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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 27, 2021
A 'Lay Down Case' of Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S.: 'BradCast' 10/26/21
Guest: Attorney, blogger Keith Barber on where 1/6 probe is heading; Also: Americans now very worried about climate; Manchin nixing another climate provision...
'Green News Report' 10/26/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Historic storm slams West, 90M face extreme weather across U.S.; Record high emissions in 2020; PLUS: New reports warn climate a growing threat to national, global security...
Previous GNRs: 10/21/21 - 10/19/21 - Archives...
'They Took on the Wrong Guy': CA Mayor Who Sued Big Oil Pushes Back After Exxon Attacks: 'BradCast' 10/25/21
Guest: Imperial Beach Mayor, surfer, conserva-tionist Serge Dedina; Also: Manchin; Callers...
Sunday Spooky Toons
Be very afraid. Just in time for the holiday...It's PDiddie's latest collection of the week's scariest editorial toons...
Anita Hill Still Changing the World, 30 Years Later: 'BradCast' 10/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author, lawyer, Brandeis University professor Anita Hill...
The Good with the Bad: 'BradCast' 10/21/21
House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
'Green News Report' 10/21/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're making too much fossil fuel; Climate change imperils millions, study finds; CA expands drought emergency; PLUS: Cutting emissions is hard, but will lower energy bills...
Previous GNRs: 10/19/21 - 10/14/21 - Archives...
'A One-Way Ratchet': Biden's SCOTUS Comm. Does GOP's Bidding: 'BradCast' 10/20/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
Manchin blows up Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Listeners on Whether Ds Should Gerry-mander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States (& Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
Supply chain disruptions spike energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Admin goes big on offshore wind...
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: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on activist Alito's 'totally fabricated' new rules for Voting Rights Act enforcement and much more; Also: Corporations break vow on donations to insurrectionist GOPers...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2021 5:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A very lively conversation with one of our favorite guests...about a very dark moment in our nation's history. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

Last week, on the final day of its term this year, the 6 Republican Justices on the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority, "turned back the clock on voting rights," according to UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen. A week after Justice Samuel Alito opinion for the majority in Brnovich v. DNC was published, Hasen is "angry" that "so much of the public does not realize what a hit American democracy has taken," as the ruling "reopens the door to a United States in which states can put up roadblocks to minority voting and engage in voter suppression with few legal consequences once a state has raised tenuous and unsupported concerns about the risk of voter fraud. It's exactly the opposite of what Congress intended."

We share Hasen's fury today. Not only about the activist Rightwing SCOTUS jurists legislating from the bench to wholly rewrite the intent of Congress, but also about them ignoring the couldn't-be-clearer, simple meaning of the plain text of the 15th Amendment. The entire thing is only two sentences long. The first declares "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The second states that "The CONGRESS shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." [Emphasis added for our six deceitful, dishonest SCOTUS Justices.]

Once again, the Supreme Court has chosen to simply ignore that second sentence in --- yet again --- gutting the Voting Rights Act, the appropriate legislation Congress wrote, and has amended to strengthen several times, in order to enforce the 15th Amendment, as literally directed by the Constitution. And, once again, the Roberts Court has put the lie to the bogus claim by the Right that the Republican appointees are "originalists" or "Constitutional textualists" who believe only in the literal, plain text meaning of Constitution as it was written. That is clearly, and always has been, a bald-faced lie.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, to discuss, at term's end, the outrage of the "mangled" Brnovich opinion, which now allows Arizona and other Republican controlled states to simply ignore the expressed intent of Congress' specific legislation barring voting laws that result in disproportionate disenfranchisement of minority voters and pretends that the Judiciary, not Congress, has the "power to enforce" the Constitution's 15th Amendment.

"You're dead right about the Fifteenth Amendment," Stern tells me. "And I do think it's worth noting that all of the Reconstruction amendments expressly empower Congress to enforce them. Because the framers of these amendments after the Civil War recognized that it was crucial not to just rely on the federal courts to protect rights, that Congress itself needed to play a leading role in the protection of Constitutional rights. And, particularly, the protection of political equality for people of all races."

"The conservative Justices [they're not "conservative", which we discuss as well!] have adopted this position not just of judicial supremacy but judicial arrogance, that the framers of the Reconstruction amendments couldn't possibly have intended to give Congress power to go beyond the Supreme Court's own interpretation of the Constitution.," Stern fumes. "This is a theme that we see from conservative justices over and over again --- where they say 'We're the ones who decide what counts as a right. We're the ones who decide what counts as legal and illegal, and Congress has nothing to say. Congress can only enforce our own rulings. What five of us say on this Supreme Court overrules what everyone says in Congress and the elected democratic branches. That has led to this twisted position where we don't see a lot of litigators actually speaking about the text of the 15th Amendment because the court has said, 'We sit at the top of the hierarchy, we get to decide, and all Congress can do is enforce our positions.'"

Stern also joins Hasen's (and my) anger in seeing SCOTUS blatantly ignore Congress's express intent for Section 2 of the VRA to prevent voting laws that result in the disenfranchisement of minorities. "What Justice Alito has done," Stern tells us, amounts to simply "making up" a new rule that is "totally fabricated" and "nowhere in the text" of either the law or the Constitution, in setting new "guideposts" for the use of the VRA's Section 2. "The law says very explicitly that any voting restrictions that results in disproportionate impact on racial minorities is illegal."

At the same time that the Court allowed Arizona's new voter suppression laws, Stern notes the irony of Chief Justice John Roberts, on the very same day in another "bitterly divided" 6 to 3 opinion (Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta), blocking the state of California's law that allowed its Attorney General to learn the name of "dark money" donors to non-profit groups in order to enforce state laws and limits. All of which, Stern observes, bodes very darkly for both what is to come in the next term of SCOTUS (major cases on guns, abortion and affirmative action are on the docket) and beyond --- not to mention any laws Democrats in Congress may pass (if they can ever reform the filibuster) to protect voting rights.

"In fact, I have been saying for a long time, unfortunately, that this Supreme Court will strike down large portions, if not all, of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act," Stern warns. "Next term is winding up to be one of the most catastrophic terms for progressives, for the left, in history --- in the entire history of the country."

With that bright news, we also discuss the disappointment of 82-year old, Democratic-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer failing to announce his retirement last week as many hoped, so he could be replaced by a Democratic White House and Senate, while both still exist. And, yes, there is much more in our conversation today regarding SCOTUS at the end of its first term with three far-right activist jurists packed onto it by Senate Republicans who happily blocked a Democratic appointee to the Court for year, before unilaterally killing the Senate filibuster to seat all three of Trump's appointees.

Also today, remember all of those major corporations who pretended to express outrage after the January 6th insurrection and the passage of voter suppression laws around the country, vowing to halt corporate donations to members of Congress who voted against the certification of Joe Biden's decisive victory over Trump? Yeah, as we warned you months ago, most of them didn't actually mean it. Now we have much more proof...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: SCOTUS takes up abortion; Gaetz in trouble; Israel bombs AP's building in Gaza...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2021 6:54pm PT  

As AP reports today, a new lawsuit "against [Georgia's] secretary of state and the members of the State Election Board was filed in federal court in Atlanta by county election board members, individual voters, election volunteers, nonprofit organizations and a journalist." As broken on today's BradCast, that journalist is me. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I am one of the several named plaintiffs in the 200-page suit [PDF] filed in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking to block a number of outrageous and dangerous provisions in the state GOP's new voter-suppression bill. While the measure, SB202 [PDF], adopted by GA Republicans, does a lot of terrible stuff, some of which is well known by now (making it harder to vote by mail, banning absentee drop boxes, blocking the distribution of food or water on long voting lines), much of which will disproportionately suppress minority voters, there are a number of other provisions which are simply jaw-dropping, but have not yet been challenged in the several suits previously filed against the law by a number of civil rights and voting rights groups.

My part in the suit, filed today by the non-partisan, non-profit, indispensable Coalition for Good Governance, revolves around press freedoms which are outrageously and unconstitutionally trampled by SB202. In fact, as discussed on the show today with the Coalition's Executive Director, MARILYN MARKS, no small amount of the detailed reporting we have done here over the years focused on Georgia has now been criminalized by the new statute!

As detailed in the complaint (see the section on "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN" beginning on p. 101), it is now unlawful to report on "mail balloting discrepancies or security concerns that he or The BRAD BLOG or BradCast journalists may personally observe as members of the press"; "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN will be injured because the party appointed observers he has relied on to supply first-hand accounts...are are prohibited under penalty of misdemeanor from reporting their observations" on Georgia elections to me; As Marks explains, photographs that I or others may have taken in a polling place and used on the blog would be illegal; Observers from the media watching the tallying of absentee ballots will be committing a crime just by reporting on how many ballots they are "estimating" or "attempting to estimate" have been counted or are left to be tallied, according to the language of the hastily written SB2020 ("It's a thought crime!," Marks charges. "Literally, it says you cannot 'estimate' or 'attempt to estimate' anything about votes in the ballot processing room for mail ballots!"); Video interviews or photographs taken inside of counting rooms or in polling places in front Georgia's giant, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems could be evidence of a felony(!) under the new law, which poll workers, poll watchers, media observers and even voters could now be charged with under state law!

"On BRAD BLOG," Marks observes, "you frequently post a picture, many a picture of election activity, including people in the mail ballot rooms looking at hand-marked voted ballots. To take a picture of a ballot now is a misdemeanor." Yes, those posted photos would now be evidence of a crime. "You would not be permitted to take a picture of anonymous ballots. We see thousands of pictures, every election, of voted ballots being counted. But for some reason --- I guess we know what reason --- they are criminalizing it."

Yes, the photo used above, as taken from the complaint's numerous examples, of voters voting at Atlanta's State Farm Arena last year in Fulton County, could be used as evidence of a felony by the Reuters photo-journalist, Chris Aluka Berry, who took it.

As the suit notes, "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is already injured by SB202 because the criminalization of constitutionally protected activity has a chilling effect on his exercise of First Amendment rights" and because "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is threatened with injuries arising from SB202’s prior restraints on his First Amendment right of free speech and right of freedom of the press."

We have "reported on Georgia election integrity and election security hundreds of times over the last almost twenty years," the lawsuit accurately explains. Much of that coverage could now constitute a state crime under this horrible, unconstitutional law. "I have a feeling they will find any little tripwire they can about the two of us," Marks tells me. "If you were complimentary toward Georgia, I don't think you'd have any problems."

This BradCast, for example, from June of last year, featuring a Democratic Party post-election adjudication observer (and now co-plaintiff in this suit) Jeanne DuFort --- breaking the news of her discovery that GA's new Dominion tabulation computers were failing to count votes on tens of thousands of ballots --- would have been a crime in several ways, according to the state's new law.

There are other provisions in SB202 of concern as well --- beyond those being challenged in several of the voting rights lawsuits --- as Marks explains in the Coalition's press release today, from the law's "Takeover Provision" that permits bi-partisan County Elections Boards to be removed entirely and replaced by a single partisan, for virtually any reason (even minor infractions by a low-level worker up to four years ago!) to a few items we didn't have time cover on today's show, like the impossible new deadlines for requesting absentee ballots (in cases before a run-off election, the deadline to request such a ballot for it will now end before the original election is even certified to include a run-off!) and more.

As AP highlights in its report today, the suit argues: "Liberty requires at least three essential things — an unfettered right to vote, freedom of speech, and the meaningful separation of powers. This lawsuit is necessary to preserve individual constitutional rights, and constitutional government, against the attacks that SB202 makes on these three pillars of liberty."

Marks elucidates today on "Those three pillars of liberty: the right to vote, the right to free speech, and the right to separation of powers. What's happening here is the first one that they are violating is that separation of powers. That is a key one. Once they grab all of the powers, they close the doors. Yeah, they still have to deal with the pesky press and pesky watchers, but not anymore --- not if they criminalize your reports."

So, yeah. Even as its strange to become a part of a story I've been covering for so long, I am very proud to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit against SB202, which Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State falsely claim "makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat". In truth, Marks told me off air after the show, the opposite is true. "It makes it harder to vote and easier to cheat," she said.

Also today, the GOP's packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court announced it's taking up Mississippi's restriction on abortion rights that was blocked by a lower court. This is not good news for freedom lovers and those who oppose Big Government coming between a woman and her doctor; A former elected Florida official who is a buddy of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to a federal plea deal that requires he tells federal prosecutors all that he knows about Gaetz' alleged sex trafficking of a minor; And in Gaza City over the weekend, Israel outrageously targeted and destroyed a 12-story high-rise building housing AP's office for the past 15 years. It's top floor cameras have been the eyes for the world, witnessing, as the news agency reported this weekend, "24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week."

Those cameras will no longer be there to bear witness to the world. As AP's President noted in a statement describing the attack as "shocking and horrifying" on Saturday, "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

And, in Georgia, if SB202 is allowed to stay in place, the world will know less about what is happening in the Peach State's elections because of it. As in Gaza, I suspect that is the point...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: SCOTUS expert, author Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon unionization vote goes down in AL, union cries foul; Biden creates commission to study SCOTUS reform; Everyone loves hating on Cruz and Graham...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2021 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.

The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."

For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.

Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.

As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.

But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."

Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.

"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing.  They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.

"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.

He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."

So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.

Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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L.A. County faces down new COVID spike; AZ, WI certify Biden victory; Team Trump cases shredded by federal and state courts in PA; Callers ring in on Trump's SCOTUS 'Trump Card'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2020 7:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast we try to catch you up with at least five days of important news from over the long holiday weekend. That's damned near impossible in the Trump Era, unfortunately. But we did get about half way there, with the most important parts of Trump's continuing attempt to steal the 2020 election (yes, that's still ongoing!) before turning to some excellent listener calls...

Among the stories we did catch up on, and were able to offer some important context for...

  • If someone could wrap Joe Biden in bubble wrap and place him in an hermetically sealed room for the next 50 days, it would be greatly appreciated.
  • Los Angeles County has now implemented among the most severe COVID-19 restrictions in the nation amid a recent spike in cases and hospitalizations that threatens to soon overwhelm our health care system here. That said, California and L.A. have among the lowest per capita rates of infections, hospitalizations and death in the nation, but the rates have doubled in recent weeks. So, if we need to take these emergency measures, we only hope that places where it's really bad --- for example, in the Midwest and Texas --- take action now to save lives. Election Day is past and so its no longer necessary for GOP leaders in those states to pretend everything about the coronavirus is a hoax in order to try and re-elect Donald Trump;
  • Arizona certifies its election results, confirming that Biden officially defeated Trump by more than 10,000 votes, in a state that hasn't gone "blue" in decades. The certification also clears the way for Democratic Senator-elect Mark Kelly to be seated in the U.S. Senate this week, following his defeat of Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSally in what was a Special Election for the Senate on November 3rd. McSally has now lost two Senate seats to Democrats in a row. And the loony state GOP Chairwoman and failed Congressional candidate Kelli Ward is continuing to challenge the 2020 results --- even as the state's very Trumpy Republican Governor and Attorney General stand by them;
  • Wisconsin certifies its elections results, confirming that Biden officially defeated Trump by just over 20,000 votes in a state that Trump is said to have defeated Hillary Clinton by a similar margin in 2016. The certification follows a partial "recount" in the state, paid for by the Trump Campaign at a cost of $3 million. The second count in Milwaukee and Dane Counties, where Trump sought to the re-tally, ended up netting an additional 87 votes overall for Biden. (Another artful deal by the world's greatest businessman);
  • Over the weekend Trump lost resoundingly in two different cases, one in federal court and one in state court, in Pennsylvania. One loss came from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where three Republican-appointed federal judges upbraided the Trump Campaign's case, with the Trump-appointed Judge writing the scathing opinion to include: "Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here. ... Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections." The state case did not go any better for Team Trump, with a unanimous verdict by the state Supreme Court finding that the GOP legislators' attempt to toss out the election based on claims that the state's new absentee ballot law violates Pennsylvania's Constitution was filed much too late. The same law was in effect during the state primary earlier this year, and the legislators had no complaint about it. NEITHER OF THE TWO CASES, NOR ANY OF THE OTHER FAILED CASES FROM TEAM TRUMP ALLEGED FRAUD. Claims about "massive fraud" are only made by Trump and Giuliani and friends on Twitter and Fox "News". Courts require actual evidence and apparently, Trump has none to offer;
  • We then open phones to callers with some questions about all of this stuff, including the one Trump Card that the President still hopes to play at the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. There, Trump hopes for an opinion that only state legislatures may make any laws or rules or regulations concerning the "times, places and manner of holding elections", as referenced in the U.S. Constitution. With such an opinion from a majority of Justices, if they can get it, Team Trump believes they can toss out election results this year, and have GOP state legislatures award electors to Trump instead of Biden, the popular winner. It's a radical, extremist (and arguably ridiculous) "originalist" interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, but Kavanaugh and Gorsuch have already indicated they buy it, Alito and Thomas are likely to go along with it, and the matter would potentially be left to Trump's most recent appoint, Amy Coney Barrett, to decide.

Many are turning away to other matters now that they believe the monster has been vanquished once and for all. We've seen enough monster movies to know that it's a terrible idea to walk away after you think the monster is dead, even while they are lying there with an axe in their apparently lifeless hand...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas on the President's desperate strategy as PA, GA, NV and probably AZ are all set to give the former Veep his Electoral College victory...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2020 7:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: it's all over but the desperate Donald Trump tantrums. Though don't try and tell our own Desi Doyen that today! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

As the stock market numbers rally on increasingly certain news that Joe Biden will become the next President (despite Trump's lies that the market would crash if the former Veep won), the U.S. coronavirus numbers also continue to skyrocket to all time records (thanks to Trump's disastrous denial and lies there as well.) For today, though, it's the vote count numbers we're again focused on, as Biden will almost certainly be called the unofficial winner in several remaining uncalled states --- including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada --- very soon.

If he takes Pennsylvania alone it's over for Trump. But, as we went to air today, with Biden so far, according to media calls, having won a conservative 253 electoral votes of the 270 he ultimately needs to be declared the President-elect (that 253 total doesn't include Arizona's electors, which both AP and Fox "News" have already called for him), it's now likely that Biden will end up with at least 306 electoral college votes when all is said and done.

At the same time, Trump is filing every unsupported, nonsensical legal lawsuit in every state that his two-bit lawyers can figure out how to spell in hopes that something, anything, will actually help --- or even just turn out to be vaguely true. While the President's supporters in Michigan chant "STOP THE COUNT! STOP THE COUNT!", his equally gullible cult followers in Arizona are busy shouting "COUNT THOSE VOTES! COUNT THOSE VOTES!" That should give you an idea of the ingenously coordinated strategy of Trump and the Republican Party's election law geniuses at this point.

We're joined today by an actual legal professional, University of Kentucky College of Law's election and Constiutional law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting to find out what we must be missing in reviewing Trump's woefully pathetic legal strategy to try and win this election or unring its bell.

"There's not really a coherent legal strategy to speak of. He's throwing as much spaghetti at the wall as he can and seeing what sticks," Douglas confirms. "The real problem I have is we're reporting on these lawsuits as if they have any merit whatsoever. And they don't. I don't think we should even be giving them airtime. Because in my view, the real goal here is to undermine people's faith in the integrity of the election."

"They are making wild allegations of voter fraud, but without having any evidence that it actually occurred. And then they're spreading misinformation on social media about anecdotes that, when you look into them, turn out to be" anything but what they are alleging, he explains.

Nonetheless, we press the good professor for how he would make the case for Trump, were he unfortunate enough to be representing him in this matter, and we discuss the actual looming legal danger awaiting decades of election law precedent at the now packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court. Will Trump's newest stolen Justice Amy Coney Barrett actually deliver for her President if and when any actionable case on the 2020 election somehow makes its way to SCOTUS? Or will it only be later that she and four other compliant rightwing Justices will decide to undermine the affirmative Right to Vote found in almost every state Constitution?

We discuss all of that and more today, even if none of it seems to help our own Desi Doyen rest any easier about the Presidential election results just yet. (She has very good reason, in the meantime, to be concerned indeed about the results at the Senate and House level.) Nonetheless, we close today with her latest Green News Report with an eye on Hurricane Eta, now aiming for Florida, and what we should expect when it comes to U.S. climate action after the dust settles on the 2020 election...

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Guest: Armstrong County, PA Election Director and longtime Election Integrity advocate Marybeth Kuznik on chaos, segregated ballots and unverifiable touchscreens in the critical battleground state...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2020 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Election 2020 is coming down to the wire, with the deadline for voting just days away and no small amount of chaos unleashed on the entire process by federal courts over the past several days. While the U.S. Supreme Court has invoked their so-called "Purcell Principle" in recent years, to prevent last-minute changes to even bad, suppressive election laws in order to avoid chaos, both SCOTUS and lower federal courts have been busy this week invoking invoking election chaos in several key battleground states. [Audio link to full show posted at bottom of summary.]

On Thursday night, two Republican federal appellate court judges reversed a rule enacted with a Minnesota state court's approval in July, in a radical ruling that follows on the heels of another decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a Pennsylvania case that has resulted in elections officials in both states now being forced to segregate late arriving mail-in ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day, but that don't arrive until the days following it. We explain the reason for the extraordinary disruption and the potential invalidation of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lawfully cast ballots in both states --- and maybe others --- based on a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause that has never been blessed by a majority on the Supreme Court, but which could be very soon, depending on the vote of Donald Trump's newest appointment to the GOP's stolen Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

We try to make sense of the chaos that has now been unleashed by...

  • that late Thursday night ruling by two Republican judges on the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals --- just five days before Election Day --- finding it unconstitutional for MN to count late arriving ballots lawfully cast and postmarked on time, despite a months-old state court-blessed settlement between MN's Sec. of State, voting advocates and even agreed to by the Trump Campaign;
  • the SCOTUS decision to wait until after Election Day to decide if similar ballots in PA will be discarded as well;
  • and a seemingly counter-intuitive SCOTUS decision to allow late-arriving ballots in North Carolina to be counted following a state court blessed settlement nearly identical to the one just struck down on Thursday night by the appeals court judges for MN.

As noted, chaos now reigns in several of the most important battleground states in the most critical election in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, in the new battleground state of Texas, where early voting numbers have now surpassed the total turnout for all of the 2016 election, officials in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) are dealing with chaos caused by what they describe as a printing error by their absentee ballot contractor. Roughly one-third of mail-in ballots cast in the County are being seen as unreadable by their computer optical-scan tabulation system. Rather than count those hand-marked paper ballots publicly by hand, state law calls for the potentially tens of thousands of unscannable ballots to be "remade" by elections officials by hand onto new, scannable ballot pages.

All of this should serve as a reminder of the necessity of citizen-based public oversight of our elections, which are not owned by unelected judges or elections officials or private vendors or contractors, but by we the people. If you've already voted and are now looking for a way to help between now and Election Day (and, as importantly, beyond), there are many opportunities! Check out some of them at Scrutineers.org, ProtectOurVotes.com, SmartElections.us and ValidateTheVoteUSA.org.

Our guest today is, herself, a longtime champion of public oversight of elections. MARYBETH KUZNIK is the founder of the election integrity group, VotePA.us and, as of September, also the Election Director in Armstrong County, PA, a somewhat rural, Republican-leaning county just north of Pittsburgh. She is kind enough to offer us some time amid the mayhem of her new job today, where she concedes "it's pretty crazy here."

Among the many topics we discuss...

  • the new order to segregate late-arriving absentee ballots in PA so they can, potentially, be nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court after the election;
  • the fact that the state legislature does not allow pre-processing, much less tabulation, of mail-in ballots until Election Day;
  • How many days it is likely to take her county and the state as a whole to tabulate them ("We are in unchartered water here...But, we're not going to know Election Night, that's for sure." She is still looking for volunteers to help! Though they must be from Armstrong!);
  • the type of voting systems in use in Armstrong (Optically-scanned hand-marked paper ballots. "I wouldn't be working here --- I would not be administering unverifiable touchscreen ballot-marking devices. You know that, Brad!");
  • her concerns about voting in Philadelphia this year amid both civil unrest and the strongly Dem-leaning County's foolish decision to use new, unverifiable, computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices which failed spectacularly during their first use last year. ("Philly worries me," she says, adding that she has "zero confidence" in the systems which she describes as "the most expensive and the most wasteful voting system ever developed. Every voter does not need a $9,000 touchscreen to cast a ballot.";
  • and some of the lessons she's learned in her transition from longtime Election Integrity advocate to Election Director...

Don't forget to exhale between now and Tuesday!...

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Guest: Aaron Belkin of Take Back the Court; Also: Barrett sworn onto GOP's Stolen SCOTUS; Supremes order WI to reject mail-in ballots cast by Election Day that arrive afterward...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2020 6:43pm PT  

Not long after we got off air from yesterday's BradCast, Senate Republicans kept their promise of breaking their previous promise that they would never ever ever --- because it would just be plain wrong and an insult to the voters! --- seat a new Supreme Court Justice during a Presidential election year. Their original promise held for exactly one Presidential election in a row, when it was Obama's nominee to the high court that they blocked for more than a year in 2016. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Donald Trump's third appointment to the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, now has the dubious distinction of being the first Justice in U.S. history to have been confirmed without a single vote from the minority party in the U.S. Senate. (Even rightwingers like Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy were both unanimously confirmed.) She will also be notorious for having been seated closer to an Election Day (just one week before it) than any other Justice in history, leading Democrats to correctly describe the entire affair as an "illegitimate" "power grab".

But, even before Barrett was officially sworn in as the newest Justice on the GOP's already-stolen Court on Tuesday morning, the five Republican Justices on Monday night --- (with five of six of them now seated by GOP U.S. Senate majorities elected by a vast minority of American voters) --- had already ordered the state of Wisconsin to reject what is likely to be well over 100,000 timely cast and postmarked mail-in ballots simply because they are delivered by the USPS after polls close on Election Day in the Badger State. The anti-democratic order overturns a lower court judge who allowed the counting of ballots postmarked by Election Day, even if they arrive up to six days afterward --- just as Republicans agreed to during the state's primaries earlier this year. But now that they're competing with Democrats, apparently vote suppression is necessary. More on that particular outrage hopefully tomorrow, because the ruling was even worse than it sounds.

But, for today, the outrageous hypocrisy, perfidy and appalling dishonesty of the Senate Republicans' latest court-packing stunt with the illegitimate now-Justice Barrett --- after well over 60 million American have already voted in an election that may very well cost the Republican Party control of both the Senate and White House --- needs to be highlighted today. For that, we're joined by AARON BELKIN, Director of Take Back the Court, the nation's oldest organization formed specifically to call for expansion and reform of both SCOTUS and lower federal courts following the GOP's original theft of the high court in 2016.

While the need to save democracy itself by unrigging the Republicans' packed federal courts is quite clear, the question remains as to whether Senate Democrats understand that, and whether they will have the courage to do so --- presuming they are able to win back control of the chamber amid years of new voter suppression laws enacted by states and activist GOP jurists.

Belkin details the existential stakes and necessity of doing so, and offers his thoughts on whether Democrats will muster the strength to end the Senate filibuster as required to accomplish it next year.

"It's not just about the theft of the court from Barack Obama, but it's also that we are facing planetary emergencies like climate change, with effectively no time left on the clock," Belkin argues. "And we're also facing what you could call 'democracy emergencies,' where the Court itself has worked hard to keep black and brown voters from the polls. This Court, even the Court as it was configured in 2017, was highly unlikely to allow the next President to deal with those emergencies."

"To have robust judicial reform, you need to expand lower federal courts commensurate with the number of seats that Mitch McConnell prevented President Obama from filling during the last two years of his presidency," he tells me. "Then you need to expand the Supreme Court just by enough Justices to get the job done, to deliver a Court that will allow the next administration to address the emergencies we face." His group also calls for term limits "to try to minimize some of these problems moving forward" and "a code of ethical conduct" for Justices who, unlike lower federal court judges, have no such requirements for recusing from cases in which they have conflicts of interest, or even "situations where, for example, Justice Thomas' wife is lobbying President Trump and the White House the same week that President Trump is a party to a lawsuit in front of Justice Thomas."

Belkin also offers his reaction to Joe Biden's recent vow to create a bi-partisan panel of legal scholars to make recommendations for such reforms after six months of study, and what Americans must do to help make sure any of this happens, in the event that Democrats win both the Senate and White House. He also responds with a very compelling argument to those who charge that these reforms would simply be escalated the next time Republicans take control of both houses of Congress and the White House.

Finally, speaking of just some of the stakes, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report on yet another record hurricane now barreling toward the Gulf Coast, yet more hurricane-winds and record wildfires in Colorado and California, and then Trump's lies and Biden's truth about action on our climate crisis at last week's final Presidential Debate of 2020...

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Guest: 28-year former Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho; Also: Coronavirus begins third U.S. peak; Ransomware attack hits GA county's election infrastructure...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're now just one week from Election Day. But as today's guest underscores, we may be much farther away from knowing who actually won it, given disturbing vulnerabilities that remain in our nation's voting system, beginning --- if not ending --- in the battleground state of Florida. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the Trump Administration announced over the weekend, via White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that it is no longer even trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with Meadows telling CNN that "we aren't going to control the pandemic." Rather, he said, they'll work on mitigating its effects, eventually, through the development of therapies and vaccines.

That, as the U.S. hit its third peak of infections over the weekend, with new daily records that outpaced those from the June-July peak, which previously outpaced those from the original March-April peak. The pandemic is getting far worse, not better, and it's now being super-spread by the President of the United States himself at maskless rallies around the country. The virus which has now killed almost a quarter of a million Americans in the past six months is also being similarly spread by Vice President Mike Pence at rallies, even after five of his top staffers and advisers, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short, were revealed over the weekend to have tested positive.

On Monday morning, Trump actually tweeted that reporting on COVID numbers should now be outlawed. At the same time, talks on a new emergency relief package for the American people, between the White House and Democrats in the U.S. House, collapsed yet again. And, in response to all of the above, the Dow plummeted 650 points on Monday.

Things are not going well, just one week out from Election Day, even after some 60 million Americans have already cast their vote this year, outpacing all early voting from 2016.

But, if you think Election Day will be the answer to all of our woes --- while I pray you are right --- you may want to hedge that bet. One of my greatest fears about the election, a ransomware attack, appears to already be playing out in one county in the battleground state of Georgia. In Hall County, a ransomware attack has hit the county's elections infrastructure by taking out its voter signature database and a precinct map hosted on its website. If a similar attack were to occur on or before Election Day, in any one of the thousands of counties which now rely on the Internet or networked computers to allow voters to cast a vote at all, we could see absolute chaos. This President, of course, is all to ready to exploit such a case to his advantage with the help of gerrymandered Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country and a compliant (and stolen) U.S. Supreme Court (made even more stolen today by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in the U.S. Senate.)

Down in the critical battleground of Florida, as my guest explains today, voters may never even know if the election is stolen from them. That guest today is the legendary, former 28-year Supervisor of Elections in Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida, ION SANCHO, who was so well-respected by his peers on both the right and left he was appointed to oversee the eventually-aborted year 2000 recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush in the Sunshine State.

On Friday, Sancho sent an urgent letter [PDF] to the Supervisors of Elections in 47 of Florida's 67 counties which use wireless cellular modems to transmit precinct election results to county headquarters after the close of polls on Election Night. The letter warns that those modems --- and the Internet connections to them at the counties' central tabulators --- can be easily hacked "from anywhere in the world." If they are, he explains on today's program, it's very likely that such a hack, changing election results, would never be noticed by election officials.

"The issue is that we’re using equipment that is not secure," Sancho tells me. "To quote Sen. Marco Rubio, 'Many Florida election officials are arrogant over their belief that they can’t be touched, that they are secure.' And this is a state that does not compare the numbers that we generate on those electrical optical scanners to the actual, physical votes on the piece of paper. We’re completely dependent upon those electronic totals on Election Night."

Manual examination of hand-marked paper ballots in Florida, to make sure the reported computer tabulation was correct, is prohibited by state law. Sancho details his concerns about those modems --- which are not federally certified for use in elections --- and how the state's election officials can avoid the threat posed by this very serious vulnerability to the state's election infrastructure. Making matters worse, he notes, "We do not audit the paper ballots to confirm that the election totals are correct. And that’s a huge, huge problem – not just in Florida, but everywhere in the country."

"Most of the election officials were not even aware that their systems were connected [to the Internet], because the vendor [in this case, ES&S, the nation's largest] never told them. You’re almost 100% dependent upon the vendor for the information about your system. So our most public process – our elections process, which is public – really are controlled by private entities."

"The worst-case scenario," with the modems now used in the systems in Florida, "is that a man-in-the-middle attack could actually intercept the totals that are being electronically-transmitted over the Internet, and manipulate them --- not only to the central tabulator, but re-routing back into the actual digital voting machine and altering the results in that device," he warns. "You could have a complete disaster here."

Sancho may be familiar to some listeners from his landmark appearance in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, in which he allows an experiment by "white hat" Finnish hacker Harri Hursti. In the film's climactic scene, we see an actual hack of one of Leon County's optical scan systems, as carried out by Hursti in a mock election. The hack flips the results of the election in a way that would never be noticed by elections officials, save for a manual examination of the hand-marked paper ballots cast.

Sancho also offers his concerns today about whether the 2020 Presidential election could become a redux of what played out in Florida in 2000, when a weeks-long battle to determine who would be President of the United States was kicked off on Election Night, after an optical-scan tabulator --- for reasons still unknown to this day --- recorded negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County. The election was ultimately decided in favor of Bush by an "official" margin of just 527 votes, thanks to a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court which stopped Sancho's statewide hand recount from ever being completed...

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Guest: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Biden's plan for SCOTUS expansion; Graham breaks rules to approve Barrett w/out Dems; SCOTUS blocks AL curbside voting; Admin claims Iran (not Russia, not Proud Boys) behind email threats to Dem voters...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2020 5:17pm PT  

Last week, Trump's new "sham" nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to not know if voter intimidation was even a violation of federal law. This week, as we report on today's BradCast, Trump and his henchmen find themselves facing a federal lawsuit over exactly that. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • First up, Joe Biden has finally stated his position on expanding the U.S. Supreme Court. That position? A bi-partisan commission to study reforms for the federal court system, to offer recommendations after six months...if Biden wins the White House and Dems take the Senate. We discuss what is probably a pretty smart political position for the former VP to take right now, considering that corporate media can't stop using the words "court packing" to describe long-overdue reforms after years of actual court packing by the GOP.
  • Speaking of which, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, led by South Carolina's increasingly vulnerable Sen. Lindsey Graham, broke their own rules today to ram through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett without a single Democrat present, after Dems refused to allow a quorum for today's vote. If she is confirmed by the full Senate on Monday, as Republicans currently plan, it will be one of the shortest confirmation processes and the closest to a Presidential Election Day for the seating of a Supreme Court Justice in the nation's history. That, after just 4 years ago Republicans blocked a Democratic SCOTUS nominee entirely for a full year, while vowing that a new Justice should never be seated during a Presidential election year. Republicans also changed the rules in the middle of that game as well, when they killed the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees after failing to get enough votes to pack Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee, onto the Court. Over the past five years, Republicans have succeeded at completely delegitimizing the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • The GOP's already-stolen Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with Alabama's dishonest, lying, somewhat deranged, unlawfully Twitter-blocking, Republican Sec. of State John Merrill to nix curbside voting in counties that wished to use it to help keep disabled voters safe during the COVID crisis, as recommended by the CDC and approved the U.S. Dept. of Justice as a way to prevent violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All three remaining Democratic appointees on the Court dissented, siding with the U.S. District Court and federal appeals court which, after a three day trial, found the now-scrapped accommodation to be a "modest" and "reasonable" way to avoid a potentially fatal illness for some voters.
  • In recent days, Democratic voters in Florida and several other battleground states have been receiving threatening warnings via email, instructing them to "Vote for Trump or else!" The body of the emails, which appear to come from a Trump-supporting extremist group, cite the recipient's name and addresses and promise to "come after you" if they do not change their party affiliation to Republican and vote as instructed. Incredibly, and with zero supporting evidence, Trump's "partisan hack" Director of National Intelligence John Ratclifffe hastily convened an absurd press conference on Wednesday night to declare that Iran was actually behind the threatening emails to Democrats. He claimed they were designed to "damage President Trump". He also muttered something about Russia. But, again, no actual specifics and no actual supporting evidence for his claim that both countries accessed voter registrations systems to obtain the data (most of which is publicly available without actually hacking into election-related systems). Suffice to say, I believe absolutely nothing from this Administration at this point, about any of it, and, short of independently verifiable information, neither should you.
  • Then, we are joined by the Legal Director at Free Speech for People, RON FEIN, to explain the federal lawsuit his non-partisan good government organization filed on Wednesday on behalf of the Latino civic engagement group Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and several voters, charging that Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Sec. of Homeland Security Chad Wolf are violating federal laws against voter intimidation.

    The complaint [PDF] and accompanying request for a preliminary injunction, as Fein details, alleges defendants have exhibited a pattern of intimidation against voters that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, and the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    As FSFP explains in their announcement of the suit, the complaint is "based on the defendants’ violent suppression of public protests opposing police brutality, the encouragement of white supremacist 'vigilantes,' threats to send 'sheriffs' and other law enforcement to the polls, the undermining of mail-in voting, and the rejection of the peaceful transfer of power, which, the complaint alleges, constitute illegal voter intimidation."

    Fein offers more details on what he describes as a "threatening pattern of conduct stretching over the past few months," that has resulted in the suit. "People understand what it means when the President talks about sending law enforcement...When he tells the Proud Boys to 'stand by,' people understand what that means...This is not one piece of conduct, one isolated statement. This is a months-long pattern that the President and his top officials have been involved in, that has the purpose and effect --- hopefully not successfully --- but it certainly has that effect, of intimidating people from voting either in person or by mail."

    Explaining the relief sought by the complaint, he tells me: "First of all, we want relief prohibiting the defendants from deploying armed federal agents at or near polling places; from ordering federal agents to block the delivery of ballots or interfere in the counting of ballots; from taking any actions that could limit with the speed or reliability of mail delivery. And specifically to Trump, prohibiting him from encouraging his supporters to bring weapons to polling places, block access to polling places, to question voters, or from using official government public communications channels --- which now includes his Twitter account --- to suggest that lawful votes will be scrutinized or challenged."

    He also discusses a somewhat related federal case also filed this week by FSFP on behalf of the Minnesota chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and League of Women Voters against a private mercenary contractor who has posted job listings, reported recently by the Washington Post, seeking to hire and deploy armed former special ops troops to patrol polling sites in the state.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on yet another record hurricane in an already-record season; the death of half of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the return of the Hummer, this time as an all-electric "supertruck"...

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Guest: Author and 'REDMAP' gerrymandering expert David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Dems to boycott Barrett vote?; Federal court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots without contacting voters...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2020 6:56pm PT  

There's a lot to digest on today's BradCast, so I'll try to keep this teaser brief so you can just listen. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

First up, it turns out lawyers really don't like Donald Trump, even the ones he actually pays millions to work for him. In Congress, Dems vow "no more business as usual" on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination, but how much are they actually able to do about it? We may be about to find out.

And, as if it wasn't difficult enough to vote safely --- or at all --- in Texas amid the pandemic (or even before the pandemic!), still more vote suppression has just been ordered there by the radical rightwing judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

A ruling like the one they've just issued to allow mail-in ballots to be rejected based on perceived signature mismatches (as adjudicated by non-handwriting experts) without contacting voters first to allow them to cure any perceived problems, is the type of voter suppression that might have been blocked in advance by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before it was gutted by the GOP-majority U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, in the infamous Shelby County case.

That ruling of a piece of with Karl Rove and the GOP's "Plot for Permanent Minority Rule", as expertly detailed by our guest today, author and FairVote.org Senior Fellow DAVID DALEY in his new must-read cover story for The New Republic this month. Daley unspools the full story of how the unlikely Republican voting rights hero, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), partnered with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and voting rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in 2006 to ensure the re-authorization of the VRA in full for 25 more years. Sensenbrenner held a dozen hearings with nearly 50 witnesses as Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, in order to compile some 12,000 pages of recent, compelling evidence of racially-based voter suppression that supported the need to extend the then 40-year old landmark civil rights law.

But that was before Karl Rove's successful scheme to gain GOP control of state legislatures in 2010 after that year's Census, in order to gerrymander "democracy" within an inch of its life for the entire next decade. And it was before the Republican SCOTUS majority ignored Sensenbrenner's work on the VRA entirely --- and a bipartisan 98-0 vote in the U.S. Senate to extend the Act --- in order to gut it.

The nation has been paying a very steep price ever since. Republicans in gerrymandered districts in Congress and state legislatures no longer worry about working and compromising with Democrats. Their only concern became primary challenges from the Right. So the party moved ever farther in that direction until arriving where we are today, when the idea of fixing the now-gutted VRA has become unthinkable --- just a few short years after it was re-authorized by a Republican House, Senate and President. The scheme also allowed opportunists like Donald Trump to take advantage of the lost protections for voting rights in gerrymandered state after gerrymandered state, which continues to haunt America's hobbled democracy today.

Daley discusses how all of this came about, how --- and if --- it can be corrected, and how he was able to get so many Republicans who now regret building the "Frankenstein monster that has devoured our politics" to speak on the record about those regrets --- as regular Americans pay an unspeakable price for it all.

"This was not caused by Donald Trump. It did not start with him," Daley tells me. "The fight over the vote has been deeply entwined in this nation ever since the founding of this nation. But these battles did not start in 2016. They will not end on Election Day 2020. And there is a real, deeply embedded, [GOP] minority rule that has been built atop a system that already advantaged Republicans geographically in the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College."

"This has been baked in to our politics for a long time. It's going to take a lot of time for us to get it out. This is a Census year. This is a redistricting year. So state legislatures and the next decade of maps are on the line again," he cautions. So, please VOTE and remember to vote ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BALLOT THIS YEAR! "There are more of us than there are of them," Daley notes, "but there are more of them on the Supreme Court than us, and that's a big, big problem."

And if that sounds like a heavy show, don't worry! Mel Brooks is here at the end to help calm your anxiety --- and mine --- just a little bit...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

If you're feeling a bit nauseous of late, hopefully it's not COVID. But it could very well be the effects of trying to keep up with the roller coaster of federal court rulings we've been reporting on The BradCast of late. Or it could be due to trying to keep up with the President of the United States changing moods every few hours these days, as he vacillates between vindictiveness and desperation just over two weeks from Election Day. [Audio link to today's full show follows below summary.]

On Thursday, Donald Trump refused a request from the Governor of California for a Major Disaster Declaration following the spate of record wildfires we've seen in the Golden State over the past month, amid record heat and drought fueled by climate change. Some 8,500 fires this year have resulted in more than 4 million acres burned this year alone --- twice the all-time record for the state --- with nearly 2 million acres scorched in six major wildfires over just the past month. A thousands structures have been leveled and 31 people have died in recent blazes, as five of the six largest fires in California history have taken place this year.

But Trump --- who despises California because we don't vote for him --- has long threatened to cut off FEMA emergency funds to the state, dismissing climate change as a cause, citing leaves and dead trees as the reason for the massive fires and demanding better forest management in the state. That, despite the fact that the vast majority of California's forests are federal lands, which are supposed to be managed by....the Trump Administration.

White House spokespeople spent Friday morning explaining that California's request for federal aid "was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation" against it. That recommendation, however, according to Trump's former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor over the summer, was ordered by a cruel and vindictive Trump himself. But by Friday afternoon, just before air time, someone must have pointed out to Trump that more of his voters live in California than in any other state in the union. Or, they just told him how bad he looked, just over two weeks from Election Day, in refusing federal aid to people who have lost everything due to no fault of their own, especially in a state which had been running a $5.6 billion budget surplus until Trump's disastrously bungled response to the coronavirus resulted in a $54 billion deficit here instead.

It's clear that Donald Trump doesn't even care about his own voters, if they live in a state that won't help him win a second term. He cares about only himself. Period. But, whatever it takes. We're happy for the late breaking news that he finally reversed his cruel idiocy moments before airtime today.

Keeping up with the roller coaster of Trump's mood swings, however, is only marginally less nauseating than keeping up with the roller coaster of recent federal court rulings on voting rights this year! As we've been reporting over the past several weeks, in state after state after state, lower courts have general found in favor of efforts by Democrats and voting rights advocates to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic, as the Trump Campaign and Republican Party have sued virtually everywhere to prevent that from happening. But time and again, well-reasoned, Constitutionally sound rulings by U.S. District Court judges have been overturned at the appellate and Supreme Court levels, often in deference to state legislatures, or simply because SCOTUS has decided its too late to change an election rule or law, even not doing so might disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in violation of federal law and the Constitution itself.

As University of Kentucky election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, asks this week in a CNN editorial, if the courts are supposed to protect the right to vote, why aren't they doing so?

Good question, which Douglas joins us to discuss on today's program. He also has some good, if troubling answersto that question, which Amy Coney Barrett will not be making any less troubling when her SCOTUS confirmation is rammed through the U.S. Senate to seat her on the High Court before Election Day.

"It is frustrating," he tells me, "because the Constitutional right to vote is supposed to be one of our most foundational precious rights, and the courts are supposed to be a check on legislative majorities that try to rig the system, rig the rule of the game to keep themselves in power. That's the whole point of judicial review in these Constitutional cases involving voting rights, and the courts are refusing to do that right now."

But Douglas has good suggestions as well, for how we can begin to correct this sickening course that has resulted, in no small part, from the packed rightwing courts which have been stripping more and more rights from voters over the past decade or so.

"Congress does have the Constitutional authority to regulate elections in a lot of ways under Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution, referred to as the Elections Clause," he argues, "which gives states the first right in regulating elections, but says Congress may also alter or amend those regulations." Moreover, he continues, "we have to think on a long term strategy on enshrining the Right to Vote as a textual matter in the US Constitution. Because if these judges are 'textualists', then having explicit language conferring the right to vote, which the Constitution does not currently have, is a much stronger legal argument."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which --- speaking of Barrett --- examines the apparent climate science denialism of the Justice-in-Waiting, as revealed during her Senate confirmation hearings this week. And, just before we finish up today, the breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding whether Trump may violate the Constitution by excluding undocumented immigrants from Congressional apportionment following this year's decennial U.S. Census...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/15/2020 11:24am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court threatens U.S. climate policy for decades to come; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse deconstructs the unaccountable dark money takeover of the federal judiciary; PLUS: September 2020 was the hottest ever recorded on the planet... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Nature endorses Joe Biden for US president; Atlantic Ocean warmest it has been for 3000 years; Maui Has Begun the Process of Managed Retreat. It Wants Big Oil to Pay the Cost of Sea Level Rise; Climate Change Has Killed Half of the Great Barrier Reef’s Corals; Solar is now ‘cheapest electricity in history’, confirms IEA; Pope Francis calls on the faithful to act on climate change; Farmers are facing a phosphorus crisis; How Biden would use trade agreements to fight global warming... PLUS: It’s the Energy Policies, Stupid... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Dark money researcher Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's Judiciary Committee revelations on the GOP's decades-long, $250 million Supreme Court-packing coup; Also: Good news for voters in VA, TX, AK!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2020 6:56pm PT  

We begin today's BradCast with some good news from the courts, for a change, regarding voting rights in several states today, as the GOP's trench warfare to suppress the vote wherever they can continues, now 20 days out from Election Day. Then, it's on to the $250 million dark-money scheme that a closely interconnected conspiracy of mostly low-profile rightwing groups have orchestrated with Republicans in the U.S. Senate to pack the federal courts --- specifically the U.S. Supreme Court --- and push specific cases to them that are similarly rigged by "orchestrated amicus flotillas" to help achieve very specific results that just happen to benefit all of the well-moneyed interests involved in the well-orchestrated and well-funded conspiracy that made it all happen. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, we go light before we go "dark". In Virginia, where a severed fiber optic cable knocked out online voter registration for the entire state on Tuesday, the last day to do so this year, a federal judge has granted an extra 48 hours for residents in the Commonwealth to sign up. You've now got until 11:59pm Thursday, Virginians! Get busy!

In Texas, where desperate Republicans are challenging absolutely every new measure instituted to make voting easier and safer amid the pandemic --- even going so far as to sue their own Republican Governor for extending early voting by one week --- a state court of appeals has tossed a case filed Monday by the GOP to block Harris County's plan for "drive-thru" voting. The case was filed just one day before Early Voting began in the state yesterday. Some 11,000 votes were reportedly cast from vehicles via curbside voting centers in Harris County's Houston on Tuesday, as implemented by the County's new, 34-year old County Clerk, Chris Hollins. Dem-leaning Houston has a population of 4.7 million and a geographical area larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is the nation's third most populous voting jurisdiction. A total of 10 drive-thru sites are planned for use during Early Voting. The court win comes as another too-rare victory for voters in the Lone Star State, where the GOP is desperately trying to block the demographic writing on the wall against them.

And, in Alaska, the state Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that nullifies the state's witness signature requirement for mail-in ballots during the pandemic. The suit was brought by Alaskan Native Americans and voting rights groups who successfully argued that the requirement "impermissibly burdens the right to vote" while many Alaskans are quarantining alone during the crisis. The state's top election official, Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, had appealed the lower court ruling all the way to the state Supremes...and has now lost. But voters have won.

Then, we head into the "darkness" following Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)'s remarkable, must watch revelations (transcript here) on Tuesday during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's appalling and hypocritical push to ram through the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before Election Day. In short, Whitehouse summarized the broad and insidious network of interconnected rightwing dark-money groups that select federal court judges for Republicans to nominate to the bench; quietly fund the PR campaigns to push for their confirmations; seek out specific cases to bring to those same judges for a desired outcome that enriches their well-moneyed interests; and then bury the Supreme Court with amicus briefs spelling out that desired outcome.

Whitehouse details the remarkable success that the groups have seen in recent years in not only packing the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, but in an 80 to 0 record of wins at the high court with partisan 5 to 4 victories in each and every case.

Teeing off the Senate Republicans' eagerness to push through Barrett's confirmation closer to any Presidential election in U.S. history --- despite vows from the party in 2016 that they would never support filling a Supreme Court seat during a Presidential election year until American voters have had a say in the matter --- Whitehouse observes near the beginning of his remarks that, in his "experience around politics, when you find hypocrisy in the daylight, look for power in the shadows."

Using charts and magic-markers to break down the sprawling case and evidence of the closely-allied, secretly-funded groups making up that "power in the shadows" --- from the Federalist Society (which promoted Barrett's nomination), to the so-called Judicial Crisis Network, to the Bradley Foundation to Donors Trust and the Koch Brothers --- the Rhode Island Senator neatly unfolds the very clear conspiracy that has successfully resulted in cases that benefit its dark-money funders to the tune of billions of dollars returned on their investments.

Much of Whitehouse's case cited evidence first revealed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a non-profit good government watchdog and research organization headed up for many years by LISA GRAVES, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Department, a former Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate, and a former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system. She still serves as President of the Board of Directors at CMD and is currently the Executive Director of True North Research.

With all of those qualifications, Graves is uniquely positioned to offer much more insight into Whitehouse's Tuesday revelations of the, yes, actual, decades-long GOP judicial conspiracy now in play; Barrett's qualifications for a lifetime appointment to highest court in the land; her performance during this week's confirmation hearings; and whether Democrats should expand not only the U.S. Supreme Court --- if they win both the Presidency and Senate majority in November --- but the lower federal courts as well.

Graves tells me that Whitehouse's remarks were "very, very important, because he was able to use this forum to shine a light on something that most Americans have no idea is going on, as part of this capture of our courts, which is really about changing our rights and doing it through judicial fiat." She explains that "that thirty minutes is really a class, a course, on understanding this puppet show that we're seeing with this nomination, of who is really calling the shots, and how this is happening."

She also offers a reaction to my own monologue from the top of yesterday's BradCast, in which I detailed the under-appreciated hypocrisy and judicial dishonesty of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, regarding his professed claims of "conservative" Constitutional "originalism" and "strict consructionism". Barrett worked hard during her opening statement on Monday to associate herself with Scalia's disingenuous judicial philosophy, citing the late rightwing extremist Justice, for whom she once clerked, as a model for own tenure as a federal jurist.

There is much ground to cover in all of the above with Graves, so I hope you'll tune in for this one!...

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Also: Touchscreen systems fail on first day of Early Voting outside Houston; Three Trump judges clear way for absentee vote suppression in TX; Online registration fails on deadline day in VA...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not easy keeping up with confirmation hearings for a new Supreme Court Justice on an already stolen Court just days before an election, even as disasters are already befalling voters at the polls, thanks in part to the GOP's already stolen Court. But we try our best. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On the morning of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's first day of hearings to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by ramming Donald Trump's third nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, onto the Court before Election Day, AP unhelpfully parroted one of the GOP's favorite, if completely phony, myths. "Republicans will highlight Barrett's belief in sticking to the text of laws and the original meaning of constitutional provisions, both Scalia trademarks," the news service claimed. They may be "trademarks", but that's largely because Republicans have long propagated the myth, and the media, like the Associated Press here, are all too happy to help them spread it. In fact, those claims about Scalia --- and the notion that Republicans give a damn about "sticking to the text of laws and the original meaning of constitutional provisions" --- are lies. And easily proven as such.

None of that, of course, prevented the hypocritical Barrett --- who argued against seating a Justice on the Supreme Court during a Presidential election year, back when it was convenient for her party after Scalia's death in early 2016 --- from associating herself with false claims of "conservative" "originalism" or "textualism" or "Constitutionalism" or "strict constructionism" that Republicans have long enjoyed using to falsely characterize Scalia's so-called judicial philosophy and their own pretend assertions that they oppose "radical extremist judges" that "legislate from the bench", as the late Justice brazenly did himself.

In her opening statement on Monday, Barrett lashed herself to Scalia --- who she once clerked for --- by noting: "it was the content of Justice Scalia’s reasoning that shaped me. His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. ... The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try."

As discussed in some detail on today's program, and as Scalia might have described it himself if you could catch him in a rare moment of truth-telling, that's all a bunch of "jiggery-pokery", "pure applesauce" and "bull-pucky". Scalia's position in 2013, in the SCOTUS case that gutted the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- and his outrageous explanation for it during oral argument --- reveal that Barrett's hero had little concern for the strict, constructionist, originalist wording of either the Constitution or the rule of law, even for an Amendment enacted over 100 years ago and a law adopted 98 to 0 in the U.S. Senate to enforce it, "by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People," as Barrett disingenuously averred in her opening statement. I explained that matter in 2013 and do so again on today's show.

If Barrett is as dishonest and misleading on the high court as she was in her opening remarks, Democrats would have more than enough reason to expand the Court to take back the majority they should have rightfully gained in 2016. In truth, they already do.

Speaking of gutting the Voting Rights Act, that 2013 SCOTUS outrage continues to undermine American democracy today.

Following lines as long as 11 hours to vote in minority-heavy areas of Georgia on its first day of Early Voting Monday, hours-long lines were also seen in urban and suburban parts of Texas today during the Lone Star State's own first day of Early Voting on Tuesday. As in Georgia, those lines were caused, in part, by still-unexplained programming failures on the touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems which Texas Counties like Fort Bend force voters to use when casting their vote at the polls, instead of hand-marked paper ballots.

The only way to cast a hand-marked paper ballots in many Counties in Texas is with a mail-in ballot. But those are seriously restricted in the state, largely allowing only those 65 and older to request them. Even there, however, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has recently made returning absentee ballots in person more difficult by proclaiming last week that Texas counties may have no more than one single drop-off location for voters, whether the county has 4.7 million people (like Houston's Dem-leaning Harris County, which is larger in area than Rhode Island) or right-leaning counties like Rockwall, with a population of 105,000. After a federal court judge last Friday found Abbott's new directive unlawful because it forced absentee voters to travel farther and to more-crowded locations, increasing the risk to populations already especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, a three-judge panel on the hard-right U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that finding. With an Orwellian flair, the panel described Abbott's proclamation as an "expansion" of voting rights. All three judges on the panel were Trump-appointees, packed onto the court by the Republican Senate.

Also today, on the final day of voter registration in Virginia, a fiber optic cable was cut, shutting down online registration entirely in the state. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announced he'd like to make up for the lost hours by extending the state deadline for one of the busiest registration days of the year, but that only a court may do so.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with the fallout from Hurricane Delta in Louisiana in this year's record storm season and the at-times-ridiculous conversation about climate change during last week's Vice-Presidential Debate...

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: My escape from 'Twitter Jail'; GA's vote system fails, causes long lines on first day of early voting; CA GOP's fake mail-in drop boxes...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2020 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A long-awaited ruling in the federal case challenging Georgia's new, unverifiable, already-failed $100+ million touchscreen vote systems --- which failed again on day one of early voting today in the Peach State. Also, my escape from "Twitter Jail" and the California GOP deploys fraudulent mail-in drop-boxes across the state. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start today by avoiding, for now, the first day of the illegitimate confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Instead, we offer some exclusive news that is not being reported elsewhere on two fronts, both related to Georgia's disastrous new voting system. First up, an explanation --- or, a conclusion for now --- to the saga that resulted in my 4 days suspension on Twitter beginning late last week, for the crime of posting a completely accurate tweet about two weeks ago, reporting that GA's Secretary of State informed elections officials in all 159 counties to immediately halt pre-election testing of their new touchscreen voting systems, due to an error that prevented candidates in one of Georgia's two U.S. Senate elections this year from appearing on screen for voters. The error, as I noted in my infamous (and accurate) tweet, would eventually require all new software for the November elections. In fact, as the federal ruling we discuss today reveals, the state installed all new, uncertified software on all 34,000 of the new voting machines just days ago, in violation of state law. You can read the full saga, with links to the federal court filings proving the accuracy of the tweet, and why I eventually relented and deleted it right here.

As Georgia began its first day of early voting on Monday, sure enough, the vote system I was warning about in that tweet failed, leading to six-hour lines to vote in some places. But the long-running federal court case whose emergency filings revealed the serious problem I was tweeting, finally came to a conclusion --- of sorts, at least for now --- late on Sunday night. That is when U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg finally released her long-awaited ruling in the case which challenged the security, accuracy and constitutionality of the state's use of new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems. The Plaintiffs called for them to be replaced by a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots system.

Last year, Totenberg found the state's previous, 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems to be unsecure, unverifiable and, thus, unconstitutional, ordering them banned for all future elections in the state. On Sunday night, in her long-awaited 147-page ruling [PDF] that begins by citing the plot to the movie Groundhog Day, Totenberg once again finds the state's new touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) "presents serious system security vulnerability and operational issues that may place Plaintiffs and other voters at risk of deprivation of their fundamental right to cast an effective vote that is accurately counted." The judge warned "these risks are neither hypothetical nor remote" and slams "the insularity" of the "stance" by the GA Sec. of State and the state's private vendor, Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems, "in evaluation and management of the security and vulnerability of the BMD system [which] does not benefit the public or citizen's confident exercise of the franchise."

After detailing lies, inaccuracies and a lack of knowledge in the testimony of the state's "experts" in the case (no actual cybersecurity experts were presented by them, only employees of the vendors who admitted they had no actual cybsersecurity experience, nor did any penetration tests of the systems before certifying them for use in GA elections!), Judge Totenberg concludes: "The Plaintiffs’ national cybersecurity experts convincingly present evidence that this is not a question of 'might this actually ever happen?' – but 'when it will happen,' especially if further protective measures are not taken. Given the masking nature of malware and the current systems described here, if the State and Dominion simply stand by and say, 'we have never seen it,' the future does not bode well."

For now, that future includes the use of the systems that Totenberg clearly finds so dangerous because, as she explains, it might cause chaos for elections officials if she ordered the use of hand-marked paper ballots at the polling places this close to Election Day.

We're joined once again to discuss the case today by MARILYN MARKS of case plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance, which has been leading this long and important federal court battle now for several years. She has been joining us to discuss it at critical junctures, even while most of the broadcast media has studiously avoided covering it all. Marks offers her reaction to the judge's long-awaited ruling, describes her disappointment in the ultimate order from the judge (for now), while expressing confidence that these systems --- just like the state's previous ones --- will eventually be barred by this judge for use for the very same reasons that she ordered the state's old ones to finally be trashed.

"What we see here is these systems are put together in a slipshod fashion, without security being an important priority at all to these companies," Marks tells me. "These voting system vendors will say anything, and unfortunately many of our election officials who are purchasing these systems will repeat and parrot whatever those words are. You begin to wonder what is it that drives these elections officials, like Secretary [of State Brad] Raffensberger in Georgia, to buy the most expensive and least-auditable equipment."

Noting that unverifiable BMD systems similar to the ones now being forced on voters for the first time at the polls in other critical battlegrounds --- such as Philadelphia, the most Democratic-leaning county in North Carolina, all of South Carolina, as well as key counties in Texas and Ohio, not to mention the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County --- Marks decries the damage to democracy being done in all of those locations, while still being hopeful for the future.

"If there's good news in the judge's denial of relief for November, she did write a very solid yet scathing opinion, and explained in detail why these systems are not secure," she explains. "I'm hopeful that her opinion can spread across --- certainly Los Angeles, and all the counties that are using these systems in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and even my home county of Mecklenberg, North Carolina --- and shake up some of these election officials. But maybe, most importantly, some of these candidates. That is such a shame that we don't have the parties and we don't have the candidates demanding a fair system."

Marks adds: "We're confident we'll win the case. We've proven our point. We've proven that they're unconstitutional. We've proven that they're insecure. We've proven that people shouldn't be permitted to vote on them. The only piece that's missing is, how long does it take? How long does it take for jurisdictions to be prepared to do something simple, like hand out hand-marked paper ballots? Given how important this election is, it is a real shame that we have to put up with these machines in November."

Finally, we close with the news that Republicans in California --- after Trump and his GOP have been suing to do away with mail-in drop-boxes all over the country --- are actually deploying fake ones up and down the Golden State, in apparent violation of the law, according to California's Secretary of State...

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Brad is an independent investigative
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VelvetRevolution.us co-founder,
expert on issues of election integrity,
and a Commonweal Institute Fellow.

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