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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Election Reform on NY Ballot, Election Reformers Divided: 'BradCast' 10/27/21
Guests: Dr. Virginia Martin, former Columbia County, NY Election Comissioner; Allegra Dengler of Citizens for Voting Integrity NY; Also: Taxing billionaires...
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...


Trump lawyers sanctioned, will face disbarment probes; Capitol officers sue Trump; Terror suspect sentenced in MI Guv kidnap plot; House files massive 1/6 records requests; TX AG Paxton clears TX AG Paxton; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2021 6:57pm PT  

Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. We really must stop describing his efforts and those by his supporters as "questioning the results" or "claiming fraud" or "trying to overturn the election." The fact is, Trump tried to steal it. He used every means at his disposal to try and do so. Thankfully, he is largely a failure at pretty much everything, so it didn't work, though we now know it came exceedingly close. So, let's start calling it for what it is: An unprecedented attempted by a President of the United States to try and steal a Presidential election. To that end, accountability is now happening. Slowly but quite assuredly, along with a number of other related accountability stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Some of the breaking news on today's terror attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, which killed at least 13 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans and seriously injured many more. ISIS-K, an off-shoot of the Islamic State and an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack by two suicide bombers. If anything, Thursday's tragedy amidst the largest airlift in U.S. history --- following the swift takeover of the country by the Taliban --- simply serves to underscore even further why the U.S. pullout must continue, and why we certainly shouldn't have been there for 20 years (if at all);
  • In much less horrific news, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its 2020 post-election survey [PDF] of various voting and election-related data from all 50 states last year. While The Guardian's Sam Levine characterizes the report as proving the election was "a remarkable success", we explain why that may be a bit of an overstatement. That said, the data does reveal yet again that, while there were far too many rejections of absentee and mail-in ballots (as is always the case, but especially amid pandemic voting last year), there is still no evidence at all to even suggest that the Presidential election was stolen in any way, shape or form by Joe Biden, the Democrats or anyone else. Not that Donald Trump didn't try (and fail) to do exactly that, of course;
  • In much brighter related news, a federal judge in Michigan on Wednesday brought some serious accountability down on nine of the Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, who both helped Trump try to steal the 2020 election by filing fraudulent lawsuits, in this case in Michigan, fraudulently claiming that the election was stolen, using fraudulent claims about fraud. All nine lawyers were excoriated by U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker's scathing 110-page order [PDF], which should (hopefully) end each of the attorneys' careers as officers of the court. Parker mandated the Trump lawyers pay attorneys fees accrued by the city of Detroit and state of Michigan in defending against the "frivolous" so-called "Kraken" lawsuit; take 12 hours of legal classes each (including 6 on Election Law); and, most importantly, face investigations for possible suspension and/or disbarment by legal authorities in each of their home states;
  • More accountability for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, specifically for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that he incited as part of that effort. Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Trump, several far-right extremist groups charged with aiding the deadly plot, and even against Trump associates like Roger Stone. It is, as the New York Times describes it, "the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable." Trump is already facing two other similar lawsuits filed by the NAACP and by Rep. Eric Swalwell. But, no doubt, the disgraced former President and his supporters will see this new complaint differently, because it is filed by police officers and, as you know, Republicans always "back the blue", right?;
  • That lawsuit follows just one day after the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack issued a massive series of records requests to at least 8 different federal agencies for documents related to Trump's movements, actions and meetings on January 6th, and in the weeks and months both before and after. The requests were sent to, among others, the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and National Archives, where Presidential White House records are stored. Trump is apparently livid about the effort, describing it as a "partisan exercise" being carried out by a "Leftist" House Committee. (That may come as a surprise to "Leftist" Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger);
  • In still more accountability news today, tangentially related to Trump's attempt to steal last year's election in Michigan: The sentence for the first domestic terrorist, among some 13 charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, was handed down on Wednesday. A 25-year old man who, according to Justice Department prosecutors, cooperated with the investigation after initially pleading not guilty, changed his plea and was sentenced to more than 6 years in prison on charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. The failed conspiracy, according to the FBI and Whitmer, sprang from Trump's attempt to vilify the Governor for her science-based handling of the COVID pandemic, in a year in which Trump was willing to say and do anything to win the important battleground state. (He lost it by 150,000 votes instead);
  • In accountability news only spiritually related to Trump, a federal appeals court declined to overturn the sentence of the man who killed nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. The now-27-year old avowed white supremacist is the first person charged with a death sentence for committing a federal hate crime. While accountability is great, a life sentence would have been sufficient. Killing people is bad, as some of us learned even before Kindergarten. Apparently, the U.S. Government has yet to do so;
  • Only politically related to Trump, the Republican state Attorney General in South Dakota, Jason Ravnsborg, who fatally struck a pedestrian last year and left him to die, decided to take a plea deal rather than begin his trial today. Nonetheless, as of airtime, despite the hit and run fatality, Ravnsborg was still in office as the state's top law enforcement official;
  • And, in related corrupt Republican state Attorney General news, definitely politically related to Trump, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also still in office. That, despite being charged with multiple felonies for securities fraud some time ago (and, so far, evading trial on those years-old, but still-pending indictments); facing potential disbarment by the State Bar of Texas for his attempt to help Trump steal the election with a bogus, fraudulent, rejected lawsuit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to try and overturn results in four non-Texas states; and under investigation by the FBI after 7 top staffers in his office quit and filed a legal complaint detailing how AG Paxton was involved in a serious bribery and abuse of power scheme involving protection for one of his top donors and a scheme that involved having the man give a job to his mistress. Well, on that federal investigation, AG Paxton had some good news this week! In an unsigned 374-page report [PDF] published by AG Paxton's office on AG Paxton's letterhead, AG Paxton's own internal investigation found that "AG Paxton’s actions were lawful" and that "AG Paxton committed no crime". Phew! That was close! I'm sure the FBI is calling off their probe, even as we speak.
  • Finally, as a late brewing potential major hurricane (Ida) spins toward the Gulf Coast for possible landfall over the weekend, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with a suspiciously inordinate amount of encouraging news. But don't worry, there are a few items of the usual catastrophic nature GNR is known for as well. We'd hate to leave anyone disappointed...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Election security expert Susan Greenhalgh of plaintiff Free Speech for People; Also: Senate Dems announce deal for 'transformative' $3.5 trillion health care, climate, infrastructure package...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2021 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Senate Dems strike a very big deal and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission gets sued again, this time for rolling back voting system standards after secret, unlawful meetings with the manufacturers they are supposed to be regulating. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, in what is being reported as potentially "transformative" legislation for the country, Senate Democrats on Tuesday night announced they had come to an agreement on a deal that would invest $3.5 trillion into the expansion of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, child care and a host of other "human infrastructure" priorities, while also addressing climate change with a broad array of clean energy incentives. The blueprint for the agreement still lacks specific legislative language, but was struck after weeks of work in the Senate Budget Committee chaired by Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Democratic Committee members, such as centrist Mark Warner of Virginia, are also said to be on board with the package, which would be paid for by increased taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year and on large corporations. If all Senate Dems agree to the final bill and no more than 4 Democrats defect in the House, the measure could be adopted under Senate Reconciliation rules with a simple majority vote without the need for any Republicans.

Passage of that package, along with adoption of the smaller bipartisan nearly $600 billion proposal recently hashed out among moderate Senators on more traditional infrastructure spending, such as for roads and bridges, would amount to a massive victory for Democrats (presuming Republicans do not renege on their part of the agreement) and, more importantly, for jobs, families the climate and the American people as a whole. It would be the largest such spending package since the New Deal. We walk through some of the reported details of the new reconciliation package and what it may mean for Americans before the 2022 mid-term elections.

And, speaking of elections, earlier this year we reported on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s secret and unlawful meetings last year with voting system vendors, as discovered by SUSAN GREENHALGH, longtime election integrity advocate and Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-partisan government watchdog group, Free Speech for People (FSFP). As she revealed at the time, the EAC's meetings, even with vendors, are all supposed to be public, according to the federal Help American Vote Act (HAVA). Her group was forced to sue to make the EAC cough up emails and other records detailing the secret vendor meetings. Most disturbingly, the EAC's Commissioners made alarming changes to newly drafted voting system certification guidelines just after those meetings.

The EAC is the federal agency responsible for creating certification guidelines for the nation's voting and tabulation systems. After a painstaking 5-year process in public consultation with technical advisors and other experts, the final draft of the much-needed and long-awaited Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0 was released last year. It included, among other important elements, a ban on wireless modems in voting and tabulation systems. Cybersecurity experts applauded the provision, after long warning of the dangers of such devices in systems that register, record and tabulate the nation's votes.

After the EAC's secret meetings with voting system vendors last year, however, the agency weakened the new guidelines --- removing, for instance, the ban against wireless modems --- and revealed an amended, watered-down version just days before Commissioners voted for final approval of the new standards. Experts were stunned. Now Greenhalgh's FSFP is suing the EAC again, along with co-plaintiff Philip Stark, an elections expert from UC-Berkeley and a member of the EAC's own Board of Advisors (as well as a recent guest on this program). The complaint [PDF] calls for the EAC to roll back the last minute changes made to the guidelines after they secretly met with the voting system manufacturers.

Greenhalgh joins us to explain all of this latest madness, what it could mean for election security, why the EAC made these changes and continue to roll over for the vendors they are supposed to be regulating, and to discuss the perils of the woeful EAC's under-handed changes at a time when cyberattacks are on the rise and confidence in election results (justifiably or not) is plummeting.

"Rather than being an independent source of information regarding voting systems, the EAC is going to the vendors to ask them the questions and understand how the systems work. And, of course, the vendors aren't going to say, 'Yeah, this is highly insecure, we shouldn't be doing this,'" Greenhalgh explains.

"It's mind blowing to me," Greenhalgh tells me, when I ask if the EAC Commissioners fully understand the security risks involved in allowing the modems that vendors want in their systems (for reasons she also explains.) "You would think they'd want to err on the side of caution, they would want to err on the side of security. And if there was a good reason to allow this, then why not have this process out in the open where they can make the case to the public as to why 'we think this is a secure way to go.'? Instead they did the whole thing behind closed doors, in a super shady manner. Doesn't engender a lot of confidence." 

Finally today, in addition to the Dems' massive new infrastructure proposal announced on Tuesday night, Senate Democrats also unveiled a long-overdue, landmark proposal to finally legalize cannabis at the federal level. That bill, however, will require some Republicans to come aboard for passage, so we'll see how it goes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Susan Greenhalgh, Senior Election Security Advisor at Free Speech for People; Also: Officer killed in new U.S. Capitol attack; MLB pulls All-Star game out of GA; Boehner's message for Cruz...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2021 7:37pm PT  

We've got another sorry tale on today's BradCast of yet another federal "watchdog" agency clearly captured by the industry corporations that it is supposed to be overseeing and/or regulating. This time, democracy itself is at stake. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, we had quite a bit of breaking news just before airtime. For a start, the U.S. Capitol was locked down on Friday after two Capitol Police officers were rammed in a violent attack with a vehicle. One of the officers, an 18-year veteran, was killed. The other was said to be "fighting for his life" as of airtime. After ramming the officer, the assailant is said to have "lunged" at officers with a knife and was subsequently shot and killed. The assault was the most serious threat on the Capitol since the Donald Trump-incited insurrection on January 6th, which killed five, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer. Two more officers took their lives in the ensuing days after that attack by Trump supporters attempting to stop Congressional ratification of Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory.

That attack --- and Trump's evidence-free Big Lie about his loss being the result of "fraud" --- continues to reverberate almost three months since the MAGA Mob's assault on U.S. democracy. Last week, Georgia's Republican-dominated state legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that will make it more difficult to vote by, among other things, requiring additional forms of ID for mail voting, limiting absentee ballot drop-boxes and early voting hours, and banning the distribution of food or beverages to voters forced to wait hours on line. It would also allow partisan GOP officials to undermine County Boards of Election and even overturn results. The state's Governor, Brian Kemp (R), signed the sweeping bill almost immediately after it passed both chambers of the state legislature in a matter of hours.

This week, after some 70 Black corporate executives spoke out against the transparent attempt to making voting more difficult for minorities in the state, a cascade of other corporate entities --- including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, both based in Atlanta --- finally decided to speak out in favor of democracy and against voter suppression. And then, on Friday, shortly before today's show, Major League Baseball announced they will be moving the All-Star Game and MLB Draft, previously set for July in Atlanta, to another state in response to the GOP attack on voting.

And, as Georgia Republicans pushed back on Delta Airlines this week for belatedly standing up for the right to vote, Gov. Kemp took his shot at the company by accusing its CEO of "false attacks" by claiming misleadingly in a statement: "The last time I flew Delta I had to show my ID."

But Kemp, the state's former Sec. of State, certainly knows that flying is a privilege, where voting is a right. He also likely knows that, no, an ID is not required to fly on Delta or any other airline. As clearly explained on the TSA.gov website...

In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification...you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed [to fly].

In the meantime, as to real --- versus imagined or opportunistic and partisan --- threats of fraud in our elections, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the federal agency tasked with overseeing voting system security standards, is continuing the woeful job it has done since its creation by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Since its inception, as we have documented at The BRAD BLOG for almost 20 years, the EAC has largely been captured by the private voting system vendors whose systems they are supposed to be testing, overseeing, regulating and certifying as meeting minimal standards.

For years, the EAC has consistently helped mislead the public regarding the dangers of modems inside of computer voting and tabulation systems. The EAC's original Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), created about 15 years ago, allowed for use of the devices which cybersecurity experts have long warned can be used to introduce malware into systems that could disrupt elections or change results.

In August of 2019, as we detailed on the program at the time with cybsersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, a group of security and voting systems experts discovered "nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states" such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida. In January of 2020, almost six months after Zetter's exclusive and disturbing report, Cynthia McFadden followed up with her own report at NBC News, in which, despite federal officials repeatedly and falsely declaring that "U.S. voting systems are never connected to the Internet," the President of the nation's largest vendor, Elections Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), conceded that at least 14,000 of the company's modems were being used in vulnerable voting and tabulation systems across the country, even as the 2020 election cycle was getting under way.

Nonetheless, over the last five years, the EAC has been working with stakeholders --- from elections officials to cybersecurity experts to vendors --- to develop new minimum security standards for the nation's voting systems, which they call VVSG 2.0. The good news is that the draft of those final standards for the VVSG 2.0, made available for public comment last Summer, included a ban on modems and other wireless communications devices in computerized voting and tabulation systems.

The bad news: After the public comment period and before the new standards were officially adopted by the EAC Commissioners, they apparently met in secret with several vendors and quietly changed the new standards to once again allow for modems and other wireless communications devices in new voting systems.

After the standards changed and weakened without public notice, the non-partisan government watchdog, Free Speech for People (FSFP), filed public records requests for documentation of the non-public meetings between EAC officials and the voting machine companies. Despite acknowledging hundreds of pages of existing documents responsive to the request, according to our guest today, the EAC failed to turn over any of it to the group. Now, FSFP is suing the EAC for those documents.

We're joined today by longtime election integrity advocate SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at FSFP, to explain the organization's lawsuit [PDF], and the latest, extraordinary failure to protect our elections by the corporate-captured EAC.

"We have a real lack of leadership from the federal agency that's supposed to be helping assist election officials run election more efficiently, securely, accessibly and transparently at the EAC," Greenhalgh explains, charging "they're letting the vendors help weaken the standards directly."

"The EAC is way, way too deferential to the vendors," she says. "They need to either do the right thing and do their job, or they need get out of the lane and come up with some other way. Because there's an expectation by members of Congress that this is being taken care of, that the EAC is doing their job, they're developing the standards, they're testing voting systems. Unless you scratch the surface and find out what's really going on, you might think on the outside that they're doing their job, and they're not. They're taking up that space, and that makes us all less safe and secure in our elections."

There is, as you might guess, much more that Greenhalgh has to explain about this ongoing mess and FSFP's legal efforts to crack open the EAC blockade.

Finally, we close today with a rather hilarious audio message from former, George W. Bush-era Republican House Speaker John Boehner, to Texas' Trumpy, conspiracy-loving U.S. Senator Ted Cruz...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn on newly discovered ES&S, EAC failures; Also: Biden endorses filibuster reform...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2021 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While Team Trump spent months pretending the Dominion Voting Systems company stole votes from Trump and flipped them to Biden with their computerized voting and tabulation systems, there is exactly zero independently verifiable evidence to support that baseless conclusion. At the same time, however, recently unearthed documents from the state of Texas and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reveal a gaping security hole in new systems made by the largest voting system company in the nation, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (better known as ES&S), which has systems deployed in dozens of states. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, some annoying (if long overdue) news that Donald Trump finally made it clear(ish), during a Tuesday interview on Fox "News", that he recommends his own supporters should, indeed, get vaccinated against COVID. He cites the "great" and "safe" vaccines that are now available, describing them as "something that works" to prevent the deadly disease. We hope his supporters listen, since they are currently the most disinclined to want to get vaccinated.

Next, some long overdue encouraging news on the Senate legislative filibuster. In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden --- a longtime Senate institutionalist previously opposed to filibuster reform --- said he now favors it being overhauled. He says he supports a modification to bring back the "talking filibuster", where obstructionists are forced to hold the floor and keep speaking until they can't anymore. That would place the onus on the minority hoping to block legislation, rather than forcing Democrats, in this case, to try and find 60 votes to pass anything at all. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem unilaterally killing the filibuster entirely to steal and pack Trump nominees onto the U.S. Supreme Court, now vows to grind the Senate to a halt if Dems dare change the legislative filibuster. But, of course, McConnell has already done that with his unprecedented use of the legislative filibuster to block everything! We discuss.

Then, on to our main story today. Shortly after the November election last year, Donald Trump and his gaggle of dopey friends and clueless, corrupt attorneys hatched an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems had participated in an elaborate plot to secretly flip votes and steal the election for Biden. (The theory was based in part on my accurate, deep-dive exclusive investigative reporting from 2010, regarding some voting system vendors --- though not Dominion --- who then had ties to Venezuela and its then living President, Hugo Chavez. Team Trump bastardized that reporting to pretend it had something to do with their dumb theory that Dominion stole the 2020 election from Trump.) Dominion has since sued Team Trumpers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation, slapping them with suits for $1.3 billion each. Last week, news out of Stark County, Ohio and out of Louisiana proved that Dominion is, in fact, being financially harmed by the fraudulent "fraud" plot used to try and discredit them.

But the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S --- with a years-long, thuggish reputation according to elections insiders, along with a long history of failed elections on their crappy, computerized voting and tabulation systems --- largely escaped scrutiny by Republicans after last November's election. But they shouldn't have, given the disturbing, well-supported, deep-dive exclusive that election integrity advocate and Twitter phenom JENNIFER COHN broke last week at Who, What, Why. She joins us today to explain both her well-sourced report and its far-reaching ramifications.

As it turns out, she reports, there is a flaw in ES&S' installation process that prevents "hash-verification" when software is installed or patched onto their ExpressVote touchscreen voting systems. What that means, in layman's terms, is that its impossible to know if the software installed onto the systems actually matches the certified version of the software that was tested by federal testing authorities under the purview of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

This gaping hole --- discovered by the state of Texas in advance of last November's election --- means that untested, modified software, perhaps containing malware, could potentially have been installed onto ES&S' systems in more than a dozen states last year. Even more maddening is that ES&S was well aware of this flaw, but told elections officials (if they happened to notice the failed hash test) that it was nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, everything is fine --- just trust us.

"The strong implication from the documents which were produced is that [ES&S was] telling them that a mismatch should just be treated as a match," Cohn tells me. "That blanket instruction really concerned the Texas examiners when they found out this was happening."

More maddening still, as Cohn reports, is that ES&S forces jurisdictions to allow their own employees or contractors to do these installations, rather than allowing jurisdictions to do so themselves, which might allow local or state officials to do their own hash-verification (or "acceptance testing", as it is known by some in the industry). Some jurisdictions that refuse to allow ES&S to do the installation will have their warrantees void by the company. As one former voting system employee tweeted in response to all of this, it is "like buying a new home and before the closing the seller says, 'You don't need a final walk-through. Just trust me."

"Normally, the customer is supposed to do it. The whole point of it is to make sure that the vendor is being honest and they're not giving malicious vote-flipping software. So to have the vendor do the hash testing themselves defeats the whole point," Cohn explains. "One of the examiners called it 'the fox guarding the henhouse', and said it was ES&S self-certifying their systems. Even the attorneys for the Texas Secretary of state were appalled."

Cohn's reporting at Who, What, Why is based on a passel of documents obtained via public records requests that reveal, for example, a troubled Texas election examiner complaining via email to their Secretary of State's attorney that this security flaw is "a gift wrapped opportunity to an insider threat," before going on to add: "It’s similar to a bank robber knowing that the camera covering teller #3 is broken."

In addition to Texas, ES&S systems used last year in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming may all have been similarly vulnerable to running modified, vulnerable and uncertified software during the election, as Cohn details in her report, explaining today that it could be as many as 35 states.

And, as if all of that is not yet maddening enough, she also reports on the disturbing reaction from the EAC to this gaping security hole. The federal agency which is supposed to oversee voting system certification, apparently knew about this issue prior to the election, but failed to inform the public and quietly helped patch it all over for ES&S before, essentially, lying about it all once Cohn started asking questions in February. The EAC, as we have reported at The BRAD BLOG for years, has a long and troubling history of protecting private voting system vendors rather than the voters they are supposed to be watching out for.

When the EAC learned about it, Cohn says, they were "in kind of a panic, I think, because if it had leaked out, they couldn't honestly say they knew what had been installed in those states was what it was supposed to be."

So, is any of this related to why Team Trump focused their phony, evidence-free complaints almost exclusively on Dominion, while ignoring well-documented problems with ES&S almost entirely? We discuss that and much more with Cohn on today's --- yes --- maddening BradCast, where she also notes that, despite Texas officials being as troubled as they were by all of this, "I don't think that anybody ever said, 'Why don't we use pens? They don't require hash testing.'"...

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Special Coverage of Day One; Also: U.S. Election Assistance Commission leaders quietly override cybersecurity experts to allow modems in new voting system standards...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2021 7:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast Special Coverage: There have only been three Presidents during the 243-year history of the United States who have been Impeached, for a total of four Presidential impeachments. Donald Trump has been impeached twice. He alone makes up a full half of all of the Presidential Impeachments in the history of our nation. That will be a scar and mark of shame that will never be removed from his pathetic legacy, no matter what happens in his historic second Impeachment Trial in the US Senate, which began in earnest today....sort of. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

Democratic House Impeachment Managers on Tuesday were forced to make the case for the Constitutionality of holding an Impeachment Trial for a President who is already out of office. Frankly, it's a ridiculous case to have to make, as we discussed on yesterday's show and again today. Of course an impeached, former official can be tried by the U.S. Senate after leaving office. It's been done several times in our nation's history, and legal scholars from both the Right and Left have argued as much in recent days in response to the disingenuous case made against it by Trump's defense attorneys and his sycophantic Republican supporters in the Senate.

Nonetheless, lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD) opened the argument on this point on Tuesday, with a compelling narrative that there is no "January Exception" to the Constitution's impeachment clause. If there was, he argued, Presidents leaving office would have impunity to cause any amount of mayhem during their final weeks in office. Raskin's presentation began with a stunning, riveting and chilling video juxtaposing Trump's January 6th rally comments to his supporters at the White House, instructing them to "fight like hell" before directing them to the U.S. Capitol, along with previously unseen video clips of his supporters subsequent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The montage showed Congress being interrupted by the violent insurrectionists, with lawmakers sent scurrying for their lives during the Joint Session to certify the 2020 Electoral College results from last November's Presidential Election victory by Joe Biden...

Raskin's presentation was followed with ones from Managers Joe Neguse (CO) and David Cicilline (RI) who offered historical, Constitutional and legal background in support of their case, before Raskin returned to close the argument with a heartbreaking personal tale of his --- and his family's --- experience during the January 6th attack at the Capitol. We share extended excerpts from his presentation and video.

Next, Trump's team of defense attorneys offered their own case, beginning with a rambling, disjointed, confusing, often political case by lead defense attorney Bruce Castor (famous for having refused to charge Bill Cosby while a prosecutor in Pennsylvania), before an angry, confusing, and even-more-political and partisan case was made by attorney David Schoen (who had previously represented convicted felon and Trump pal Roger Stone, and was set to defend convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein before he committed suicide in prison.)

Castor made no case at all about the Constitutionality of the proceedings, and even appeared to threaten at least one Republican Senator before arguing that a trial to determine if Trump should be allowed to hold future office was not necessary, since "smart" voters had already done a very good job of voting Trump out of office by themselves. (Begging the question of whether Castor will be allowed by Trump to return tomorrow!) Schoen eventually seemed to make a case against the Constitutionality of the trial, but his argument was so quickly read, and included so many arcane Constitutional and historical references, it was virtually impossible to follow or make sense of.

No worries, however. His case --- any case at all, apparently --- was good enough to win the votes of 44 Republicans Senators when the resolution to dismiss the trial was ultimately defeated at the end of the day by a 56-44 vote. All Democrats and six Republicans (Collins, Cassidy, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse and Toomey) voted to allow the trial to proceed. Opening arguments for the actual substance of the article of impeachment for "Incitement of Insurrection" begin on Wednesday.

Finally, in our closing few minutes today, we switch gears (mostly) for a quick report on two disturbing, and somewhat related developments. The first story regards an apparent hacker or intruder who was able to use remote access software several days ago, to dangerously increase sodium hydroxide (sometimes known as lye) levels at a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida, near Tampa. Luckily the incident was noticed --- live, as it was happening --- by an alert operator at the plant who saw the manipulation on his monitor before drinking water was actually poisoned.

And, in somewhat related news, we learned over the weekend that top officials at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) --- the federal agency responsible for certifying computer voting and tabulation systems --- quietly changed a provision in new security standards for voting systems to allow wireless modems and chips in such systems. The change comes after years of work on the new draft standards by cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged against allowing remote access hardware, which can be used to hack election results, in such systems.

Whether they are used to manipulate results or not obviously makes no difference to those who are concerned that results might have been changed by hackers, as today's Impeachment Trial should, once again, underscore.

We hope to have more information in the future on this, but the newly modified standards --- known as the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) --- are now much more friendly to private voting system vendors (and hackers) and are set to be approved by the Commission tomorrow (Wednesday). The EAC has long been captured by private voting system vendors, and appears to be doing their bidding once again.

The Election Integrity advocates at Free Speech for People have set up a petition that they are asking voters to sign in hopes of encouraging EAC leadership to return to the safer, modem-free standards before they are officially adopted and used by many states across the country...

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Also upholds legislative presumption that mail-in ballots received by 11/5, two days after Election Day, were timely mailed, even without a postmark...
UPDATE 10/23/20: In a subsequent order, the court dismissed the Trump campaign's complaint...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/12/2020 9:35am PT  

By way of a 31-page Memorandum Opinion this past week, U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp rejected the Trump Campaign's effort to challenge the legality of a recently enacted New Jersey statute that permits Garden State election officials to begin "canvassing" mail-in ballots ten days prior to the November 3 Presidential Election Day.

As defined by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a "canvass" is a "compilation of election returns and validation of the outcome that forms the basis of the official results".

NJ's COVID-driven election law in question, AB 4475, was enacted last August by the New Jersey state legislature and promptly signed into law by the Garden State's Democratic Governor Phil Murphy. The statute contains a number of provisions designed to facilitate an efficiently-run, mostly mail-in ballot Presidential Election. These include a directive that election officials, 29 days prior to the election, send mail-in ballots to every registered voter. The statute also includes a requirement that election officials provide secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in every county.

Existing NJ law mandates that the State's election officials certify the Nov. 3 election results by Nov. 20. The results must then be submitted to the NJ Secretary of State by Nov. 24.

AB 4475 streamlined the procedures for tallying the expected heavy influx of mail-in ballots by permitting election officials to begin processing and canvassing mail-in ballots ten days prior to Election Day. The new law, however, prohibits Garden State election officials from running a tabulation report or revealing any results before the polls close on Nov. 3.

Contending that the NJ statute was preempted by federal Election Day law, the Trump Campaign sought a preliminary injunction that would prevent NJ officials from canvassing mail-in ballots before Nov. 3. The Campaign also contested a section of AB 4475 establishing that "every ballot without a postmark...received by the county boards of elections from the [U.S. Postal Service] within 48 hours of the closing of the polls, shall be considered valid and shall be canvassed, assuming the ballot meets all other statutory requirements."

The court rejected the Trump Campaign's legal arguments and denied Trump's motion for a preliminary injunction.

The Trump Campaign did not respond to a Fox "News" inquiry as to whether it intended to appeal the decision. The President's "favorite propaganda network" described the decision as "a significant ruling for the state that will keep the current rules in place, barring a swift and successful appeal from the Trump campaign"...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Hurricane Sally drenches AL, FL; Results from 2020's final primary in DE...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2020 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last year, a federal judge in Georgia banned the state's 20-year old, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, finding them to be "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated" and, thus, effectively unconstitutional for use in federal elections. This week, that same federal judge held a hearing to determine whether the new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems Georgia has chosen to use this year for the first time are any better, or whether the Peach State should have listened to the cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged the state to move, instead, to a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, Hurricane Sally slammed ashore near the Alabama / Florida border this morning. As predicted, the very slow moving storm is packing a punch, with rainfall "measured in feet, not inches swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people as it pushed inland." Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on that slow moving disaster as water is quickly rising, rescues continue, the storm moves into Georgia, and as more hurricanes are already lining up behind it in an already record breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which still continues until late November!)

Even as that climate change-intensified disaster unfolds on the heels of Hurricane Laura just three weeks ago (with thousands still without power and in shelters in Louisiana), along with the record deadly climate-fueled wildfires out west, Donald Trump has chosen --- amid all of this --- a notorious climate science denier for a top position on "environmental observation and prediction" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If those stories don't underscore the existential importance of this year's elections, we don't know what would.

On that score, the final state Primary Elections of the 2020 season were held on Tuesday in Joe Biden's adopted home state of Delaware, with most ballots cast by mail, and with both masks and social distancing in place at the polls. Happily, there have been no reported voting problems to come to my attention yet and, as expected, there were few surprises in the reported computer-tallied results. Some of them, however, are either eyebrow raising, historic, or just plain fun. Among those categories is the QAnon conspiracist who is now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state; the first openly transgender person to (almost certainly) win a seat in a state Senate; and the 12-year, Democratic state legislator who opposed same-sex marriage being beaten soundly on Tuesday --- in a landslide --- by a local, gay, progressive drag queen!

And with the primaries finally (and thankfully!) out of the way, we move straight to the general elections and back to Georgia, which Democrats hope to flip from red to blue in the Presidential election this year for the first time in decades. But it's also a state where not one, but two vulnerable Republican U.S. Senators are facing tough re-election challenges from Democrats.

There is a lot riding politically on the state of Georgia this year, which makes this week's much-anticipated three-day virtual hearing in an Atlanta federal court all the more critical. When the second day of the three-day hearing which wrapped up this week, regarding the security of the state's vulnerable new computer voting, pollbook and tabulation systems was interrupted --- "Zoom bombed" --- with photos of the 9/11 attacks, swastikas and pornography posted by a user calling him or herself "Osama", it would have been impossible for U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg to miss the irony.

"It was a very sobering reminder of just how vulnerable electronics are, and just how targeted the United States and our elections are right now," says MARILYN MARKS, our guest today. She is Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, a lead plaintiff in the long-running case. She says it served as a reminder of the need to "get hand-marked paper ballots that are verifiable and auditable."

The Coalition is suing for a ruling that would find Georgia's new, unverifiable, $100+ million touchscreen voting system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting Systems to be an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. That would be a similar finding to the one Totenberg issued last year, effectively banning and decertifying the state's 20-year use of its previous insecure, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold.

In addition to hoping to see those systems replaced with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, the Coalition is asking the judge to order backup paper pollbooks at every polling place, after the new electronic pollbook systems failed during the state's June primary elections, leading to hours-long lines, largely in minority voting districts. The plaintiffs are also calling for oversight of the state's optical-scan tabulation systems which failed to tally thousands of votes on absentee ballots during the state's recent primaries. (We interviewed Jeanne DuFort, who discovered that problem, and is also a plaintiff in this case on several recent programs.)

Marks shares her observations from this week's hearings, including on the testimony and cross-examination of the Coalition's cybersecurity and voting systems expert witnesses (many of whom have also appeared multiple times on this show, including Univ. of Michigan's Alex Halderman, UC-Berkley's Philip Stark, expert data researcher Kevin Skoglund and legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti). Similarly, Marks offers her thoughts on the state's, um, less-than-expert witnesses and responds to a number of allegations made by the attorney representing Georgia and its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, who selected this new, "Rube Goldberg" computerized voting system despite the urging of experts and voters alike.

Among the stunning points noted by Marks was the testimony from the man who led the certification testing of this system for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Marks reports the witness seemed "quite confused about the technology" and "admitted to having no real security background and not really any long-term established security people on his team." She says his testimony "made it clear that security is really not a top priority for the certification of voting systems" at the federal level, adding, "It was really kind of unbelievable."

While transcripts may be available from the hearing soon (we'll update with a link to them here when they are), Marks noted some portions will be redacted, since the state argued privately in front of the judge on certain issues that even the plaintiffs were not allowed to witness. (Though I wonder whether "Osama" did?)

"The public learned a lot from these expert witnesses about just how seriously vulnerable the Georgia election system is," she tells me. "The expert witnesses gave extremely compelling testimony during the direct examination by our attorneys. But when the state's attorneys got them up on the stand for cross-examination, they were equally strong. Quite frankly, the state was really not able to get in any type of evidence --- because there is none --- that would help get anyone comfortable with their equipment."

When it came to the witnesses from the state and the voting system vendors, she says, her attorneys explained to the court that those "experts have not been able to tell the court just the basic fundamental operational and security details --- the plaintiffs have been the ones who bring all the information. The state basically had no one with any independence. Every expert witness they had had a financial interest in ballot-marking devices. Two of the expert witnesses are [voting system] vendors, three of the expert witnesses are vendors of ballot-marking device suppliers. So they were hardly considered independent, at least by the laymen who were watching."

While Marks says she does not know when Totenberg will issue her ruling, it is likely to be soon. Reports from the virtual courtroom via AP suggest Judge Totenberg appeared concerned by points made by the plaintiffs and may be forced to implement changes --- if she determines there is time to do so with Early Voting beginning in just four weeks in the Peach State. Marks believes there is plenty of time to make the state's elections more secure and overseeable, though the state begs to differ. Soon we'll learn how the Judge feels.

During closing arguments, according to AP's coverage, Robert McGuire, an attorney for the Coalition and individual voter plaintiffs, "recalled Totenberg's prior admonitions to the state" by noting that "Totenberg previously told the state that a new voting system should address the need for 'transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes that guarantee each citizen's fundamental right to cast an accountable vote.'" But the state's new computerized Ballot Marking Device system "satisfies none of these requirements," McGuire said...

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter on her jaw-dropping new exclusive finding battleground election systems vulnerable on the Internet despite claims to the contrary by elections officials, private vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections officials seem to be panicking around the country, and for good reason. But their concerns may be coming a bit late...perhaps a decade or so too late, as virtually every aspect of our "public" elections in the U.S. --- from ballot programming to registration to voting to vote tabulation to election results reporting --- has now been allowed to have become largely taken over by private vendors and contractors, with little or no oversight from either state or federal officials. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at end of article.]

An exclusive analysis last month by AP found that virtually all voting systems currently in use in the nation's 10,000 separate voting jurisdictions in all 50 states run on software --- Windows 7 or earlier --- that will no longer be supported by Microsoft with regular security updates and patches as of January. That includes systems certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) from the nation's largest private elections vendors as recently as this year. Those newly certified systems still use Windows 7, which was released a decade ago in 2009.

Of course, the EAC's certification process --- for the few states which choose to follow federal voluntary (yes, voluntary) guidelines --- has been laughable for years. It focuses on usability and functionality, not security. Most systems in the U.S., if they are EAC certified at all, were tested to guidelines published by the EAC in 2005.

At a summit this week of elections officials and vendors, hastily convened by the EAC in Maryland in response to the disturbing AP analysis, officials complained about the lack of federal support and standards, and that financially strapped and technologically challenged elections divisions at both the state and local level are realizing only now that they are being asked "to take part in what is national security" with little or no help from the federal government. One official at the EAC confab reportedly complained: "We are talking about local communities having trouble funding roads and water bills, and now we want them to take part in defense against foreign and state actors."

Of course, it is not only nation-states like Russia that pose a threat to the security of America's vulnerable, computerized and privatized public elections, so do regular old Americans, as the recent hack by a woman in Seattle of more than 100 million customer records at Capitol One proved, along with the vulnerabilities in brand new voting and registration systems discovered by hackers in a few hours at the DefCon Voting Village convention last weekend in Las Vegas.

All of this comes on the heels of Thursday's federal court ruling finding Georgia's voting systems to be so "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack" that the judge declared the systems (which are similar to ones used in several other states) a violation of voters' Constitutional right to have their votes counted as cast.

But all of that might ultimately be small potatoes in light of longtime cybersecurity journalist and author KIM ZETTER's recent exclusive at VICE's Motherboard, finding that "Critical U.S. Election Systems Have Been Left Exposed Online Despite Official Denials". Zetter, one of the only journalists in the nation who has been covering these matters as long or longer than we have at this point, joins us on today's program to explain her jaw-dropping article which begins this way: "For years, U.S. election officials and voting machine vendors have insisted that critical election systems are never connected to the internet and therefore can't be hacked. But a group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties --- all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections. Some of the systems have been online for a year and possibly longer."

In many cases, she tells me, the elections officials seemed to have no idea that their systems were connected to the Internet by their vendors. As for the vendors' part --- in this case, the nation's largest, ES&S --- Zetter explains their bizarre claim that voting and backend tabulation and reporting systems connected around the clock for years at a time aren't really connected to the Internet at all --- and, even if they are, they are perfectly secure. Zetter and the data researchers found otherwise.

The systems found vulnerable on the net, she details, would allow a malicious actor to change unofficial election night results, official results, and the public reporting of the results themselves. Moreover, she explains, access to the exposed backend portions of these systems over the Internet could also result in malware being transferred to voting machines themselves. And all of this was discovered by a small team of researchers with little or no funding. No nation-state required, she confirms.

"If it was just a box on the Internet that was receiving the votes transmitted [on Election Night from the precinct] that would be a security problem in itself, not only because you could potentially alter those votes. They are unofficial results on Election Night --- and the officials results are taken from the actual memory cards in the voting machines. But if you can alter the unofficial results, that's going to create a lot of mistrust in the final outcome if they don't match," she says.

"But even if you don't alter those votes, that communication over the phone between the voting machine in the field and that backend server that's on the Internet creates a channel for infecting those voting machines. So, someone who could actually install that malware on that system on the Internet can design it in such a way that it downloads to the voting machines when they connect to that system. So the attackers can alter that voting machine in preparation for a future election."

"But that's not the only problem," she continues. "If that was the only thing that was on the Internet, that would be a concern in itself. What was remarkable is that ES&S acknowledged to me that they don't just put an empty box on there to receive the votes. Also connected to that Internet connection is the backend system for tabulating both the unofficial results on Election Night, and those official results that are later taken from the memory card."

"And the Election Management System is also connected. The Election Management System is used to do a lot of functions in elections. Among them is the actual programming of these voting machines before each election. So, if you don't get to the machines through that little receptacle that's connected to the Internet, you can get to that backend Election Management System and put in malicious code that then gets transferred directly to the voting machines before the next election."

But, of course, other than that, why worry, right? Well, Zetter has much more to say on that as well, including about Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's continuing efforts to block any and all election security measures in the Senate that might help shore up at least some of these concerns, including bills already passed by the House that would mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Even that, at this point, wouldn't fully protect against attacks on computer optical-scanners currently used in all 50 states to tabulate those ballots with little or no post-election audits to make sure they did so accurately...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Attorney, election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2018 6:20pm PT  

Well, it was one of those days again on today's BradCast, with an avalanche of huge, incoming breaking news which we do our best to cover --- even as we keep our eyes on the November prize on what may officially have been the worst day of Donald Trump's Presidency, to date. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Our first piece of breaking news: Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was convicted on 8 felony counts related to bank and tax fraud in his Virginia trial. The jury couldn't agree on 10 other counts brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, so the judge declared a mistrial on those counts. Manafort now faces another federal trial on felony charges, also brought by Mueller, in Washington D.C. next month, related to his undeclared work with a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.

Also, in arguably bigger and worse breaking news for Trump, his longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 federal felonies related to bank and tax fraud, as well as campaign finance law violations related to a hush-money payoff of $130,000 made to porn actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, Cohen admitted in a NY federal courtroom on Tuesday, was carried out "at the direction of" Trump "for the principal purpose of influencing the election". Now facing 4 to 5 years in federal prison, he may be inclined to cooperate with Mueller to receive a shorter sentence. With Cohen's plea deal ending that particular investigation in NY, it may also mean that Trump will now be forced to sit for an under-oath deposition in the lawsuit filed against Trump by Daniels.

All of that, after Microsoft announced last night it had discovered and shut down several fake Russian websites said to have targeted U.S. Senate offices and two conservative think tanks in advance of the November primary.

Then, as voters head to the primary polls in Alaska and Wyoming today, we're still working to make sense of two still-unexplained election night tabulation failures in both Michigan and Kansas during their August 7th primaries. We're joined today by JENNIFER COHN, attorney turned election integrity advocate and journalist, following her recent trip to Kansas to investigate the reported "computer glitch" in Johnson County, KS which crippled election night tabulation in the state's most populous county.

That "glitch" resulted in GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, Secretary of State, reportedly defeating KS Gov. Jeff Colyer to secure the GOP nomination for Governor by just over 100 votes out of 311,00 cast on Election Day. The still-unexplained failure occurred on the county's brand new, unverifiable ES&S ExpressVote touchscreen voting and tabulation system, approved just months ago by the county's election chief who was appointed by Kobach. The same unverifiable voting system will be used by voters in some 16 states and D.C. this November. (For the record, they will be used in AZ, D.C., FL, IA, ID, ME, MI, MO, MS, NV, OH, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI and WV.)

Her must-read article published by The BRAD BLOG in March on the dangers of such systems --- which produce barcoded "paper ballots" that can't be verified by voters after an election --- foretells many of the problems that occurred in Kansas on August 7. "All the problems that I predicted came to fruition, with the long lines, and machines failing, and then not having paper ballot backups," Cohn reports, noting that some voters were disenfranchised and others were given confusion instructions about whether or not they should try "to even verify those computer-marked, so-called paper ballot summary cards" produced by the systems.

During her short visit to Kansas, Cohn was denied an interview with the Kobach-appointed JoCo Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker and blocked from viewing the ES&S voting systems as well as the tabulation of provisional ballots. "We were just stonewalled, really, all day long, about everything," she tells me. "On the tabulating, they wouldn't even tell me if they were tabulating in the building."

She goes on to explain why we should all be very concerned about all of this, and what can possibly be done to try and oversee the validity of computer-marked paper ballots and electronically tabulated results on similar systems in use across the country this November.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the story which was supposed to have be Trump's great triumph today, the announcement of his EPA's new plan to replace Barack Obama's 'Clean Power Plan' with a scheme that will allow coal plants to keep polluting, global warming to worsen, and, as the documentation of the plan admits, result in the avoidable deaths and illness of tens of thousands of Americans each year...

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Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein; Also: ES&S misleads officials after lie about remote access of election systems; Deadly storms slams Midwest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2018 6:09pm PT  

First up on today's BradCast, a follow-up to yesterday's important show on the wildly vulnerable remote access software installed with computerized election systems sold --- and lied about --- by the nation's top voting system vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), as well as by other U.S. vendors who have helped privatize our public election systems. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After Kim Zetter's report at VICE's Motherboard earlier in the week revealed the company had lied to her about their use of the dangerous software for her New York Times report earlier this year, ES&S apparently sent an extraordinarily misleading email to their "valued customers" (election officials in counties around the nation), hoping to minimize concerns over their ill-considered practices.

As they --- and the other corporate vendors who have taken over our public elections with poorly designed, oft-failed and easily-manipulated computer voting and tabulation systems --- have been doing for years, the letter misinforms their "customers" about the dangers of including remote access software on election management systems which program ballots for electronic voting machines and tabulate votes. We explain how the company --- and, sadly, most of the federal government --- continues to lie and mislead about the dangerous of such systems, all of which, despite claims to the contrary by many officials, are, in fact, vulnerable to both Internet hacking and insider manipulation.

Then, as a new federal court deadline looms in less than a week for the Trump Administration to reunite more than 2,500 children separated from their parents at the border, we're joined by Talking Points Memo reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN, who has been keeping up with a dizzying array of federal court motions, hearings and rulings in recent weeks.

The consequences of Trump's so-called "Zero Tolerance" policy at the border has somewhat fallen off the front pages over the past week of mind-bending Trump/Russia news, so Ollstein catches us up with much that we have missed, including one court loss after another for the Trump Administration and federal judges --- appointed by Democrats and Republicans alike --- quickly losing patience with them. Heartbreaking stories of thousands of separated families continue to come out, as the Administration, from all reports, appears nowhere close to meeting a July 26 deadline to reuinite thousands of children over 5 years of age with their parents.

"It's just a huge mess, and it has been for weeks," she tells me. "The administration has been saying things in court and in legal filings that are just blatantly untrue. They have made promises and not kept them. They've blown past the deadlines for the reunification. So these federal judges are losing their patience and stepping in."

Ollstein describes reports from legal groups and immigration advocates of kids still being snatched from their parents at the border and facing "deep, deep trauma" within government detention, while novel (and seemingly unlawful) new interpretations of asylum laws are challenged in court and Congressional Republicans refuse to take substantive action.

"This has been pushed off the front page by other crazy, breaking news in this crazy administration," she observes. "Obviously, people are still outraged, still upset about this and want to see a solution. But it seems Republicans are not feeling enough heat to take action."

Finally, with way too much heat in the Midwest, extreme weather turned deadly on Thursday, as 17 were killed when a sudden storm overtook an amphibious "duck boat" on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, and as a swarm of as many as 27(!) tornadoes seem to have appeared out of nowhere to devastate several towns in Iowa...

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With Trump's own intel agencies warning of election hacks and the White House contradicting them, disturbing new revelations of voting system vulnerabilities may help explain a 2011 BRAD BLOG exclusive report...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2018 6:43pm PT  

As noted at the top of today's BradCast, it's worth buckling up before listening. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We begin, gently enough, with the news of California's Supreme Court temporarily nixing a billionaire's statewide initiative from this November's ballot which, if adopted, would split the state into three. We explain why the Court removed the measure, for now, thanks to a challenge by an environmental group.

Then, with Donald Trump's own Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, warning this past week that "the system is blinking red" in a way that hasn't been seen since just before the 9/11 attacks, the multiple and ever-changing positions by the President of the United States in recent days, regarding whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election and is actively doing so in advance of the 2018 midterms, is all the more head-spinning. Coats was referencing warning signs being reported by U.S. intelligence agencies regarding ongoing attacks and intrusions on America's critical infrastructure --- including our wildly vulnerable electoral systems.

Moreover, new reporting on Trump being read into explicit source details weeks before he was inaugurated in early 2017 regarding Russia's alleged 2016 election intrusion measures, make his ongoing denials, ever-changing positions, and dizzying White House spin to explain them all following Monday's summit with Putin in Helsinki, all the more bewildering. Nonetheless, his own intelligence apparatus and appointees continue to contradict the President, even as the GOP-controlled Congress fails to take any substantive action to either place a check on Trump or even to help protect this November's crucial elections.

At the same time, after the FBI informed Maryland just days ago that its entire election system was being hosted on a private commercial server said to be owned by a Russian oligarch tied to Putin (as discussed in detail on yesterday's BradCast), we learn this week that the top U.S. election system vendor, ES&S, has been lying about remote access software and modems installed, for many years, on systems still used by a majority of U.S. voters.

The new revelations may help explain an exclusive special report published by The BRAD BLOG back in 2011, with an officially-commissioned independent analysis finding that, among other concerns, Venango County, Pennsylvania's ES&S election management system had been accessed by an unknown and unauthorized computer for "several hours" from a remote location. As we reported at the time, ES&S and the County's Board of Commissioners went to considerable lengths, after those revelations, to block a further, independent forensic analysis of the system.

And now, perhaps, we may know why. Kim Zetter reports this week at Vice's Motherboard that the company lied to her and New York Times' fact-checkers earlier this year in advance of her February article at the paper on the inclusion of modems and pcAnywhere remote access software included with the election management systems sold to customers from 2000 to 2006. After previously insisting the company had no "knowledge that our voting systems have ever been sold with remote-access software", ES&S reversed itself in a letter to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, she reports. But they have refused to respond to the Senator's subsequent follow-up queries or to appear at recent Senate hearings on U.S. election system vulnerabilities.

As Zetter details, pcAnywhere was found to include multiple and serious vulnerabilities over the years, which would have allowed unauthorized intruders to change election results with little chance of detection. Moreover, she explains, many questions remain about why ES&S lied, which jurisdictions around the nation may still feature the same, easily-exploitable flaws, and about electronic voting and tabulation systems manufactured by the nation's other top vendors, believed by expert to likely have included similar remote-access vulnerabilities.

All of that (and more, including our latest Green News Report), just over three months out from this November's midterm elections. Told you to buckle up...

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Guests: SC GOP activist Frank Heindel and attorney Larry Schwartzol; Also: New Senate bill finally calls for HAND-MARKED paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2018 6:44pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On the eve of Donald Trump's scheduled Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought eleven new felony charges against twelve Russian military intelligence officials on Friday. They were charged with various crimes related to cyber-interference in the 2016 Presidential election. And, a bi-partisan federal lawsuit is filed in South Carolina in hopes of finally terminating the state's easily-hacked, repeatedly-failed, 100% unverifiable voting system. [Audio link to show follows at end of article.]

The Russian military officials cited in today's indictment [PDF] relates to hacking into and stealing documents from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, and releasing them to the public in hopes of manipulating the election. The charges also relate to attacks against state and county election officials and a voter registration company where email spearphishing schemes are said to have implanted malware onto the computer networks in question.

The new indictment does not allege any Americans knew of the hacking scheme detailed by Mueller, though it notes that Trump's public July 2016 call for Russia to find and release "missing" personal Hillary Clinton emails was followed by attacks, "for the first time", on an Internet domain used by her personal office.

While the filing details at least one state voter registration system where some 500,000 private records were accessed, it does not allege that voting results were manipulated (although the DHS admitted last year they never examined either ballots or voting systems.) During Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's announcement of the new charges, he also excoriated partisan and media speculation regarding the probe, as well as attacks (presumably by Congressional GOPers and Trump) on the FBI itself.

Meanwhile, much media coverage was given on Thursday to the insanely chaotic ten-hour long U.S. House hearing featuring testimony by Peter Strzok, the top FBI counter-intelligence specialist who initially led the investigation into Russian interference back in 2016. At the same time, a hearing in the U.S. Senate this week on safeguarding our election infrastructure received little or not coverage. Today, we try to correct that a bit, with some of the testimony offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), sponsor of a new election reform bill in the Senate --- the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act --- which is the only one that would require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter in the U.S. His testimony calls out ES&S, the nation's largest computer voting system vendor, for failing to show up for the hearing or answer any of his basic cyber-security questions he's sent to the company over the past year.

Then, after more than a decade of failed elections on the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems used across the state of South Carolina --- including the still-remarkable and still-unexplained story of Alvin Greene, the completely unknown, unemployed man who somehow managed to win the state's 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary without campaigning at all, against a longtime, well-known state legislator and circuit court judge --- a lawsuit was filed this week in federal court to force the state to offer a secure system to voters.

The complaint [PDF] was filed on behalf of two plaintiffs. One, a former eight-term Democratic state legislator, the other a longtime Republican Freedom of Information Act champion and election critic in the Palmetto State. The Republican plaintiff, FRANK HEINDEL, and attorney LARRY SCHWARTZTOL, of the non-partisan, non-profit ProtectDemocracy.org, join me to explain the lawsuit, Heindel's years of work attempting to oversee state elections (and their accompanying disasters), and whether the new complaint might make any difference in the state before this year's crucial 2018 midterms.

"I've just always been skeptical of the 'black box' mentality where you go in and you just trust the machine, and there's no way to verify the results," Heindel explains. "I've just never really trusted that system. I've tried to push us towards a more paper-based way to vote, and it's taken many years here, but I'm starting to get a little optimistic that the worm has turned and we're going to make some progress."

"You need a system where the winner knows that he won, the loser knows that he lost, and everybody knows that their votes were cast and counted directly. We don't have that today," he tells me. The longtime businessman has spent the last decade or more filing some 47 FOIA requests attempting to personally investigate election results and related problems in the state. (We've been following Heindel's efforts for years. You can watch part of Dan Rather's 2010 report on Heindel, right here.)

The longtime litigator Schwartztol, for his part, explains: "What we're arguing for in the lawsuit is to replace that system with one that meets basic, common-sense principles. Secure in its basic architecture against cyber-attacks. The main way to do that, most people agree, is a pretty simple one. And that's building a system around paper ballots, that can be verified, that can be audited, that can be the subject of a recount if that's necessary."

"What we describe in the lawsuit is a voting system that contains unnecessary vulnerabilities and that is not sufficiently reliable to do the work," he adds. "The work of ensuring that votes are accurately recorded and counted."

He lauds the state's election commission chair, Marci Andino (one of the suits defendants), for stating her desire to move to a new system, but is critical of the claim that it would require $50 million to do so. A paper ballot system he says, citing a recent report from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, would cost much less. He also tells me that one of the solutions they hope to pursue in the case, potentially before November, is the use of the state's absentee paper ballot system that could be used for all voters this year.

"You saw today where Rosenstein was saying that the Russians had sent phishing emails to various state and county folks," notes Heindel. "Our county election people, they're hard-working and they mean well, but I can get tricked on a phishing email. The idea that we have state and county election people that are trying to fend off sophisticated attacks from foreign adversaries, it's crucial that we get our arms around this thing, and get to paper sooner rather than later."

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