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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, November 26, 2021
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
Digging Deeper Into the Case for Homicide Charges Against Both Trump AND Pence: 'BradCast' 11/18/21
Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific Northwest; Admin's controversial oil and gas lease sale; F.T.C. to probe Big Oil corruption; PLUS: Biden promotes American-made EVs in Detroit...
Previous GNRs: 11/16/21 - 11/11/21 - Archives...
Deflating Inflation Panic: 'BradCast' 11/17
Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz on how it's misreported, good for many workers, bad for big banks; Also: 3+ years for 'QAnon Shaman'; Gosar censured; Biden' Big Oil probe; Sanders on 'Defense'...
The Unmistakable Drumbeat of Authoritarianism: 'BradCast' 11/16/21
Ominous warnings: Gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More on the attempt to steal 2020; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
'Green News Report' 11/16/21
U.N. climate summit ends with progress, compromise; Coal 'down' but not 'out' at Glasgow; PLUS: Biden signs landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal into law...
Long Roads to Accountability, Climate Action, Infrastructure: 'BradCast' 11/15
Bannon surrenders; COP26 concludes; Biden signs landmark, roads, bridges, enviro bill...
Sunday 'Big Bird, Little Bird' Toons
Flip on over to PDiddie's toon collection this week for the latest signs of the times...
Sports, Politics, Race and Florida:
'BradCast' 11/12/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Guber-natorial Candidate Annette Taddeo and The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!...
'Green News Report' 11/11/21
COP26 crunch time; Surprise US/China climate deal; Big EV agreement; Renewables rise in U.S.; PLUS: Nations under-reporting emissions, new analysis finds...
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: Richard DeMillo of Georgia Tech's School of Cybersecurity; Also: New UN climate report warns humanity faces 'unprecedented' danger...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2021 6:44pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, it's both "Code Red for humanity", according to the authors of the new report released today by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, synthesizing some 14,000 climate studies from the past 8 years. And it's also "code red" for American elections, most immediately, here in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

New polling out last week finds that the otherwise ridiculous Republican attempt to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is now supported by some 46% of those polled. In short, the effort to remove the Governor (for reasons nobody can quite explain, other than Republicans can no longer win regular statewide elections in the state) is now a dead heat. Who would replace Newsom if he's recalled? That is also unknown, as scores of Republicans are vying for the position, should voters choose "Yes" to recall the Governor on Question 1 of the ballot on September 14th. If a majority of voters do vote "Yes", then whoever wins on Question 2 on the ballot becomes the next Governor of the most populous state in the nation.

So, the stakes are pretty high. Which is just one of the reasons that it is so troubling that some of the largest counties in the state, including Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside, all offer voters 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems when they vote in person at the polling place.

The good news is that, due to the pandemic, the Secretary of State is sending all registered voters a hand-marked paper Vote-by-Mail ballot for the Recall. The bad news is that many voters, for various reasons, will use those unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device voting systems at the polling place instead. If enough of them do, it will be strictly impossible after the election to know if any of the computer-marked ballots printed by them actually reflect the intent of any voter.

The further bad news is that an ongoing federal lawsuit in Georgia, where plaintiffs hope a federal judge will permanently ban the state's brand new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by Dominion, has recently produced some disturbing news. One of the nation's top voting systems and cybersecurity experts, J. Alex Halderman of University of Michigan, hired by plaintiffs Coalition for Good Governance, has been given access to the Dominion ImageCastX systems used across the state, and his findings are reportedly so troubling, that the federal judge in the case has sealed his report, even from the plaintiffs themselves!

Last week, in a public declaration [PDF] in the case, Halderman warned his testing of those very systems "has shown that the BMDs used in Georgia suffer from specific, highly exploitable vulnerabilities that allow attackers to change votes," in a way that the state's mitigation techniques will not prevent. He says that his findings must be "urgently" reviewed by both the Sec. of State in Georgia as well as Dominion. But neither is allowed to see his report under the judge's seal, and neither has filed a motion to ask the Court to unseal it for them.

As my guest notes today, apparently they'd rather not learn about the vulnerabilities in their own systems. "If the report has anything approaching the level of vulnerability that Alex describes in his summary report, they would have to do something about it. So not knowing anything about it, gives them some breathing room" to try and figure out what they should do next, he tells me.

Why is this a problem for California? Because it is one of several states where some counties use the exact same system made by Dominion. Both San Diego and Riverside use the Dominon ImageCastX system at the polling place, where voters could end up removing the Governor in just over a month. Next door, in Los Angeles County, a similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device is now used at the polls.

Moreover, a study that Georgia's Sec. of State carried out last November, to determine if voters actually bother to review their computer-marked ballots printed out by the touchscreen systems before casting them, found that almost none of them did. The results of that study were kept secret by GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, and only released last week, after the Atlanta Journal Constitution obtained the results via GA's Open Records Act.

So what could all of this mean for California? Should anyone be surprised by either the results of the GA Sec. of State's study or the troubling findings by Halderman? Should these unverifiable and vulnerable BMD voting systems ever be used by any voter in an American election (other than disabled voters who may choose to use an assistive device)? And, by the way, is there any evidence that these systems may have somehow stolen the very close election for Joe Biden over Donald Trump last year in Georgia?

We're joined today by longtime cybersecurity and voting systems expert RICHARD DEMILLO, founder of Georgia Tech's new School of Cybersecurity and Privacy. He offers some cold, hard, well-informed thoughts on these systems and why Halderman's report may have been sealed by the federal judge in Atlanta. He also offers advice on whether voters in California, Georgia or any other state should ever choose to vote on one of these systems when the option of using a hand-marked paper ballot is available to them.

"The more machines you use, the more likely it is that they're going to be hacked. It's just a matter of numbers. The machines are vulnerable. There are people that are adversarial that want access to the machines. The more you make it available to them, the more likely it is that they'll be used that way," states DeMillo. "You're opening yourself up to a lot of risk that seems to be unnecessary."

In the meantime, should voters and election officials in California --- including in Riverside and San Diego, where the same unverifiable and vulnerable Dominion systems are used, as well as those in Los Angeles, where a very similar touchscreen system is now forced on all voters at the polling place --- be concerned about the new, court-sealed findings in Georgia?

DeMillo offers several, unequivocal answers. But, in short, yes, we should all be alarmed.

DeMillo also offers his thoughts on the MAGA argument that Georgia was stolen last year, and says that after requested by CNN to review MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell's "absolute proof" that the election was stolen from Trump (in what turned to be a brutal takedown for Lindell) he finds the only "absolute proof" Lindell offered is that he has absolutely no idea how elections actually work. "Literally, every word that comes out of his mouth about elections and whether or not they were hacked and how they were conducted, is simply contradicted by facts," DeMillo tells me. "There are other things to think about in election security, but that's not one of them."

Finally, we close with a few words (more to come later this week!) on the climate disaster now unfolding in places like Evia, Greece, where thousands were evacuated by passenger ferry overnight this weekend, hoping to outrun massive wildfires amid record heat that has now reportedly destroyed thousands of structures. That, on the same day that the IPCC warns our man-made climate crisis is now "unprecedented" and unfolding even quicker than scientists had predicted only a few short years ago...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Windham, NH auditor, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC Berkeley...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2021 7:04pm PT  

In support of his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, Donald Trump has been telling anyone who will listen that "thousands and thousands" of ballots have recently been discovered from the 2020 race, including in New Hampshire, where the state's Republican Governor certified his loss to Joe Biden by some 55,000 votes. But something troubling was discovered during a post-election hand-count last November in a small New Hampshire town, revealing that the state's decades-old Diebold optical-scan computer tabulators undercounted some Republican votes and overcounted some for a Democrat on the ballot. Thanks to a real (non-clown show) forensic audit in Windham, NH, which is finally wrapping up, we now know why, as explained in detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this article.]

On November 3rd, there were four seats up for grabs for State Representative in Windham, NH. There were eight candidates --- four Republicans and four Democrats --- running for those four seats. The top four vote-getters in the contest would win the seats. On Election Night, according to the computer tabulation, the four Republican candidates swept all four slots. One of the Democrats, Kristi St. Laurent, came in 5th by just 24 votes in the small town where some 10,000 votes were cast. So she asked for and received a hand recount about a week later.

The hand-marked paper ballots cast in Windham were tabulated on Election Night, as they are across most of the Granite State, by decades-old optical-scan devices originally manufactured by the now-defunct Diebold Election Systems, Inc., and long programmed and serviced by a company with a shady background named LHS Associates. The intellectual property of the systems themselves is now owned by the private vendor Dominion Voting Systems, which acquired many of Diebold's assets some years ago.

St. Laurent's requested hand-count, about a week after Election Day last November, discovered that the four Republicans in the State Rep's race each should have received another 300 votes or so, while St. Laurent actually was found to have received about 100 fewer votes than she was credited with in the Election Night computer tally.

So, what happened? How could the numbers have been so wrong? The NH state legislature subsequently adopted a measure to allow for a post-election forensic audit to answer those questions. It was a real audit. A professional one. Very much unlike, in almost every way, the long-running "audit" theater clown show still running in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. This one was run as a fully open and completely transparent public exercise over about three weeks in May, as organized and run by three voting system, cyber-security and post-election auditing experts tapped by the state.

We're joined on today's show by one of those three experts, PHILIP B. STARK, Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, regarded as the gold standard for post-election audits.

While the auditors are still wrapping up a few items before issuing their final report, the weeks of fully transparent recounting of ballots and physical audits of the scanners has yielded what Stark --- and the other auditors, including the legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti and Mark Lindeman of the non-partisan Verified Voting --- regard as the answer to the mystery of what actually happened.

Via painstaking and extraordinarily well-document public experiments, they determined that folds in absentee ballot papers that went right through the oval next to St. Laurent's name resulted in the scanners incorrectly recording those folds as votes in many instances. That means, that if a voter had voted for all four Republicans on the ballot and the fold went through St. Laurent's "target", the systems may have seen that as an overvote in the State Rep's race and, therefore, wouldn't count any of the votes in that contest. Similarly, if the voter hadn't voted for four candidates and the fold went through the Democrats' oval, she might have picked up a vote that she didn't actually deserve.

"We're confident that we've identified the primary contributors to the mistabulation of the votes in the State Representative contest in Windham," Stark told me. "They are, namely, ballots that were folded through vote targets in contests, including in particular, Kristi St. Laurent's vote target in the State Representative contest."

"That, by itself, is not the only thing going on, because in the experiments that we subsequently did with the folded ballots, we found that there was a great deal of variability across machines and their ability to correctly interpret folds through vote targets, folds through ovals," he explains, noting that another problem discovered was dust on the optical eye of some of the very old scanners. "Maintenance does matter, because just using compressed gas to blow the dust out of the reader on the machine that was performing worst made it perform substantially better."

As Stark details, through experimentation, folding ballots in varying ways and by various means, the auditors were able to replicate the problem. "We have a pretty good understanding of how the ballots came to be folded the way they were folded, which was generally not along the score lines that the printer puts on them to guide where they should be folded. If they'd been folded in the right place, this wouldn't have been an issue."

Stark also explains why human eyes --- as in the hand recount last November --- are generally much better than computers at actually determining voter intent, even in normal cases, because scanners are simply not programmed to read certain types of marks made by voters as actual votes.
v
We also discuss the critiques and even threats from some Trump supporters that the auditors have endured from Trump supporters throughout the official audit, despite the auditors extraordinary, landmark efforts at transparency and public oversight, including answering hundreds of questions both at the audit site and via Twitter throughout the process.

"The complaints seem to be largely based either on a misunderstanding --- whether deliberately or not --- on the things we have said and a lack of understanding of the [Diebold] AccuVote OS [systems]; a lack of how New Hampshire runs its elections or understanding of New Hampshire election law; also, people somehow thinking Twitter is a definitive source of information about the audit, rather than the live [audio and video] feed and the New Hampshire Dept. of Justice's website, where we've been posting all of the evidence as we've accumulated it," Stark responds. "There are some people who are definitely accusing us of fraud, lying, of being on George Soros' payroll, of trying to cover something up."

"There are definitely people who think that Mark, Harri and I were hired to cover something up. I don't know what it is we are supposed to be covering up. The idea that we are not motivated to not find malware, if malware is there, is kind of laughable. It would be a career-making thing for us. We'd like nothing more than to find malware if malware is there! But we're not going to pretend it's there if it isn't."

Of course, Hursti himself has already made his career previously by hacking these very same AccuVote systems, back in 2005, as seen in the climactic finale of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy and its chilling 2020 follow-up, Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections.

"There was no evidence of malware...And the effect that we've observed is just completely consistent --- every test that I've thought of to throw at it, every thing that we've done --- it really looks like it's the folds. Now, people are saying maybe somebody 'weaponized' the folds and knew exactly how to fold the ballots to take away votes from the Republicans, which is kind of the Wayne's World test: It could happen...and monkeys could fly out of my butt."

Stark also answers questions about how this audit compares to the very very different one ongoing in Maricopa. "The way that they're doing their hand-count is guaranteed to produce an inaccurate count," he charges. "You really need multiplicity and redundancy. You need to reconcile things as they go along. And putting ballots on a Lazy Susan and having them spin around in a hurry is not a way to get an accurate count."

Moreover --- and, of course, this is the only thing the disgraced former President actually cares about --- Stark speaks to whether or not this problem could have possibly affected other races on the ballot, including the Presidential contest.

Also on today's show: A few more thoughts, for now, on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s obstruction of safeguarding democracy in the U.S. Senate, and Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report with a whole lot of very disturbing news for the climate, and a longtime, genteel British environmentalist who is no longer pulling his punches on what he describes as the "crime" of climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: OH's million dollar COVID vaccine lottery is working; Millions of parents will soon get monthly checks from Dems' American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2021 7:08pm PT  

There is nothing wrong with citizens --- no matter how partisan or misinformed --- demanding to know for themselves that election results have been accurately recorded and reported. That's true even in cases where they have been blatantly lied to by, say, a disgraced, failed President of the United States. But post-election audits must be done in full public view from top to bottom, with all processes and evidence from the election kept within a transparent, well-documented, secure chain-of-custody at every step. Two ongoing post-election audits from the 2020 election are currently underway. One offers an example of exactly how not to do such a probe, the other one is shaping up to be a model for the nation.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show follows this summary]...

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's scheme to hold a $1 million lottery each week for the next five weeks for any Buckeye Stater 18 and over who has received at least one COVID vaccine shot, appears to be working. While we've got a few suggestions on how it could have been done more effectively, at least it appears to have slowed and even reversed (for some ages) the state's recent drop-off in the number of folks getting their shots. As it turns out, Ohioans seem to like DeWine's plan to offer federal government-sponsored cash prizes (yes, socialism!) courtesy of the America Rescue Plan in exchange for receiving life-saving inoculation from a deadly disease. More states should consider the same and the federal government oughta just pay people to get their shots! We suspect a crisp $100 bill in exchange for a shot in the arm would do the trick. (By the way, Ohioans need to opt-in for the lottery, at OhioVaxAMillion.com, to be eligible for the prizes!)
  • Another direct benefit for Americans from the American Rescue Plan (Biden's emergency pandemic relief and stimulus bill adopted by Democrats while being VOTED DOWN BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS), is the expanded child tax credits which will, beginning in July, send monthly checks of $300 per child under 6, and $250 for kids between 6 and 17, to parents making less than $150,000 over the next year. If Americans liked the Democrats' $1,400 individual payments from the ARP, they may love its expanded child tax credits which start this summer. Experts say the payments are likely to help cut child poverty in half this year. Hopefully, Dems will remember to loudly remind Americans of all parties which party it was that made those payments possible, and which party attempted to prevent them. Democrats are not usually very good at that. And hopefully they'll be able to extend those payments through at least 2025 as Biden has proposed in his American Families Plan --- which Republicans also oppose.
  • Then it's back to the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the county's 2.1 million public ballots from the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections last year are being inspected, in secret, by a private company with no experience in elections, voting systems or audits named Cyber Ninjas. Now, it seems, the Ninjas and a number of their allegedly false claims made about the materials turned over to them by the County (as ordered by a state court in response to the Republican-controlled state Senate's mandate) were the final straw for the majority GOP Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and its new Republican County Recorder.

    On Monday, the 5-person Board (4 Rs, 1 D), denounced the audit as a "sham" and a "con," lamenting the "spectacle" that they say "is harming all of us" and turning Arizona into "a laughingstock". The new Republican County Recorder, Steven Richer, now in charge of elections in one of the nation's largest counties, blasted the Ninjas for what he describes as blatantly false claims that election databases were unlawfully deleted and for ensuring attacks on his new staff. The Board also sent a blistering 13-page letter [PDF] to the state Senate's President detailing their anger, frustration and embarrassment, calling for the audit to be ended, while responding to charges they claim to be lies coming out of process. The Maricopa "audit" is now in it's third week in Phoenix, but reportedly nowhere near complete.

  • Meanwhile, by way of a critical contrast, another post-election forensic audit is underway in Windham, New Hampshire, led by actual experts in post-election audits and voting systems. Unlike the evidence-free claims of fraud in AZ, there is reason to be alarmed by the results of a state House of Representatives race in the town of 14,000 people. There, on election night last November, in an 8-person race (4 Ds and 4 Rs) for 4 seats in the state House, all four Republican candidates won. According to the computer tabulations, they were the four top vote-getters for those seats, with the Democratic candidate, Kristi St. Laurent, coming in 5th by just 24 votes.

    Last November, after she requested a hand-count of the town's hand-marked paper ballots --- previously tallied only by 20-year old, easily manipulated, oft-failed Diebold optical scanners --- it was discovered that the 4 Republicans actually received about 300 more votes each than the tabulators had reported on Election Night. And St. Laurent, the hand-tally found, actually received 99 fewer votes than initially credited with. So what explains the discrepancy between the computer count and the hand count? That's what the auditors began to investigate last week in one of the most open, professional, well-documented and transparent such processes I've ever seen in my nearly twenty years on this beat.

    This week, the auditors explained --- via the live streaming audio and video coming out of the audit room, their own Twitter feed, as well as in interviews with local media --- their leading working theory that could explain the numbers seen one way (incorrectly) by the computer scanners and another way (correctly) by the hand-counters last November. Their working theory, if it bears out, would explain the disparity between the two separate tallies last November. We explain that theory today. And, no, unlike our disgraced former President's recent false claims about both Arizona and New Hampshire, the reasonable hypothesis does not involve "massive election fraud" with "thousands and thousands" of newly "found" ballots. It involves the scanners misreading folds on mail-in ballots as votes.

    But, of course, most critically, the side-by-side comparison of the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa, which the public (and even local officials) are not allowed to fully oversee, versus the methodical, transparent, public process being carried out in Windham, should be an illustrative model for all future such probes. In the case of Windham, we are likely to have an answer to the mystery that everyone can agree with when all is said and done in the next few weeks. In Maricopa, I think its safe to say, little is expected to be settled one way or another after this ill-considered exercise is finally finished...if it ever is.

  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as calls grow for increased cybersecurity for the nation's energy infrastructure in the wake of last week's Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack; another pipeline company defies a shutdown order from a state Governor; and the EPA finally shuts down --- at least for now --- a disastrous, toxic mess of an oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands...among other American disaster tales hastening our worsening climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC Repubs killing 'slam dunk' hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computerized voting and tabulation has allowed my election nightmares to come true...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've got two lede stories really on today's BradCast. You can decide for yourself which one is the more maddening. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Late last week, the bi-partisan Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced they were ignoring the advice of their own General Counsel by voting down further investigation of the Stormy Daniels hush-money case payoffs by a former disgraced President. Two Republican appointees voted to kill, two Dem appointees voted to continue the probe (with one Repub recusing and one independent absent for the vote). The way the broken, six-person FEC is structured, no investigations of campaign finance reform violations --- no matter how obvious and blatant, as in this case --- can move forward unless there are four votes to do so.

Here, it's a slam dunk. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was already found guilty and sent to prison for the criminal campaign finance conspiracy in which he paid off the adult film star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. The affair took place ten years before the 2016 election. The payments were given to her just days before the election. It was clearly an election related expense, yet the Trump Campaign failed to report it, and Trump himself paid Cohen back for the payouts during his time as President.

Both Cohen and the DoJ stated in Court, before Cohen went to prison, that the payments were part of a criminal conspiracy "directed by" and "for the benefit of" Trump himself.

The explanation of the Republican commissioners on the FEC for killing the probe is ridiculously laughable, as we discuss with our guest today, former FEC Chair ANN RAVEL. She was appointed to the Commission under President Obama in 2013 and served until 2017. She, too, agrees this was a "slam dunk" case against Trump, which serves to highlight how the GOP have permanently "captured" the Commission in order to make certain that Republicans are never held to account for violations of federal campaign finance laws.

"Wanting to do nothing is exactly how the Republican Commissioners have always been able to assure that the Commission doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make elections and the electoral process fair, and to make sure that there is total disclosure of campaign finance activities," Ravel explains. "You're right to say that it's a 'slam dunk' case. In particular, because the [FEC's] General Counsel said [Trump's behavior] was 'knowing and willful', which it clearly was. 'Knowing and willful' is the criminal standard. So that may be an alert to the Justice Department that they need to now go forward and prosecute the case."

The DoJ prosecuted Cohen for participating in the conspiracy. Now the nation's top law enforcement agency needs to prosecute the man that the DoJ has already said "directed" it!

Ravel also offers her insight on how the FEC became so captured and broken in the first place (Hint: Trump's former White House Counsel and longtime GOP operative Don McGahn struck a corrupt bargain with Mitch McConnell years ago) and on the Democratic plan in the For the People Act (otherwise known as H.R.1 and S1) to reform the FEC. The plan would restructure it from a 6-person panel designed to deadlock and never move anything forward, to a 5-person panel of appointees selected by non-partisan judges and attorneys, with the fifth appointed by the President. No more than two people from any one political party could serve on the Commission at once, and appointees would have to have spent a number of years not working on political campaigns or as staffers for elected officials, among other sensible restrictions.

"The positive about what they have proposed in HR1 is that there would be a blue-ribbon commission, comprised of people who actually believe in the law and enforcement of the law, who would be nominating and reviewing particular individuals to be on the commission who would abide by the law. That is key to making the change --- to have people who are not beholden to a particular political party, who independently would look at the law and make decisions based on what the legal requirements are."

Naturally, Republicans oppose the reform (along with HR1 in its entirety) and are lying about it to say that it would turn the Commission from a bi-partisan commission into one that gives Democrats partisan control.

Ravel also explains how the Stormy Daniels case --- which can still be prosecuted on a criminal level by the DoJ --- is not necessary over at the FEC either, since the vote to kill the inquiry can now be appealed in a court of law by an outside group.

Then, I've got a bit of a today on the absurd clown show of an audit of the 2020 Presidential election still under way in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (which we've been covering in detail for the past several weeks); the legitimate audit, being led by several top shelf election and voting systems experts set to begin this week in Windham, New Hampshire (as we detailed in some length last Friday); and the remarkable 8,500 word deep-dive investigative report published over the weekend by Washington Post, detailing how the phony myth of Donald Trump's "stolen" 2020 election came together beginning way back in 2018.

In short (which is not easy with an 8,500 word story!), a wealthy Texas businessman and some Republican operatives calling themselves Associated Specials Operations Group (or ASOG) took the research on vulnerabilities in computer voting and tabulation systems compiled by folks like Bev Harris of Black Voting, Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, myself and others, to morph those very real vulnerabilities into phony claims of actual election fraud. Simply because a system is vulnerable, does not mean the vulnerabilities have been exploited. But such distinctions did not matter to this group which is clearly operating in bad faith, or to Trump who was happy to highlight any lie to cover for his shame of having been a failed, one-term President.

As I have been trying to explain for nearly 20 years on this beat, whether an election is stolen or not, the fact that we now use privatized, non-overseeable computers to cast and tabulate votes is itself a grave threat to democracy. Ultimately, as I've warned over and over again over the years (and as we are now seeing play out), it doesn't matter if an election is 100% accurate and secure if the public can't know that it is. Secret software and concealed vote counting inside computers run by private companies --- even when done perfectly and securely --- allows those operating in bad faith (as is the case with Republicans right now), to claim an election was stolen, even when there is no proof to support such an extraordinary charge. It's nearly impossible to refute such claims, bogus or otherwise.

I have warned about exactly this scenario as a dangerous threat to democracy itself for years, and now, as I explain on today's show, my worst nightmare is now playing out before all of our eyes...

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Also: Never listen to Frank Luntz; Newsmax apologizes, admits Dominion 'fraud' claims were phony...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2021 6:48pm PT  

Will we ever escape the 2020 "Big Lie"? Maybe. But it's gonna take a while. That said, we've got some very good news on today's BradCast about the next "Big Lie" 2020 ballot audit! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, GOP pollster Frank Luntz appeared on a podcast this week to offer some sage insight about the 2022 elections. We would caution you to take it much of it with some very large grains of salt! Among the points he made, which we discuss (dispute) today: Trump's "Big Lie" is working to con his supporters, but that may cost the Republican Party some wins in the House and/or Senate next year, because, as Luntz claims, voters don't turn out if they believe their vote doesn't count. We explain, based on our own 20 years or so on this particularly beat, why Luntz is probably very wrong and why Dems would be making a huge mistake to take too much comfort from his point on that. Luntz is also dangerously wrong about what he beliefs will happen if Trump becomes the nominee for President in 2024, as we also discuss.

Then, the far-right cable outlet Newsmax has issued a statement apologizing for its false "Big Lie" claims that the 2020 election was stolen for Joe Biden by the Dominion Voting Systems company and, specifically, by its Director of Product Strategy and Security, Dr. Eric Coomer. He sued the wingut outlet for defamation last December, naming the Trump Campaign, Team Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and even farther rightwing outlet, One America News Network (OANN) as defendants as well.

All of them had forwarded baseless claims that Coomer was on a conference call with "Antifa", promising to steal the election for Biden. Seriously. That's what they claimed. It was an absurd charge that nonetheless was repeated and reported over and again in MAGA Land after they were confirmed as losers in the November election. It resulted in death threats and doxxing for Coomer, his family, his co-workers, etc. Newsmax has now admitted their reporting was false, and that they have no evidence to support Dominion or Coomer having stolen anything.

Newsmax has now been removed from Coomer's lawsuit in exchange for the public apology and an undisclosed sum of money. Looney Toons MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, however (who is being sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion [PDF]), can't seem to sleep at night now. He is furious about the development, and is now reportedly calling on the MAGA Mob to boycott Newsmax and watch OANN instead because Newsmax caved...by telling the truth.

Next, taking a break (mostly) today from our recent in-depth coverage of the clown show "audit" theater playing out in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, we move to the next post-election audit of 2020 ballots demanded by the MAGA Mob. This one will now be in Windham, New Hampshire and will be very different from the non-transparent shell-game being carried out largely in secret by the clueless, experience-free Cyber Ninjas nitwits and cretins in Phoenix.

In Windham, a November recount of four local state Representatives races were found to have been off by about 300 votes from the initial tally. That, of course, is cause for concern [PDF]. Particularly since the town still uses really old, easily-manipulated, oft-failed Diebold AccuVote optical scanners to tally voters' hand-marked paper ballots. (Their systems are also programmed and maintained by a disreputable company named LHS Associates.)

The reason for the discrepancy in the state Rep results is apparently still unclear. This has led the MAGA Mob to believe they've finally found evidence that the election was stolen from Trump (somehow) and --- in his best fat, sad Jake LaMotta at the end of Raging Bull impression --- led Trump during a wedding at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend to declare "massive election fraud" has been discovered in NH, which he was certified to have lost by about 59,000 votes.

But, here's the fun twist! The Windham audit will not be overseen by Cyber Ninja clowns with no experience in elections or voting systems. Longtime post-election audit expert Mark Lindeman, Ph.D., who currently serves as Acting Co-Director for the non-partisan, non-profit voting system watchdog, Verified Voting, has been tapped to run the audit. In turn, two longtime friends of both The BradCast and The BRAD BLOG, whose expertise for this audit is unparalleled, have also been tapped to work on it.

UC-Berkley's math professor Philip Stark, who invented the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, tells me that he is now on board. BradCast listeners may remember him as a guest on this show. Also now on board is the legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert, Harri Hursti. He is the first known hacker of a Diebold optical-scan system, as witnessed in the climactic final scene of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy (along with our guest from this past Wednesday's show, veteran Florida election official, Ion Sancho), and as the central figure in HBO's chilling 2020 follow-up to that doc, KILL CHAIN: The Cyber War on America's Elections. Moreover, Hursti is one of the organizers each year of the Vote Hacking Village at DefCon in Las Vegas and was first interviewed by myself in the award-winning 2008 documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story.

These are serious experts in the field, and hopefully will result in a serious examination of whatever went wrong in Windham in this past election --- even if it's unlikely to uncover that the election was stolen from Trump. Whether the MAGA Mob, who were elated about the Windham audit initially, will be as happy about the serious, non-hack professionals running it remains to be seen. So far, they are not.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest news-packed Green News Report, with bad news about "new normal" global temperatures and the planet's glaciers, but better news about California stopping Nestle from stealing its water and Biden canceling Trump's wall...and using the saved tax-payer dollars to repair the environmental damage from the stupid project...

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MI certifies Biden win; Conservative judge tosses Team Trump's PA suit; GSA begins transition, Trump's vows to 'prevail'; 'Dominion/Venezuela' conspiracy lawyer tossed under bus after attacking GA Repubs...
By Brad Friedman on 11/23/2020 7:41pm PT  

It's been a weekend and more of The Crazy since we last spoke. On today's BradCast we get you all up to date on the last several days of The Crazy as Donald Trump's attempted coup to steal back the Presidency continues to fall apart with each passing hour, and as the Republican Party decides to distance themselves from Trump's loony conspiracy attorney Sidney Powell while she turns the MAGA crowd against her own party before the critical January U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia to determine control of the upper chamber of Congress. [Audio link to full show follows summary.]

The biggest news today broke mid-show, as Trump finally relented in allowing the General Services Administration to officially begin the transition to a Joe Biden Administration, even as he vowed he would "prevail" in his fight to overturn the will of the American voters and says his "case STRONGLY continues."

Well, about that case. It may be continuing, but it has never been anywhere close to strong. Among the related stories covered on today's show that prove it, before we turn to the phone for listener calls on all of this...

  • First, a follow-up to Friday's show in which we debunked the insane case that Powell, Giuliani and now all of MAGA are making regarding an international conspiracy --- somehow led by the Dominion Voting System company, along with the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela --- to steal the election for Biden. The conspiracy originates with the bastardization of an exclusive investigative report I published at The BRAD BLOG in 2010. Powell et al aren't even close in their twisted version of the story that now includes all sorts of false charges about voting machine companies and more. The bottom line, as we noted on Friday, but which warrants underscoring again today, because I've been trying to make the case for so long and now we're seeing what I warned about finally come to pass...
  1. Simply because a computerized voting and tabulation system is vulnerable to fraud and manipulation does not mean that any particular election run on it has been defrauded or manipulated, and;
  2. Even if an election is 100% secure and accurate, if it can't be known by the public to have been 100% secure and accurate, it is every bit as much of a threat to confidence in our democratic system as it would be if the election had actually been stolen on such a system.
  • Other than that...Catching us all up from Friday....Trump loses another lawsuit in Nevada as a state judge rejects an attempt to block certification of Biden's victory, by more than 33,000 votes, in the state.
  • Trump loses in Arizona as a state judge rejects a move for yet another audit of votes in Maricopa County (Phoenix), and the County's Board of Supervisors (4 Rs, 1 D) unanimously voted on Friday to certify Biden's victory in the state's largest county. Also, the final "SharpieGate" lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice in the state where Biden appears to have won by more than 10,000 votes.
  • In Wisconsin, Team Trump is said to be obstructing the ongoing recounts requested by Trump in the two counties with the largest minority vote, Milwaukee and Dane, after apparently losing the state to Biden by more than 20,000 votes.
  • Trump lost bigly in Michigan on Monday, where the state Board of Canvassers voted unanimously (with one abstention) to certify Biden's victory by nearly 160,000 votes. That, after Trump's attempt to twist the arms of the GOP leadership of the state's gerrymandered House and Senate on Friday appears to have gone nowhere. (But we'll soon find out for sure.)
  • In Pennsylvania, Trump lost his attempt to toss out nearly seven million ballots and was excoriated by a conservative federal judge on Saturday for attempting to do so in the nation's sixth largest state where Biden appears to have prevailed by more than 80,000 votes. The brutal court loss led Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey to become just the second GOP Senator to concede (where Trump won't) by declaring [PDF] that "Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race" in the state. Trump's team of pathetic lawyers have since filed an emergency appeal to the 3rd Circuit, but failed to deliver their motion before the Court's deadline for doing so. This is the (likely doomed) case Trump hopes may reach SCOTUS where he believes he can win after packing the stolen GOP majority on the Court in his favor. He'd have to win a verdict there that somehow allowed legislatures in at least three states to reverse the will of their voters to appoint Trump electors instead of Biden's by December 8th.
  • Down in Georgia, where Trump lost by about 13,000 votes following a statewide hand "audit" of all ballots last week, the Trumpy Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and even Trumpier Republican Governor Brian Kemp both certified Biden's victory on Friday. Over the weekend, MAGA "Stop the Steal" rallies in the state included verbal attacks on both Kemp and Raffensperger, along with vows to destroy the GOP and promises to boycott the critical January U.S. Senate runoffs in the state. We wish them nothing but luck in their endeavor! That came as Powell was taking to far-far right wingnut Newsmax TV over the weekend to allege that Raffensperger and Kemp were paid off by Dominion to steal the election for the Democrats' Presidential candidate. She offered no evidence for her claims. After years of critically reporting on both Kemp and Raffensperger --- including his ill-advised decision to spend $100+ million on Dominion's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems this year --- we are unaware of any such evidence to support her claims. But we wish her nothing but luck in her endeavor to prove it! For now, the thanks she received was being tossed under the bus by Trump late on Sunday night.
  • There was a whole lot more along the way today, but you'll have tune it for it all, along with some great calls we responded to near the end of the show today, as The Crazy continues to continue...

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What they get right (hardly anything) and wrong (almost all of it)
Also: GW Univ. Law Prof. Randall D. Eliason on pressure brought against high profile legal firms representing Trump's phony 'voter fraud' claims...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2020 7:46pm PT  

Join us on today's BradCast for a deep dive down into the twisted rabbit hole of Team Trump's recently manufactured claims that Canadian election vendor Dominion Voting Systems and its Venezuelan-tied competitor Smartmatic secretly joined forces as part of an enormous international conspiracy (also involving the late Hugo Chavez) to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump on behalf of Joe Biden and the Democrats. We happen to know a bit about these claims, as they are directly based on one (or more) of my own exclusive investigate reports from a decade ago. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

As it turns out, The BRAD BLOG is actually responsible for the original kernel of truth that has become the pretend conspiracy now being used as the basis for Trump's attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 election. These are the claims now being shared by Trump's attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, not to mention by Trump himself.

The initial story is based on a deeply reported, well-evidenced and independently verifiable 2010 investigative exclusive of mine (also republished by HuffPo) that Republicans, over the past week or so, have been citing as the basis for their so-far evidence-free claims that Democrats teamed up with Dominion, Smartmatic --- and also China and Cuba somehow --- to commit "nationwide voter fraud" via computers (computers don't commit voter fraud, voters do) to flip the results of the election. They claim this proves that Donald Trump actually won the election in a landslide --- though, as even Tucker Carlson of Fox "News" found out, they have no actual evidence to back any of it up.

We share their actual claims, the original basis for them (which they have absurdly bastardized to the point that it is barely recognizable) and how others in the party, like Arizona State GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward, have run with the ball to misrepresent facts and manufacture claims in her scary scary new video titled "DOMINION EXPOSED! This Video Should Terrify Every Single American".

We explain what all of these folks got right (almost nothing) and wrong (pretty much all of it...though Chavez is tied in to the story --- or was before he died seven years ago), and what the top two real takeaways should be for both parties and all American voters now that the GOP has finally decided to become concerned --- or, at least, pretend to be --- about the dangers of electronic voting and tabulation systems:

  1. Simply because a computerized voting and tabulation system is vulnerable to fraud and manipulation does not mean that any particular election run on it has been defrauded or manipulated, and;
  2. Even if an election is 100% secure and accurate, if it can't be known by the public to have been 100% secure and accurate, it is every bit as much of a threat to confidence in our democratic system as it would be if the election had actually been stolen on such a system.

The past few days should give you plenty of evidence for that, at least!

There are too many details beyond that to include in a summary, so I hope you'll just buckle up and tune in for the full rollicking story today on this one!

But, one other point worth noting here. While we've been reporting on all of these facts --- with independently verifiable evidence --- for nearly two decades now, it is for the above reasons that we have been inviting Republicans of late to put their money where there mouths are. If they are actually concerned about easily manipulated elections by Dominion (or any other computer vote system vendor), then join us in demanding the use of only hand-marked paper ballots for Georgia's upcoming critical U.S. Senate runoffs in January (which will determine partisan control of the U.S. Senate). Those ballots should then be publicly hand-counted on Election Night. It's just two races with two candidates each, so it's very easy to count publicly in a single night, and it would result in Dominion being tossed out of elections entirely in the state of Georgia! How about it Repubs? You in? I'll even drive out to Phoenix to make a new video about it with Kelli Ward if she joins the call. Why wouldn't she?

Then, we're joined today by George Washington University Law School professor and Washington Post contributor RANDALL D. ELIASON, for his explanation as to why he believes it is appropriate to bring public pressure against high-profile law firms representing Trump in his evidence-free "voter fraud" cases, but not against attorneys and firms who choose to represent other despicable individuals like terrorists, child molesters and the KKK. That, after top national law firms recently withdrew from Trump's fraudulent "fraud" cases following public opprobrium encouraged by the anti-Trump Republicans of the Lincoln Project. (Also, here's that recent piece I mentioned from Eliason on Trump's upcoming PardonPalooza!)

Also today: The latest news from Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan in Trump's attempted coup; the one Republican Senator who is finally calling it out; and the news that Florida's Republican Senator Rick Scott and Donald Trump Jr., have now both tested positive for the coronavirus...

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Guest: TIP's Nils Gilman on warning about this moment, what happens next; Also: RWers' newfound BRAD BLOG-fueled 'election integrity' concerns; Caller questions on phony GOP 'voter fraud' claims...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2020 8:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Dozens of top, bi-partisan experts in government, national security and media predicted this moment last Summer, as they gamed out the various scenarios that might occur after Election Day. At the same time today, it's wildly amusing to watch Republicans continue to pick up on so many of our reports on election integrity at The BRAD BLOG over the years and suddenly pretend to be concerned about it, after years of scoffing at such "libtard, sore loser conspiracy theories" regarding the dangers of computerized vote tallies and private voting system vendors in control of our public elections. [Audio link to today's show is posted below summary.]

First up, the experts who predicted this moment. Most of the scenarios that the Transition Integrity Project (TIP) gamed out, they feared, would result in at least some level of violence and a potential Constitutional crisis. Donald Trump is largely proceeding as they'd predicted. But the co-founder of TIP, which organized the exercises to examine what Trump might do in the wake of a Joe Biden victory, tells me today that while "it's like poison into the veins of the body politic...they're not going to be able to get away with actually stealing the election."

Dr. NILS GILMAN is an historian, Vice President of Programs at the Berggruen Institute and TIP co-founder and joins me again on today's show. Earlier this year, in table-top exercises he helped to organize, the TIP group gamed out the various ways that Election 2020 might play out [PDF]. When we spoke with Gilman in August he cautioned that "all signs appeared to be flashing red," as the experts found that all potential scenarios other than a "Biden landslide" could result in "both street-level violence and political impasse".

So, with Trump's continuing unwillingness to concede the election two weeks later; his false claims of massive "voter fraud" in at least half a dozen states failing to include any actual evidence; at least two dozen lawsuits challenging the election being tossed out of court or withdrawn by plaintiffs; along with the Administration's refusal to work with the Biden Transition team, it seemed a good time to check back in with Gilman to see if the current scenario was predicted and, if so, how experts believed it would play out from here.

"We looked at four different scenarios" last summer, Gilman explains. But now, he says, "the world we ended up in was somewhere between the 'Biden landslide' and the 'Biden clear-but-close-victory'. So you see the moves that Trump is trying to do that we anticipated when we ran these exercises last Summer. They are very similar to the ones we saw. He's trying to convince people that there was cheating going on in the election, that there was electoral fraud. He's trying to get state legislatures to potentially consider throwing out the results of the popular vote and instead putting in place a slate of Republican electors even though the people voted for Democratic electors."

"I don't think any of that is going to end up working," says Gilman. "We're not quite in 'Biden landslide' territory, but we're not in a close election either. That's why I don't think Trump is going to be able to pull off what he was probably scheming to do."

While he says "there's a lot of crazy stuff happening in the fever swamps" and, indeed, there was some violence after Trump supporters and counter-protesters clashed over the weekend, Gilman believes that the conditions that would lead to worst of the scenarios examined have yet to materialize. And that's a very good thing. So far. He explains why that is and what is, so far, missing from one of those worst case scenarios examined by his project.

Also today, Republicans --- yes, even Sean Hannity! --- is suddenly very troubled by secret software made by private voting system vendors like Dominion Voting, a company that we've been reporting on (along with all of the other equally shitty vendors) for years. In the past, the folks at Fox "News" like Hannity and now dead Breitbart "News" founder Andrew Breitbart, scoffed at our reporting. Breitbart took particular glee in attacking me personally over my reporting on the now defunct Diebold Elections Systems, Inc. (It seems unlikely that Breitbart "News", with their "reporting" on Dominion today, even realize that the company now owns many of Diebold's assets!)

But, over the past week or two, our traffic here has gone through the roof as the Rightwingers have suddenly become concerned about these issues for some odd reason, after years of dismissing them. Thanks, Rightwingers! (Yes, for example, if you are hearing misleading murmurs from the fever swamps --- including from Hannity and Trump himself --- tying Dominion to Venezuela in order to claim the company secretly stole the election for Biden, it's due to this exclusive BRAD BLOG story that we broke more then 10 year ago! Glad ya'll have finally decided to notice and become alarmed about our reporting! Just wait until you hear what George W. Bush did in Iraq!)

Then, we open up the phone lines to answer some more questions about all of this, including one caller who wonders what's up with what she's been seeing all over YouTube about Venezuela and Dominion?! And another who picked up on part of my conversation with Gilman about whether the Biden Administration intends to hold the criminal Trumpers accountable or whether, like the Obama Administration with the Bushies, they will make the mistake of "looking forward, not back."

"People have to look close at what created the mess we're in now," says our wise caller Kelwin. "Trump is a bed sore on a sick, cancer-ridden political body of the United States. And getting rid of Trump is going to be like fixing a bed sore on a dying body. I like to say that charging and going after these people, that IS looking forward. It's looking at stopping the pattern."

All of that and much much more on today's BradCast!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guests: Filmmakers Simon Ardizonne and Russell Michaels...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2020 6:50pm PT  

Today, we devote the bulk of The BradCast to HBO's new documentary film, released just last week and considered important enough that the premium cable channel is now making it available, for free, through May 25th on their YouTube channel right here. (You can also watch a number of clips, teasers and extras from the film here.) [Audio link to today's full program is posted below.]

The new film is called Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections and it comes from the team who created the landmark, Emmy-nominated 2006 HBO doc Hacking Democracy.

The climax of that earlier film (you can watch just that key scene right here) featured the first known on camera hack of a Diebold optical-scan vote tabulation system, which changed the results of a mock election in which one question was asked on the ballot: "Can Diebold's optical-scan vote tabulators be hacked?" The votes, as we see them cast in the film on hand-marked paper ballots by Election Integrity advocates including Bev Harris of Black Box Voting in the office of then Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, are clearly 6 'NO' and 2 'YES'. But when the paper ballots are run through the tabulator, the results reported back by the computer are 1 'NO' and 7 'YES'. The tabulator had been hacked and only a hand-count of the hand-marked paper ballots would ever have revealed that it was, had it happened in an actual election. (Needless to say, almost no paper ballots are hand-counted by humans after elections in the U.S., including the 2016 Presidential election, to assure the computers are reported accurate results.)

The manipulation of the system at the time was carried out by legendary Finish cybersecurity and voting system expert Harri Hursti, who is the central character in this new follow-up film. It follows Hursti as he uncovers new and persistent revelations proving that U.S. elections remain far more vulnerable than many realize, and arguably no safer or more secure from manipulation --- by foreign or domestic actors --- than they were during the making of the 2006 film or even since the 2016 Presidential election. (Yes, the same optical-scanners hacked in the 2006 film are still in use in states around the country in 2020!) All of that, despite assurances from the U.S. Intelligence Community and bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia attempted to access elections systems in all 50 states in 2016 --- when Donald Trump is said to have won by a razor thin margin in three states that hadn't voted for a Republican candidate in decades. Those same institutions continue to warn us that Russia plans to do the same in 2020, though as the film shows, it does not take a nation-state in order to do so.

We're joined for today's special edition of The BradCast by SIMON ARDIZZONE and RUSSELL MICHAELS, the British directors of both 2006's Hacking Democracy as well as, with Sarah Teale, the follow-up Kill Chain out this week from HBO. We share a number of clips from the new film, which features at its climax a chilling interview with a foreign hacker, shot in silhouette, who explains that, before the 2016 election, he was able to take complete control of Alaska's entire election system --- from its online voter registration database to its vote tabulation system. The hacker, who goes by the name 'CyberZeist', claims he was able to gain access to every user name and password on the system and obtain root access to change anything he might have wanted to. "I could have made any changes in the system, like deleting the candidates. I could kick anyone out. I could alter any date, any vote." he claims. "It was such a rush that, at that particular moment, I felt like I was the God."

Ardizzone and Michaels offer insight on CyberZeist and why they believe his allegations to be very credible. But there are many other disturbing allegations and evidence to support them presented before that point in the movie, including Ion Sancho's reflections and continuing concerns 16 years after the first film, as he reports on the mandatory secret meeting that all Florida election supervisors were summoned to after the 2016 election, regarding a hack of VR Systems, the contractor which runs the voter registration system in the Sunshine State and others as well. That is the company --- and the spearfishing operation --- described in documents leaked to media in 2017 by DHS whistleblower Reality Winner, who is still serving 5 years in federal prison for having done so.

We also witness disturbing evidence of chicanery in the 2018 Gubernatorial election in Georgia, which was overseen by its eventual "winner" Brian Kemp. He served as Secretary of State at the time, responsible for programming the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and creating the electronic access cards needed to vote on it. The filmmakers were there and had their cameras rolling on Election Day in 2018 when those voter access cards failed, leading to hours-long lines to vote in one of the state's most Democratic-leaning counties. Kemp would eventually be named the winner of the election by little more than 1% over popular Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Longtime BRAD BLOG readers and BradCast listeners are likely to recognize a number of the featured players in the film, as many of them have been repeated guests on the program over the years. Ardizonne and Michaels share a number of insights on the making of the film today, such as why it took 14 years to follow-up the previous one and the mysteriously huge interest in the original online just before the 2016 election; they offer additional details on several disturbing discoveries made by hackers at DefCon's Voting Village in Las Vegas; they discuss how the private voting system vendors responded to invitations from the filmmakers to tell their sides of the story in the movie; what the reaction has been from law enforcement officials to CyberZeist's revelations since the film's premier last week; whether they believe the 2016 election results were legitimate; whether a move to Vote-by-Mail during the coronavirus crisis will help avoid any of these problems in 2020; and why the film is titled Kill Chain.

"We, actually, in a way, didn't want to make [Kill Chain," Ardizzone tells me. "The reason we made it was because we noticed a really sudden uptick in the number of people who were watching Hacking Democracy online. And a lot of our contacts started to get back in touch with us, saying, 'You know, even though you made that film, the problems are still there, and they're kind of worse now.' And this was before the elections in November 2016."

"I believe, to this day, no individual voting machines [from 2016] have been subpoenaed, sequestered and cyber-investigated by the Department of Homeland Security," Michaels says. "The scientists are screaming out, saying this is completely insecure, you must stop doing it. As far as I'm aware, no one is going to stop doing it in 2020. It's still going full steam ahead."

Of course, there is much much more. I believe you'll want to tune in for this conversation today.

Finally, we close today with a bit of listener mail regarding the ongoing and upcoming election disaster now underway in Wisconsin which is still set to hold its Presidential Primary this Tuesday. That, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Governor, a lack of poll workers willing to risk death by working the polls, and a flood of absentee ballot requests and incoming mail ballots that officials are finding impossible to keep up with given their current lack of resources.

If any bad guys out there were hoping to cause havoc and chaos in the American electoral system, well mission accomplished! Hopefully it won't result in too many people actually dying in Wisconsin, where the state's Republican-controlled legislature has repeatedly refused the Democratic Governor's pleas to postpone the election or change it to an all Vote-by-Mail election...

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks on that and new evidence of 2016 GA hack; Also: Coronavirus fears, failures and recommendations...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If you think the coronavirus is worrisome now, just wait until voters in jurisdictions where they are forced to vote on unverifiable --- and germy --- TOUCHSCREEN computers start putting two and two together before Election Day. Not that the election officials who insisted on such an idiotic idea ever gave much of a damn about their voters, as our guest today makes abundantly clear. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First today, however, another sign that Republicans should almost certainly be in very big trouble this November. But, of course, that requires voters be able to vote in a way that the public can know their votes were tabulated as per voter intent (not possible on a touchscreen voting system of ANY type.) The trouble for the GOP could get even worse, however, depending on the Administration's handling of the expanding coronavirus crisis. That response does not seem to be going well, so far. The Dow plummeted another 1,200 points on Thursday, due to investor fears of a global pandemic, resulting in the sixth straight day of losses and the worst week for the markets since October, 2008 --- the height of that year's global financial crisis.

But Donald Trump is finally on the job! He surprised the man who had been in charge of the government's response to the epidemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, by announcing that Vice President Mike Pence would now be the Administration's point man on the matter. Azar was informed at the same time as the rest of us, when Trump announced the news at a press conference on Wednesday evening as Azar was standing next to him.

As to Pence having "a certain talent for this", as Trump announced at the presser, Pence's record as Indiana Governor in 2015, when he presided over the worst HIV outbreak in state history, strongly suggests otherwise. Still, as Desi Doyen joins us to point out today, none of this is reason to panic. It is reason, however, to take a few simple measures to keep you and your family safe, and Desi offers some helpful tips toward that goal.

All of this is also just one more reminder as to why this dangerous menace of an Administration must be replaced as soon as legally possible. To that end, there are reasons to be concerned about the integrity of several upcoming primary elections, not to mention this November's critical general election. Saturday's crucial South Carolina primary will require all state voters to use brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreens made by a company with a long history of election failures. The March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, just three days later, will see voters in California, Texas, and North Carolina, among other states, forced to use new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen voting systems for the first time.

Meanwhile, in the battleground state of Georgia, where a federal judge last year ordered the state's nearly twenty-year old, failed, unsecure Diebold touchscreen systems to be scrapped and replaced, the Republican Sec. of State has now mandated that every county use all-new, unverifiable touchscreens made by the Canadian firm, Dominion Voting, for the upcoming March 24 primaries in the Peach State. That, instead of a simpler, safer, cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems.

We're joined today for a long-overdue visit from MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the invaluable Coalition for Good Governance, the lead plaintiff in the federal case that resulted in the decertification of GA's old touchscreen systems. And we've got a LOT of NEWS to catch up on with her today! Her group is also suing in federal court to block the new systems as well and filed this week, in state court, to block their use in a runoff election on March 3rd, given that the huge, brightly-lit touchscreens, as Marks explains, violate voter privacy by allowing others, from all the way across the precinct, to see the "secret ballot" of every voter!

She says "the outrageous way people are being required to vote in Georgia" is "disgusting" and "insidious". The new lawsuit [PDF] notes the new touchscreens (pictured above) are 22 inches high and 14 inches across. "It's very, very brightly lit with incredibly huge fonts. You can see across the room --- from thirty feet away --- you can see what candidate someone is voting for. So there is absolutely no ballot secrecy at all. Anybody in the room, you can see their ballot choices. The press can see it, the public can see it, the pollworkers can see it, their neighbors can see it, their minister, their doctor, their landlord, their boss. Everybody is voting essentially in public!," Marks says.

Marks watched "hundreds of people vote on this" while poll watching at last November's trial first run of the systems during a small municipal election and says, "we just turned our eyes when they get to the place that they're pressing the choice for their candidate, because we can see it from thirty, forty feet away. Everybody talks about it!" The mind-boggling design flaw, she explains, violates state law, and she details what the state court is expected to do about it.

But that's not all we catch up on today regarding the fight to vote verifiably (and secretly) in the state. Marks reports on the current state investigation underway by the GA Sec. of State into both her and Georgia Tech computer professor and voting systems expert Rich DeMillo (also a recurring BradCast guest) for, essentially, having the temerity to investigate concerns about the voting systems in Georgia. Marks explains the ongoing probe and what Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office is accusing her and DeMillo of doing. She calls it "completely absurd", adding "of course it is all retaliation. ... It is nothing but an attempt to try to marginalize the efforts of experts and successful activists. And to discourage others."

But, while all of that may be mind-blowing, it may be nothing compared to the new revelations recently uncovered by the expert hired by the Coalition to carry out a forensic investigation of GA's central computer server for its old system. As listeners may recall, data researcher Logan Lamb discovered before the 2016 Presidential election that GA's main election server for the entire state --- including the state's voter registration database, programming for all ballots statewide, and administrative passwords to its voting system --- were discovered to have been sitting on a web server for download by anyone, no password necessary, for at least six months (and probably much longer) before the 2016 Presidential election in which it was thought possible that Georgia might finally flip to "blue".

That researcher, Logan Lamb, alerted authorities about the data's vulnerability. As thanks, he was reported to the FBI by then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp, as a potential hacker. He wasn't. But he has now been hired by the Coalition as an expert to examine the now-retired server in question. And, last month, according to AP, he made a startling discovery while examining a mirror image of the 2016 server, which was finally turned over by the state in December of 2019. Lamb found evidence that the server may have been hacked by someone who took advantage of a bug that provided full control of the server. Moreover, he found that all of the system's log files --- which would detail all actions taken on the server --- had been wiped out up until November 10, 2016, two days after that year's Presidential election...for some reason. Now why would that be?

We discuss all of that and MUCH more in another jaw-dropping, must-listen segment today with Marks, including our shared embarrassment that in both of our own home counties (she's in Mecklenburg County, NC, the state's most populous and diverse, and I'm in L.A. County, the largest in CA and even the country) elections officials have instituted new, unverifiable touchscreens for the 2020 elections, set for first time use in both counties next week on Super Tuesday!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report after CBS ignored climate change in Tuesday night's Democratic Presidential Debate in South Carolina; a major bank determines that climate change threatens human survival; and another huge oil refinery blows up, this time in Southern California...

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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa on a mysterious rightwing PAC spending millions to support a progressive in NC and GOP's pretend love for Sanders; Also: Bernie surges nationally, Trump lies in NH...
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2020 6:00pm PT  

As usual, we cover far too much on today's BradCast, as New Hampshire voters head to the polls for their first-in-the-nation primary today. Full reported results from NH tomorrow, of course. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]

Among those too many things covered today...

  • We start with some common sense news out of Nevada, where state Democrats, after the Iowa Caucus disaster, have decided to use hand-marked paper ballots for early voting in the state's upcoming February 22nd caucuses. However, they will still be relying on a vulnerable, online iPad tool to record sign-ins (albeit with paper backup, so there's that);
  • On Monday night, the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump rallied in the Granite State by lying to supporters about voter fraud there, and by taking a small page from the disgraced Chris Christie's New Jersey "BridgeGate" scandal. Trump's Secret Service detail, according to campaign officials, made it difficult for Democratic candidates and their supporters to get around the state's largest city. Given that Republican Senators recently gave a thumbs up for Trump to cheat in the 2020 election with their "not guilty" votes at the end of last week's Impeachment Trial, nobody should be surprised he is now doing so;
  • But there was some very good news for Bernie Sanders from a national Quinnipiac poll on Monday night, revealing the Vermont Senator vaulting into first place ahead of Joe Biden for the first time. We also review a number of other interesting findings for the survey suggesting good news for Sanders, along with a warning that those are national numbers, in a nation that runs state-by-state elections instead. Just ask Hillary Clinton;
  • As he gains momentum, Sanders is also being forced to defend his identity as a "democratic socialist" and his support for programs such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Republicans (and even some Democrats) are hoping to disparage Sanders with those charges, from which he does not shy away;
  • At the same time, Trump and friends and family are attempting to sow discord among Democrats by claiming that the DNC is rigging the election against Sanders, hoping they'll convince Sanders' supporters to sit out 2020 if he is not the nominee;
  • At the same time, Republicans in South Carolina are reportedly urging their own supporters to vote for Sanders in the state's upcoming February 29 primary, since the state GOP cancelled their own primary there as a gift to Donald Trump. The theory, also floated publicly by Trump himself, is that they'd love to run against Sanders this November because, they'd like you to believe he will be easy to beat;
  • And, just to the north, a mysterious group calling themselves the "Faith and Power PAC" is playing a similar game, by spending nearly $2.5 million to support a progressive state Senator for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in North Carolina's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary. The new group appears to be tied to Republicans and the candidate they are running ads for, state Senator Erica D. Smith [pictured above right], is currently running behind the centrist D.C. Dem-supported Cal Cunningham in the contest to win the Dem Senate nomination to run against vulnerable Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis this fall. The TV spot purporting to be on behalf of Smith, highlights her support for Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and other progressive policies making her "one of us", as the ad claims. (We interviewed Smith on The BradCast late last year, as she was demanding hand-marked paper ballots for North Carolina);
  • We're joined today by North Carolina's DR. WILLIAM BUSA of the progressive political data consulting firm EQV Analytics to discuss all of the dirty tricks in the Carolinas. Busa, who previously worked for state Senator Smith and writes as "DocDawg" at DailyKos, suggests this mysterious group of Republicans may have made a miscalculation in their attempt to monkey-wrench the Democratic Senate primary race in his state. He also explains how they may have committed fraud in their FEC filing. He shares his insight on the curious NC ad buy and the question of whether Republicans are really interested in running against progressives like Sanders and Smith because they believe they will be easy to beat this November, or because they want Democratic voters to BELIEVE progressives will be easy to beat. "Is this eleventy-dimensional chess or is this Tic-Tac-Toe that they're playing?," Busa asks. "I'm not entirely sure which it is, but I don't think it's eleventy-dimensional chess." We've got a lot to unpack in that conversation today!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with good news and bad Down Under, unquestionably bad news for bumblebees and Antarctica (and, by extension, for all of us) and the interesting way that Democrats raised the issue of climate change during last Friday's Presidential Debate in New Hampshire...

See? Told you we covered too much! Enjoy!...

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system unconstitutional is a victory for voters across the nation...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2019 6:10pm PT  

We've got some pretty huge and long-overdue breaking news today from a federal court in Atlanta. It's huge enough that we dumped what we were previously planning to cover to devote today's BradCast to the judge's new order in a case that we have been following now for years. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg, in a 153-page ruling [PDF], finds that Georgia's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen voting systems, in use in the state since 2002, are not fit for U.S. elections because they are "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated". They are so unsecure, in fact, that they violate the Constitutional right of voters to have their votes counted as cast.

"Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack," Totenberg writes.

She excoriates the state Defendants --- former Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and current Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger --- for lying about facts and evidence in the case (though she is only slightly more polite in her wording, by describing the "Defendants' inconsistent candor with the Court") and for dismissing the many long-proven security concerns about these systems as "fantasy" forwarded by Plaintiffs.

While Judge Totenberg will allow the old Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems to be used one last time in Georgia's municipal and county elections this November, she makes it clear they may not be used again in 2020 or thereafter under any circumstances. She also offers several hints that the state's recently selected new touchscreen systems, now planned to replace the old ones, may also be found unconstitutional in further proceedings, leaving the clear preference of cybersecurity and voting systems experts --- hand-marked paper ballots --- as the only option likely to meet requirements for auditability and Constitutionality.

We're joined to explain all of these details and much more today on what is a clear, overdue --- if not (yet) total --- victory, by plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance. She has been joining us on the show for a number of years now with updates on each important aspect of this broad and gruelingly long case since filing it about two years ago. Marks calls today's ruling a victory not just for Georgia voters, but for those in many states where similar systems are now used --- including some where newer, if still unverifiable, touchscreen systems are being planned for use in 2020.

"The court ruled that DREs are unconstitutional. And that anybody voting on these things should be worried about their vote," says Marks. "Of course, this doesn't relate just to Georgia. The words of this federal court will be heard around the United States. Hopefully this will have an impact on other jurisdictions" where, she hopes, they will take notice of the judge's words recommending hand-marked paper ballots.

Marks explains that Judge Totenberg does not appear much happier with the new system Georgia now plans to use in 2020, though was unable to offer a finding on it, yet, given that the state just finalized their decision last week. But, Totenberg offered warnings about those new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in several places in the ruling, such as when she warned: "The past may here be prologue anew — it may be 'like déjà vu all over again.'"

Indeed, Marks says her non-partisan organization plans to seek an injunction on use of Georgia's new, equally unverifiable touchscreen systems as well, and that Totenberg, perhaps with that in mind, has ordered that a number of counties run hand-marked paper ballot pilot elections this year in advance of next year's Presidential primary elections. "We will absolutely be launching a constitutional challenge against Ballot Marking Devices," she vowed.

"Surely they realize that the hand-writing is on the wall and they've got to quit fighting for unverifiable elections. I would think Georgia voters are going to get pretty sick and tired of this. Most of these guys are elected officials, so I think that they need to consider the political consequences if they want to continue to fight for unverifiable elections."

As to allowing the old, unconstitutional systems to be used one more time in the state's 2019 municipal elections, Marks advises: "While they can be used in November, they shouldn't be used in November. Those people on the ballot, those people voting in the municipalities, should demand right now --- right now is the time to do it --- that their county, their municipality go ahead and use hand-marked paper ballots. They've got the equipment for it [since they already use hand-marked ballot systems for absentee voting across the state] they've got the know-how, they ought to do it."

In one other key element of this case, as Marks explains, the Judge also ordered a review of the state's electronic pollbook systems which resulted in failure and chaos and disenfranchisement during last November's general elections. She has ordered that polling places must have paper backup pollbooks on hand in elections moving forward, to avoid the disenfranchisement of voters when electronic voter registration systems fail on Election Day or are manipulated by malign actors.

"Just like with any computerized voting component, it can be hacked," Marks tells me regarding the state's ES&S ExpressPoll registration computers used in the Peach State's precincts. "There can be errors. There can be mis-programming. And that's been occurring in Georgia. [Judge Totenberg] asked us to bring her evidence. We brought her hundreds of affidavits of people who were turned away at the polls who should not have been. We brought her evidence of software problems in the e-pollbook system. And therefore she said, 'Enough of this! Go fix the system!'"

She continued: "I get it as to why computerized [registration] records can be very helpful here, but let's use some common sense. And the judge has said have a paper backup so that if there is a question that needs to be adjudicated, use the official paper backup. And look it up right there, and don't run people away from the polls. Give them their ballot."

In fact, in her ruling, the judge cites "threats of contamination, dysfunction, and attacks on State and county voting systems, disparaged by the Secretary of State’s representatives...as a fantasy and still minimized as speculative" by the Defendants as recently as a hearing in the case this year. That, Totenberg notes, despite threats "identified in the most credible major national and state cybersecurity studies and official government reports." She even cites "real life" incidents that "played out with the United States’ July 2018 criminal indictment of a host of Russian intelligence agents for conspiracy to hack into the computers of various state and county boards of election and their vendors as well as agents' efforts during the 2016 election to identify election data system vulnerabilities through probing of county election websites in Georgia and two other states." All of which, writes Totenberg --- as Marks has long been arguing --- serves to "burden Georgia citizens' right to cast a vote that reliably will be counted."

As to the lies --- er..."inconsistent candor with the Court" --- Marks notes the Secretary of State's staff told "just absolutely black and white lies. They didn't mind lying to the court. And one has to wonder what is it that they are hiding that makes it worth lying to the court, and facing the potential consequences of lying to the court." She told me she intends to seek sanctions from the court for those lies in the days ahead.

So, yes, some big --- and very good --- news for a change today!

Finally today, the one thing we did not throw over to make room for the landmark ruling out of Georgia, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on global warming-fueled toxic algae blooms now killing dogs in a number of states; Big Oil pushing into plastics manufacturing as gasoline demand declines in the wake of the electronic car revolution; plastic pollution found in falling snow in the otherwise pristine Arctic; and Democratic-led states suing Trump's EPA to block his rollback of Obama's Clean Power Plan...

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On the weekend massacres in El Paso and Dayton; And Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo on the recent Senate Intelligence Comm. report on Russia interference in 2016 and the fight to secure 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2019 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open with the grim weekend news of the two gun massacres in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio, which collectively resulted in at least 30 killed and some four dozen others wounded, before moving to yet another issue of national security being avoided by most Republicans and the White House. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

The two domestic terror events in TX and OH, each carried out in minutes by white American men with semi-automatic military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, has once again spurred calls for legislative action by Democrats in Congress and the avoidance of same by the terrorist-enabling, NRA-captured Republican officials.

In addition, Donald Trump spent about 48 hours following the El Paso shooting hoping to avoid the fact that the 21-year old man who carried it out had reportedly driven from his home in Dallas to target immigrants in the border town. An online manifesto attributed to the white nationalist shooter, echoing language and racism frequently used by Trump, describes an "invasion" of Hispanic immigrants. "El Paso and Dayton make 251 mass shootings in the US in 216 days, more shootings than days in the year," notes USA Today.

The incidents also serve as the latest to highlight shameful GOP hypocrisy on matters of national security. Over the past two decades, the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars under the guise of "national security", even as the focus on international terrorism has resulted in several acute issues of national security such as climate change, gun violence by domestic terrorists, and election security being all but ignored by Republicans. That, even as the public has been asked to sacrifice one freedom after another under disingenuous claims of "national security" while the country has been bankrupted both financially and morally in the bargain.

The latest massacres and lack of willingness by Republicans to take action and confront a real and growing national security threat, is also echoed in their lack of action regarding security in our elections, the only means by which the public may actually hold their failed, hypocritical, and corrupt elected officials accountable. But a week or so ago there was a glimmer of hope, sort of, when the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan --- if absurdly redacted --- report on election security [PDF], concluding that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016. At the same time, the report states that "the Committee has seen no indications that votes were changed" or that "vote-tallying systems were manipulated".

Then again, as we've take great pains to report in detail since 2016, nobody, to our knowledge --- including the FBI, DHS, Robert Mueller's Special Counsel Office or even local and state officials --- has actually bothered to look! Calls for hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots and forensic analyses of electronic voting systems were blocked after the 2016 election in many states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania which each are said to have flipped to the Republican Presidential candidate that year by incredibly narrow, unverified margins, for the first time in decades. The Senate Intelligence Committee report suggests that while foreign actors were able to gain access to the nation's voting systems and voter registration databases, they took no action to modify them in any way. Really?

We're joined today by cybersecurity and voting system expert RICH DEMILLO, formerly the Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard, now Professor of Computing at Georgia Tech, where he served as Dean and director of their Information Security Center. DeMillo shares his takeaways from what he describes as a "frustrating" Senate report, which appears to both pull punches and hide much of both its findings and recommendations behind redactions. "There is just a massive amount of evidence that not only were the systems targeted, and in some cases penetrated, but it would take an extraordinarily altruistic spy to resist the opportunity of doing something nasty once they got into these systems," he tells me. "Not going that final step, which is relatively risk-free, of carrying out the mission that you were there to accomplish, just seems to me to strain credibility."

DeMillo, who has co-authored a number of landmark studies on the many dangers posed by the 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) now being deployed before the 2020 election to places like Georgia, Philadelphia, Los Angeles County as well as counties in other key battle-ground states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, warns that our vulnerable voting systems are, indeed, an issue of "national security".

"We're in an era where the tools can be turned against the citizens," he cautions. "Where the results of an election in an entire jurisdiction can be changed with literally the flip of a switch." DeMillo, who now serves on the board of the Verified Voting Foundation, is a supporter of hand-marked paper ballots as the only known type of verifiable voting and (like me) is dubious about the push to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for new "upgraded" computer voting systems. "It's like buying better filters for cigarettes," he says.

And while there are still no federal mandatory standards for voting systems (only voluntary guidelines last updated by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission in 2005!), the "real obvious vulnerability" to the systems comes from election insiders, local and state officials and contractors hired to program and maintain the systems. "Even in the face of arguments from election officials that 'we vet our people, we do background checks,' every time we look under those covers, what we find is that there's almost no due diligence that's taking place. That the people that we entrust with these systems, in the first place, don't understand the systems, have never been briefed on the threats, and we have no idea what their background and motivations are."

He cites the story we broke on the program last week based on testimony from an official in the Georgia Secretary of State's office who conceded on the witness stand the week before in a federal court hearing that all voting machines in the state are programmed by three outside contractors "in their garage." That new revelation of outsourcing from the ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the security and Constitutionality of the state's unverifiable touchscreen systems underscores that "everything they tell you about the security of their infrastructure, and how well they vet against the insider threat, turns out not to be the case. And that story is repeated over and over again around the country."

DeMillo also relates the story of the "ruckus" he recently caused on social media when relaying a conversation with election officials in a largely rural state "who just happened to mention in an open meeting that the computers that they use to program their ballots were housed on laptop computers that were in the houses of people, without any security clearances, no special security infrastructure. In fact, they were in places where the Internet connections were so bad that some of those people had to go to the local Starbucks in order to connect to the internet." He says his "jaw dropped to the floor" when he learned that many of those officials were programming their voting machines and tabulators on wide open, completely unsecured public networks.

Finally, DeMillo goes on to offer some advice on how to "move the needle" in the continuing fight by election integrity advocates to secure our elections by using systems that can actually be overseen by the public, slamming those --- from Congress to state and local officials to academics to private voting system vendors --- who believe that secrecy and "security by obscurity" can actually work to protect the heartbeat of our nation's fragile and more-threatened-than-ever system of representative democracy...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Gilroy, CA festival shooting tied to white supremacy, Trump's stochastic terrorism...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2019 6:07pm PT  

We've got several pieces of important news, on today's BradCast, regarding the long federal court challenge against Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, the new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems they plan to move to before the 2020 elections, and a hope from one of the plaintiffs that the case could result in all such systems --- now being adopted by states and counties across the nation before 2020 --- being declared unconstitutional for use in American elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, a few words about stochastic terrorism from the President of the United States (also see this chilling editorial cartoon from our collection this week), as his appalling attacks on minority Democratic members of Congress continued with a new target over the weekend, and as another mass shooting --- this time at a food festival in Gilroy, CA on Sunday night --- is once again tied to white supremacy.

Then, we're joined by MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance for some of the at-times jaw-dropping news from a marathon hearing in federal court last Thursday and Friday in Atlanta. Marks' Coalition is a plaintiff in the case hoping to sideline Georgia's nearly 20-year old Diebold touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before this fall's municipal elections and beyond, including the 2020 Presidential primary and general elections.

Marks shares a number of remarkable updates in the case we've been following since she filed it back in 2017. The updates include new details on the state actually destroying evidence --- including computer servers, databases and voting system memory cards --- needed in the case, and lies told to the court by the defendants about security issues related to the voting system. The misleading statements came from the office of Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger and the state's former GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. Kemp is now Governor of the state, after he is said to have narrowly defeated popular Democrat Stacey Abrams last November on the very same unverifiable computer voting systems overseen at the time by then SoS Kemp.

Marks details the extraordinary security measures plaintiffs were forced to undergo in order to have their experts even partially examine the ballot database used by Georgia which, the state had claimed, included customized, "super-secret" security measures built in to the system that made it completely different from identical --- and completely hackable --- Diebold touchscreen systems used elsewhere in the country. As it turns out, after spending thousands of dollars to create secure "clean rooms" at Georgia's insistence to allow plaintiffs' experts to examine the databases in two different locations (Michigan and Washington, D.C.) those experts found there was, in fact, no special customized "super-secret" security measures. The database structures are identical to those found available for download on the Internet --- from many different states --- going back as early as 2002, when Georgia first adopted their current, easily-manipulated voting systems.

"Let's be clear that we've still not had a chance to look at the system or the programming in the voting machines or the servers," she told me. "We were allowed to look at a database that is used to program the memory cards, just one tiny piece. There was a huge fight because the state lied to the judge, and lied to us, and said that this database was its 'crown jewel' of security, [that] nobody else using Diebold had this super-secret database."

"We found out that, just as we had told the court, their database is just like every other state's database, many of them published on the Internet as public records. They just found it so convenient to lie to the court in order to keep anyone from having easy access to see what a mess they're making," she says.

On the destruction of evidence, she tells me: "The Secretary of State destroyed their two primary servers --- the first one four days after we sued them, the next one a few hours after the case was assigned to Judge Totenberg. From there, we asked to start preserving memory cards, internal memories of the voting machines themselves, and they just completely defied every request. Even the judge told them to go to the FBI, where there was a partial copy of one of the servers, and be sure that thing did not disappear, be sure it was retained, and they even refused to do that."

She also details a revelation from one of the witnesses on the stand last week which elicited gasps in the courtroom after he admited that "100%" of Georgia's ballots are programmed by three independent contractors who do not work for the state and who prepare the ballots at home --- on potentially unprotected WiFi setups. That, despite the extraordinary --- and expensive --- measures plaintiffs were forced to enact in order just to have their experts view the state's "super-secret" election system database.

"It was shocking. We had just taken the deposition of the [state official] on the witness stand. He had told us it was his employees who do the programming of the machines. We subsequently got a written contract that told us the opposite. So we asked him on the witness stand, 'Who is it that is programming ballots?' He told us about these three people who are out of their homes or garages with no real security. They are ones that have these databases, who are programming every single machine in the state, with no oversight, no public ability to check what's going on, and with such an insecure home system, that of course it's open to the bad guys."

"These are exactly the same databases that they were making us sign these enormous confidentiality agreements, set up safe rooms, have couriers fly and hand these CDs off in person because they were so super-secret, and it turns out they were three people working in their garages...The 2018 elections were 100% outsourced to three people operating in a garage."

Marks also explains that she is hopeful this suit may result in unverifiable computer Ballot Marking Devices --- like the systems Georgia hopes to move to next year, and the ones currently being installed in states and counties around the country in advance of 2020 --- being found unconstitutional at the federal level.

"We're going to do more than just 'raise awareness' on Ballot Marking Devices. This lawsuit will be the first lawsuit to challenge Ballot Marking Devices and to put them out of their misery. We are definitely going to work to see that Ballot-Marking Devices are declared unconstitutional."

Finally, Marks offers her reaction to news of Georgia's announcement today (filled with misleading nonsense [PDF]) that they plan to award a $90 million contract to the Canadian firm Dominion Voting to replace all of the state's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems with new, 100% unverifiable Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) made by Dominion in time for next year's Presidential primaries in a battle-ground which could swing the 2020 election...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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