yet) total --- victory, by plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance. She has been joining us on the show for a number of years now with updates on each important aspect of this broad and gruelingly long case since filing it about two years ago. Marks calls today's ruling a victory not just for Georgia voters, but for those in many states where similar systems are now used --- including some where newer, if still unverifiable, touchscreen systems are being planned for use in 2020.

"The court ruled that DREs are unconstitutional. And that anybody voting on these things should be worried about their vote," says Marks. "Of course, this doesn't relate just to Georgia. The words of this federal court will be heard around the United States. Hopefully this will have an impact on other jurisdictions" where, she hopes, they will take notice of the judge's words recommending hand-marked paper ballots.

Marks explains that Judge Totenberg does not appear much happier with the new system Georgia now plans to use in 2020, though was unable to offer a finding on it, yet, given that the state just finalized their decision last week. But, Totenberg offered warnings about those new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in several places in the ruling, such as when she warned: "The past may here be prologue anew — it may be 'like déjà vu all over again.'"

Indeed, Marks says her non-partisan organization plans to seek an injunction on use of Georgia's new, equally unverifiable touchscreen systems as well, and that Totenberg, perhaps with that in mind, has ordered that a number of counties run hand-marked paper ballot pilot elections this year in advance of next year's Presidential primary elections. "We will absolutely be launching a constitutional challenge against Ballot Marking Devices," she vowed.

"Surely they realize that the hand-writing is on the wall and they've got to quit fighting for unverifiable elections. I would think Georgia voters are going to get pretty sick and tired of this. Most of these guys are elected officials, so I think that they need to consider the political consequences if they want to continue to fight for unverifiable elections."

As to allowing the old, unconstitutional systems to be used one more time in the state's 2019 municipal elections, Marks advises: "While they can be used in November, they shouldn't be used in November. Those people on the ballot, those people voting in the municipalities, should demand right now --- right now is the time to do it --- that their county, their municipality go ahead and use hand-marked paper ballots. They've got the equipment for it [since they already use hand-marked ballot systems for absentee voting across the state] they've got the know-how, they ought to do it."

In one other key element of this case, as Marks explains, the Judge also ordered a review of the state's electronic pollbook systems which resulted in failure and chaos and disenfranchisement during last November's general elections. She has ordered that polling places must have paper backup pollbooks on hand in elections moving forward, to avoid the disenfranchisement of voters when electronic voter registration systems fail on Election Day or are manipulated by malign actors.

"Just like with any computerized voting component, it can be hacked," Marks tells me regarding the state's ES&S ExpressPoll registration computers used in the Peach State's precincts. "There can be errors. There can be mis-programming. And that's been occurring in Georgia. [Judge Totenberg] asked us to bring her evidence. We brought her hundreds of affidavits of people who were turned away at the polls who should not have been. We brought her evidence of software problems in the e-pollbook system. And therefore she said, 'Enough of this! Go fix the system!'"

She continued: "I get it as to why computerized [registration] records can be very helpful here, but let's use some common sense. And the judge has said have a paper backup so that if there is a question that needs to be adjudicated, use the official paper backup. And look it up right there, and don't run people away from the polls. Give them their ballot."

In fact, in her ruling, the judge cites "threats of contamination, dysfunction, and attacks on State and county voting systems, disparaged by the Secretary of State’s representatives...as a fantasy and still minimized as speculative" by the Defendants as recently as a hearing in the case this year. That, Totenberg notes, despite threats "identified in the most credible major national and state cybersecurity studies and official government reports." She even cites "real life" incidents that "played out with the United States’ July 2018 criminal indictment of a host of Russian intelligence agents for conspiracy to hack into the computers of various state and county boards of election and their vendors as well as agents' efforts during the 2016 election to identify election data system vulnerabilities through probing of county election websites in Georgia and two other states." All of which, writes Totenberg --- as Marks has long been arguing --- serves to "burden Georgia citizens' right to cast a vote that reliably will be counted."

As to the lies --- er..."inconsistent candor with the Court" --- Marks notes the Secretary of State's staff told "just absolutely black and white lies. They didn't mind lying to the court. And one has to wonder what is it that they are hiding that makes it worth lying to the court, and facing the potential consequences of lying to the court." She told me she intends to seek sanctions from the court for those lies in the days ahead.

So, yes, some big --- and very good --- news for a change today!

Finally today, the one thing we did not throw over to make room for the landmark ruling out of Georgia, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on global warming-fueled toxic algae blooms now killing dogs in a number of states; Big Oil pushing into plastics manufacturing as gasoline demand declines in the wake of the electronic car revolution; plastic pollution found in falling snow in the otherwise pristine Arctic; and Democratic-led states suing Trump's EPA to block his rollback of Obama's Clean Power Plan...

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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On the weekend massacres in El Paso and Dayton; And Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo on the recent Senate Intelligence Comm. report on Russia interference in 2016 and the fight to secure 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2019 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open with the grim weekend news of the two gun massacres in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio, which collectively resulted in at least 30 killed and some four dozen others wounded, before moving to yet another issue of national security being avoided by most Republicans and the White House. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

The two domestic terror events in TX and OH, each carried out in minutes by white American men with semi-automatic military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, has once again spurred calls for legislative action by Democrats in Congress and the avoidance of same by the terrorist-enabling, NRA-captured Republican officials.

In addition, Donald Trump spent about 48 hours following the El Paso shooting hoping to avoid the fact that the 21-year old man who carried it out had reportedly driven from his home in Dallas to target immigrants in the border town. An online manifesto attributed to the white nationalist shooter, echoing language and racism frequently used by Trump, describes an "invasion" of Hispanic immigrants. "El Paso and Dayton make 251 mass shootings in the US in 216 days, more shootings than days in the year," notes USA Today.

The incidents also serve as the latest to highlight shameful GOP hypocrisy on matters of national security. Over the past two decades, the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars under the guise of "national security", even as the focus on international terrorism has resulted in several acute issues of national security such as climate change, gun violence by domestic terrorists, and election security being all but ignored by Republicans. That, even as the public has been asked to sacrifice one freedom after another under disingenuous claims of "national security" while the country has been bankrupted both financially and morally in the bargain.

The latest massacres and lack of willingness by Republicans to take action and confront a real and growing national security threat, is also echoed in their lack of action regarding security in our elections, the only means by which the public may actually hold their failed, hypocritical, and corrupt elected officials accountable. But a week or so ago there was a glimmer of hope, sort of, when the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan --- if absurdly redacted --- report on election security [PDF], concluding that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016. At the same time, the report states that "the Committee has seen no indications that votes were changed" or that "vote-tallying systems were manipulated".

Then again, as we've take great pains to report in detail since 2016, nobody, to our knowledge --- including the FBI, DHS, Robert Mueller's Special Counsel Office or even local and state officials --- has actually bothered to look! Calls for hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots and forensic analyses of electronic voting systems were blocked after the 2016 election in many states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania which each are said to have flipped to the Republican Presidential candidate that year by incredibly narrow, unverified margins, for the first time in decades. The Senate Intelligence Committee report suggests that while foreign actors were able to gain access to the nation's voting systems and voter registration databases, they took no action to modify them in any way. Really?

We're joined today by cybersecurity and voting system expert RICH DEMILLO, formerly the Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard, now Professor of Computing at Georgia Tech, where he served as Dean and director of their Information Security Center. DeMillo shares his takeaways from what he describes as a "frustrating" Senate report, which appears to both pull punches and hide much of both its findings and recommendations behind redactions. "There is just a massive amount of evidence that not only were the systems targeted, and in some cases penetrated, but it would take an extraordinarily altruistic spy to resist the opportunity of doing something nasty once they got into these systems," he tells me. "Not going that final step, which is relatively risk-free, of carrying out the mission that you were there to accomplish, just seems to me to strain credibility."

DeMillo, who has co-authored a number of landmark studies on the many dangers posed by the 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) now being deployed before the 2020 election to places like Georgia, Philadelphia, Los Angeles County as well as counties in other key battle-ground states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, warns that our vulnerable voting systems are, indeed, an issue of "national security".

"We're in an era where the tools can be turned against the citizens," he cautions. "Where the results of an election in an entire jurisdiction can be changed with literally the flip of a switch." DeMillo, who now serves on the board of the Verified Voting Foundation, is a supporter of hand-marked paper ballots as the only known type of verifiable voting and (like me) is dubious about the push to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for new "upgraded" computer voting systems. "It's like buying better filters for cigarettes," he says.

And while there are still no federal mandatory standards for voting systems (only voluntary guidelines last updated by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission in 2005!), the "real obvious vulnerability" to the systems comes from election insiders, local and state officials and contractors hired to program and maintain the systems. "Even in the face of arguments from election officials that 'we vet our people, we do background checks,' every time we look under those covers, what we find is that there's almost no due diligence that's taking place. That the people that we entrust with these systems, in the first place, don't understand the systems, have never been briefed on the threats, and we have no idea what their background and motivations are."

He cites the story we broke on the program last week based on testimony from an official in the Georgia Secretary of State's office who conceded on the witness stand the week before in a federal court hearing that all voting machines in the state are programmed by three outside contractors "in their garage." That new revelation of outsourcing from the ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the security and Constitutionality of the state's unverifiable touchscreen systems underscores that "everything they tell you about the security of their infrastructure, and how well they vet against the insider threat, turns out not to be the case. And that story is repeated over and over again around the country."

DeMillo also relates the story of the "ruckus" he recently caused on social media when relaying a conversation with election officials in a largely rural state "who just happened to mention in an open meeting that the computers that they use to program their ballots were housed on laptop computers that were in the houses of people, without any security clearances, no special security infrastructure. In fact, they were in places where the Internet connections were so bad that some of those people had to go to the local Starbucks in order to connect to the internet." He says his "jaw dropped to the floor" when he learned that many of those officials were programming their voting machines and tabulators on wide open, completely unsecured public networks.

Finally, DeMillo goes on to offer some advice on how to "move the needle" in the continuing fight by election integrity advocates to secure our elections by using systems that can actually be overseen by the public, slamming those --- from Congress to state and local officials to academics to private voting system vendors --- who believe that secrecy and "security by obscurity" can actually work to protect the heartbeat of our nation's fragile and more-threatened-than-ever system of representative democracy...

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Also: Cybersecurity firm was able to take over GA's 'entire' voter registration network; Lots of bad news for Trump and GOP in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2019 6:24pm PT  

Lots of bad news on today's BradCast for Trump and the Republican's in Congress as they head home for their long summer recess. And several astonishing followups to major voting-related stories we broke earlier in the week out of North Carolina and Georgia. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, several big stories out of Congress today, none of them good for the President or Republicans...

  • The GOP's only black U.S. House member, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, says he won't run again in 2020. The stunning announcement Thursday night represents a huge pickup opportunity for Dems in a state slowing turning "blue", and just the latest in a quickly growing string of GOPers calling it quits in the House;
  • On Friday, Donald Trump abruptly pulled his 5-day old nomination of TX Rep. John Ratcliffe to become the nation's next spy chief. Ratcliffe, after attacking former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during hearings in the House last week, was tapped by the President to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who publicly contradicted Trump on Russian interference in U.S. elections, Iran compliance with the landmark nuclear pact that Trump violated and pulled out of, and on the national security threat of climate change, among other things. Ratcliffe, however, was revealed to have had no previous intelligence experience, as required by statute for the DNI role overseeing the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, and was found to have lied about past claims to have prosecuted terrorists;
  • And, in more bad news for Trump on Friday, a majority of House Democrats have now publicly called for an official impeachment inquiry of the President. CA Rep. Salud Carbajal became the 118th out of 235 House Dems to publicly call for an inquiry to begin. With the majority of her caucus now supporting impeachment proceedings, it remains to be seen if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will finally modify her current position to allow Dems only to "legislate, investigate and litigate". House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler recently filed a court motion seeking grand jury information from the Mueller investigation which, for the first time, referenced a need for the documents due to Congressional consideration of impeachment proceedings.

Then, several (occasionally amazing) follow-ups to stories we broke earlier in the week regarding the citizen-led fights for publicly overseeable elections and hand-marked paper ballots in two key swing states.

First, on Tuesday's program we detailed what appeared to be a "win", if a short-lived one, by election integrity advocates in North Carolina, after they'd convinced the state Board of Elections, in a 3 to 2 vote, to adopt a resolution effectively blocking the certification of a 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device made by ES&S, the nation's largest (and sleaziest) private voting vendor. That vote, if finalized next month, would likely result in hand-marked paper ballots across the entire state in next year's crucial Presidential election. The powerful ES&S is currently the only voting system vendor certified to do business in the closely divided battle ground state.

But, in reporting that story on Tuesday, we also broke the news that one of the three "yes" votes on the resolution blocking ES&S, Republican David Black, had changed his mind, leading to a new meeting --- and a revote on the resolution --- called for Thursday. Black's reversal would mean a 3 to 2 vote in FAVOR of ES&S' new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems for counties currently serving some 2.5 million voters whose current, older 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are set to be certified, by state law, at year's end.

But, a funny thing happened before the Thursday revote, after the state Board's Chairman, Democrat Robert Cordle --- who had voted against the resolution on Monday --- told a wildly inappropriate joke to open a state conference of some 600 election officials. He was subsequently forced to resign by the Governor, resulting in Thursday's re-vote becoming a 2 to 2 deadlock, leaving the initial vote, which could lead to hand-marked paper ballots for all NC voters, in place.

There will be yet another vote --- the formal vote on the resolution --- on August 23rd, when whoever Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper names as the new Chair to the beleaguered 5-person Board, will be able to cast the decisive vote to determine if the key swing state will have verifiable elections in 2020 or not. And, yes, we share the "dirty joke" in question, about a woman and a cow, on today's program;

Then, we also have a follow-up to a story we broke on Monday's BradCast, regarding the federal lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before the 2020 Presidential election. On Monday, plaintiff Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, joined us on the show to describe a revelation from a court hearing latest last week in which a witness from Georgia's Sec. of State's office revealed that all voting machines across the state in 2018 were programmed, without oversight, by three independent contractors working for ES&S out of their garages, using unsecured home WiFi.

Last night, the UK's Guardian picked up the story about the state's fully-outsourced elections, confirming our reporting from earlier in the week and adding a number of additional disturbing details. Among those new details: Georgia's entire voter registration system was similarly outsourced to a private company which even contractually disallowed the Sec. of State's office from having access to the network. More alarmingly, however, as the Guardian's Jordan Wilkie reports, during security penetration tests, a third-party (fourth-party?) cybersecurity company contracted by the state, found that it was able to "take over the entire network". Moreover, in November of 2018, a year later, in a second round of testing just before last year's midterms, many of the vulnerabilities discovered during the initial test remained unresolved.

Until last week's hearing, when much of this information was revealed on the stand for the first time during questioning of the Sec. of State's chief information officer, the state had completely misled the federal court about all of the above and more.

Finally today, some very grim news out of the Arctic, where Greenland, over the past week, has gone through an extraordinary melt event, with record high temperatures --- 10 to 30 degrees above the normal average --- resulting in the loss of some 10 billion tons of ice over the past day or two, with nearly 200 billion tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean during the month of July. How's that for a cheery way to end the week? You're welcome!

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Public pressure in NC almost results in statewide hand-marked paper ballots --- almost; WI's Scott Walker files suit to undermine MI democracy; And many others reasons to fight for your democracy right NOW...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2019 4:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The hack of over 100 million personal financial records of those who applied for credit cards at Capital One, one of the nation's largest financial institutions, underscores yet again how insane it is that we are relying on proprietary, un-overseeable computer systems "overseen" by Mr. and Ms. County Clerk to safeguard free and fair elections with results that can be known by the public to be accurate. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The Capital One hack did not take a nation-state like, say, Russia, to accomplish. It was allegedly pulled off by one woman hacker who lives with cats in an apartment in Seattle. But if Capital One can't protect its data --- even from a lone hacker in Seattle --- what chance do you really think your local county clerk or even state election official has in protecting the votes of millions of voters? Should you be concerned about those three guys who, according to testimony last week in federal court from a Georgia Sec. of State's official --- as discussed on our show yesterday --- program every voting machine in the state, without oversight, from their garage?

Georgia, of course, is not the only swing state right now considering the purchase of millions of dollars of new, if 100% unverifiable, computer voting systems for use in the crucial 2020 Presidential election. The closely divided North Carolina is doing the same. Thanks to public pressure from a lot of folks on the ground in NC, however, the State Board of Elections appeared, as of Monday night, to be on the verge of a resolution that would effectively mandate hand-marked paper ballot systems across the state.

That decision however, as we report today --- with some new details from those carrying out the fight locally in the state --- may now be on very shaky ground after possible pressure on State Board officials applied by ES&S, the nation's largest voting vendor and, currently, the only vendor certified to do business in the Tar Heel State. A new meeting is now scheduled for Thursday to consider rescinding the motion passed by the Board on Monday night.

The fight for free, fair and publicly overseeable elections in North Carolina, Georgia and many other states and counties around the country is taking place right now. As in previous years, waiting until after the election will be, once again, too late to do anything about whatever may happen. We try to give you the information you need every day here to fight for your publicly overseeable democracy. What you do with that information, however, in your own locality, is up to you. And you are really needed right now.

Meanwhile, after Florida Republicans recently undermined a landmark state Constitutional Amendment adopted in a landslide by voters last November to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons, a similarly popular state Constitutional Amendment adopted in 2018 by Michigan voters is also now under fire by Republicans. Amendment 2, adopted by 61% of statewide voters last November, creates an independent redistricting commission to draw fair state legislative and U.S. House maps after the 2020 Census. The effort came in response to the state's wildly gerrymandered 2011 maps which have kept Republicans in the majorities in the state legislature and U.S. House delegations, despite receiving fewer votes than Democrats statewide. Though federal courts found MI's maps to be unconstitutional, an opinion by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court killed that ruling in June, with Chief Justice John Roberts declaring federal courts may have no say in partisan gerrymandering cases, while citing, among other things, the citizen-led effort to create an independent redistricting commission last November in Michigan as an alternate solution to unfair partisan maps.

But, on Tuesday, a Republican group led by Wisconsin's former Gov. Scott Walker --- who approved similarly gerrymandered maps in that state before eventually being voted out of office last November --- filed suit in federal court to kill Michigan's Prop 2. The group claims the Amendment violates the Free Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. We explain and discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news for California in its fight against Donald Trump over new vehicle mileage and emissions standards; cable networks announce 2020 Democratic climate change forums; and professional Republican climate change denier and pollster Frank Luntz announces he has a change of heart...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Gilroy, CA festival shooting tied to white supremacy, Trump's stochastic terrorism...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2019 6:07pm PT  

We've got several pieces of important news, on today's BradCast, regarding the long federal court challenge against Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, the new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems they plan to move to before the 2020 elections, and a hope from one of the plaintiffs that the case could result in all such systems --- now being adopted by states and counties across the nation before 2020 --- being declared unconstitutional for use in American elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, a few words about stochastic terrorism from the President of the United States (also see this chilling editorial cartoon from our collection this week), as his appalling attacks on minority Democratic members of Congress continued with a new target over the weekend, and as another mass shooting --- this time at a food festival in Gilroy, CA on Sunday night --- is once again tied to white supremacy.

Then, we're joined by MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance for some of the at-times jaw-dropping news from a marathon hearing in federal court last Thursday and Friday in Atlanta. Marks' Coalition is a plaintiff in the case hoping to sideline Georgia's nearly 20-year old Diebold touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before this fall's municipal elections and beyond, including the 2020 Presidential primary and general elections.

Marks shares a number of remarkable updates in the case we've been following since she filed it back in 2017. The updates include new details on the state actually destroying evidence --- including computer servers, databases and voting system memory cards --- needed in the case, and lies told to the court by the defendants about security issues related to the voting system. The misleading statements came from the office of Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger and the state's former GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. Kemp is now Governor of the state, after he is said to have narrowly defeated popular Democrat Stacey Abrams last November on the very same unverifiable computer voting systems overseen at the time by then SoS Kemp.

Marks details the extraordinary security measures plaintiffs were forced to undergo in order to have their experts even partially examine the ballot database used by Georgia which, the state had claimed, included customized, "super-secret" security measures built in to the system that made it completely different from identical --- and completely hackable --- Diebold touchscreen systems used elsewhere in the country. As it turns out, after spending thousands of dollars to create secure "clean rooms" at Georgia's insistence to allow plaintiffs' experts to examine the databases in two different locations (Michigan and Washington, D.C.) those experts found there was, in fact, no special customized "super-secret" security measures. The database structures are identical to those found available for download on the Internet --- from many different states --- going back as early as 2002, when Georgia first adopted their current, easily-manipulated voting systems.

"Let's be clear that we've still not had a chance to look at the system or the programming in the voting machines or the servers," she told me. "We were allowed to look at a database that is used to program the memory cards, just one tiny piece. There was a huge fight because the state lied to the judge, and lied to us, and said that this database was its 'crown jewel' of security, [that] nobody else using Diebold had this super-secret database."

"We found out that, just as we had told the court, their database is just like every other state's database, many of them published on the Internet as public records. They just found it so convenient to lie to the court in order to keep anyone from having easy access to see what a mess they're making," she says.

On the destruction of evidence, she tells me: "The Secretary of State destroyed their two primary servers --- the first one four days after we sued them, the next one a few hours after the case was assigned to Judge Totenberg. From there, we asked to start preserving memory cards, internal memories of the voting machines themselves, and they just completely defied every request. Even the judge told them to go to the FBI, where there was a partial copy of one of the servers, and be sure that thing did not disappear, be sure it was retained, and they even refused to do that."

She also details a revelation from one of the witnesses on the stand last week which elicited gasps in the courtroom after he admited that "100%" of Georgia's ballots are programmed by three independent contractors who do not work for the state and who prepare the ballots at home --- on potentially unprotected WiFi setups. That, despite the extraordinary --- and expensive --- measures plaintiffs were forced to enact in order just to have their experts view the state's "super-secret" election system database.

"It was shocking. We had just taken the deposition of the [state official] on the witness stand. He had told us it was his employees who do the programming of the machines. We subsequently got a written contract that told us the opposite. So we asked him on the witness stand, 'Who is it that is programming ballots?' He told us about these three people who are out of their homes or garages with no real security. They are ones that have these databases, who are programming every single machine in the state, with no oversight, no public ability to check what's going on, and with such an insecure home system, that of course it's open to the bad guys."

"These are exactly the same databases that they were making us sign these enormous confidentiality agreements, set up safe rooms, have couriers fly and hand these CDs off in person because they were so super-secret, and it turns out they were three people working in their garages...The 2018 elections were 100% outsourced to three people operating in a garage."

Marks also explains that she is hopeful this suit may result in unverifiable computer Ballot Marking Devices --- like the systems Georgia hopes to move to next year, and the ones currently being installed in states and counties around the country in advance of 2020 --- being found unconstitutional at the federal level.

"We're going to do more than just 'raise awareness' on Ballot Marking Devices. This lawsuit will be the first lawsuit to challenge Ballot Marking Devices and to put them out of their misery. We are definitely going to work to see that Ballot-Marking Devices are declared unconstitutional."

Finally, Marks offers her reaction to news of Georgia's announcement today (filled with misleading nonsense [PDF]) that they plan to award a $90 million contract to the Canadian firm Dominion Voting to replace all of the state's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems with new, 100% unverifiable Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) made by Dominion in time for next year's Presidential primaries in a battle-ground which could swing the 2020 election...

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Callers ring in on the upcoming testimony of the former Special Counsel; Also: Are they nuts? More on the insane move to 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting in Philly and L.A. for 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2019 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners on a number of things, most notably to hear what listeners expect from this week's upcoming, long-awaited U.S. House testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding his 448-page report on Russia's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election and the ten or more instances of criminal obstruction of justice by President Trump detailed within. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Mueller's testimony during hearings on Wednesday --- three hours in the House Judiciary Committee and two hours before the House Intelligence Committee --- will be the last chance for pro-impeachment Dems to swing the sentiments of both the nation and Democratic leadership toward opening an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump before Congress leaves for its long 6-week recess next week. Callers ring on on what they expect and hope (or don't) from the proceedings.

As you can imagine, Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- who, so far, has blocked an official impeachment inquiry by her caucus in the House despite Trump's multiple felonious High Crimes and misdemeanors and in defiance of 100 or so Democratic members on record calling for impeachment --- came up quite a few times today from callers, both negatively and, in at least one instance, positively.

Also on today's program, a quick recap from key points made during our important --- and, at times, gob-smacking --- interview on Friday's program with cybersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund on the dangerous new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems currently set for use in Philadelphia, in the key swingstate of Pennsylvania before next year's Presidential election, and how some of the new system's worst, most dangerous and unverifiable features are also found in the new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being brought into Los Angeles next year.

Thanks to citizen-led efforts like those by Skoglund and Citizens for Better Elections and the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is now reviewing its previous certification of the horrible and easily manipulated computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) currently set for use in Philly. That re-examination may ultimately lead to decertification of those systems.

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, The BradCast and BradBlog.com have been pretty much the only ones publicly yelling and screaming about the serious (and completely misunderstood-by-the-media --- see this ridiculous headline and article!) dangers of moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMDs in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We also discuss the fact that, in addition to being completely unverifiable and easily manipulated, the cost of BMDs systems is at least twice the price of hand-marked paper ballots systems. In fact, one caller rings in with information to tell me that the $200+ million price-tag I cited for the new systems in L.A. was actually a low-ball estimate, according to L.A.'s actual contract with private voting system vendor Smartmatic [PDF]. That contract, she notes, specifies the price for moving L.A. to these new systems will be closer to $300 million! That, in a county that could desperately use funds for things like housing tens of thousands currently living on the streets and long-overdue infrastructure improvements among many other things...

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Guest: Election tech and cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund; Also: Deadly heat wave continues; Who to believe in the US/Iran showdown?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some potentially good news for Philadelphia voters (and, thus, voters across the entire country), after a citizen led effort has resulted in the state of Pennsylvania re-examining its certification of a shockingly vulnerable --- and wholly unverifiable --- new touchscreen voting system selected by the city earlier this year (under questionable circumstances) for use in upcoming elections. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, before we get to our guest today and the astonishing election integrity nightmare against which he is working with a coaltion on the ground in Philly to try and save democracy there, a few quick news items to start the show. Those include the now-deadly, climate change-fueled heat wave bearing down on dozens of states and millions of Americans and the latest on the dangerously intensifying disputes in the Persian Gulf --- thanks to Trump pulling out of the landmark 2015 anti-nuclear deal.

Then, last May, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would mandate HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter in the country, to help hedge against the possibility --- some may say likelihood --- of manipulated or erroneous elections results, and to help assure that results are publicly verifiable after elections. His bill, the Protect America's Voting and Elections (or PAVE) Act of 2019 now languishes in the Senate, despite passage of a bill in the House that also mandates HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, thanks to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's vow to disallow a vote on any election-related bills that might make our democracy more secure and overseeable in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections.

The White House has been similarly disinterested in improving election security and oversight, though Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the nation's "top spy" announced a new initiative today said to help the Intelligence Community coordinate their response to potential election manipulation, at least from foreign threats. Domestic threats, including from election insiders --- such as contractors from the private vendors who run much of America's elections, as well as simple programming errors or other manipulation by elections officials --- remain both as serious and much more difficult to guard against. Election protection ultimately comes down to public oversight, at the local level, of verified election results.

To that end, an Election Integrity coalition in Philadelphia this week has successfully petitioned the state of Pennsylvania to reexamine the Commonwealth's previous certification of a wildly dangerous and vulnerable new computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) made by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S). The company's new ExpressVote XL is a 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD system recently contracted for use by the Philadelphia Elections Board for use in upcoming elections, beginning with municipal elections this November and the Presidential contest next year.

We're joined today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, election integrity expert and Chief Technologist for the non-partisan Citizens for Better Elections, which, along with others in the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition petitioned the state for a re-examination of the ExpressVote XL. The costly voting and tabulation system --- one must be purchased for each voter voting at the same time in every precinct --- is described as a "universal" or "all-in-one" system, because one computer in the system is used to mark and print a voters ballot, and a second computer in the same system is then used to optically-scan and tabulate that ballot.

The system, chosen under a mysteriously truncated process by the Philadelphia Commissioners earlier this year --- "without any public or expert input" and with "no criteria for things like security, and resilience, and accessibility" as Skoglund tells me --- also violates state election code in numerous ways, as detailed in the citizen groups' petition to the state filed on Tuesday. Most alarmingly, however --- especially given the importance of Philly's one million votes to be cast in the crucial Keystone State during next year's Presidential election --- is a remarkable security design flaw in the ES&S ExpressVote XL.

In short (Skoglund offers more details on the show), the system allows the Ballot Marking Device's printer to change votes on the computer-printed ballot summary card before it is tallied but after the voter has already been given the opportunity to approve what was initially printed on the ballot summary card by the computer! In other words, of all of the terrible, 100% unverifiable BMD voting systems that Pennsylvania's Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia could have chosen, its City Commission chose the absolute most dangerous and unverifiable one.

"After this machine was certified in Pennsylvania, security researchers determined that there was a big flaw in these machines. That flaw is that they have a single paper path. It takes the blank piece of paper, it sends it to a printer, you make your selections on the screen, it prints those on the piece of paper, puts them back in front of the voter so that the voter can look at them and say whether or not they're happy with those selections. And once the voter says 'Yes, this is the ballot that I intend to cast, I am happy with these selections' and they press the button on the machine, it sends that card back through the same printer again before it goes to to the tabulator," Skoglund explains. "That means the machine has the opportunity to mark on that ballot --- potentially changing votes on it, invalidating votes on it, adding votes to it, basically changing what the voter cast." And, of course, the voter would never know.

While recent studies have found that most voters do not even bother to verify computer-marked paper ballots, and that of those who do, many do not notice if the computer has changed their selections, "The voter can do everything that's asked of them, do everything right, they can verify that ballot, and it still might not end up being the vote that gets cast. This is a violation of a fundamental principle of being able to audit these paper ballots. It's the whole reason we're going to paper ballots, to have good evidence of what the voter intended."

Skoglund explains, however, that it's not just Philadelphia preparing to use these systems in 2020. Other counties in PA are considering them as well, even though they are at least twice the price of a paper ballot system. Similarly states such as New Jersey and Delaware are moving to these same, horrible, unsecure systems. Elsewhere, jurisdictions from Georgia to Ohio to Kansas to Texas to Los Angeles are all preparing to move to only slightly less vulnerable (if equally unverifiable) BMD systems for 2020. That, instead of simpler, cheaper and actually verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems.

All of that is just part of what we discuss with Skoglund today that will likely leave your jaw hanging open as you wonder what the hell these people are thinking, and why it is that McConnell has disallowed Wyden's PAVE Act --- requiring HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all --- from becoming the law of the land long ago...

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Guest: Journalist Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Trump threatens Iran, they laugh; Former Fox reporter rips channel's 'partisan misinformation'; Warren releases election plan for hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Are Democrats finally beginning to reconsider their incredibly ill-considered mandate to require remote voting for their 2020 Presidential caucuses via phone or Internet voting schemes? Our guest today says they may just be doing so! If so, that would be very good news and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, speaking of "ill-considered", in an echo of his earlier posturing against North Korea, Donald Trump issued new militaristic threats and slapped new sanctions on Iran, including against its Supreme Leader, President, Foreign Minister and even the Islamic Nation's lead nuclear negotiator. The result is what Iranian officials describe as the "permanent closure" of diplomacy between the two countries. The new sanctions also resulted in the Iranian President mocking the measures as "outrageous and idiotic", "hilarious", "stupid and ugly", while charging the White House is suffering from a "mental illness".

Trump's new punitive measures come in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, which they say entered its air space last week. The U.S. denies the charge, insisting that its spy plane was in international airspace over the Straight of Hormuz. And all of it comes in the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. unilaterally out of the 2015 treaty between seven world powers that prevented Iran from enriching enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon.

But now, as the Administration penalizes Iranian leaders --- who, by all accounts, have fully complied with the strict terms of the landmark accord struck under Barack Obama's Administration --- Trump and his team can't seem to understand why Iran is not interested in negotiating with them. They have, however, threatened Iran if they renege on the terms of the deal that Trump pulled out of, as Iran has now announced they intend to do. Of course, the possibility of, once again, touching off WWIII comes with Trump's threat today of "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration" of Iran, just days after he reportedly cancelled a planned attack against them at the last minute last week.

All of which underscores the necessity of removing this dangerous menace from the White House, whether by impeachment or at the ballot box next year. Not that viewers of Fox "News", of course, have any idea of the facts behind these latest incidents, which all stem from Trump pulling out of the very good landmark agreement with Iran. In fact, even one of Fox' most beloved former reporters, "Campaign Carl" Cameron has now come out against the fake news channel's "partisan misinformation" in a video promoting his new news venture, Front Page Live, launched with progressives such as Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

As to removing the buffoonish, inept, unfit, dishonest Trump at the ballot box, that may not be as simple as it should be for Democrats, given both the proliferation of rightwing misinformation at Fox and other rightwing fake news outlets (such as the NY Post which removed its story on well-known magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's new allegations that Trump raped her in a department store dressing some years ago) and the extraordinary vulnerability of our nation's voting, registration, and tabulation systems. To that end, 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan for election reform today which calls for, among other things, a mandate to replace the nation's easily-manipulated, oft-failed computerized voting systems with ones that allow every American to cast their vote by the safest, most verifiable method possible: HAND-MARKED paper ballots. Her measure is not unlike some of the provisions in HR-1 as passed by Democrats in the House and the PAVE Act, introduced in upper chamber by Sen. Ron Wyden, where it remains, along with all such election security bills, blocked by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

But, where Democrats --- some of them anyway --- are coming around to the understanding that every voter in America must be allowed to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, the Democratic National Committee seems less than clear on the need for verifiable, publicly-overseeable election results. To that end, as we warned on the program some months ago, the DNC, following the 2016 election disaster, issued a mandate for all state Dem parties which choose to hold Presidential caucuses in 2020, rather than statewide primaries, to include some form of "remote voting" for party members who cannot attend in person.

That Democratic Party mandate, as our guest today Voting Booth's STEVEN ROSENFELD reported when we spoke with him back in March, has resulted in party officials in early caucus states such as Iowa and Nevada, scrambling to find private vendors willing to provide "remote voting" services that employee phone or Internet voting schemes. Today, Rosenfeld reports on what we'll call a moderately encouraging follow-up, finding that DNC officials may now be reconsidering that, frankly, insane mandate for unverifiable off-site voting systems.

"The thing about caucuses --- these are not government-run elections," Rosenfeld explains. "So this is really, really critical, because this means that all of the cybersecurity efforts --- of which there have been tremendous efforts made since 2016 to deal with trying to tighten systems --- those have all been in government election systems. These [caucuses] are private elections. So what the state parties will do in the caucus states is they have to rent a voting system. These do not have to be certified voting systems." That, of course, is an invitation to even less secure systems than those which already plague American elections, not to mention that cybersecurity experts consider Internet Voting schemes to be the most vulnerable of all such systems.

"So they're talking to different vendors who run these different systems. It's either going to be like using a telephone, to punch a button in to choose a candidate, or using an app, or using some kind of webpage." Rosenfeld, whose recent reporting on this includes discussion with the co-chair of the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee, says DNC officials plan to review state party plans this week, but may, in fact, not approve those plans after all.

Rosenfeld envisions a situation where, "in the first [Iowa] and third [Nevada] contests, the Democrats have a complete mess and Trump runs with it and yells and screams about 'stolen elections' all the way into the fall. The whole thing is just madness on top of madness."

Let's hope wiser heads prevail at the DNC, though I'm not holding my breath.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with Vice President Mike Pence's embarrassing weekend appearance on CNN, in which he was unwilling to acknowledge his own administration's scientific warnings about the national security threat posed by our worsening climate emergency. Also on today's GNR, the Trump USDA is burying scientific reports on climate change, a deadly heat wave and acute water shortages are ravaging India, and --- with some good news --- G.E. has announced plans to shut down a natural gas power plant in California twenty years earlier than planned because renewable energy options are now both cheaper and cleaner!...

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Also: Sestak jumps in; SCOTUS says trademark law is 'FUCT'; Pence defends squalid conditions for detained children; Even NC knows hand-marked paper ballots are needed, so why doesn't L.A. County?; Callers ring in on the Dem 'horse race' before this week's two-night Dem debate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2019 6:29pm PT  

We've largely stayed away from the "horse race" on the Democratic side of the 2020 Presidential race to date, preferring, as we're wont, to focus on more immediate issues, as well as the "track conditions" on which the horses are set to run next year. But on today's BradCast, we finally open the phones to turn to the horse race a bit, in advance of this week's first 2020 Presidential debates.

But first, a few news items of note. Among the stories covered today before we turn to the phones....

  • Were you thinking that 23 or 24 candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination just wasn't enough? Were you hoping one more white male from a swing-state might enter the race? Well, retired three-star Navy Vice Admiral, former Pennsylvania Congressman and failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak may be the man for you!;
  • In U.S. Supreme Court news, the Justices released an opinion today finding that the decades-old federal statute preventing the issue of trademarks to brands determined to have "scandalous" or "immoral" names is, in fact, an unconstitutional violation of the Free Speech clause. That will be good news to lifestyle brand FUCT which had been denied a trademark registration for years. In her opinion for the majority, Justice Elana Kagan also may have offered a preview, according to Mark Joseph Stern, of, at least, her opinion on the Court's upcoming crucial ruling on partisan gerrymandering, as she noted that free speech cannot be denied on the basis of viewpoints or ideas conveyed. The challengers in the two partisan gerrymandering cases pending before the Court --- with a decision due any day now --- are arguing that state political opponents are seeing their voting power diluted by the party in power on the basis of their political viewpoints when it comes to the partisan gerrymandering of maps for the U.S. House and state legislatures;
  • In a follow-up to our Friday program's segment focused on horrific conditions for migrant children detainees on the border, Vice President Mike Pence was on CNN Sunday, working very hard to filibuster and otherwise avoid Jake Tapper's direct questions about the Administration's argument --- offered last week in federal appeals court --- that denying soap and toothbrushes to children forced to sleep on freezing concrete under a single foil blanket in overcrowded facilities somehow qualifies as "safe and sanitary" conditions for those children, as required by federal courts. Late today, some good news on that front, as nearly 300 children at a "squalid" Texas facility --- featuring lice, the flu, kids who hadn't showered in weeks, and detained children asked to take care of infants and toddlers --- have now been transferred out of at least that horrific facility...at least for now;
  • Then, with one failure after another after another in North Carolina's elections in recent months and years, even the former counsel for the North Carolina state Board of Elections is now calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter. So why isn't the state of Georgia? Why isn't the city of Philadelphia in the key swing-state of PA? Why is the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, now moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of the 2020 Primaries? And why is Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate blocking any and all legislation that would increase election security by, among other things, mandating a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters? We discuss. Again;
  • Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, with the broad questions in advance of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential debate this week: What will our listeners be looking for in this Wednesday and Thursday's two-night face-off among 20 candidates? What is the most important factor they hope to find in a Democratic nominee? Who do they like so far and who do they not like? We offer the chance to advocate --- or bash --- any of the candidates callers may wish, along with the question: Would they vote for a nominee they may not like in the general election, rather than hand Donald Trump a nation- and planet-devastating second term? We got a lot of good callers and interesting thoughts from them along the way...

Please enjoy today's very lively show!...

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Leon County's 30-year veteran Election Supervisor tells us FBI lied about hacks in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL ballots will be unverifiable in 2020; calls NSA 'leaker' Reality Winner a 'heroine'; warns new GOP law means 'Jim Crow' has returned to the Sunshine State
Also: Trump's Iran war threat; AL bans almost all abortions; NC-9 do-over candidates set...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2019 6:59pm PT  

It seems that even Republicans in Florida have finally been forced to notice/admit what we've been pointing out about the 2016 election for years now. And our guest on today's BradCast, a longtime county elections chief from the Sunshine State, is none too happy about any of it. He offers several serious-as-a-heart-attack warnings about 2020 in the bargain. [Must-listen audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But, first up today, the nation and world continue to pay a dangerous and painful price for whatever did or didn't happen that resulted in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The Administration continued to ratchet up their threats of war against Iran on Wednesday by ordering all nonessential U.S. Government staff out of Iraq, citing unspecified and publicly unsupported claims of threats from Iran. The face-off clearly comes from Trump's ill-considered decision to pull out of the 2015 Obama Administration-brokered, seven-nation nuclear agreement which had effectively ended Iran's nuclear program. Though even the Trump Administration conceded Iran has been faithful to the anti-nuclear pact, Trump withdrew the U.S. and re-imposed crippling sanctions. He's now threatening war, for reasons that nobody seems to understand, and has deployed war ships and bombers to the tinder-box region.

Back at home, Trump's stolen U.S. Supreme Court has inspired dozens of new anti-abortion laws in state after state. On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most draconian measure yet, a bill that would outlaw almost all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, while jailing doctors who perform the (currently) Constitutionally-protected procedure for up to 99 years. The new law, adopted on Tuesday by the male-dominated state Senate and signed less than 24 hours later, would not only force women to carry the child of their rapists, it could also penalize doctors more harshly than the rapists. The ACLU has vowed to challenge the law which would require even pregnant 11-year old rape victims to carry their baby to term.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republican primary voters selected their candidate to run against Democrat Dan McCready in the do-over election for the state's 9th U.S. House Congressional District after the Republican candidate and Baptist Minister Mark Harris was discovered to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive Absentee Ballot Fraud Scheme last November. The 10-candidate GOP primary resulted in hard-right, Trump-loving state Senator Dan Bishop being selected to run against McCready in September's do-over election. Bishop is the author and lead sponsor of NC's infamous 2016 law restricting bathroom access for transgender people.

But, as the nation and world continue to pay the price for Trump's nightmarish Presidency, new questions emerge (or, at least, are finally being noticed by Republicans) regarding his own supposed 2016 election victory. On Tuesday, Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged the FBI notified him that election systems in at least two different Florida counties were infiltrated by by Russian intelligence in advance of the 2016 election. He says the FBI has barred him from publicly stating which two counties those are.

The news comes on the heels of similar (and similarly vague) allegations detailed in the redacted Special Counsel report [PDF] from Robert Mueller (see Volume II, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), as well as public claims in 2018 made by Florida's then Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson's assertions about Russian access to the state's elections systems were publicly ridiculed at the time by then Gov. Rick Scott and other GOPers, even though Florida's Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was told about the same information at the same time as Nelson in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Scott would go on to narrowly defeat Nelson for the Senate seat in 2018 and Republican DeSantis is said to have narrowly edged out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on the same day. Both races were so close they resulted in unprecedented statewide "recounts".

However, as our guest today, 30-year veteran Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO explains, "recounts" in Florida amount to little more than running the same paper ballots through the same optical-scan computers which tallied them --- either correctly or incorrectly --- in the first place. Sancho, the legendary elections chief in Tallahassee, the state's capital, was so well-respected by all sides that he was tapped in 2000 to oversee FL's notoriously aborted Presidential recount that year. He is furious today about DeSantis' announcement, the secrecy behind which are the counties that were penetrated (he retired after the 2016 election), and explains that he was lied to by the FBI when he was told, during a then confidential conference call with Bureau officials in 2016, that "no county had been hacked" in the run-up to the election.

"The Justice Department has continued to obfuscate and lie about this situation from the very beginning. I was on a confidential call on September 30, [2016] in which all 67 election officials here in this state, and the state election officials, were informed by the FBI that no county had been hacked. The state hadn't been hacked. They told us that. And we now know, from the documentation that's been released through The Intercept and Mueller, that was false. We now know from the documentation, some time in early August [of 2016], the successful penetration occurred."

Sancho also now questions whether there were more than two counties penetrated and says he has no reason to trust the claims by either DeSantis or federal officials that election results were unaffected by the attack. "Here's the crazy thing about it," he tells me, "the Russian GRU knows which counties they've penetrated. The only people that don't know are the election officials and the citizens and voters of the state...it's time the American citizenry, particularly Floridians, figured out that information."

He also hails NSA whistleblower Reality Winner as a "heroine" for alerting the world to documents revealing that the Russian GRU had penetrated elections systems in Florida (and possibly elsewhere) via coordinated spear-phishing attacks that allowed them access to voter registration and website election results reporting systems made by VR Systems, a private election systems vendor with contracts in dozens of U.S. states. Winner is currently serving 5 years in federal prison for having leaked those documents to The Intercept in 2017.

Sancho demands to know "why Homeland Security decided to keep critical information from state and local election officials" for so many years. "Why weren't we told?" He also furious at Rubio and other Republicans for their treatment of Nelson when he tried to blow the whistle himself last year. "Nelson was vilified as being old and senile for saying such a ridiculous thing. And actually he was right...And quite frankly, the individual whose stock falls in my eyes is Senator Rubio, who confirmed what Sen. Nelson said, only after the election. He could have told the truth, and said that Sen. Nelson is raising a valid point. He kept his mouth shut. He put his party over this nation, and we are poorer for it today."

As to the security of the state's election systems as we head into 2020, he warns that "Florida is not well protected," adding a chilling note: "You do a reconnaissance before a major attack," he tells me, "and I don't think we've had the major attack yet."

Sancho has plenty more to say regarding Florida's move to unverifiable computer-marked paper ballots in advance of the upcoming Presidential election, and much more that I hope you'll click below to tune in for. There's simply too much to fully summarize here.

But one last point for now. Sancho also offers his thoughts today on the recent measure passed by GOP state lawmakers to undermine Florida's Constitutional Amendment 4 which was adopted by nearly 65% of statewide voters last November, allowing some 1.5 million former felons in Florida who have completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation, to have their voting rights restored. The new GOP measure, which awaits DeSantis' signature, would bar those newly-eligible voters --- including more than 20% of the states African-American voting-age population --- from registering to vote unless all court-imposed fines and fees are paid.

"What the Republicans did was reprehensible," Sancho rails, arguing that the bill contradicts "the overwhelming, clear language" of the statewide constitutional ballot measure. Many have described the new GOP bill as a poll tax. Sancho calls it more "cash register justice", as it will allow those with money to vote, but not those without. "This is clearly restricting the right to vote based upon who can afford to pay. Jim Crow has been reestablished in Florida."

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Finds Russians implanted malware, but didn't check if results affected
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, new details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report supporting the argument we've been trying to make for the last two years: Nobody ever checked the results of the 2016 election to make sure they were correct! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, we open with an avalanche of important news headlines breaking today and over the weekend, including the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka; A TV comedian becoming the next President of Ukraine by a landslide; Trump's latest vow to impose sanctions on allies who purchase oil from Iran; Woefully unqualified Federal Reserve Board candidate and alleged sexual harasser Herman Cain withdrawing his name from Trump's consideration; The GOP's stolen Supreme Court announcing plans to take up cases to determine whether LGBTQ people may be covered by anti-discrimination civil rights employment laws this Fall; and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton jumping into the crowded Democratic Presidential nomination contest.

Then we move to our all too brief commemoration of Earth Day's 49th Anniversary on Monday, wherein our own Desi Doyen details how and why the annual celebration first came about beginning in 1970. Of course, as we like to say on our Green News Report, every day is Earth Day for us! Nonetheless, sticking with that theme today --- for those who only notice it once a year --- we share "A Message from the Future from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" in which the freshman NY Democratic Congresswoman, from a couple of decades in the future, looks "back" on the world-changing successes of her Green New Deal program, as recently introduced with veteran Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). The charming animated video, with illustrations by Molly Crabtree, is a thought experiment of sorts worth watching and/or listening to, as it helps explain how the GND would work to curb many of the worst effects of climate change, while providing millions of jobs and healthcare for all, as climate scientists have repeatedly warned the world must do within the next decade or face unstoppable consequences that threaten the entirety of human civilization.

Then, we move on to the revelation from the redacted Mueller Report [PDF] which has caused my Twitter feed to go somewhat bonkers since I cited it over the weekend. As the Special Counsel's report reveals (Vol. 1, pages 51-52, in the section entitled "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), Russian intelligence operatives at the GRU targeted and infiltrated "individuals and entities involved in the administration of the [2016] elections. U.S. state and local entities, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and county governments, as well as individuals who worked for those entities. The GRU also targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations."

In other words, voter registration databases AND voting systems, such as voting machines and tabulators. Mueller's report goes on to concede that though the GRU was successful in implanting malware on a number of the targeted computers, "the [Special Counsel's] Office did not investigate further [and] did not, for instance, obtain or examine servers or other relevant items belonging to these victims." Instead, as Mueller writes, "The Office understands that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the states have separately investigated that activity".

Only problem with that? As we have reported repeatedly over the past two years, Jeanette Manfra, the top DHS official in charge of overseeing cyber-intrusions of critical infrastructure such as voting and tabulation systems, conceded during a June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that her department had not, in fact, conducted any forensic analyses of computer voting and tabulation systems or servers following the 2016 Presidential election. We play a clip from her Senate testimony to that end.

As far as we can tell, this means that nobody has ever conducted such an analysis, despite the stunning results of the 2016 Presidential election. That remains very troubling, considering that Trump reportedly won, very narrowly, by less than 80,000 votes total in the key swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, none of which had voted GOP in a Presidential election for decades until 2016. The margins --- as reported by computers, but never verified by humans --- were close enough in each of those states that, had an average of just two votes in each precinct in each of those states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, she, not he, would be President now.

Moreover, as the Mueller Report also documents, Trump's then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort offered briefings and internal polling data to his business associate Konstanin Klimnik, a Ukrainian national tied to Russian intelligence, "on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort's plan to win the election," including what Manafort's partner Rick Gates described to the Special Counsel as "discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota."

So, at this point, that means nobody still knows whether Donald Trump was actually the legitimate choice of the voters who comprise the Electoral College. (We already know he lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes.) Most of those very same computer systems will be used once again in the 2020 Presidential election, though some --- for example in Philadelphia, the entire state of Georgia, Los Angeles County and elsewhere --- are being replaced with newer systems that are even more difficult for the public to oversee to ensure reported results reflect actual voter intent.

And, with all of that today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for thoughts on whether --- given the findings of the Mueller Report, including Trump's well-documented and repeated attempts to unlawfully obstruct the investigation itself --- Democrats in Congress should begin impeachment hearings or not. So far, Democrats are somewhat split on the issue, with a number of freshmen in the House calling for impeachment proceedings to begin and, so far, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among the current Presidential candidates offering a clarion call for members of Congress to meet their Constitutional duties by officially investigating Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors via an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House and a vote on whether to convict and remove Trump from office in the U.S. Senate. Our callers offer somewhat mixed feelings as well, as you'll hear on today's very busy and fast-moving BradCast!...

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Guest: NatSec, cybersecurity and voting system journalist Kim Zetter; AND BREAKING: MUELLER GIVES REPORT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2019 6:54pm PT  

Today's BradCast kicks of with the breaking news of the announcement, just minutes before air, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally wrapped up his two year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, cooperation in the effort by Team Trump and any obstruction of that probe by the President of the United States. Though that may be the least troubling news on today's show. [Audio link to complete shows is posted below article.]

Mueller's confidential report has now been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, as per statute, and Trump's new AG promptly notified Congress [PDF] to say he plans to release a summary of the report as soon as possible, potentially as early as this weekend. We share what we know (and don't) from that freshly breaking news at the top of today's program. Then it's back to, at least some of, our previously scheduled program...

On the day that Jimmy Carter officially becomes the longest living President in U.S. history, we're reminded of a warning he issued while serving as co-Chair, with Bush Family consigliere James Baker, of the so-called "Commission on National Election Reform" formed by a group of Republican operatives after the highly disputed 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. The Blue Ribbon panel was, ostensibly, formed to make recommendations on how to improve elections after the second disastrous Presidential election in a row, following the 2000 debacle in Florida. But while the Republicans who created the private commission had hoped for a recommendation for photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place, the one we've cited most often over the years is the Commission's unambiguous finding that the greatest threat posed to elections comes from insiders, such as election officials and private voting system vendors. "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries," the Carter/Baker panel warned in their final report.

That warning is particularly trenchant today, with, as we recently reported, the Democratic National Committee now calling for some form of remote or online voting during their 2020 Presidential nominating caucuses next year and what has just happened with the online voting system that Switzerland has used for some time in parts of the country.

The Swiss had planned to roll out their system nationally this year, but as longtime cybersecurity and voting system journalist KIM ZETTER of MotherBoard and the New York Times reports, things did not go as well as planned.

Zetter joins us to discuss the alarming story of what happened when Switzerland, last month, opened up a month-long public hack challenge for the system which, they previously boasted, had easily passed many regular internal security checks and even several they had contracted from KPMG, an international auditing giant.

But, as Zetter recently detailed at MotherBoard, the Swiss system, designed by Barcelona-based Scytl --- "a leader in developing various internet and other voting solutions for national or regional elections in 42 countries, including at least 1,400 counties in the US" --- was almost immediately found by independent researchers to feature "a critical flaw in the code that would allow someone to alter votes without detection ... in a part of the system that is supposed to verify that all of the ballots and votes counted in an election are the same ones that voters cast." That flaw, Zetter details, "could allow someone to swap out all of the legitimate ballots and replace them with fraudulent ones, all without detection."

As she tells me today, the failure is even more troubling than that, as it allows for a single insider to exploit a "back door in the cryptography scheme, that would allow someone to alter votes but make it look like the votes haven't been altered at all." In other words, "the system is supposed to have a check in it that's designed to ensure that the ballots that go into that encryption process and come out of that de-cryption process are the exact same ballots. But there's a flaw in that proof that verifies that those ballots are the same. Therefore, that would allow someone to swap out the votes and ballots while the proof still seemed to show that the ballots were the same."

Swiss Post, which runs the system, and Scytl who sells it, claim the exploit could "only" be carried out by an insider, so why worry?

So how are those plans coming for remote voting in the DNC's 2020 Presidential caucuses next year? And how can it be that we keep attempting these same unworkable electronic and online voting schemes from private vendors and election officials who swear by the "certified" security of their systems, only to find they are anything but secure once independent experts are allowed to test them in any way?

"We should have a voting system where we're not required to trust anyone --- we're not required to trust election officials, we're not required to trust the vendors, we're not required to trust the voting machine itself," Zetter, who has been covering electronic voting and tabulation systems on her national cybersecurity beat for more than a decade, tells me. "We should have a system that can be audited independently of all of those parties in order to verify the election results. That's really in the best interests of everyone." What such a system should be, of course, is another matter, which we also discuss, and even debate a bit, on today's important program...

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

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Guest: Prof. Richard DeMillo of Georgia Tech; Also: Trump 2020 budget slashes Medicare, Medicaid, increases defense, wall funding, deficit spending; Bernie Sanders' 1987 climate change warnings unearthed...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2019 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're experiencing a sense of deja vu from this very same fight the last time Congress allocated hundreds of millions for new electronic voting systems in the U.S. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

A serious "design flaw" in a previously certified computer voting system is finally acknowledged on Friday by New York State's top election official, after several different warnings on the matter were issued in recent months by computer security and voting systems experts at Princeton and Georgia Tech.

The vulnerability has resulted in Douglas Kellner, the co-chair of the NYS Board of Elections, calling for a reexamination of the ImageCast Evolution (ICE) computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD), which both prints ballot selection on a paper and then scans that ballot to record results after it, theoretically, has already been verified by the voter. "After you mark your ballot, after you review your ballot, the voting machine can print more votes on it!," [emphasis in original], Princeton's computer science professor Andrew Appel warned about the Dominion ImageCast Evolution system in October of last year.

Kellner cites that "ballot stuffing attack" vector first identified by Appel and then confirmed by Georgia Tech's former Dean of computing at Georgia Tech and director of its Information Security Center, professor RICHARD DEMILLO who joins us on today's show to explain the vulnerabilities. The very same design flaw appears to be present in systems currently in use or set for use before 2020 in parts of Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, Delaware and elsewhere, as jurisdictions scramble to spend federal dollars to "upgrade" their voting systems to new equipment in advance of the next, crucial Presidential election.

A similar system made by ES&S, currently being pushed for use across the entire state of Georgia by Republicans, vendors and elections officials, also appears to have the same flaw and even one that Appel describes as a disturbing "Permission to Cheat" feature (first observed by Election Integrity advocate Jenny Cohn in Kansas last September) that allows the machine to submit a ballot to the scanner without the voter ever verifying what the computer has printed on it. That, DeMillo explains today, allows ballots to be marked and printed by the computer and then scanned without any examination by the voter at all. Both "design flaws" make any post-election hand audit of those ballots "meaningless" [PDF] .

As Kellner explains in his letter to fellow Elections Board members in NY --- effectively decertifying the systems, for now, thanks to Dominion's failure to document these vulnerabilities before certification --- "If it was possible for the machine to add a voting mark to the ballot without verification by the voter, the audit is not meaningful because it cannot confirm that the ballot was counted in the manner intended by the voter."

"What they have is a single device that marks the ballot and scans the ballot. Just because of the way that they've designed this thing, there's a single path that the paper ballot travels --- under the print heads, and over scanning heads," DeMillo tells me. "What I think is a real issue is the design flaw that makes it possible to have the paper ballot printed out, verified by the reader, and then scanned, but in that scanning process, travel a second time undetected through the print heads. The voter could have chosen to vote for no one. But the machine could decide well, we really like the Democratic candidate for Public Service Commissioner, so we're just going to add that to every ten blank Public Service Commissioner choices that we see."

DeMillo breaks down what all of this means for New York and other states now using or set to use these systems, and how the vendor in question, Dominion, has responded [PDF] by attempting to marginalize the concerns and dismiss critics like DeMillo and Appel as "security maximalists."

DeMillo has been joining other cybersecurity experts in issuing similar warnings [PDF] to officials in his home-state of Georgia, where lawmakers are in the midst of rushing to approve at least $150 million for the purchase of similar devices from ES&S for use across the entire state before 2020 --- and not just for disabled voters who may require such a system to vote independently, but for all voters in the precincts. That, despite the systems appearing to have similar "design flaws" to those which have now served to effectively decertify the Dominion systems in NY.

All of this, of course, is of a piece with the warnings we've been loudly issuing for years at The BRAD BLOG and on The BradCast about the use of this type of unverifiable computer-marked "paper ballot" voting systems, rather than verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballots.

Also on today's program: Donald Trump publishes his Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, including hundreds of billion in cuts to domestic programs such as Medicaid and Medicare (which he vowed, while a candidate in 2016, to protect), as well as to the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. At the same time, the proposal includes record increases in defense spending and $8.6 billion more for his southern border wall (which Mexico is still not paying for). The result, if the aspirational proposal were to be adopted by Congress, would ensure annual budget deficits of at least $1 trillion over the next four years. That, on the heels of the Trump/GOP's $1.5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and corporations which has ballooned the deficit and national debt to go with it.

And, finally today, after WA Governor Jay Inslee entered the Democratic President Primary last week race based largely on his decades of raising the alarm about climate change, we share a few recently unearthed clips from Inslee's fellow Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders warning about "the greenhouse effect" and the dangers of a warming climate as long ago as 1989 on C-SPAN and in 1987 with a class of middle-school children while then still serving as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

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

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