On today's BradCast we've got an excellent idea for Democrats, Republicans and everyone else who has any concerns about accurately reported election results in this year's critical midterm elections. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
But, first up, a few thoughts on a Republican Party in dangerous decline and what at least some long-time GOPers are now doing to put country over party.
We start with the sad tale, frankly, of how the GOP is using and/or abusing Georgia's former football hero and clearly unstable U.S. Senate nominee Hershel Walker for grotesquely partisan political purposes, despite the costs to the man who had no business or qualifications being put up as a candidate for U.S. Senate in the first place. In a thoughtful Twitter thread this week, Illinois' Democratic Rep. Sean Casten worries that Walker is on "a trajectory that does not end well." He describes him as "just one in a long, tragic legacy of disposable black men" for the Republican Party. Even now, Casten notes, elected GOP officials who put him up for the job have no interest in his well-being if there is any hope he might defeat GA's incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and help the party win a majority in the upper chamber of Congress.
There are some Republicans, however, who are proving to be much better than that. We are happy to laud some of them today, including Rep. Liz Cheney and (gasp!) Bill Kristol. Both are among a growing group of longtime GOPers who are not just calling out their party for the threat they now pose to American democracy itself, but are putting their money where their mouth is by actively supporting and endorsing pro-democracy Democratic candidates for office in battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona --- and even in ruby-red states like Idaho.
"I don't know that I have ever voted for a Democrat, but if I lived in Arizona now, I absolutely would...for Governor and for Secretary of State," Cheney said last week at a McCain Institute event at Arizona State University. She supports the Democratic bids for Governor by Katie Hobbs and for Sec. of State by Adrian Fontes. "We cannot be in a position where we elect people who will not fundamentally uphold the sanctity of elections," Cheney explained, referring to GOP Gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and SoS hopeful Mark Finchem, both of whom falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. If elected, both would be in a position to block state certification of a legitimate Democratic Presidential victory in 2024.
Of course, despite the complete lack of evidence to suggest that the 2020 election was stolen by anybody in any state, the lack of transparency and public oversight of our brittle and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems makes it easy for charlatans to dishonestly claim otherwise.
We have long advised that voters show up to their local polling place at closing time in order to take photos and videos of the cash register-style poll tapes that are printed out by voting machines and optical scanners. They are supposed to be printed and publicly posted there at the end of the night. Public documentation of those records can be very helpful when compared to results eventually reported for those precincts by towns, counties and states.
A new smart phone app called Actual Vote makes that process much easier for voters of all parties or no party at all, promises our guest today, DANIEL WOLF, CEO of AmericaCounts.us, a non-profit tech company that developed the free app.
Wolf has been observing elections since 1984, when he was sent to research election systems in Nicaragua. He explains today how he was struck after the controversial 2004 Presidential election in Ohio when poll tapes from dozens of Counties went missing well before the 22 months they are required to be preserved under federal law. Comparison of contemporaneously printed results at the precinct on those tapes with final results reported later can be helpful in ferreting out fraud (either foreign or domestic) or simple programming errors. As importantly, this sort of oversight, he argues, can also offer confidence to the public that results were tabulated and reported correctly as per voter intent.
"If people took a picture of the [poll] tape in the past, the question was, 'Who do I send it to?," he explains. But Actual Vote, in addition to assisting in the recording of poll tapes, allows the user to press a button to send those videos to a secure public server, where they are posted and where analysts can transcribe their numbers and compare them to final results in key jurisdictions.
"Anything that pops out, we then would go back to the election administrators and say, 'Look, we found a discrepancy. What about it?'," Wolf details. "Most of those discrepancies are going to be resolved. But those that aren't resolved can then be looked at more deeply. And if they cannot resolve that, then it gives the candidate or anybody else who is concerned about that particular race the ability to go into court and say 'I have documented evidence of discrepancies in the results reporting'."
Wolf notes that while "laws vary" from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction regarding the use of cameras at polling places, "once public information is posted in the public" after polls close, "you have a First Amendment right to take a picture of it."
His hope is that while Actual Vote could help surface fraud or simple error, broad use of the app may ultimately add confidence in election results for Republicans and Democrats alike, among whom he hopes to "ignite a war of mutual assured accountability."
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)