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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, September 20, 2020
'RECOUNTED' with Nils Gilman, Mark Joseph Stern: 'BradCast' 9/18/20
On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
Federal Court Blocks 'Politically Motivated' USPS Changes, Orders Sorting Machines Reinstalled
Judge charges Postmaster General mandates undermined integrity of 2020 election...
More Wins in the War Against the War On Voting in PA, OH, SC & USPS: 'BradCast' 9/17/20
Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer plans to vote for Biden; Much more you need to hear...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain, floods; Fires in West behind mass bird die-off; Trump names climate denier to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science issues first-ever endorsement...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/20 - 9/10/20 - Archives...
GA's 'Experts' Flounder in Court Defending State's New Unverifiable Touchscreen Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 9/16/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Sally soaks AL, FL; Results of 2020's final primary in DE...
Mostly Good News in Battle-ground Ballot Battles in WI, OH, NV: 'BradCast' 9/15/20
Also: 175-yr old science mag issues first-ever endorsement; Corp. broadcast news outlets failing disastrously to inform electorate about our worsening climate crisis...
'Green News Report' 9/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Sally approaches, with more storms on the way; Deadly West Coast fires break more records; PLUS: Biden blasts 'climate arsonist' Trump and urges swift action...
Previous GNRs: 9/10/20 - 9/3/20 - Archives...
Fires and Liars and Modems, Oh My!: 'BradCast' 9/14/20
Guest: Jenny Cohn, election security advocate on 2020 hacking concerns; Also: Climate-fueled fires keep breaking records; More hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
Sunday 'Can't Trust the Media' Toons
But you CAN trust PDiddie to post the best of the past week's political toons in his latest collection...
GOP Gains Ground in Their War Against Voting and Voters in FL, WI, TX, NC, PA: 'BradCast' 9/11/20
Guest: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
Woodward Goes Wayward in 'Biggest Scandal in Modern Journalism': 'BradCast' 9/10
Guest: Journalist David Sirota; Also: DHS whistleblower and new report reveal U.S. Intel now fully corrupt, upside-down under Trump...
'Green News Report' 9/10/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
'Unprecedented' wildfires explode across Western U.S., man-made climate change is to blame; PLUS: Trolling for Florida votes, Trump flip-flops on offshore drilling ban...
Previous GNRs: 9/3/20 - 9/1/20 - Archives...
NC 'Secure White Supremacy' Law Struck Down, Freeing 100k Newly Eligible Voters: 'BradCast' 9/9/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern; Also: DoJ rescues Trump; Climate-fueled infernos in OR, WA, CA
Vet Group Cites Trump Attack on Troops as 'New Low' from 'Maniac in the Oval Office': 'BradCast' 9/8/20
w/ VoteVets' Will Goodwin; Record CA heat, fires; Ransomware specter; Kevin Zeese RIP...
Trump's 'Herd Immunity' Solution Could be as Lethal as Hitler's 'Final Solution'
Failure to contain the pandemic has led to a new White House plan to let millions of Americans die...
Sunday 'Postman Always Votes Twice' Toons
PDiddie gives his stamp of approval to all of the political toons in his latest collection of the week's best...
It's Reagan's Fault: 'BradCast' 9/4/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author/historian Rick Perlstein and Editor-in-Chief of 'The 19th', Andrea Valdez...
'Green News Report' 9/3/20
Climate champ Markey wins primary challenge; Admin racing to dismantle environmental protections; PLUS: Sign of the times -- ExxonMobil dropped from Dow...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: 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...

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

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Guest: Jenny Cohn, attorney, election security advocate; Also: Climate-fueled West Coast fires keep breaking records; More new hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2020 6:21pm PT  

Today's BradCast in a nutshell: Elected officials lie, corporate media misinforms, people die. We try again to combat all of the above today. Wish us luck. [Audio link to today's show follow below.]

First up today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on the deadly, devastating, climate changed-fueled wildfire infernos wreaking havoc up and down the West Coast and on the new record hurricanes that are heading our way at the same time. With more than 3 million acres now burned, hundreds of structures destroyed in California alone, and at least 35 dead from the record blazes so far, Donald Trump went to the state on Monday and told fire officials not to worry. "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch," the President told California state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, who was urging him to not ignore science and "recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests." Trump's response: "Well, I don't think science knows, actually."

So, don't worry! Just as Trump repeatedly promised COVID would "just go away," (more than 190,000 Americans have been killed by it since he pulled that phony promise out of his ass), apparently the same is true for our climate crisis! Of course, our corporate media have made it much easier for Trump to misinform the nation with his lies because the corporate media have done --- and are still doing --- an horrendous job of educating the electorate about the real reasons the western fires have become so horrific and why we are now up to "V" in the named storms so far this year, with a month and half still to go in the storm season and two and a half months remaining in the wildfire season.

The media have been similarly disastrous in their education of the electorate when it comes to our woeful election system. Sadly, too many top government officials --- Democratic and Republican ones alike --- share in that blame, as we're reminded in our guest today, JENNY COHN's new short #RemoveTheModems video, warning voters about the modems that are present in voting and tabulation systems in key states --- including battlegrounds Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin --- making our entire electoral system vulnerable to hackers.

Citing the comments from officials back in 2016 falsely telling America that our voting and tabulation systems are "never connected to the Internet" (they are), so can't be hacked (they can), Cohn tells me: "I'm very worried that we're going to be gaslit again in 2020. If the electronic totals somehow favor Trump, we're going to be told to pack up and go home there's nothing to see here, he just won, 'he's a legitimate president', period."

That year, even after Democrats promised "hundreds of attorneys" on the ground to assure a legitimate election (exactly as Joe Biden's campaign did again today), the DNC and Clinton Campaign refused to demand the hand-count of ballots in the three key states (MI, WI and PA) which barely flipped to the Republican candidate for the first time in decades. That, despite the fact that had an average of just two votes been recorded for Clinton instead of Trump in each precinct in those states that year, she, not he, would have won.

"What really concerns me is the blind spot that the Democratic Party seems to have for the electronic component of potential for cheating," says Cohn. She believes, however, that at least Clinton has learned her lesson. Based on a conversation she says she had with the 2016 Democratic candidate recently, Cohen tells me: "I do believe that Hillary Clinton understands it now, and I think she understands the importance of the Democrats not boxing themselves into a corner, where they will look like hypocrites if they need to file an election challenge based on the electronic totals, or any other aspect of the election."

Whether Clinton has enough power to convince the Biden Campaign and the rest of the Party of that, Cohn suggests, is a separate question.

Cohn, an attorney, election security advocate and Twitter activist, is calling for the modems cited in her video to be removed from the systems in states which use them before the November election. As journalist Kim Zetter reported last year, many of the election officials in those states don't even realize when their private election vendor has hooked their systems up to the Internet --- some of them she reports researchers discovered, are on the net all year around!

"I have no doubt that what the Trump team wants to do is win the electronic vote on Election Day, and then try to run out the clock or do something else with the [absentee ballot] signature match, so that we don't get all of them counted," she tells Cohn argues. "Or, if it goes to a recount, it gets shut down prematurely," she says, noting correctly that Vote-by-Mail ballots are also "sent to that electronic management system too."

Cohn also discusses some of her worst fears about this year's elections (and I share some of mine, several of which are similar, especially regarding electronic pollbooks which often have no paper backup) before we take a few phone calls from listeners on the topic, with Election Day now just 50 days away. "It's going to be ugly, no matter what the official result is," she says, noting: "My biggest concern --- the overarching concern that I think we both share --- is that there won't be any transparency about the results, and therefore we'll never really know."

Cohn has posted a bunch of helpful "Tips to Mitigate Threats to Our Votes and Voter Registrations Before November" that I'd urge you to check out and share as well, even though we didn't get time to discuss them. Just a good reason to have Jenny back. Please follow her on Twitter until then!...

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

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Guest: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it was not a good day for those who believe in free, fair, honest, overseeable and safe democracy. On the other hand, it was a great day for Republicans! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We've got a boatload of court rulings from almost half a dozen states to try and make sense of today. A few of them are good. Most of them are not. But we've got some expert help in making sense of several of them, and she tells us the fight is nowhere near over.

We begin today with the breaking news out of Florida, where the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that had found the state's new "pay-to-vote" law constitutional. Apparently, the five new federal jurists that Donald Trump has added to the court all agreed, in a 6-4 ruling, that poll taxes are just fine by them. They approved the law enacted by the state's GOP legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year that undermines Amendment 4 of the state constitution. That Amendment was adopted in a bipartisan, 65-35 percent landslide in 2018 to restore voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons in the state, including about one quarter of the state's voting age black men.

The law specifically passed to undermine Amendment 4 requires all court-imposed fines and fees to be payed before a former felon may register to vote. So, if you have enough money, you can vote. If you don't, too bad. Also, good luck to former felons even figuring out if they owe any money at all. Florida doesn't keep track. That means many newly eligible voters won't bother to register, rather than risk being sent back to jail for violating this new law. It was passed along partisan lines last year by Florida and is virtually identical to the 150-year old statute struck down just last week by a North Carolina state court. As revealed during the course of the NC suit, the law, according to its legislative champion following post-Civil War Reconstruction, was specifically adopted to "secure White Supremacy" by preventing "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro." Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern derides today's Florida ruling as "one of the most dishonest, misleading, and despicable voting rights opinions I have ever read" and "an affront of the very notion that Americans have a right to vote". The ACLU Voting Rights Project's attorney Julie Ebenstein argues "the gravity of this decision cannot be overstated," describing it as "counter to the foundational principle that Americans do not have to pay to vote" and "an affront to the spirit of democracy".

In another afront to democracy, Wisconsin's rightwing state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state's 1850 separate municipalities to immediately stop sending out absentee ballots to the, so far, about 1 million voters who have requested them. The court's 4 to 3 partisan ruling is meant to allow it's rightwing majority time to decide if the Green Party's Presidential ticket should be added to the ballot, despite the state Election Commission, in a deadlocked 3 to 3 vote, determining that the party's Presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and Vice Presidential Nominee Angela Walker did not receive enough signatures to qualify.

At issue is hundreds of petitions that listed the Milwaukee native Walker's address as a motel in South Carolina. Why the Party used two different addresses for Walker is unclear, but the result was the WI State Election Commission --- which the GOP state legislature recently created to replace the previous non-partisan commission with a partisan one built to create such deadlocks --- followed state law. That prevented the Greens from making the ballot. After a two week delay and 378,000 absentee ballots already mailed out, the Green Party decided to sue, even though election officials from across the state say their will be no time to design, print up, test and mail out out new ballots before both state and federal statutory deadlines require them to do so next week. They also have no idea how to avoid people voting twice with two separate ballots they may receive for the same election. So, chaos reigns yet again in the election in the key battleground state where Donald Trump is said to have won in 2016 by less than one single percentage point, when the Green candidate that year received more votes than Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton.

The voting news out of Texas this week is only slightly better. First, the good news: A federal judge there has ordered state election officials to notify voters within one day after a "perceived signature mismatch" is determined on absentee ballots, and to allow voters a "meaningful opportunity" to correct the issue. Previously, after officials, who are not handwriting experts, decided a signature was not a match to the voter's registration application (often years old), the ballot was simply rejected without notifying voters until 10 days after the election. In other good voting news from the Lone Star state, a state judge has determined that the Clerk in Harris County (Houston) is, in fact, allowed to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the nation's 4th largest city. The state's Republican Attorney General had sued to block the effort. I suspect he'll appeal, but we'll see.

But the war on voting in the Lone Star State doesn't stop with those two victories for democracy, unfortunately. The Mayor of Houston wants to know why more than a dozen local U.S. Post Offices have refused to allow volunteers from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to make multilingual voter registration materials available at those facilities.

And our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan Free Speech For People, joins us to explain the disappointing decision from a federal judge this week in response to a recent lawsuit filed by FSFP on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and the Texas NAACP seeking to address what the groups describe as "unsafe and unequal voting conditions" in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit seeks a Preliminary Injunction in challenging the state's "insufficient number of polling places"; "its limited and inaccessible early voting locations"; a lack of social distancing requirements; Gov. Greg Abbot's statewide mask mandate which allows an exception for voters and pollworkers; and the dangerous "reliance on repeat-touch voting machines" amid the deadly pandemic, among other concerns. All of which, the complaint argues, "will result in unsafe voting conditions and increased risk of coronavirus transmission, which in turn will result in voter suppression." Moreover, as Hostetler explains today, "the health risks and adverse impact of these policies will place an undue burden on the right to vote and be borne disproportionately by voters of color, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law, and the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment."

Texas has some of the most restrictive absentee voting requirements in the nation, so the dangers at polling places --- in this case, unequal ones --- are no small matter. "The real crux of the Constitutional issues at stake here," Hostetler tells me, "is that people won't show up to vote because they can't risk getting COVID-19 and dying. They can't risk not being able to work for 3 weeks if they get it...This is what's at stake, and the burden is not shared equally in Texas. It's both unconstitutional and it violates the Voting Rights Act." She says the federal judge, rather than deciding the case on its merits, determined that the matter is a political one, rather than an issue to be decided by the courts. While the case is still live, the judge has denied the group's motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which likely pushes the matter back until after the election. But the groups today decided that they will file an appeal.

In Pennsylvania this week, a state court judge also ruled against a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a similar suit filed by FSFP and the Pennsylvania NAACP "to establish safe and equal voting procedures for the upcoming general election." There too, the groups plan to appeal.

And in North Carolina, where FSFP filed a suit last April to block the use of new "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" touchscreen voting machines with the NC NAACP, the groups late last week filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court after a lower court denied their original complaint.

The appeal is "alleging imminent risk to voters' right to free elections and equal protection under the laws if they are required to vote on the [ES&S] ExpressVote touch screen ballot marking device this November". The complaint, as we discussed with Hostletler last spring when it was initially filed, "alleges the new [touchscreeen] system is vulnerable to security threats and its results are unverifiable, in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law." She says that though this matter will no longer be decided before this year's election, "the case is still live, and we are ready and preparing to litigate this fully and pursue this case through trial, because it does have long term implications for the state of North Carolina, because these machines are utterly unreliable and unverifiable";

So, yeah, a rough week for those who favor voting, voting rights and free, fair and safe democracy. But, as Hostetler argues today: "Every time there's an effort to push back against free and fair elections, there are people who are saying 'No, I'm going to fight you on that." She urges voters to fight like hell to make sure that they cast their ballot this year and vote as safely as they can, while letting her group or others know when and if they run into barriers.

"Know that there are people across the country who are fighting to change these policies," she says. "Nobody is alone in this. There are a lot of people fighting, and we can always use more"...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guests: Lulu Friesdat and Robin Gibson on activist efforts to urge CA Sec. of State to mitigate most dangerous elements of $300M computer voting machines before certification and critical 2020 general election...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We make short work (for now) of several breaking news stories from over the weekend and into today. Then its straight on to our main story today, which you will hear nowhere else in the media. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below summary.]

In January, we broke the news here on The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast that Los Angeles County's brand-new, unverifiable, $300 million, 10-years-in-development touchscreen polling place voting system had failed to meet more than 40 different California Voting System Standards, according to independent certification testers hired by CA's Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Despite critical security issues that alarmed voting system and cybersecurity experts, the machines were nonetheless "conditionally certified" by Padilla just prior to the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary in the state. The new machines (known as Ballot Marking Devices or BMDs) and the electronic pollbooks that are required to work with them, both failed spectacularly. Voters were disenfranchised by the "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system, as many across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction were either turned away or forced to wait for hours in line to vote.

It was well after midnight before all of those still in line finally cast their votes on Super Tuesday. It was, of course, impossible to know if any of those votes were tallied as per any voter's intent, because BMD systems print out a computer-marked paper ballot which may or may not reflect the actual intent of any voter. It's impossible to know if results are accurate in any election that uses BMDs for the majority of voters. Recent studies [PDF] find that more than 90% of voters do not notice when a BMD has misprinted one or more of their votes on the paper printout.

After the March 3rd disaster in L.A. (which we had warned about long in advance, to little interest from media or public officials, even from the L.A. County Supervisors, much less Sec. Padilla) the system's brainchild, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, was allowed a mulligan. He promised to fix what didn't work before the November election and told us all to simply trust him. Next time would be better. Many in the media then lost whatever interest they had as it was just weeks after Super Tuesday that COVID pandemic struck hard.

Well, now Padilla has recently posted the new certification testing results from Logan's mulligan, VSAP 2.1. The results do not inspire confidence, as many of the same problems with the system originally --- such as paper jams and misprinted QR Codes {PDF] --- still exist, according to testers. Now Padilla must decide in the next two weeks whether or not to certify them again. In truth, he has little choice as Early Voting is now just weeks away. While the state's decision to send every active voter a Vote-by-Mail ballot may help to ease many of the potential log jams at the county's new Voting Centers, ballots cast on the new systems --- as opposed to verifiable hand-marked paper absentee ballots --- are still vulnerable to manipulation and can never been known to reflect voter intent after the polls close.

However, there are some things that Padilla could require to be done to mitigate some of the worst dangers of the system if it is to be used for this year's critical November election. Several dozen election integrity and activist groups, along with a number of esteemed cybersecurity and voting systems experts, recently signed on to an excellent public letter led by the California Clean Money Campaign, demanding Padilla implement a number of the mitigations before certifying the updated voting systems.

We're joined today by LULU FRIESDAT, co-founder of SmartElections.us and ROBIN GIBSON, longtime Los Angeles Election Integrity advocate, to discuss those potential mitigations and the one-and-only public comments hearing held today online before Padilla's pending decision to certify. They report that Padilla did not bother to attend, though Logan, apparently, came by near the end of the session to claim that everything is now working fine. "Our registrar got on the call and dismissed two hours of worried voters, and said he had tests that said it was fine," Gibson explained. "It was like 'I win, nah, nah, nah.'"

As Friesdat and Gibson explain, the citizen advocates and experts are asking in their letter for the ballot boxes attached to each touchscreen tablet system to be removed, so that the computer-printed ballots don't have to pass back through the same printer heads after they've been (theoretically) verified by each voter. Experts warn [PDF] that sending the ballot back through the same printer path after verification is a major security risk, allowing the system to change voters votes, without their knowledge, after they have supposedly already approved their printed ballot. Instead, the group is urging that the attached ballot boxes be removed, and that ballots be deposited manually by voters into a separate ballot box at the polling place, for tabulation later.

The group is also asking Padilla to do away with the unverifiable QR Codes that are printed on each ballot. It is that code --- which can't be verified as accurate by any voter --- that is actually read by the optical-scan computer tabulators to tallly each ballot, rather than the human-readable text print out that voters may or may not have verified! "It is not secure to have the vote encoded in a QR code," Friesdat joins cybsersecurity experts in warning.

Moreover, the groups are calling for real, hand-marked paper ballots to be made available to any and all voters at Voting Centers for voters smart enough to want to cast a verifiable vote. "This is basic," Friesdat insists. "Hand-marked paper ballots are the gold standard that security experts recommend. It's not hard to provide them, and voters should be encouraged to use hand-marked paper ballots if they're able to mark by hand."

They also uge Padilla and Logan to finally release the source code to this supposedly County-owned and developed system. The money appropriated by tax-payers was done on the basis, advanced by both Padilla and Logan, that it would be a fully "open source" system, 100% publicly owned. All of that is also important because elections officials in other states and counties across the country have expressed interest in adopting this exact system if it ever actually works in L.A.

Friesdat and Gibson detail many of their own concerns, as well as others who offered public comment today before we open up the phone lines to listener questions about this terrible new system, just 64 days before Election Day and mere weeks before early voting is set to begin in Los Angeles County...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala as VEEP; Jeanne Dufort on why the Peach State's new, $100 million digital-scanners failed to count thousands of valid votes and how to fix it before November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2020 7:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two mysteries solved in one single, if hectic, show! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The first is the mystery of who presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden would select as his Vice-Presidential partner. Now we know. Less than an hour before showtime today, it was announced that California's first-term U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will become the first black woman (and first South Asian American woman) to be part of a major party's Presidential ticket. On short notice, we were able to scrounge up the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog to join us for her "top-line, knee-jerk, hot-take" response to the big news and how she thinks it will play both among the electorate at large and the far, FAR more picky progressive electorate.

Parton, a progressive herself, who says she was rooting for Elizabeth Warren to be named for the slot, describes Harris as a "a very skilled politician"; argues that her selection "says something nice about Biden"; discusses the "legitimate concerns that progressives have had about Harris"; and whether she believes "the Left" will be able to "put aside their differences" to get behind the ticket, before "going to fight tooth and nail about the things that we care about" in the event that Biden actually becomes President next January.

Today's other solved mystery is much trickier. And it has to do with Georgia, which is holding primary runoff elections today, along with state primary elections on Tuesday in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (We'll have noteworthy results from all of those states, as available, on tomorrow's BradCast, of course). Naturally, because it's Election Day in Georgia --- a key battleground state which some believe could finally flip from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time in decades --- there are problems at the polls. While hopefully not as terrible as the meltdown caused by the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks that resulted in hours-long lines in largely Democratic-leaning precincts during the state's June primary, we have early indications that the same, new, overly-complex, computerized voting systems failed voters again today in at least some of the 94 (of 159) counties participating in today's runoffs.

Despite that distressing (if unsurprising) news today in Georgia, there was some good-ish news from the State Elections Board (SEB) there. They met on Monday to adopt new procedures in advance of the November 3rd Presidential election. The SEB unanimously agreed to allow voters to request absentee ballots for November via a new online webpage to go live by the end of the month. That's good news for those who have easy online access. But, shamefully, it comes along with the news that Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, after successfully sending out Vote-by-Mail applications to all of the state's active registered voters before the June primary, will NOT be doing so before this year's Presidential election. Apparently, that plan worked too well and allowed too many to easily vote from home, when they might otherwise have had to struggle with long lines and Raffensperger's failed electronic voting systems at the polling place in the middle of an ongoing global pandemic.

Also at Georgia's SEB meeting on Monday, the Board agreed to make a change to the state's new computer-tabulation systems that scan and count those hand-marked paper absentee ballots. (Voters at the polls are forced to use unverifiable touchscreen systems.) The SEB's change to a software setting on the systems came about, thanks in no small part, to our guest today, JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance.

Following the June primaries, Dufort was on a bi-partisan citizens' panel reviewing digital images of hand-marked paper absentee ballots on which the computerized digital-scanners believed there were over-votes with, for example, more than one oval in a single race seen by the computer as being filled in. State law requires manual examination of such ballots to determine if the voter's intent is discernible or not. While reviewing those ballots, Dufort and the other panelists in Morgan County noticed that the tabulation system had marked some clearly discernible votes on many of those same ballots as containing "no vote". Why were those votes not counted by the new, $100 million tabulation system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting? And would elections officials manually examine ALL of the hand-marked ballots to count those "lost" votes? As Dufort told us on this program at the time she discovered the problem after the June primary, there were potentially tens of thousands of perfectly legitimate votes that had gone uncounted.

Well, today we finally have the answer to the mystery of why the system had failed to count some of those votes. It has to do with a sensitivity setting on the digital optical-scan tabulators that the Secretary of State's office claims they did not originally know about when they initially dismissed Dufort's concerns back in June. That setting, apparently, directs the computer to ignore votes in which less than 12% of the bubble was filled in. (Often, instead of inking in the entire bubble, voters will use a check-mark or an X. While the voter's intent is easily discernible to the human eye, the new computers that tabulate votes were set to record such marks --- that filled less than 12% of the bubble --- as a "no vote".)

"It assigns it a 'percentage of fill'," Dufort tells me. "In our case in Georgia, what we later found out was that these Dominion factory settings said if a vote was deemed to cover more than 35% of that area...if the threshold percentage hit 35% or above, the system said, 'Yep, that's a vote! It counts!' If the threshold was between 12-35%, it said, 'that's ambiguous, I'm not sure something is there, better get a human to look at it.' If it fell below 12%, it said, 'I see that, but it's not a vote, so I'm going to label it unvoted, and I'm not even going to call it to the attention of the humans.'"

While Dufort says that it is good news that the SEB has now agreed to lower the bottom of the software sensitivity range setting to 10%, the longtime Election Integrity advocate says that she and others in the state believe it should be set lower still, to avoid more lost votes, in advance of the Presidential Election. "We think 10% is still too high," she says. "So we're going to be out talking to them. This rule is out for 30 days of public comment. We'll be saying thank you, but you really need to take it down to 5, which we have learned is what Colorado uses. And they've been doing hand-marked paper ballots statewide for a very long time. We think that's a good benchmark for Georgia."

She also observes that the the old settings, less sensitive settings, are still being used to tally today's runoff elections, which could be a problem in the event of close races. Moreover, she explains, "the color of the ink [and] the brand of the ink in your pen can change how the computer measures it." We discuss all of that, how the changes may affect results this November, and whether we should be worried that such a software setting could be abused by ill-intentioned election insiders (or hackers) in the critical battleground state (or others that use similar systems) during the Presidential election.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more deadly fossil fuel disasters, a warning about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season, and some very disturbing climate change news out of Canada, where the last intact ice shelf has finally collapsed and broken away...

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

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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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WATCH: Brad on CBS2-LA follow-up on County-mandated postmortem promising Registrar will totally make sure it all works this time!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2020 3:57pm PT  

On March 3rd's Super Tuesday primary elections, Los Angeles County's new, $300 million, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems and electronic pollbooks failed catastrophically. The disaster resulted in hours-long lines to vote at new Voting Centers in the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction leaving untold thousands unable to cast a vote at all.

It was all completely predictable. In fact, I had been predicting --- and warning --- about such a disaster like that with this system, dubbed Voting Solutions for All People (or VSAP) by the County, for pretty much the entirety of the 10 years it had been in development.

Few seemed to care until just before the March election, after we reported that the system had failed certification testing by the state on more than 40 points.

Following the March 3rd disaster, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, pretending to be furious about it, ordered L.A. County's Registrar-Record/County Clerk Dean Logan (the system's brainchild, who stopped coming on The BradCast or even answering any of my questions about the new system in the months before Election Day), to investigate himself and create a report on what when wrong and what needs to be done about it.

Logan's 135-page report is posted here [PDF].

In short, it says: "Here's what we think went wrong and here's how we're gonna fix it for next time. We'll take care of it by November 3rd. Trust us! Just like you did last time!"

What it should say, is: "We're sorry. We screwed up. We wasted $300 million in tax-payer dollars, so we're gonna trash the incredibly complicated, flawed, and wholly unverifiable voting system and vulnerable electronic pollbooks that disenfranchised thousands of L.A. voters on March 3rd, restore the thousands of precincts we foolishly shut down in favor of 'Voting Centers', and move back to a simple, inexpensive, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system at all community-accessible polling places for this year's critical general election."

Why the L.A. County Board of Supervisors isn't now demanding that, I couldn't tell you. Why California Sec. of State Alex Padilla isn't demanding the same, I couldn't tell you either. Except that all of them had been all-in for years with Logan on the new VSAP system. Nobody, apparently, is accountable for anything.

Instead, L.A. County voters will once again serve as guinea pig beta testers for Logan's obscenely expensive, already-failed new computer voting system during another LIVE election again this year, which just happens to arguably be the most critical in the nation's history. What could possibly go wrong?

One saving grace may be that the Governor has ordered all active registered voters to be mailed absentee ballots before this November's election due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In the week's prior to the March 3rd election, I was interviewed by CBS2-LA's David Goldstein about the new system. When he asked me how much confidence voters should have in it, I answered bluntly: "None." Logan was also interviewed in the same report and was asked the same question. His answer: "Voters can have a great deal of confidence."

You can decide who called that one correctly. Goldstein called me up again on Thursday afternoon to ask me to join him for a quick follow-up interview via FaceTime regarding Logan's postmortem report on what went wrong. CBS2 ran their follow-up report on Thursday night. Their story is now here. Goldstein's follow-up video report from last night's 6:00 news is posted below. (He called me just before airtime for my radio show, so please pardon the lack of shaving and really bad iPhone sound on my end!)...

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




Guest: Voting rights journalist Ari Berman on the many ways Republicans are working to undermine 2020 and how you can help stop them...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the conversation that everyone in America who gives a damn about democracy needs to be having. And, not in the days just before this November's election --- when it will be too late to do anything about it --- but RIGHT NOW. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

In Florida, the top Democrat in the state's House of Representative is sounding an "urgent" alarm. He says that absentee ballots in the perpetual swing-state could be gamed by the Trump Administration using the U.S. Postal Service to slow the return of ballots. In the Sunshine State, any ballots that don't arrive at County Headquarters by 7pm on Election Day may not be included in the results. Minority Leader Kionne McGhee is calling for barcodes to be added to absentee ballots so that voters can track whether they have been received by election officials, so that they may otherwise vote in person on Election Day if necessary.

While calling on the state's Republican Governor to take action that would also help Republicans (who voted at a higher rate by mail than Democrats in 2018), a Trump Campaign spokesperson dismissed McGhee's concerns as "an absolutely bogus conspiracy theory by Democrats." (And you know how Trump hates conspiracy theories.) Of course, Republican willingness to commit fraud, especially in Florida elections, is anything but a "conspiracy theory". In fact, Donald Trump himself, just this year, has already committed absentee ballot voter fraud in the state. So, apparently, has his Press Secretary Kayleigh MacEneny. Former GOP superstar Ann Coulter definitely did so. And so, it seems, did Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop charged with the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin, a property owner in Florida, where he is also a member of the state Republican Party, reportedly voted in the state's elections in 2016 and 2018, despite working and living in Minnesota, in what a Florida attorney and candidate for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections this year describes as a third-degree felony.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been jailed for much less than what both Trump and Chauvin are accused of having done in Florida.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is similarly worried about what the current President and his party may do to undermine the 2020 contest, telling The Daily Show's Trevor Noah this week that his "single greatest concern" is that "this President is going to try to steal this election."

Stolen or not, despite Trump's plummeting favorability ratings, this year's critical general elections will be anything but a cakewalk for Democrats amid the added challenge of coronavirus. Tuesday's disastrous primary election in Georgia was just one example of how Republicans are able to disenfranchise tens, if not hundreds of thousands of votes through the use of overly complicated, faulty and unverifiable touchscreen voting machines and electronic pollbooks in combination with poll closures and mail-in ballots that never reach voters at all or fail to arrive back at county headquarters in time to be legally tallied.

Moreover, as a new study [PDF] out this week from the Center for Election Innovation and Research finds, new voter registration rates in 13 different states they examined --- many of them key battlegrounds --- have fallen dramatically since the virus emerged in March and April. After all of those states saw increases in registrations in January, as compared to the same month in 2016, the numbers fell over a cliff compared to the same months four years ago. With DMVs closed in many states, automatic voter registrations have also not occurred since the virus emerged, and many states still fail to offer online voter registration. At the same time, voter registrations by third-party groups have similarly all but vanished as organizations have been unable to carry out their planned spring outreach campaigns.

Longtime voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones joins us on today's program to discuss all of this and much more. His latest article for the magazine, headlined "How the Coronavirus Handed the GOP New Ways to Squash the Vote," details some of the extraordinary measures that Republicans around the country, in state after state, are attempting in hopes of suppressing the vote in 2020. That, combined with the challenges of a global pandemic, could result in big trouble for voters of all stripes this year.

Citing the recent primary election disasters in Georgia, Washington D.C., Wisconsin and Nevada (where, he says, polling place consolidation resulted in the last vote being cast during last Tuesday's primary after 3am on Wednesday!), he warns: "If we don't figure out how to do Vote-by-Mail efficiently, and also how to vote in person efficiently, and also how to do this in a pandemic, we're looking at a possible and likely disaster in November."

We discuss the "ridiculous law" in Texas that disallows voters under 65 years of age from citing fear of coronavirus as a lawful excuse for requesting an absentee ballot; the effort by Republicans in the Iowa legislature this week to prevent their own Republican Sec. of State from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's registered voters this November (in hopes of avoiding the very well run primary last week in which he did exactly that); and other ways in which the 2020 elections --- our last firewall against full-on authoritarianism --- could become the nation's latest nightmare. Berman tells me "litigation alone" by Democrats is "not going to be sufficient" to solve this perfect storm of problems.

"These conversations have to happen now," he cautions. "States are running out of time. They're running out of money. Coronavirus is increasing in a lot of places. So I'm really, really concerned," he says. Join the club, Ari. On the upside, Berman also discusses how you can help RIGHT NOW to overcome many of these shameful challenges.

Finally, after all of those pleasant thoughts, we end today with a much-needed song by satirist Roy Zimmerman about a "liar" who needs to be voted away. Of course, whether that is even possible remains to be seen. But the song should keep your humming for a while...

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

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: George Floyd's brother testifies; NASCAR bans Confederate flags; Trump on wrong side of history again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tuesday's horrific election meltdown in Georgia didn't have to happen. We have been reporting and warning about exactly the disaster that occurred during the state's primary elections for well over a year on this program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the non-partisan, non-profit Coalition for Good Governance, has been filing both state and federal litigation for years in hopes of blocking the use of the new, unverifiable, touchscreen voting system implemented by GA's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for this year's critical Presidential election. For years, she has been joining us on the show --- as she does again today --- to warn about the now-failed systems, month after month, as the Secretary moved forward with his Big Government mandate to force all counties in the state to switch to the new, dangerous, computerized voting systems.

One county (Athens-Clarke), whose County Board of Elections voted in March to use hand-marked paper ballots instead of Raffensperger's $104 million touchscreens, was threatened with fines and legal action by the Secretary if they refused to use his new systems made by Dominion Voting, a Canadian company whose lobbyist in Georgia was the Chief of Staff for the former Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp. Raffensperger's strong-arming did the trick. The County used the disease-vector touchscreens on Tuesday along with all of the others.

The multiple failures of the electronic pollbook computers and computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices and optical-scan computers used at every polling place in the state resulted in hours-long lines for voters throughout the day. Precincts in 20 counties were ordered by courts to remain open for hours past their scheduled closing time, with the last voter reportedly casting a vote at 12:37am on Wednesday.

The shameful story in Georgia is very similar to the disaster that occurred here in Los Angeles County during the March 3rd Super Tuesday election this year, after County officials failed to heed our warnings about their new $300 million touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system that similarly crashed and burned on Election Day and resulted in the disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters.

"Maybe it is the nature of the beast," Marks laments today. "It seems like in all matters of civil rights, things have to get to such an extreme that disaster has to happen, maybe multiple times, before society can pay attention." While there has been quite a bit of media coverage of Georgia's disaster today, where were they when their coverage might have made a difference before voters lost their right to vote?

As to who is to blame, Raffensperger still refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever. He blames county poll workers for being poorly trained to operate his needlessly complex systems. Like Donald Trump, Raffensperger takes no responsibility for what went wrong, despite being responsible for forcing all counties to use the new system. In fact, he told Georgia Public Radio yesterday, as voters were lined up for blocks and blocks (and blocks) in the blazing Georgia heat and humidity and thunderstorms to try and cast their vote, that it was "a good day for Georgia". He actually described the primary as "a great success."

Marks sees it differently, as does most of the world. "Ninety percent of this problem was caused by Raffensperger and the State Election Board, because they insisted that the state and the counties use the very complex, Rube Goldberg systems that nobody had been trained on, that hadn't been properly tested, shoving them in during pandemic conditions when they could have simply used the scanner and hand-marked paper ballots, and a paper pollbook, and had a simple election during pandemic conditions," she says. "The Secretary of State insisted on this roll-out. And gave the counties almost no choice. They could have defied him, and he would likely have fined them. He set them up for failure."

Marks, whose earlier lawsuit resulted in Georgia's previous touchscreen voting system being found unconstitutional in federal court, with the judge ordering that they could never be used against in the Peach State, has a continuing federal complaint against the new system. She tells me she expects to be back in court soon. "Before, the State was claiming that all of our claims were just speculative. Well, you know what? They're not speculative anymore. We have fabulous evidence --- horrendous evidence --- that this system does not create an accountable election."

A registered Republican, Marks says it is not too late for Georgia to change course before November, though the court may have to force them to do so. She also cautions about similar unnecessarily complex and already-failed new computer voting systems being used in other states --- including battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina --- instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots for this year's critical Presidential election. Since the corporate media are unlikely to make the necessarily noise before the next election disaster --- when it might be preventable --- Marks suggests voters can take action on their own to demand hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (as backup to the e-pollbooks).

"Write a letter to your Secretary of State and State Election Board, and demand it," she advises. "Something that is likely to be more effective, even though it's harder --- it's going to take some effort for voters to actually protect their elections --- is call every member of your county's bipartisan election board. You can find them because they're local citizens. Say 'You've got authority, County Election Board! We want an auditable election! We want it done with hand-marked paper ballots, and we want audits afterward. Don't wait for the state to tell you that you have to audit. Don't wait for a judge to tell you that you have to have accountable ballots. Do it on your own. Do it now, while you have time to do it!'" She argues "these counties need the pressure from the citizens, and the citizens need to put pressure on the county boards as well as the local Democratic Party and local Republican Party."

As we've said many times, this democracy ain't gonna save itself!

Next --- speaking of things that take years of disaster before they are ever reformed --- Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, the unarmed African-American killed by cops in Minneapolis two weeks ago, testified to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today. We share his emotional opening statement calling on Congress to help "stop the pain" at a hearing meant to discuss a Democratic initiative in Congress for sweeping change to the nation's policing policies. As you might imagine, they are meeting Republican resistance in both chambers of Congress.

Finally today, more change in the wake of Floyd's killing: NASCAR announced today that it will ban the Confederate Flag from its events, and Donald Trump ends up firmly on the wrong side of history --- again --- as he declared he would "not even consider" renaming U.S. military bases, such as Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, which are named for Confederate Army officers. That, despite their namesake's support of slavery and their treason in launching a war against the United States, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans. While Pentagon officials, including Trump's own Defense Secretary, have said they are open to the idea, and a host of retired generals --- including the commanders of some of the 10 bases named for Confederate traitors --- favor renaming the military posts, Trump insisted on Twitter today, without any apparent irony, that the bases are a part of "a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."

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Surprise! The Peach State's new $104 million, unverifiable touchscreen vote system melts down in its first statewide election; Also: IPS' Chuck Collins on inequality and the 'Wall Street casino' coronavirus jackpot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have predicted it? Another Election Day meltdown in Georgia? Even with the brand new, $104 million, unverifiable, disease-vector touchscreen voting system the state's Republican Secretary of State forced every voter in the state to use at the polls for the first time during Tuesday's twice-postponed Presidential primary in the critical battleground state? Yup. And what has been happening on Wall Street of late underscores how perilous this moment is, and the need to save the voting system in the battleground Peach State before the critical November 3rd elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Yes, as we've been warning for years now, the roll out of Secretary Brad Raffensperger's new computerized voting system would be a disaster for Georgia voters --- at least for those in or near Atlanta in some of the most heavily Democratic, heavily minority counties in the state. Voters reported wait times as long as 2, 3 and 4 hours in precinct after precinct, to cast their votes today --- even those who showed up before 6am in hopes of being first in line!

New computerized electronic poll-books failed. New computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed. New optical-scan computers used to scan the unverifiable ballots printed out by the $4,000 electronic pens (BMDs) failed. What didn't fail was Raffensperger's propensity to blame county officials and poll workers who risked their lives to help voters vote during a deadly pandemic for his own failures to implement a simple, verifiable and much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system.

More disturbing, the outrageous (if predictable) catastrophic failures of his new systems --- featuring touchscreens made by Canada's Dominion Voting Systems --- come even after Raffensperger ordered absentee ballot applications sent to each of the state's 6.9 million active registered voters (whatever "active" means in his assessment) to help mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 on state voters. Many of those in the same counties which saw huge lines at a reduced number of polling places on Tuesday reported never receiving their requested absentee ballots in the mail.

Today, we detail just some of the hundreds of reported nightmares voters faced trying to vote on Tuesday in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Muscogee and other counties in the Peach State, as voting equipment was missing altogether at some polling places when they opened; as hand-marked paper ballots quickly ran out at precincts where electronic voting systems couldn't be booted up or failed to work properly once they were turned on; as County officials called for official investigations; and as Raffensperger tried to blame it all on everyone but himself. Yes, we have spent many months (in fact, years now) detailing the lawsuits filed against him, as voters (and some counties) begged him to to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system instead.

Then: No, you are not crazy. You are not imagining it. Yes, up is down and down is up right now. Coronavirus infection rates are, indeed, spiking in a whole bunch of states that have opened up for business around the U.S., despite many collectively pretending the nightmare is over. It isn't. But much of the nation, encouraged by Donald Trump and his supporters, is now pretending otherwise. Similarly, on Wall Street, investors are pretending that the economy is great and the worst of the coronavirus pandemic's shock to the U.S. financial system is over. Of course, we now know the economy had already gone into recession as of February, even before the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns had begun, ending an 11-year economic expansion that started during Barack Obama's administration and ended under Trump's.

But Wall Street is decidedly not the economy, where, back here in the real world, tens of millions of Americans are newly jobless amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Nonetheless, on Wall Street, the Nasdaq closed at a record high on Tuesday and both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes have rallied back in recent days to near the record highs they were at before the economy crashed. Billionaires on Wall Street are so drunk with irrational exuberance and flush with decades of sweet sweet tax cut cash that they are even beginning to buy up shares in companies that have filed for bankruptcy amid the crash.

According to the Institute of Policy Study's updated "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report, between March 18 (roughly the start of the pandemic shutdown), through the fist week of June, "U.S. billionaire's total wealth surged by over $565 billion," even as 42.6 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment. What explains the obscene inequality between the billionaire oligarch class and all of the rest of us?

We're joined today by CHUCK COLLINS, co-author of the IPS study as Director of their Program on Inequality and the Common Good, where he co-edits Inequality.org, to explain what happened and how we can --- and must --- begin to correct the absurd, decades-long and still-growing imbalances in our economy.

"Only 14% of Americans have direct investments in stock," Collins explains. "So this tells us the story of how the top ten percent --- and in this case, how the billionaires --- are seeing their wealth surge during an unfortunate time for everyone else."

"We're now at the culmination of four decades of growing income and wealth inequality. As we went into the pandemic, we were at maybe our greatest unequal level since the Gilded Age. And the reality is, since 2009, only about 20 percent of households have recovered where they were in terms of savings and net worth prior to the Great Recession of 2008. So, think about that --- 80 percent of households went into the pandemic with an economic hangover, still not really fully back on their feet in the last eleven years. This recession and pandemic are going to supercharge the existing income and wealth inequalities that we are already living through."

Collins charges that "we're just absorbing now the pre-existing condition of extreme inequality in America," while reminding us that America did manage to "reverse the first Gilded Age" about 100 years ago. But, he cautions, "It required the fight of our lives. And that's what we're heading into."

As you might suspect, the solutions begin (though do not end) at the ballot box. But, he says, as he details a number of programs that could reverse our current Gilded Age, "the pressure is building" and "people understand the rich have been gaming the system." But, the reversal will not come easily, as "we're living in an oligarchy where the rich use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the 2020 hurricane season is already breaking records; as the Trump Administration is using coronavirus Shock Doctrine politics to roll back tons of public health and endangered species protections while few are noticing; and as record warmth in May has resulted in a catastrophic oil spill on the melting permafrost in Siberia...

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New stats prove 'opening' the country now will be a deadly disaster; COVID death projection doubled; Also: Attorney Doug Ecks on new details about L.A. County's $300 million touchscreen voting system debacle...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2020 7:09pm PT  

I might have headlined this show "See? I told ya so!", except Rush Limbaugh ruined that phrase for all of us years ago. On today's BradCast: The Administration's persistent lies about coronavirus and Trump's pressure to "open" the country long before we should (since he's failed to marshal any national plan whatsoever for broad testing and contact tracing) will result in tens of thousands of more deaths than necessary. But we told you so long ago. Meanwhile, more evidence is in to prove Los Angeles County's new, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting systems was a disaster for voters (but we told you so there as well, long ago) even though Bernie Sanders was finally, officially, announced the winner of the California Presidential Primary --- two months after it was held on Super Tuesday. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

As we have been warning, there is currently no good reason to throw open the doors for business amid the coronavirus pandemic, other than Donald Trump really thinks that doing so will improve the economy and his chances of winning re-election. But Trump's Fantasy World beliefs that it is safe to do so are belied by more and more evidence in both this country and around the world --- and even from his own Administration's unreleased figures. The New York Times today reports on private projections by FEMA and the CDC that the daily death rate in the U.S. could reach as high as 3,000 deaths by June 1, particularly with the loosening of restrictions around the country by mostly Republican Governors. Perhaps that's one reason Trump, on Sunday, conceded that the death rate could reach 100,000 in the coming weeks after telling us just two weeks ago that he excepted about half that many deaths, around 50,000.

But, as health and science experts have been at pains to try and tell us, nothing has actually changed to make opening up any safer now that it was back in March, when the epidemic caught fire in the U.S. In fact, infection rates have been spiking in many areas, particularly in rural regions of the country. The newly unearthed FEMA/CDC docs forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of this month in the U.S., as compared to the current rate of about 25,000 confirmed new infections per day.

New statistics coming in from countries around the world which have begun opening up their economies again, show the number of infections and deaths beginning to spike there again. And today, the model at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has been revised. Their previous projections of an estimated 70,000 U.S. deaths by August has now been doubled to nearly twice number that at 135,000, due, they announced, to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility. The IHME model has long been used by the White House and others, and we have long told you that it was extremely conservative in its projections. (So, again, yeah, told ya so.) Even a Republican Governor, Mississippi's Tate Reeves, wisely decided late Friday to hold back for the moment on the further loosening of restrictions in his state. The announcement cane during a press conference where he had originally planned to do so. That, due to a spike in the state's infection and death rate after he lifted some restrictions prematurely on April 24.

All told, that's a helluva lotta dead Americans piling up all so that Trump and Republicans can try to stay in power.

In related news, we have a quick follow-up today on a new poll we covered last week that found Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in Texas(!) by 1 point, essentially a tie. As we mentioned last week, that poll from Public Policy Polling could simply be an outlier. But, over the weekend a second poll, this one from the Dallas Morning News/University of Texas, also finds Biden and Trump deadlocked in the Lone Star state with 43% a piece among registered voters. Maybe those polls are not outliers and Texas could finally be a battleground state that could flip "blue" this year for the first time since 1976. November is a thousand years away of course, but, once again, it all underscores that every vote in every state will count this year. Thus, the fight now playing out over how people will be able to vote in both upcoming primary elections around the country and in this November's critical Presidential election.

We've been reporting in recent weeks on a spate of lawsuits around the country and both good and bad news --- depending on the state and county --- regarding moving away from dangerous, disease vector touchscreen voting systems and towards much safer absentee ballots. Another new lawsuit toward that end was filed in Tennessee over the weekend by the National Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, challenging what they describe as "some of the most restrictive absentee voting rules in the nation".

But here in Los Angeles, the County's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to require that a Vote-by-Mail ballot be automatically sent to every registered voter in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction this November. That is encouraging news, given that the County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has been clinging to his new, failed $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system that crashed and burned so spectacularly during the March 3 Super Tuesday Primary in the state.

On that score, we have the "breaking" news late Friday from CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, certifying that Bernie Sanders defeated Joe Biden by 8 points (36 to 28%) on March 3rd, after the Golden State's already 30-day long counting and certification period was extended to two months due to the COVID crisis. In Los Angeles County, Sanders enjoyed an 11 point win over the former Vice President and now presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee. So, no, despite what some in the media had irresponsibly told you, California was not stealing the election from Bernie (nor does any evidence persuasively show that they did so in 2016 either.)

We do, however, have more information today on the boondoggle "VSAP" (or Voting Solutions for All People) voting system that Logan forced on L.A. voters for the first time --- and, hopefully, the last --- on March 3rd. We're joined today by DOUG ECKS, a private attorney who, with Katherine McNenny, filed a public records request with Logan's office after the election to learn the number of new touchscreen voting systems that failed and the number of new electronic pollbooks that did the same, leading to hours-long voting lines in Los Angeles. They also sought copies of problem report records from poll workers.

While the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office failed to respond with any hard numbers on system failures (Ecks says he may sue to get that information), they did provide hundreds of page of problem reports from poll workers that Ecks and McNenny recently wrote about at Medium. Ecks joins us to detail some of those findings today and to discuss the importance of public oversight of our elections.

Among the news from their records request: the systems failed all across the county, often spectacularly. One problem report he notes, for example, found that 11 of 30 voting machines failed at a single voting location. That's an extraordinary failure rate for the brand-new tablet-style systems, developed over 10 years at extraordinary expense to tax-payers by Logan. When I asked Ecks today if, based on his findings, he thought the systems should be used again in the future, he answered with his own question: "If you bought 30 gallons of milk and 11 were spoiled, would you go back to that store?"

We finish up today with a few quick thoughts from callers...

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Guest: Iowa U.S. House candidate J.D. Scholten; Also: The fight for safe, verifiable elections is now a state-by-state, county-by-county battle...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Make no mistake. Donald Trump's Executive Order earlier in the week pretending to force meatpacking plants to stay open did no such thing, despite how it was misreported by the corporate media. But for those really interested in protecting the nation's food supply, there is an answer. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]

Trump's order was issued as meatpackers working on lines across the country, now at least 7,000 of them, have been infected with coronavirus, with at least 25 of them now killed by it. Workers are being sacrificed as Just four Big Ag monopolies now control 85% of the nation's beef supply with just 50 plants producing 98% of it for the nation.That is down from thousands that did so all across the country until recent decades when those four mostly foreign-owned companies were allowed to buy up and dangerously consolidate the nation's food supply.

It is now costing us in a number of ways. Many of the worst COVID-19 hot spots across the country are in meatpacking plants with hundreds of infections in each and many of those are concentrated in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. While the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance recommendations for how the crowded plants may be run more safely, OSHA has made those recommendations voluntary, not mandatory. Thus, the Big Ag companies are largely ignoring the CDC safety guidelines in order to keep cranking out the meat, no matter the deadly cost to the workers and their families and communities where the disease continues to spread.

In Republican-run states like SD, NE and IA, the Governors have refused to issue stay-at-home orders, despite pleas from local Mayors and health officials to do so. Worse, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has told the companies that they may regard any workers too afraid to risk their lives by showing up to work in unsafe conditions as having voluntary quit. Therefore, says Reynolds, those workers will not qualify for state unemployment benefits when the companies fire them. As all of this has played out, and plants have been forced to shut down with workers literally collapsing on the lines, the nation has begun to see shortages of beef, pork and chicken in grocery stores, leading the CEO of Tyson Foods to recently declare that the "the food supply chain is breaking." No kidding. But that is thanks, in no small part, to the consoladition of companies by Tyson and the few others!

Fifth generation Iowan J.D. SCHOLTEN, who joins us on today's show, says that it doesn't have to be this way. The Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Iowa's 4th Congressional District blames the consolidation of the nation's food supply by a handful of companies for multiple disasters the industry is now facing. "One of the reasons we're a secure nation is because we are a food secure nation," Scholten tells me. "And we're getting dangerously close to being so concentrated that we're very vulnerable. This pandemic has put a spotlight on that. If one plant goes down for any reason, that really hurts the entire system."

Scholten is running for Congress this year again after nearly unseating 9-term Republican white nationalist Rep. Steve King in 2018, when the Democratic nominee was just over 3 points shy of winning in the deep-red district that Donald Trump won by 27 points in 2016. He argues today that the threats to our broken food supply chain --- with few farm-to-table restaurants in the entire state, despite being the very heart of Farm County --- can easily be fixed if the nation enforces long-ignored trust busting laws already on the federal books.

"We had this battle 100 years ago," he says, "and, as a result, we had the Packers and Stockers Act. That was in 1921. Next year, which I hope to be my first year in Congress, will be the 100th anniversary" of the Act which he wants to see invoked again. "I think it's a real opportunity coming out of this that farmers and workers come together. If we enforce our anti-trust laws, we can balance the playing field, allow farmers to stay on their land and make a dime, and allow workers to make an honest wage and be respected."

He also believes that the crisis has turned many of Iowa's previously-solid Republicans away from their Party. "It's really in the last couple of weeks where we've really gotten the attention of farmers who, I would say, traditionally don't give a crap about the Democratic candidate in this race. I've had a number of Republicans, whether they're farm managers or actual farmers, reach out to me and say, 'You're dead on, on this issue! Thank you for saying something, because we all know [Steve] King won't.'"

Scholten wants to restore regional systems of food production and delivery that he says "will benefit Iowa. Not only will it help our farmers, it will help our rural communities. If we create this alternative local and regional food system, for pennies on the dollar, it would create so many decent jobs in rural Iowa that have really gone to the wayside."

We discuss all of that and much more today, including why he thinks that this year he may finally be able to remove the execrable racist Steve King from office once and for all and how the Hawkeye State now plans to mail absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter for their upcoming June 2nd primary. Scholten is running unopposed in the primary, but King --- who has been removed by House Republican leadership from all of his committee assignments after racist statements that even they couldn't ignore --- is facing a challenge from four other Republicans. Scholten believes King will win the GOP nod anyway, but will be cash-starved after doing so.

Next, the continuing state-by-state and county-by-county slog to reform election procedures to ensure voters can safely vote in upcoming primaries and this November's critical general election amid a global pandemic. On that score, bad news for voters out of the GOP-controlled state legislature in Louisiana, where in-person voters across the entire state are forced to vote at the polls on unverifiable touchscreen voting systems which are now also deadly disease vectors for the coronavirus. While the state's Republican Secretary of State and Democratic Governor had struck a deal for a scheme that would allow most voters in the state to vote by absentee ballot, Republicans in the state legislature gutted most of that proposal to make voting by mail much more restrictive. How did both state chambers hold full votes on the measure? They voted by mail of course!

Much better news for voters this week in two counties in Pennsylvania where primaries will be held on June 2nd as well. Election officials in Crawford and Luzerne Counties --- which previously forced all voters to use 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polls --- have now decided to allow in-person voters to vote on hand-marked paper ballots instead. Happily, few will even need to do so. Late last year the state, for the first time in its history, adopted a measure that allows for no-excuse absentee voting for all. Many voters will be sent an absentee ballot application for the primary in the mail, but all registered voters may request a mail ballot online at VotesPA.com by May 26. The deadline to register to vote in the Keystone State's primary is May 18.

Finally, we close today with a song and a laugh to shuffle off into the weekend. Once again, it comes from satirist Randy Rainbow, who joins the President in offering a "Spoonful of Clorox" to make the COVID infection rate go down. [PLEASE NOTE: A spoonful of Clorox will not kill the coronavirus. It will, however, kill you. So don't drink any!]

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Guest: Attorney Courtney Hostetler; Also: Studies find COVID deaths twice as high as thought, infections 25 to 80 times higher; And 'final dagger in heart of U.S. shale oil industry'?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2020 7:08pm PT  

We've got a whole lot jammed into one single hour of The BradCast today. So let's take this one step at a time and hope for the best. You may wish to stay away from anything that is breakable over the course of the hour. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

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

  • Hydroxychloroquine, the magical "100% cure!" for COVID-19 that Fox "News" promoted endlessly for weeks on end along with their stooge President in the White House, is, according to a new study of hundreds of patients at Veterans Health Administration medical centers across the country, not a cure at all. In fact, 28 percent of infected patients given the malaria drug along with regular care died, while only 11 percent who received the same care but without the hydroxychloroquine died. That's just one of the reasons you likely haven't heard either Fox or Trump, who encouraged folks to take it ("What do you have to lose?," he repeated over and again) mention it at all lately;
  • A new analysis of UK data by the Financial Times finds the number of coronavirus-related deaths there are likely more than twice as high as the officially confirmed count, which only tallies those who have died in hospitals after testing positive for the virus. The analysis confirms other similar studies of inexplicably high death rates (for any reason) in countries around the world, far in excess of average numbers this time of year, even after official COVID-19 are removed from the statistics;
  • While that study and others like it suggest the NUMBER of deaths, both directly and indirectly attributable to the pandemic, are likely at least twice as high as officially recognized, the death RATE for the coronavirus may be much smaller. A new study by USC and Los Angeles County, examining those with antibodies for the virus present in their systems, suggest that infections are far more widespread than previously understood. Infection rates appears to be as much as 28 to 55 times higher than previously understood in L.A. That study appears to confirm a similar one in Santa Clara County in Northern California, finding the rate of infection there to be as much as 50 to 80 times higher than previously known;
  • In short, there is a LOT that is not understood about this deadly virus, making it all the more insane that Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp (now followed by several other GOP Governors across the country) is planning to re-open the state's hair salons, tattoo shops, bowling alleys, massage parlors and other places of business this Friday, with movie theaters and restaurants set to be opened on Monday. During his stunning Monday announcement, Kemp claimed that "health care professionals" agreed with his action, even though members of his state's own COVID-19 task force and the mayors of its largest cities were never consulted and are reportedly furious. CNN reported on Wednesday morning that both Trump and Vice President Pence called Kemp on Tuesday to express their support for the move (even though mere seconds after we got off air today, Trump apparently flip-flopped during the White House briefing to claim he "strongly disagreed" with Kemp and thought it was "too soon" to reopen.);
  • Definitely not consulted in any of this were the state's front-line health care workers like Lawrenceville, GA physician Dr. Karla Lorraine. We share her moving "viral" video --- shot at work, while still in some of her personal protective equipment after hearing news of Kemp's announcement --- in which she begs people, through her own tears, to "please stay home!";
  • Next, as we do, we turn to what the hell people can do about all of this madness, beginning with VOTING these madmen out of office this year. To that end, we're joined today by attorney COURTNEY HOSTETLER, counsel at Free Speech for People, one of the groups representing the NAACP in a new lawsuit filed in North Carolina to prevent the use of new, "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" (yes, now infectiously dangerous) touchscreen voting systems in more than 20 counties across the very closely divided battleground state this November.

    The lawsuit [PDF] is one of many being filed in state after state as jurisdictions move to change voting procedures in the wake of a global pandemic. Aside from being a vector for spreading disease in many rural and urban counties (including Mecklenberg, the state's largest, most diverse and Democratic-leaning) Hostetler explains how the specific new systems in question, the ES&S ExpressVote, creates barcoded "paper ballot" summary cards that can never be verified as accurately reflecting the intent of any voter. The same systems, she explains, are also insecure and prone to failure, as seen in several states where those systems and very similar ones made by ES&S --- the nation's top supplier of voting systems and the largest private vendor in the country --- have failed in recent elections and were found vulnerable to hacking and manipulation in test labs.

    She also details a number of other maddening reasons that these expensive, dangerous, insecure and unverifiable new voting machines must be replaced with hand-marked paper ballot systems before the state's critical Presidential election this November.

  • Finally today, a few thoughts on crashing oil prices amid a worldwide glut that has led producers to literally pay people to take oil off their hands for lack of storage. One analyst suggests this moment is "probably going to be the final dagger in the heart of the U.S. shale oil industry." Yes, he means this could be the end of fracking in the U.S., at least for oil, if not natural gas. So, maybe something good after all can come out of all of our ongoing disasters...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: GA's Gov. Kemp plays politics with the health of state residents...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desperate to salvage Donald Trump's re-election chances, the White House and several GOP Governors are apparently now set on putting hundreds of thousands of Americans in their own states at grave risk. But, hey, this year's critical Presidential election ain't gonna just win itself, ya know! [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

We start today with some very smart "math and reality" from BradCast commenter "ComputerGeek" at DailyKos. Last Friday, he or she, posted a lengthy comment in response to our show on the emerging Death Cult that the GOP --- the formerly self-proclaimed "pro-life" party --- has now clearly become, in their latest twisted efforts to retain power at all costs.

ComputerGeek broke down the number of daily tests for coronavirus in the U.S. that would be needed, according to health experts, to re-open the economy safely. He/she put the number at anywhere from 11.6 million tests per day, to a much more conservative 1.1 million tests per day, depending on if you wanted to test the entire population every two weeks or just 10% of it. Either way, the numbers are insanely higher than the average 150,000 tests per day currently being carried out across the country, and bragged about by the President and Vice President alike. As they claimed during a briefing last week --- in defiance of reality-based health experts --- those testing numbers are now sufficient to allow states to begin gradually reopening once they reach a decline in documented cases over two weeks.

But "ComputerGeek" is just an anonymous Internet commenter. We can safely ignore his/her numbers asserting that anywhere from 1 to 12 million tests are needed daily, right? Wrong. A new study [PDF] out on Monday from a Harvard University panel of more than 45 experts in health, science and economics warns that 5 million tests per day by early June are necessary to ensure a safe reopening of portions of the economy, and that number "will need to increase over time (ideally by late July) to 20 million a day to fully remobilize the economy," according to the authors. Even then, they warn, it might not be enough to "protect public health".

The Director of Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which released the report, argues "This Roadmap is the only approach to BOTH contain the virus and ramp back up to vibrant economic life." Of course, we are nowhere near those kind of testing numbers in the U.S., as we have barely checked 4 million people in total since the pandemic began several months ago. Moreover, most of the nation's Governors reject the absurd advocacy from Trump and Pence, which contradicts their own health and science experts.

But not all of the Governors favor math and reality! Following a weekend of small protests by Trump supporters --- egged on by Rightwing astroturf groups, Fox "News" and the President himself --- objecting to continuing stay-at-home restrictions issued by Democratic Governors, a number of Republican Governors have decided its time to put their state's residents at increased risk of death by opening back up for business before virtually anybody believes it is safe to do so. Leading that list is Georgia's illegitimate, dumb-as-dirt Republican Governor Brian Kemp. After insisting just last week that it was too early to determine whether restrictions should be relaxed, Kemp announced on Monday that he is throwing the doors open for gyms, hair and nail salons and bowling alleys on Friday of this week and restaurants, movie theaters and churches by Monday! Moreover, he declared when making his surprise announcement yesterday --- without having bothered to consult with either of the Mayors of his state's two largest cities first --- that he "don't give a damn about politics right now." Sure ya don't, Guv.

But, speaking of politics in Georgia, voters soon to be at risk anew from the coronavirus under Kemp's dangerous new political scheme, are figuring out how to (literally) survive the state's upcoming primary elections now rescheduled for June 9th. That, after troubling (if predictable) data has begun to emerge from the state of Wisconsin, which held in-person elections two weeks ago after being forced to do so by the Republicans in their state legislature and on both the state and U.S. Supreme Courts. According to Milwaukee's Health Commissioner, at least 7 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed as having been tied to the state's April 7th election, with only 30% of the data so far reviewed following the two week incubation period for the virus. Six voters and one poll worker, to date, are known to have become infected after voters were forced to wait on hours-long lines and crowd into just 5 polling places in the city which usually offers 182 locations.

Late on Monday, our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, announced the filing of a 132-page federal lawsuit [PDF] against Georgia's Secretary of State which, she quips, could have been filed as just one page reading: "Don't be Wisconsin!"

In fact, the complaint includes more than 30 demands sought by the group to help ensure safety for the Peach State's voters during the primary. The complaint seeks to move the election from its currently scheduled June 9th date to June 30th in order to buy three more weeks of time in hopes of seeing the state's infection numbers come down. "Given the foolishness and recklessness that [Kemp] engaged in yesterday," she tells me, "it is probably now even more important to get that additional time to get more preparations." The June 9th date was already a replacement date after the state's initially-planned vote on April 28 was postponed due to the crisis.

The suit also seeks to force Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger to send absentee ballot request forms to 625,000 registered voters to whom he previously sent them to the wrong addresses, and to allow counties to use hand-marked paper ballots if they choose in order to avoid dangerous new touchscreen voting systems mandated across the state, despite the devices having become a vector for spreading disease during a pandemic. "It really doesn't take an epidemiologist to tell us that viruses are going to travel on those machines," Marks argues. It's not only the voting machines themselves, when using touchscreens, that presents a health hazard, as this graphic she posted last night on Twitter makes very clear.

Other changes sought by the Coalition --- which has successfully sued the state in the past to decertify touchscreen voting systems and prevent the rejection of absentee ballots, among other things --- include curbside voting for all ("Think of it as a kind of Sonic Drive-In form of voting"), personal protective equipment for poll workers, masks for voters and other demands which, remarkably, have not yet already been enacted by the state. The list of changes sought in the complaint also provides a useful template for voters in other states who may wish to hold officials accountable for doing the right thing, as more than 20 states still have upcoming primaries and all 50 will somehow have to figure out a way to hold safe elections this November.

"Look at Wisconsin," Marks reminds us. "They didn't start getting serious until it was too late. We're not seeing these kind of changes take place in other states as fast as we should. States should be enacting these things now."

(By the way, keep an eye out for Marilyn in HBO's disturbing new documentary Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections! You can watch it for free on HBO's YouTube channel through the end of May right here. And listen to my recent interview with the filmmakers right here.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report in which oil prices have now crashed so low --- actually into negative territory! --- that some companies are literally paying people to take oil off their hands! Also, the Trump EPA is setting new standards for poisoning Americans, even during a pandemic, and Earth Day celebrants are trying to figure out how to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the annual event tomorrow amid stay-at-home orders, a global pandemic, and a still-worsening climate crisis...

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Guest: Legendary FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More states postpone primaries, consider moving to Vote-by-Mail; GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 11 months...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: America continues to adjust to the pandemic, as the most critical election in our nation's history is now threatened by a virus, even as voters in three major states hit the polls on Tuesday. At least some of them did. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

We begin another bizarre day in the Coronavirus Era with just a spot of good news. California's wildly corrupt GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., who, with his wife, was charged with more than 60 felonies, but pleaded guilty to just one in a deal last December after it became clear his wife would testify against him, was sentenced to 11 months in prison today. The couple had stolen as much as a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal luxuries during Hunter's six elected terms before he finally resigned in disgrace in January. He, along with New York's GOP Congressman Chris Collins (who was recently sentenced to 26 months for insider trading), were the first two members of the U.S. House to endorse Donald Trump's run for the Presidency.

And with that somewhat good news out of the way, it's on to the more disturbing news we must try and make sense of today. Even as Florida, Illinois and Arizona all decided to hold their Presidential primary elections on Tuesday amid quarantines, closures, lock-downs and social distancing directives, other states continued to take more responsible measures.

Ohio, which was also scheduled to vote on Tuesday, postponed their primary election today amid no small amount of chaos, with the state's Governor taking extraordinary measures to do so late Monday night after initially being blocked by a state court.

Maryland's Governor today announced that his state would join others, such as Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky in postponing their primary until June. It was previously scheduled for April 28. They will, however, still hold the April 28 Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. That election, however, will now be an all Vote-by-Mail (VBM) election. That as other states consider either postponing or changing to all-VBM elections for the foreseeable future during the virus outbreak.

The affects of the pandemic were seen in all three states which voted today, including poll closures, low turnout, and shortages of poll workers, many of whom are elderly and the most susceptible to the worst affects of the virus. Hundreds of them in South Florida, for example, decided to cancel at the last minute rather than be exposed to hundreds of people all day in crowded polling locations left open despite the CDC's recommendation to avoid all crowds larger than 10 at this time.

We're joined today by a guest well-accustomed to both chaos and elections. ION SANCHO is Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida's former longtime Supervisor of Elections as well as a champion voting rights advocate and opponent of private voting system vendors. During his nearly 30 years as one of the state's (and nation's) most respected election officials, he has held elections amid hurricane catastrophes and political ones. He was tapped by his fellow state officials in 2000 to oversee the eventually-aborted Presidential election recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Sancho has plenty of thoughts and insight to offer today amid the current chaos and challenges now faced by elections officials and voters alike. We discuss the likely necessity of all states moving to VBM elections for the duration of the crisis, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure such elections are carried out with integrity.

"The entire primary and elections process is going to have to be re-examined, given this crisis," he tell me. "This pandemic provides a challenge like no other in my lifetime. Mail ballots may be the way out of this, but mail ballots require machinery. Mail ballots require high-speed counting devices. It can be done, and it can be done excellently, but it can't be done cheaply. So if that's something we're going to need to go to, we're need to prepare for that." He warns that voters, many of whom do not bother to change their address on their registration when they move within a county, should check their registration record to assure it's up to date immediately, or else they risk not receiving a ballot at all, when and if states begin moving to VBM.

And while money will need to be spent to transition to high-speed optical-scanners to tally hand-marked mail-in paper ballots in many locations, the cost and benefits would still be far greater for voters than in jurisdictions such as Georgia which recently spent more than $100 million dollars for new equipment that will force all voters at the polls to vote on new, germy, unverifiable, touchscreen voting systems which violate voters' privacy by revealing secret ballots to everyone in the polling place. "The COVID-19 virus may be a blessing in disguise for the citizens of Georgia," Sancho explains. "Using a hand-marked paper ballot system is not only more secure, it's three to ten times more inexpensive to operate and maintain."

But in addition to money, guidance will be needed on the federal level to ensure a move to mail-in voting is done in a way that doesn't disenfranchise voters, since, he explains, it is so much easier for VBM ballots to be rejected by officials for dubious reasons and without notifying voters so that they have sufficient time to cure any perceived deficiencies on their ballots. VBM would be a "fair solution [during this crisis] if you have fair elections administration. Jurisdictions like Oregon, for example, which has pioneered mail voting in the United States, provide 14 days for an individual to present themselves to cure a problem, a deficiency, in the mail ballot. States like Arizona, Washington and California provide 2-3 weeks of days to allow the voter to cure a problem. Then you run into states like Florida, that had to be sued to allow voters to cure their ballot after the election. The deadline for Florida to cure all deficiencies --- so how could you know about it? --- is the day before the election."

While some elections officials, he believes, would be careful to institute best practices, others, he warns, would not. "They don't concern themselves with how actual machinery is working in other places. They just depend upon their voting vendor to tell them what to do. We don't really have any kind of mechanism nationally to provide the best practices, to give guidance. Our national elections administration is a debacle," he says, along with much more that you'll want to hear.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the coronavirus epidemic has now cleared the air in both China and Italy, at least as far as toxic greenhouse gas emissions go, and has given Donald Trump yet another excuse to try and shore up the oil industry amid crashing prices. And, though much of it has now been lost to time and the global pandemic, we also examine the substantive debate on Sunday night between Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders regarding our climate crisis...

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

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