You may have noticed the nation is a bit of a tinder box right now. If the currently presumptive 2024 GOP nominee loses in Georgia again next year and just one precinct, out of thousands in the state, experiences something akin to what happened last week during elections in Northampton County, Pennsylvania... well, I don't even wanna think about the likely ramifications. Though we do discuss that today as part of our BradCast, which focuses almost exclusively on election-related lawsuits and criminal cases in the Peach State. Our guest is one of the plaintiffs in one of the most important cases you probably haven't heard about on your favorite cable news station. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
The long-awaited Curling v. Raffensperger voting system trial is finally set to begin in Atlanta in January, just after the start of the new Presidential election year in the critical battleground state Originally filed in 2017, the long-running federal lawsuit has already been extraordinarily consequential.
Among other things, it resulted in the 2019 banning of Georgia's then nearly 20-year old, unverifiable, insecure touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold after the judge still overseeing the case, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg, found the systems so deficient that their use was determined to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
In response, and ignoring the advice of voting system and cybersecurity experts, GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger replaced the Diebold systems with newer, similarly unverifiable and insecure touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion. The plaintiffs challenged the use of those systems on similar Constitutional grounds, hoping to see the state move to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots at all polling places, where voters are now forced to vote on the unverifiable touchscreen systems. Raffensperger has refused.
As AP noted last weekend, the case also "spawned a landmark expert report that identified vulnerabilities in the election system used in Georgia that led [the US Dept. of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (or CISA)] to issue an advisory" to all jurisdictions around the nation that use the same equipment, recommending they immediately apply security patches produced by Dominion to mitigate at least some of the systems' known insecurities. Raffensperger stunned the federal court in Atlanta earlier this year when his office announced they do not plan to apply the recommended security patches until after the 2024 Presidential election in the highly contested swing-state.
Perhaps most famously (or infamously?) the Curling case also resulted in the revelation of the January 7, 2021 statewide voting system software breach in Coffee County, GA. That led to the criminal indictment of Sidney Powell and four others, with Donald Trump, in Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis' sprawling racketeering conspiracy case against the former President and 18 alleged co-conspirators. The revelation of the unprecedented Coffee County breach, copying and Internet distribution of Dominion's sensitive software occurred when Atlanta bail bondsman, Scott Hall (who, along with Powell, has since pleaded guilty in the indictment), called and essentially confessed the entire plot to one of the plaintiffs in the 'Curling' case, who was smart enough to record the phone call. That call was originally aired by The BradCast in May of 2022.
That plaintiff, MARILYN MARKS, longtime, indefatigable election integrity champion and Executive Director of the non-profit good government group, Coalition for Good Governance, is once again our guest on today's program, as she and her team prepare for trial against Raffensperger and GA, now set by Judge Totenberg to begin on January 9th.
Late last week, Totenberg released a 135-page Opinion and Order [PDF], denying the State's attempt to dismiss the case and setting a trial date. For clarity, she took pains to note: "the record evidence does not suggest that the Plaintiffs are conspiracy theorists of any variety. Indeed, some of the nation's leading cybersecurity experts and computer scientists have provided testimony and affidavits on behalf of Plaintiffs' case in the long course of this litigation."
In the Order's conclusion, the federal judge emphasized: "The importance of the security, reliability, and functionality of state election systems, classified by the U.S. Homeland Security Department as critical national infrastructure, cannot be overstated in a world where cybersecurity challenges have exponentially increased in the last decade. The dynamics of how a breach in one part of a cyber system may potentially carry cybersecurity reverberations for the entire system for years to come exemplifies the important concerns raised in this case."
But, Totenberg also writes in her ruling that she is unable to order the use of a new voting system for the State, asserting that only the Legislature may do that. Thus, she urges the parties to find a compromise resolution. Nonetheless, as Marks explains today, this same judge, who will oversee a bench trial without a jury, found the old Diebold systems so dangerously deficient nearly five years ago, that she not only found them unconstitutional, she barred their use in any further Georgia elections.
"We've never asked for her to order hand-marked paper ballots," Marks clarifies today. "That ultimately just becomes the default, because state law already says that if the electronic system is not working, hand-marked paper ballots is what you go to. That's what the law says." She notes that Judge Totenberg "has the power to enjoin unconstitutional behavior, and that's what we are asking her to do."
"No amount of software patching is going to fix this Constitutional problem. No amount of so-called auditing. You can't do a real audit with those machine-printed ballots," argues Marks. After an election, only hand-marked paper ballots can be known to have been verified by the voter. Studies have found that voters didn't notice more than 93% of the time when a touchscreen voting system flipped their vote on a computer-printed paper ballot summary.
Last week, in Northampton, PA's elections, similar touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices to those used all across GA were showing voter selections one way on the screen in two different contests, in some cases, but printing the opposite on the paper that gets tallied. Imagine if that occurred in even one precinct next year in GA with Trump on the ballot. That is among the nightmare scenarios Marks is hoping to side-step by forcing the state to finally dump their insane --- and insanely expensive --- statewide system.
She says the solution is simple and inexpensive and can be done immediately. Emergency hand-markable paper ballots are already required at every precinct in the state. Just print more of them, and use the existing scanners in each polling location to tally them. "70% of Americans vote this way. This is not hard," Marks asserts. "Of course, the State pretends that it would take rocket science to make this happen."
There is, to say the least, much at stake in this upcoming trial, even as it is not receiving nearly the amount of attention of the other election-related case underway in GA right now, the Fulton County criminal case against Trump and his co-defendants. On that, we have some news as well on today's program, including...
- An attorney for defendant Misty Hampton, the former Coffee County Elections Director, claims he is the one who leaked video proffers of Powell, Hall, and Trump attorneys Ken Chesebro and Jenna Ellis to the media. But is he really?
- Willis is seeking the jailing of co-defendant Harrison Floyd for attempted witness intimidation. He is among those indicted in the conspiracy for threatening Atlanta election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss over false claims that they carried out ballot fraud in 2020.
- And Freeman and Moss are now seeking between $15 and $43 million from former NYC Mayor and Fulton County co-defendant Rudy Giuliani in their civil defamation trial against him in federal court. The Judge in that case has already found Giuliani liable. The D.C. trial set to begin in December against him will now determine how much he'll have to pay to the two women.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our last Green News Report before our Thanksgiving break! We will be off --- from both The BradCast and GNR next week. So we send our best and thanks to everyone! We will return after the holiday...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)