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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, December 4, 2022
Sunday 'Abandon All Hope' Toons
Give it up for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
AZ Election Super-Geniuses: 'BradCast' 12/2/22
Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
Seditious Conspiracy Verdicts and 'Mob Boss' Obstruction: 'BradCast' 12/1/22
Guest: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppressors; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump docs case...
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!: Sedition! Collusion! Denial!: 'BradCast' 11/29/22
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Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
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Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Const. disqualify Trump from 2024?...
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PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
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Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
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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...

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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Open letter to CA's Sec. of State calls for 'urgent mitigating action' with an immediate mandate for statewide post-election Risk-Limiting Audits...
By Brad Friedman on 9/2/2021 11:35pm PT  

Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts warned in a letter sent to California's Secretary of State on Thursday night that "emergency action is warranted" in response to a recent leak of key voting system software used in nearly 60% of state jurisdictions amid CA's ongoing Gubernatorial recall election.

The bluntly --- and urgently --- worded, 3-page letter [PDF] from the longtime experts in this field to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber calls for a specific type of public, post-election audit as the "one critical action" that should be announced immediately, in response to software recently stolen from Mesa County, Colorado and Antrim County, Michigan. The software in question, Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS), was released over the Internet for broad download during a so-called "Cyber Symposium" run by Trump supporter, conspiracy theorist and pillow impresario, Mike Lindell three weeks ago. The EMS software, used in both CO and MI and many other states, including CA, is used to manage virtually every aspect of elections, from ballot creation to tabulation. Forty of California's 58 counties, according to AP's coverage of this matter tonight, use a version of the Dominion EMS that, according to the experts' letter, while "not identical" is virtually the same with only "relatively minor" differences.

"The release materially elevates threats to the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and to public trust in the election," the experts inform Weber, as they urge her to, in advance of the election, mandate a robust statewide post-election audit in each county in the state.

The computer scientists explain that "a statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA) of trustworthy paper ballots...can substantially mitigate these threats," as posed by the recent breach. They define "trustworthy" as hand-marked paper ballots with a secure chain of custody, and advise that Weber mandate RLA's to both to ensure accuracy of computer-tallied results of those ballots and to offer confidence to the public in the results, no matter the outcome of the September 14th GOP recall targeting Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

One of the letter's signatories, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC-Berkeley, is the inventor of the well-regarded RLA protocol. It consists of a manual, public tally of a certain percentage of ballots as devised by the protocol to gain scientific certainty in the computer-tallied results. Stark recently discussed the alarming new security breach on The BradCast, comparing this release of proprietary election software into the wild as akin to having a life-sized, identical version of a bank and its vault with which to practice breaking into it...

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




Also: Unhappy updates on COVID hospitalized RW radio hosts and other anti-vaxxers; FBI joins CO voting software theft probe, as Mike Lindell harbors Mesa County Clerk in 'safe house'; And, hey, AP...are you okay?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2021 6:36pm PT  

We've got quite a few updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late on The BradCast. Some of them not necessarily happy and others quite astounding. As well as some mainstream media failure, and other news from this seemingly endless Summer. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today program...

  • Even as infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to soar in their states, more politically ambitious Trumpy Rightwing Governors are leading their constituents on a death march by banning mask mandates by small local governments and school districts. Happily, a number of the school districts are putting the health and safety of their children above the authoritarian edicts of their Governors, as well as over the deadly demands of too many brainwashed, disinformed parents fighting to endanger their own children and themselves.
  • We've got updates today on several stories we've covered in recent weeks, including the anti-vax parents of four children in Texas, who both changed their minds about vaccinations just before they were intubated several weeks ago. Also, updates on some of the Rightwing anti-vax radio hosts who have either recently died or are now hospitalized in grave condition from COVID. Also, yet another far-right radio host --- this one a Christian broadcaster who derided COVID vaccines as "government control" on his daily "Prophecy Today" program --- has now died from...you guessed it.
  • A disturbed far-right Trumper from North Carolina brought Capitol Hill to a standstill today --- requiring evacuations from the U.S. Capitol to the U.S. Supreme Court --- after pulling his license plate-free pickup truck onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress and threatening to detonate a bomb. During the 5-hour standoff with police, which thankfully ended peacefully, media outlets reviewed the man's Facebook Live-streamed rants and other videos. He reportedly railed against Joe Biden, "Nancy", "antifa" and the Democrats, demanding they all resign en masse; declared "the revolution is here" and that he is the "last generation" of those willing to stand up for America. He said that Trump will be reinstated and posted video from his participation at "Stop the Steal" and "Million MAGA March" rallies. So, how did Associated Press, at least for a time today (via the Internet Archives), lead their description of the man's politics? By claiming that in one of his videos he "said he loved the president, Democrat Joe Biden." --- Really, AP?
  • We've also got a few quick updates today on the Trump-loving Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, who, as we have been reporting in some detail over the past week, allegedly entered a secure area of the County's Election Division in the middle of the night with two accomplices last May, turned off the security cameras, and allowed two hard drives containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software to be copied in full. During one of her several appearances on stage last week at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's failed three-day "Cyber Symposium" where he didn't reveal the promised "proof" that China stole the election for Joe Biden, the extremely sensitive contents of those hard drives were released into the Internet wilds for download by thousands. That, in the middle of California's critical Gubernatorial Recall election, where some 60% of the state will rely on that same, proprietary Dominion EMS software. Peters claimed during Lindell's forum that she was being "persecuted" by CO's Democratic Sec. of State Jenna Griswold because she's a "conservative Republican". Griswold has now removed Peters from her role, as Mesa's now-former chief election official is facing a criminal probe by the County's conservative Republican District Attorney. This week, the FBI joined that investigation, as federal crimes may have been violated in the theft and release of that software. And today, VICE reports, Peters is on the lam, being sheltered in a "safe house" somewhere by the MyPillow guy (who already faces a $1.3 billion lawsuit [PDF] from Dominion himself.) Will the "persecution" never end?
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with grim news of deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather from Haiti to both coasts of the U.S. to much of Europe; and some happier news this week from the Biden Administration...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: UC-Berkeley's Philip Stark; Also: Deadly edicts by FL, TX Guvs and Recall candidate circus in CA underscore importance of defeating GOP attempt to unseat Newsom amid pandemic, climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2021 6:56pm PT  

California Republicans know they can't win normal statewide elections. Hence, the attempted Recall election of progressive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom amid several crises that the GOP candidates hoping to replace him will make considerably worse. But now, voting system and cybersecurity experts tell The BradCast there is reason to be very concerned about the voting and tabulation systems used in some 60 percent of the state, following the recent theft and release on the Internet of Election Management System software, allegedly by a far-right County Clerk in Colorado during the MyPillow CEO's so-called "Cyber Symposium" last week in South Dakota. One of those experts joins us to explain the concerns, and what can be done about it, today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But, first up, the circus of some 46 candidates on the ballot hoping to become Governor of the nation's most populous state, if Newsom is removed by the first question on the Recall ballot, serves as a reminder that this special election, while seemingly ridiculous, is also potentially deadly for residents of the Golden State. Nonetheless, recent polling suggests that it is currently a dead heat as to whether Newsom will be removed and then replaced by someone likely to get little more than 20% of the vote on the ballot's second question about who should take his place.

In the middle of a debate between several GOP "front-runners" on Tuesday in Sacramento, one of the candidates, multi-millionaire John Cox (the guy who actually campaigns with a grizzly bear), got served in a Court process as he was introducing himself, as "ordered" by a San Diego Superior Court Judge finding that he owes about $100,000 to a contractor the Republican businessman failed to pay during his failed run against Newsom in 2018.

While neither of the top Republican or Democratic candidates on question two of the ballot were at the debate (Trump-loving, climate change denying, woman-hating Rightwing radio talk-show host Larry Elder and Democratic real-estate millionaire Kevin Paffrath), both of them oppose Newsom's mask and vaccination mandates. The BRAD BLOG's Ernie Canning, in a "Progressive's Guide to the California Recall" published today, explains why CA voters must vote "NO" on the Recall's first question, before he goes on to explain who he believes progressives should support on question two.

Sky-rocketing rates of infections, hospitalizations and deaths under GOP Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and Texas' Greg Abbott (who tested positive himself on Tuesday), should serve as another reminder of the importance of both elections and having Governors who do not place political ambition over science. Despite pleas to the contrary from health officials, both DeSantis and Abbott have issued edicts blocking local governments and school districts from instituting mask mandates, even as hospitals in both states are reaching or exceeding capacity, and children under 12 (unlike Abbott and DeSantis) are ineligible to become vaccinated. (Fortunately, President Biden reiterated today that the federal government will cover the salaries of school officials who chose to protect children, even if their paychecks are cut by the TX and FL Governors. And one school district in TX has come up with a very clever way of trying to get around Abbott's ban on mask mandates.)

Meanwhile, thanks to Newsom's various statewide mask and vaccine mandates here in California, infection, and death rates are all now coming back down once again.

Of course, facts such as these mean little to those pushing for the removal of Newsom, and many on the right have demonstrated of late that there is little they won't do in order to "win" an election. Thus, the theft and release of important voting system software by a far-right County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado last week during Mike Lindell's "cyber symposium" (at which he didn't release the promised "absolute proof" that China stole the 2020 election from Trump), has a number of actual cybersecurity and voting system experts very concerned today.

We've been covering this story in detail over the past week, as both the national media and California media haven't covered it at all. But they should. Colorado media finally jumped in, a bit, this week after their Sec. of State on Monday announced that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters --- who appeared on stage several times at Lindell's forum last week --- was behind the theft and copying of two hard drives at the Mesa County Election Division containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software.

Democratic CO Sec. of State Jenna Griswold's office, in a news release Monday night, explained how Peters pulled off the heist with two accomplices in the middle of the night back in May, before the software was released into the wild during last week's symposium. Since then, we have reported on this show about the concerns expressed by voting system and cybersecurity experts like Harri Hursti, who warns that the release of the critical software "lowers the barrier for attack planning and therefore increases the likelihood of future attacks." That, just after another top expert in the field, University of Michigan's J. Alex Halderman, filed a 50,000 word report in a long-running federal lawsuit in Georgia, which seeks to ban Dominion's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. The report, which he says [PDF] details disturbing, newly discovered vulnerabilities in those systems, which reportedly could allow votes to be changed without detection, has now been sealed by the federal judge due to its sensitivity --- even from the plaintiffs and defendants in the case!

Dominion's vulnerable touchscreens are used in several large jurisdictions in California, even as the recall is now ongoing, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside County. Their EMS software --- released to the Internet and downloaded by thousands just last week --- is used to tabulate votes, both hand-marked paper ballots and touchscreen votes, in every county where Dominion's systems are used. The software is used broadly in enough counties here that it could easily effect the computer-tallied results of the Recall election.

Another top expert who is worried about all of this joins us on today's program to explain why, and what can now be done about this serious security breach. University of California-Berkeley Professor PHILIP STARK is an expert witness in the Georgia case, the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit protocol, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

He joined Hursti this week in telling me that they were both dubious about vague claims from the CO Sec. of State's office that the U.S. Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was not particularly concerned about the leak of the Dominion software.

"It is a serious risk," Stark makes clear today. "The best metaphor I've been able to come up with is, if I were trying to break into a bank, how helpful would it be to have blueprints of the bank and the bank vault? How helpful would it be for me to have an actual exact copy of the bank, completely at my disposal, to try different ways of breaking in and so forth? Not even a scale model, but literally the exact same thing, just in a different place. That's what having a copy of these disks amounts to."

"To the extent that these systems were not that secure in the first place, this doesn't make the systems more vulnerable. But it gives a would-be evil-doer lots of help and information to plan an attack, figure out what's going to work, which then can be conducted later by someone with less technical skill," Stark warns.

He explains that "these Election Management Systems are used, among other things, to configure the ballot marking devices" as well as "results from the precinct-based scanners" and the high-speed centralized scanners used to tabulate Vote-by-Mail ballots. "The release of the EMS code gives someone a blueprint for how to write malware to infect the ballot marking devices, etc., when they're configured using these systems."

We go on to discuss what can and should now be done by California in regards the ongoing Recall election (as well as other jurisdictions, with elections coming up in November, where Dominion systems are used in more than a dozen states) to ensure that results are accurately tabulated and reported, and can be known by the public, after the election, as such. His recommendations include the use of both hand-marked paper ballots and a far more robust post-election audit process than is currently mandated by CA state law.

Moreover, he cites a critical lesson that should be learned from Tina Peters, the Republican County Clerk in Mesa, CO who is alleged to have brought accomplices into the Elections Division in the middle of the night on May 23rd, and turned off the security cameras in order to steal the software and copy it for release into the wild. (She is now under criminal investigation and has been relieved of her duties by CO's Secretary Griswold.) "This is a very clear reminder that insider threats are real," observes Stark. "This is a wake-up call. It is very difficult to mitigate insider threats."

We are still waiting for a response from the CO Sec. of State's office, as to who they spoke with at CISA and what exactly that person said, given that the cybersecurity folks I've spoken with are quite dubious that the nation's top cybersecurity watchdog actually downplayed this voting system breach. Or, if they did, that they fully understood it. Meanwhile, CA's Sec. of State, to my knowledge, has said nothing about any of this publicly. But that may be because neither state nor national media --- other than us --- have bothered to connect the dots between California and these very serious concerns...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Warnings of global warming in 1912; Warning of war in Afghanistan in 2001; Also: CO SoS confirms hard drives with Dominion software stolen, copied from Mesa County Clerk's office...by the Mesa County Clerk...
By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2021 7:01pm PT  

Ya never know what you may unearth when you peek into the Memory Hole, including a bunch of stuff that should never have been hidden away there in the first place. Also, on today's BradCast, a few noteworthy updates on the Dominion Voting System software stolen from a Colorado County Clerk's office and released into the wilds via the Internet at last week's fraudulent "fraud" forum put on by MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell, and how that serious security breach might effect the ongoing California Recall election. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

So, a lot of stuff covered on today's show, including...

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tested positive for COVID. That, after barring local governments and school districts in the Lone Star State from imposing mask mandates, even for children under 12 who, unlike Abbott, are not lucky enough to be able to get vaccinated.
  • A news clipping from a 1912 New Zealand newspaper, which recently went viral 109 years later, warns about the burning of coal adding "tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere". The clipping, confirmed as genuine by both USA Today and Newsweek, warns that "This tends to make the air a more effective blanket for the earth and to raise its temperature." The scientifically prescient story goes on to accurately note that "the effect may be considerable in a few centuries." If only we'd listened in 1912.
  • Similarly, if only we listened to the courageous Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) back in 2001, when she was the only member of Congress, Republican or Democratic in either the U.S. House or Senate, to vote against going to war in Afghanistan from the 9/11 attacks. As the Afghanistan conflict unwinds today, amid both chaos and uncertainty, we take a listen to the sage words from Lee on the floor of the House, just three days after the U.S. was attacked 20 years ago next month.
  • As the Taliban returns itself to power in Afghanistan, following 20 years of U.S. occupation and our failed attempt to prop up a democratic, Western-style government, the far-right radical Islamic group which shielded al-Qaeda after 9/11 claims to have become much more moderate in the interim. A Taliban spokesman today told media in Kabul they will respect the rights of women and girls to work and go to school, and will not seek retribution against those who supported the U.S. and its allies or the failed government we tried to create there. But, as we discuss, there is very little reason to trust their new P.R. blitz.
  • We also discuss the hand-wringing D.C. punditry which seems to be falling over itself to declare Joe Biden's Presidency a disaster, after the chaos at the Kabul airport yesterday, following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. As Nicole Wallace (yes, we note the irony of her old job as George W. Bush's Comms Director during both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars) noted on MSNBC yesterday, "95% of the American people will agree with everything" Joe Biden said in his remarks on Afghanistan at the White House on Monday, while "95% of the press covering this White House will disagree." She goes on to highlight, as does TPM's Josh Marshall today, how out of sync with the public the D.C. media class is on this point, even after the events of the past few days, as Biden stands by his decision to pull America out of its longest war once and for all.
  • Then, some important new news in the story that, until yesterday, only The BradCast and The BRAD BLOG, by and large, had been reporting on at all. Namely, the theft and copying of hard drives containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software, as now allegedly stolen from the office of Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk Tina Peters. The Dominion EMS is the central control system for creating and counting ballots in jurisdictions which use the company's voting and tabulation systems, including nearly 60% of California counties, where we have an ongoing Gubernatorial Recall election right now, which could be adversely effected by what top cybersecurity and voting system experts have described to me as a very serious security breach.

    After nearly a week of reporting on this story, almost exclusively, following the release of the software during MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's failed MAGA "Cyber Symposium" in South Dakota last week, where Tina Peters appeared on stage several times, others are now jumping in. That, as CO's Democratic Sec. of State Jenna Griswold finally issued a news release Monday on the apparent theft. Griswold's office cites Peters and two others as having snuck into the Mesa County Election Division office late at night in May to make image copies of two hard drives containing the software. A criminal investigation by the state's Republican Attorney General is now reportedly under way, but Griswold states that Peters has now been removed from her elected post as Clerk, and will be replaced by appointment of the Secretary, after security cameras were also reportedly turned off in the office to hide the alleged crime. The voting and tabulation hardware and software in Mesa will also now all need to be replaced at considerable cost to taxpayers.

    The news release from the SoS office also references a vaguely worded assessment of some sort on this matter, said to be from the U.S. Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. The release claims that "CISA has confirmed that it does not view this breach as a significant heightening of the election risk landscape at this point."

    But an election official in Colorado and, perhaps more notably, several of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting system experts, including the legendary Harri Hursti and UC Berkley's Philip Stark, have told me they are dubious about the CO SoS' statement on this point and the apparent dismissal of concern by CISA. Hursti notes the lack of named attribution for the DHS/CISA assessment, lack of a direct quote from any official at CISA, and no similar or supporting statement released directly by CISA itself. Moreover, as one CO election official told me, the phrase "at this point" in the reference attributed to CISA is likely doing quite a bit of heavy lifting there.

    We've sought additional comment, clarification and/or attribution for the curious CISA assessment from Griswold's office. We've yet to receive a response. We expect to cover this issue in more detail on our next BradCast, including said response, if received by then. Despite the downplaying of concerns from "CISA" and the CO SoS, we have reason to remain concerned about this breach, amid CA's ongoing Recall election.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as a tropical storm compounds Haiti's deadly weekend earthquake disaster; July shatters all-time heat records on Planet Earth; and the federal government declares a water shortage on the Colorado River for the very first time, resulting in serious implications for water supplies to both Arizona and Nevada amid the ongoing mega-drought in Western states...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: Update on stolen Dominion software released at Pillow Guy's failed 'Cyber Symposium' as CA Recall begins...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2021 6:50pm PT  

Our guest on The BradCast today is virtually begging those on the environmental center and left to come together, to put aside their various (if important) pet projects, in hopes of coming together for two key elements in the blueprint for the Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. It is, he details, our last, best chance for likely more than a decade to soften the blow of our climate emergency. Do that, he says, then "we can resume fighting like a bag full of cats in a couple of months." [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, a quick follow-up from yesterday's BradCast, during which we broke the news that someone at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's bat-crap insane three-day "Cyber Symposium" in South Dakota this week to "Stop the Steal," released digital image copies of three hard drives containing Dominion Voting Systems actual Election Management System software, as used in real elections across the country. These copies seem to have come out of the County Clerk's office in Mesa County, Colorado. The elected County Clerk there, Tina Peters, is a hard-right official who appeared at Lindell's "symposium" that promised to reveal (then spectacularly didn't) how China supposedly flipped millions of votes over the Internet in 2020 to steal the election from Donald Trump.

With our confirmation yesterday that the Dominion software is now confirmed to be in the wild, even as the Gubernatorial Recall election is now under way in California (where Dominion's software is used in about 60% of the state), there are very serious concerns about what effect the security breach could have on the Recall election --- not to mention others coming up across the country this November. Marilyn Marks, a regular guest on the show, whose non-partisan election watchdog group, the Coalition for Good Governance, is suing the state of Georgia in federal court to stop them from forcing voters to use Dominion's unverifiable and vulnerable touchscreen voting systems in every polling place, tweeted yesterday about the "looming dark cloud over the Nov. elections," following the exposure of the EMS software. She wonders when and if election officials in the Peach State might pay attention to this breach, not to mention when national media, which seems to be all but asleep at the wheel on this, might cover the story as well.

The founder of Georgia Tech's new School of Cybersecurity, Prof. Richard DeMillo, who joined us on the show earlier this week before the stolen hard drives were leaked, to discuss vulnerabilities recently uncovered by an expert witness [PDF] in Dominion's system in the Georgia case, told me via email today that he is "still processing" the breach. But, he told me, the "news points to the urgency" of unsealing the report by the Coalition's expert witness in the case, at least to other cybsersecurity experts and election officials. "The fact that the Dominion EMS images are now public increases the likelihood that [Dominion] ImageCast voting software [as used on their touchscreen voting machines] was also leaked. The only antidote is to conform to standard industry practice and publish their vulnerabilities so that Dominion and their customers can take public steps to mitigate the risks to election infrastructure."

For the record, a number of large jurisdictions in California use the exact same Dominion touchscreens as are used across Georgia, including San Diego, San Francisco and Riverside. Are state officials here in CA even aware of this latest, serious leak? We will continue to follow the story in the days ahead, and hope that national media --- or even just CA media! --- jump in and try to get some answers from election officials about what this serious concern may mean for ongoing voting in the Recall.

Then, along with the news today from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that July was declared the hottest month on the planet in recorded history, we're joined by a longtime progressive climate and energy journalist who is trying to help Democrats and climate activists understand the necessity of supporting two key provisions in the Democrats landmark, $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. He described this matter recently as America's "last big shot at climate change policy for a decade or more."

The great DAVID ROBERTS, publisher of the must-read Volts newsletter, joins us today to explain the importance of those two initiatives, the development of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) and clean energy tax credits in the reconciliation bill. The huge measure can be passed with simple majorities in both chambers, as long as all 50 Senators who caucus with Democrats and almost all of the Democrats in the House play along. Those two provisions together, he wrote and explains today, "would revolutionize the US electricity system" and finally give us the chance to reach net-zero emissions from the electric grid in the very few years climate scientists now tell us we must, in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Never mind other ideas that climate hawks may have for now, such as a carbon tax or cap-and-dividend. They are not part of President Biden's menu of options. It's this "or we will get nothing that will tackle fossil fuels this decade," he warns.

It may sound a bit wonky, but it really isn't. Roberts spells out, in simple terms, what both a clean energy standard and clean energy tax credits mean in the context of the critical goal of decarbonizing our electricity system, even as he has preached that the answer to ending the dangerous burning of fossil fuels is to "electrify everything", from transportation to buildings.

"Right now, roughly a third of our emissions come from electricity. But the whole plan for decarbonization is to move transportation --- which right now runs on gasoline and diesel --- to move that over to electricity. And to move buildings --- right now buildings are heated and cooled largely with fossil fuels, mainly with natural gas --- to move that over to electricity," he says. "So if you move the other two big chunks of emissions onto the electricity grid, then you see that, oh, having a clean electricity grid is the core strategy for decarbonization.  It's not just one sector. This is the sector that is going to clean up all the other sectors. So there's nothing more important for short-term, immediate decarbonization than cleaning up the electrical grid."

Both the Clean Energy Standard and tax credits will serve to move the entire grid to renewables. "Renewables are the cheapest form of clean energy. And the overwhelming effect, as any analyst will tell you, if we pass this policy, is going to be giant surge of renewable energy projects."

There is, of course, much more to this conversation, but the bottom line is that, as Roberts warns, "the stakes are enormous," and with Democratic majorities so narrow right now in both Congressional chambers, virtual any Senator or faction can sink both this bill and the smaller but still critical $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that's paired with it.

"If Democrats fail, they all fail, and they're going to get crushed in 2022," Roberts tells me, as he explains how it may be that a fossil fuel-loving Senator like Joe Manchin from coal state West Virginia, may still find a way to support these efforts which will, necessarily, hasten the demise of fossil fuels.

"So Manchin and [Bernie] Sanders are going to have to find a bill that they can both sign," Roberts argues. "[Kyrsten] Sinema is going to have to find a bill she can sign. I don't think even she wants to be responsible for the whole Democratic agenda going down, including her precious, beloved bipartisan infrastructure bill, because that would go down too. So it all sinks or swims together. It's a unique situation in my lifetime."

If these two bills actually make their way to the President's desk, especially with the two key provisions Roberts is citing as critical to curbing global warming, he says he will "eat crow" from every rooftop in the land, when it comes to his earlier doubts about Joe Biden's centrist, go-along to get-along roots. These measures, if they actually happen, he notes, would easily place Biden into the Democratic pantheon along with folks like FDR and quickly eclipse even Barack Obama's own accomplishments in office.

"Calling your lawmaker matters," Roberts emphasizes, even if you believe they are already on the correct side of this fight. "This is something I hear from Senate offices, from House offices, all the time. The email campaigns? Eh. The letters?  Eh.  But when people take the time to call, it gets collated and marked down, and the Senator hears about it. It matters. They need to hear that there is a public appetite specifically for the climate provisions to get through." Tell them you support a CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD.

"This is crunch time," he warns. "Everybody needs to be talking about it and getting their fellow Democrats fired up. This is the time to fall into formation, to quote Beyoncé, it's time to fall into formation and make this happen. We can resume fighting like a bag full of cats in a couple of months. But, just for a few months, we need to be coordinated and speaking in a single voice. Specifically the Clean Energy Standard. That's the core of it."

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Cybersecurity and voting system expert confirms security breach, software authenticity to BRAD BLOG, as Mike Lindell's event to 'prove' stolen 2020 election, 'reinstate' Trump goes criminally off rails
Also: Rightwing radio hosts hospitalized, dying from COVID; Trump judge allows Dominion's defamation suit against Giuliani, Powell, Lindell to proceed; MUCH MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2021 6:51pm PT  

Okay. Now it's not just insane. It could also be criminal, as a leak of actual voting system software at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's three-day, so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota may have imperiled the security of the Gubernatorial Recall election now under way in California. We've got some exclusive details on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, before the details on what appears to have happened at Lindell's bizarre circus show in Sioux Falls, some very quick news, on the Census Bureau's release of 2020 data today and the GOP's plans to use it to gerrymander themselves into a U.S. House majority; U.S. plans to evacuate the embassy in Kabul as the Taliban retakes much of Afghanistan; Support from national teacher's unions to mandate vaccination or testing for the nation's school staff; and Rightwing radio host COVID and vaccine deniers findings themselves dead and/or hospitalized...with COVID.

Then, it's on to the 2020 "stolen election" Crazy Train still unfolding in MAGALand.

On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge appointed by Donald Trump, ruled that Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuits against Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and, yes, Mike Lindell, may proceed. Judge Carl J. Nichols' 44-page ruling [PDF] denied all parts of the defendants various Motions to Dismiss. Suffice to say it did not go well for them, on any front, leading former crack-addict and current phony stolen-election addict Lindell to declare the ruing "the worst decision a judge has made in the history of this country." (Which someone named Dred Scott would likely dispute.)

But the real madness has been unfolding in South Dakota this week, at Lindell's three-day "Cyber Symposium" that was promised to reveal "absolute proof" that the 2020 election was stolen through a massive, sophisticated cyberattack by China (I think.) Lindell's promised "proof" of the steal was so unimpeachable that it was to result, he's been declaring for weeks, in an immediate 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Trump to the White House this Friday the 13th!

It may not work out that way, however. The far-right newspaper Washington Times published a gob-smacking story on Wednesday, in which a cyber expert hired by Lindell himself to examine and explain the super-secret 37 terabytes of data --- said to have been captured from Internet transfers just days after the November election, revealing that China flipped millions of votes --- told the paper that the data and claims about them were illegitimate.

It's a simply coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs story --- again, from a Rightwing outlet --- detailing how none of Lindell's claims appear to be real, and seem to be sourced to a former Government contractor who was also the source of (false) claims that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016. But, as Lindell's own experts explained to the Washington Times, the data doesn't show what it is supposed to show...but that may only be because the source dude supposedly had a stroke the day before the symposium!

Lindell's expert, who says there still could be some evidence of something anyway in the data they did examine, told the paper: "We were handed a turd. And I had to take that turd and turn it into a diamond."

But now the loony toons story takes a potentially much darker turn, albeit a somewhat confusing one. Mother Jones' AJ Vicens does a fine job attempting to make at least some sense of what has happened with this part of the story over the last several days. It seems to involve an election official named Tina Peters, County Clerk of Mesa County, Colorado (who is now apparently being investigated by state law enforcement authorities), a guy named Ron Watkins, widely thought to be "Q" of the infamous Q-Anon MAGA conspiracy world, and potentially a former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). See Vicens for that part of the story.

The upshot is that duplicate images said to be of stolen hard drives containing actual, proprietary Dominion Voting System software, seemingly from Mesa County, was released at Lindell's Cyber Symposium and is now said to be out in the wild, as it was made available for download to pretty much anybody with the technical know-how to grab it.

This afternoon, we confirmed with legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, who is at South Dakota conference, apparently serving as an analyst for a news outlet, that the hard drives do, in fact, contain Dominion's Election Management System (EMS) software, though not its source code, as some have reported via Twitter. As Dominion explains on its website, the EMS "Drives the entire election project through a single comprehensive database...From election definition to results reporting." It is, in short, the heart of the entire Dominion election system suite.

"What was shared were 3 different images of installed EMS systems," Hursti told me via email from Sioux Falls. "I can confirm that those were circulated for copying. It [isn't] source code as such, but part of the code is interpreted code, there is human readable and editable things there."

Hursti is well known in the voting system world, where his most notorious "white hat" hack of a Diebold voting system was revealed in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy; He was also featured in their 2020 Emmy-nominated Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections; and, in what may have been Hursti's first American film interview, my own with him in 2010's award-winning Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. He also heads up the infamous DefCon Voting Village in Las Vegas each year, and most recently was tapped by the state of New Hampshire to oversee a very thorough, professional and transparent post-election audit to determine why the Diebold optical-scanners in the town of Windham miscounted several hundred votes in a State Representative race last November.

In other words, his credentials here are impeccable. Though what the dangers of the release of Dominion's software into the wild may be is still less than clear. Particularly as it pertains to the September 14th Gubernatorial Recall election now underway here in California. It's something that I am still trying to dig into. Dominion's EMS software is used in a number of large jurisdictions in the state, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside Counties.

Earlier this week, I spoke on The BradCast with cybersecurity and voting system expert Rich DeMillo, founder of Georgia Tech's School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, about serious vulnerability concerns that have recently emerged [PDF] in a long-running federal lawsuit seeking to ban Dominion's touchscreen vote systems across the state of Georgia. How this new security breach may now come into play in either that case, here in California, or in any of the other many jurisdictions which use the same software across the nation, is unclear at the moment. One expert I spoke with this afternoon, however, said it does seem to prove yet again that "security by obscurity" (attempting to keep vulnerable software safe by keeping it a secret) doesn't actually work, especially when it comes to voting systems.

More on this story, I suspect, in the days ahead.

Finally, we close today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as Senate Dems move forward with critical climate legislation in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, even as deadly, climate change-fueled wildfires, heat waves and floods continue to wreak absolute havoc around the globe this week...

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Also: $1T bipartisan infrastructure bill clears Senate; Dominion sues more wingnuts; MyPillow Guy's CNN nightmare...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2021 6:24pm PT  

As Desi notes on today's BradCast, the underlying theme to our boatload of stories is that "elections matter". Then again, that seems to pretty much be our underlying theme every day on this program. Glad she's finally noticed! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the too-many stories covered on today's show...

  • Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally resigns amid his sexual harassment scandal. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become New York's next Governor and the first woman to serve in that role;
  • $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill finally clears the U.S. Senate with a 69 to 30 vote (including 19 Repubs voting in favor with all of the Dems.) It's a big early victory for President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda and a feather in his cap. But there's a long way to go still, including an eventual vote in the House and, most importantly since everything hinges on it, agreement among Dems on the much larger $3.5 trillion, Dems-only reconciliation package paired to go with it. But, for now, so far so good;
  • Pandemic horrors continue to worsen in the U.S., despite easy availability of free, safe and effective vaccines to prevent it. The most devastated states are run mostly or completely by Republicans. Arkansas had just 8 ICU beds available in the entire state as of Monday, according to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, after throwing away 80,000 unused vaccine doses last week. Mississippi had 0 ICU beds open and more than 200 patients waiting in ERs for a room, with all numbers heading straight up. Louisiana hospitals have returned to the bad old pre-vaccine days, but Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is "praying and fasting", so that should help. Florida is smashing their pandemic records with hospitalizations at an all-time peak and young, healthy and unvaccinated residents now dying (many from the same church over the past two weeks.) At the same time, Texas is halting elective medical procedures and begging out-of-state health care workers to come to the state. But the Republican Governors in both TX and FL are banning school districts from requiring masks for staff and children (who, under 12, cannot be vaccinated!) in the new school year. Two of the largest districts in Texas are, thankfully, defying Gov. Greg Abbott's authoritarian order. Several districts in Florida are doing the same in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is now threatening to withhold salaries of Superintendents and School Board Members who ignore his tyrannical and deadly edicts;
  • In Wisconsin, where a Democratic Governor presides along side a gerrymandered GOP-controlled state legislature, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed several Republican absentee ballot voter suppression laws today, which would have affected disabled and elderly voters in particular, and challenged the state Assembly's schemes to carry out an Arizona-style post-election "audit";
  • Speaking of 2020 denialism, Dominion Voting Systems filed three more defamation lawsuits today, seeking $1.6 billion in damages each, against wingnut news outlets Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN), as well as Trump MAGA billionaire Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock CEO and a major financier of the AZ Audit and huckster of 2020 denialism and fetishist merchandise and media. Today's new legal complaints, filed in federal court, are in addition to previous similar ones filed against Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Fox "News". (Ever wonder why these "news" organizations are being sued by voting machines companies, but we haven't been, despite our nearly-20 years of critical reporting on them? There's a reason for that, as we also discuss today.);
  • And, speaking of the MyPillow Guy, CNN's Drew Griffin took apart his "Absolute Proof" of election fraud in an investigative report late last week. Even as Griffin made a few errors himself, suffice to say it didn't go well for MyPillow Guy, who is also reportedly having a tough time today kicking off his three-day "Cyber Symposium" in South Dakota, after which he has promised his "absolute proof" will result in a 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Donald Trump before the month is out! Sounds plausible;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N. declares "code red for humanity" in its latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), while apocalyptic wildfires and drought play out around the world at the very same time from Northern California to Greece. What an elaborate "hoax"!

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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...

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Also: GA SoS hid study finding voters don't check computer-marked ballots; CO Trump lawyers sanctioned; Abbott calls second 'suppression session' for TX legislature; Ossoff files 'Right to Vote' bill in U.S. Senate...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2021 7:04pm PT  

As it turns out, after so many years of warnings on The BradCast and at The BRAD BLOG, the local nightly news in Atlanta tonight sounds just like us, when it comes to concerns about the state's new touchscreen voting systems, and the same type of systems that are now used in at least 20% of the country. Of course, an urgent warning from one of the world's top experts, after examining GA's new electronic voting systems, finding they "suffer from specific, highly exploitable vulnerabilities that allow attackers to change votes" does get ones attention. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

But, first up, two Donald Trump attorneys in Colorado got sanctioned on Wednesday, bigly, for what the federal judge characterized in a brutal 68-page order, as a "frivolous", "not warranted", "bad faith" filing attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It was summarily tossed last year. The judge called out the two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, for their complaint which, though it included many "sworn affidavits" claiming the election was rigged, actually included "no firsthand knowledge" of any fraud at all. The duo also made no effort to verify an included claim from Trump himself that Dominion Voting Systems had "deleted 2.7 million Trump votes." Describing their effort as "one enormous conspiracy theory," the judge charged the evidence-free allegations amounted to "the stuff of which violent insurrections are made." He ordered the Trump attorneys to pay the legal fees of all 18 entities named as defendants in their suit. More such serious sanctions are likely coming soon for other Trump attorneys as well, including well-known ones, in other states.

Down in Texas, meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott has called a second emergency special session of the state legislature to begin on Saturday, as the current one ends on Friday. The session is largely meant to force through a voter suppression bill that has now been blocked twice by state Democratic lawmakers who walked out to block a quorum that would allow passage of the measure in the GOP-controlled legislature. The state Democrats remain, for now, in D.C., where they are pleading with Congress to pass federal voting rights protections, as they remain out of reach of Texas state troopers who have been ordered by the Governor to arrest them and force them to attend what one lawmaker described as Abbot's "suppression session" in the Statehouse.

As a number of Democratic members of Congress call for their August recess to be cancelled, in order to allow passage of both Biden's landmark infrastructure passage and critical voting rights measures at the federal level, Georgia's Senator John Ossoff on Wednesday filed a federal Right to Vote Act. Currently, unbeknownst to many, there is no U.S. law or Constitutional mandate for such an affirmative right to vote for every eligible citizen. Add Ossoff's new measure (and matching legislation filed by Rep. Mondaire Jones in the House) to the list of measures that urgently need passage in advance of 2022 to counter GOP suppression efforts at the state level. Unfortunately, it's also another measure --- along with the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- that will require reform of the filibuster first, since the Republican Party has now become little more than a Rightwing Authoritarian party that would never support an Right to Vote law in Congress.

Speaking of Georgia, there has been several remarkable developments over the past several days in the lawsuit by the Coalition for Good Governance seeking to bar the use of Dominion Voting Systems Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) for all voters at the polling place. The Coalition's suit, which previously succeeded in winning a ruling in federal court that banned the state's 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems, hopes to replace Secretary of State's 100% unverifiable new touchscreen systems, made by Dominion, with verified hand-marked paper ballots before elections in the state this Fall.

Last week, Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Mark Neisse uncovered a secret study carried out by Raffensperger during the 2020 election finding that the vast majority of voters (81%) forced to use the touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices, didn't bother to review the computer-marked printouts before casting them for more than five seconds. A smaller majority (51%) either looked at their ballots for less than one second or not at all (20%) before casting their vote. In all, just 19% of voters, according to the Secretary's own taxpayer-funded study of more than 4,000 voters in 39 precincts last November, reviewed their computer-printed ballots to ensure accuracy for more than 5 seconds!

Remarkably, after AJC's Neisse obtained the study's results via GA's Open Records Act, Raffensperger, in a jaw-dropped Orwellian perversion of reality, claimed: "This research shows voters do indeed review their ballots for accuracy before casting them," before falsely asserting the study was "proof the votes that were counted were for the candidates the voters intended." Of course, if the results were so wonderful, it begs the questions as to why Raffensperger kept the study, and its results, a secret from the public.

Making matters even worse, one of the Coalition's own experts --- world-class voting system authority J. Alex Halderman, Director of the Center for Security and Society at the University of Michigan --- was granted access to the Dominion BMDs used in Georgia (as well as other jurisdictions, such as San Diego County, CA) to examine them for vulnerability to hacking and manipulation as part of the court case.

The results of his findings, the Coalition's Executive Director Marilyn Marks tells me, are so damning that the federal judge has refused to unseal them, even to the plaintiffs who hired Halderman! His report is currently sealed to all but the judge and the attorneys on both sides of the case. Neither the defendant, Raffensperger, or the vendor who manufactures and sells the systems, Dominion, according to Marks, have asked the judge to allow them to review the findings. They do not want to see them, for some reason. (Likely, because both would then be legally required to take action on the damning, 25,000-word report.)

For his part, while his specific findings are sealed right now by the court, Halderman has filed an urgent declaration [PDF] about the report, explaining that his findings must be "urgently" addressed by Raffensperger.

"My testing has shown that the BMDs used in Georgia suffer from specific, highly exploitable vulnerabilities that allow attackers to change votes despite the State's purported defenses," Halderman warns in the public declaration.

"Established practice in the security field would require State Defendants to promptly subject Georgia's voting system to rigorous testing in response to my report, to assess the extent and significance of each of the vulnerabilities I described, and to identify and promptly implement specific measures (where possible) to eliminate or mitigate each of those vulnerabilities." [Emphasis in original.]

The alarming declaration was enough, apparently, to spark the attention of local television media to finally cover the story that we've been warning about for more years than we can now count. We share 11-Alive (WXIA)'s very good coverage of this breaking and disturbing news from Wednesday night.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, including news on the record heat wave accelerating in Europe and sparking scores of deadly wildfires; as a tourist town in California is now nearly out of water; and much more disturbing news from the bleeding edge of our worsening global climate emergency...

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Guest: John 'Bamboo Ballots' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators say agreement reached on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vaccination or weekly tests for federal work force...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2021 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just when you think the joke of a post-election "audit" in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona couldn't get more absurd...it does, as the official GOP Senate Liaison for the Cyber Ninjas' super-secret, partially taxpayer-funded tally of last year's election results gets locked out of the building, threatens to quit, and now may be reinstated. Our very colorful guest today --- who much of America may now recognize --- has been inside the "audit" in Phoenix since it began in April, working side-by-side with that Liaison. He tries to help us make sense of what's really going on right now...if that's even possible. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, some quick news out of D.C., where a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators on Wednesday reached an agreement with each other and the White House for a $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure deal, that includes some $550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges and broadband Internet. If adopted, according to AP today, it would be one of "the most significant long-term investments in nearly a century, on par with building the transcontinental railroad or the Interstate highway system."

If it's adopted along with a much larger, $3.5 trillion Democrats-only package --- including "human" infrastructure such as a broad expansion of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, child care, parental leave, the electric grid, an electric vehicle charging network and other long overdue climate-related projects --- it would be a landmark victory for President Biden and on par, according to experts, with FDR's New Deal.

Also today, the Administration will reportedly formally announce on Thursday that all civilian federal workers must either be vaccinated against COVID or be forced to submit to regular testing. The announcement comes as the Delta variant continues to spike across the nation, requiring new masking recommendations from the CDC in indoor public spaces and all K-12 public schools this fall.

Then, it's on to our guest, friend and longtime election integrity and transparency advocate, JOHN BRAKEY, Director of the Arizona-based AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us earlier this year, as the "audit" theater clown show in Maricopa County was just getting underway, after the GOP state Senate forced the County (against the wishes of its Republican-majority Board of Supervisors) to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in the Presidential election last year, along with the County's brand-new Dominion Voting Systems equipment that tallied the hand-marked paper ballots. That, so that private contractors hired by the Senate could look into an array of evidence-free conspiracy theories charging the election was stolen from Donald Trump in the state.

Brakey, a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, quickly found himself serving as the right-hand man to Arizona's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett, who had been tapped by the state Senate to serve as its Liaison and spokesperson for the hand-count and forensic audit they hired Cyber Ninjas, a Florida company, to carry out, despite the contractor and their CEO, Doug Logan, having zero experience with elections, voting systems or any kind of auditing. Logan is a hard-right Republican and, before being hired by AZ, had advanced ridiculously false and evidence-free conspiracy theories on social media about the election being stolen from Trump.

For his part, Brakey joined us on the show back in April, as the "audit" (AZ's current Democratic Sec. of State describes it as a "fraudit") got underway, to offer insight into what was going on inside the Coliseum, as most of the media were locked out entirely from what would normally be a fully public process. And though, at the time, he discussed the Ninja's laughable theory that they could prove tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots were stuffed into boxes in favor of Joe Biden by examining them for signs of bamboo fibers from China, most of the nation probably first learned of Brakey when his comments about the Ninja's examining ballots for bamboo was taken out of context by a local CBS reporter and echoed all over the national media. (The reporter, CBS-Phoenix' Dennis Welch, shamefully failed to include Brakey's comments that he didn't believe any of the bamboo nonsense, when he originally released the video of Brakey discussing it.)

But, the "audit" originally set to take three or four weeks, has now taken three or months and is still underway. Late last week, however, the GOP Senate's Liaison Bennett, was summarily locked out of the building by either the Ninjas or Senate President Karen Fann, after, they claim, he shared partial results of what is now a third county-wide tally of ballots. This third count --- of ballots only, as opposed to the votes on them --- is supposed to be completely independent from the Ninjas' earlier tally, which appears to have been greatly flawed (no surprise) and reportedly fails to match the number of ballots originally reported by the County after last year's election.

Earlier today, the Arizona Republic reported that Bennett was resigning due to the conflict, and Brakey confirmed as much on today's show. However, shortly afterward, Brakey called to notify me that he had spoken to Bennett and that he and Fann met late today and struck a deal for Bennett to continue with his supposed oversight of the project. An announcement to that end should come within the next 36 hours, he tells me.

If all of that sounds like a mess, it's because it is. Brakey speaks to all of it on today's show, including being targeted as a right-winger (which he decidedly is not) and for inappropriate national ridicule after that out-of-context "bamboo" video.

He also speaks today to...

  • My concerns expressed to him the last time he was on, about the absurd lack of public oversight in the Ninja's "audit", which is supposedly predicated on the need for "transparency"(!) after Trump and his supporters circulated false, evidence-free claims about the state's certified results finding that Biden defeated Trump by 10,400 votes in the state;
  • Why Bennett was locked out from the "audit" last week, and whether he had actually tendered his resignation this week;
  • Why a third count of ballots (after the County's official count and the Ninja's subsequent hand-count) became necessary, and whether that new count is truly independent from the Ninjas'. (It isn't, as the Ninjas' own attorney, Brakey reports, is actually working on that third count!)
  • Whether recent reporting is true that the "audit" team is concerned because they now believe the data actually proves Biden won.
  • How rightwing huckster Jovan Pulitzer is "a complete con-man", spreading ridiculous claims about China having "hacked the election system through the thermostat" and that "65 countries [were] involved in hacking the United States, in 6 states [and] 600 counties."
  • Multiple recent false and misleading claims by Ninjas CEO Doug Logan (who Brakey refers to as Doug-anon Logan) suggesting fraud, as subsequently echoed, expanded upon and further falsified by Trump this past weekend at a rally in Phoenix, where Trump falsely claimed the Maricopa County election database was found to have been completely deleted (it wasn't); that 18,000 voters were purged from the rolls only after they voted in November (they didn't vote in November); that 74,000 mail-in ballots were falsely added to the total (they weren't); and that 168,000 ballots were printed on illegal paper, suggesting they were fraudulent (the paper was not illegal, and the ballots were not fraudulent. "None of it is illegal. It's crazy!," says Brakey. "This is what we put up with --- these authoritarian-type leaders who talk like they know something, and these people are gullible. That's why I'm there, to help them understand!)

We also discuss --- and at times disagree on --- whether this entire exercise is helpful or harmful to the overall cause of legitimate election integrity and post-election audits, as disinformed GOP dupes have coughed up millions for a giant grift in Arizona, even as they call for similar (almost certainly fruitless) "audits" of the 2020 results in states across the country.

Buckle up for today's show! It's a doozy!...

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Guest: Voting rights champion Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, after her GOP removal from Morgan County, GA's Board of Elections; Also: More tragic ends for COVID vaccine refusers; More evidence that AZ's election 'auditers' are clueless...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2021 6:49pm PT  

We've been reporting for months on the voter suppression laws being adopted by Republican-controlled states around the nation. But, in addition to disproportionately blocking minority groups from access to the ballot, we've also warned that many of these GOP state laws allow for the removal of qualified election officials, for virtually any reason, and replacement with partisans who may now undermine election laws and overturn election results. One of those longtime election officials who has just been removed in Georgia following the passage of the state's SB202 suppression law --- a woman who also happens to be a fierce, longtime voting and civil rights champ --- joins us on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, however, it's like the early days of the pandemic all over again in a number of very sad ways. Today, we have more sad news of misinformed, Trump-loving Republican COVID deniers and vaccine refusers who believed the pandemic was a hoax, and who are now tragically --- an unnecessarily --- being felled by the virus, despite the widespread availability of life-saving vaccines in the U.S. One doctor in Alabama wrote this week about sick patients begging for the vaccine, just before being intubated and told "it's too late."

Next, we add one important point to our detailed fact-check on yesterday's program in response to Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan's ridiculous (and uninformed) suggestions that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes may have been cast last year in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. His remarks were offered to a state GOP Senate panel last week, after the three month-long (and counting) "audit" theater his company was contracted to carry out of last year's election results, despite their lack of experience in elections or knowledge of voting systems. Those comments were then misinterpreted and amplified by the former President of the United States to falsely suggest the election in Arizona was stolen from him last November.

But there was one point from last week's forum that we didn't have time for yesterday. It included testimony claiming that Maricopa's computer voting and tabulation systems were wildly unsecure because their operating systems and anti-virus software hadn't been updated since the day Dominion Voting System's software was installed on the machines. It's true that those computers had not had security updates and patches applied since their first use in 2019. It's true that that is a "tremendous vulnerability" for those systems, as claimed at the forum. And it's also true that there is a very good reason why the software has not been updated since then --- which, had the AZ GOP Senate hired people who actually knew anything about voting systems, they would already have understood. We explain.

The story underscores the value of election officials --- and election auditors --- who are actually experienced and qualified for the job. Unfortunately, since Donald Trump launched his evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen from him, Republicans have been adopting laws in several states making it easier to remove experienced election officials and replace them with partisan patsies.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the great state of Georgia, where the GOP-controlled state legislature recently adopted SB202 in order to prevent certain voters from easy access to the ballot. That law, and others being adopted locally around the state, have resulted, according to the New York Times last month, in "members of at least 10 county election boards [who] have been removed, had their position eliminated or are likely to be kicked off...they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."

HELEN BUTLER was one of them. She is one of the state's most prominent advocates for voting rights and the award-winning Executive Director of The Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, founded by the late civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr.) She is also a ten-year veteran of the bipartisan Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections in the Republican-leaning rural enclave east of Atlanta. Or, at least, she used to be. After approval by the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp, Butler and the rest of the Board Members were replaced at the end of last month. The Board Members will all now be selected by the partisan County Commission, instead of built from members selected by local political parties.

On today's show, Butler, who testified on voting rights at a U.S. Senate Rules Committee field hearing this week in the state, explains the reason the Commission voted to remove the Board, claiming that it was "dysfunctional", but never explaining what that meant. "We were never brought up for any Secretary of State's violations as long as I was a member of the Board," she explains. In short, Butler suggests, she was removed because the Board hired a diverse group of pollworkers and worked hard to make sure everyone, of all parties in the County, could vote and that their votes were counted as cast.

SB202, among other things, now makes it harder to vote by mail, bans absentee drop boxes, and blocks the distribution of food or water on long voting lines. Eight different lawsuits, including those filed by The People's Agenda and the U.S. Dept. of Justice (as well as the Coalition for Good Governance, for which, FULL DISCLOSURE, I am serving as a named plaintiff representing media) have now been filed in hopes of blocking the law for a host of reasons, including the disproportionate difficulties that will now be faced by minority voters. Butler describes SB202 as a "voter suppression takeover".

But the ability to remove and replace long-serving, qualified election officials with partisan appointees who can refuse to certify elections is certainly among the most chilling aspects of the law, Butler warns. She argues that, had these new laws been in place last year, Trump's attempt to "find" enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden in the Peach State --- as we all heard in his recorded (possibly illegal) telephone call with Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger --- would have been easy.

Our broad conversation, on a lot of these issues, also includes her thoughts on the ongoing investigation by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney into Trump's attempt to overturn the election. Butler also offers her plea for federal legislation, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, to help overcome the state-based attacks on voting.

The delightfully optimistic Butler then ends our discussion with an ominous warning: "This is our darkest hour," she tells me. "This is our Selma moment, and we must act.  This is not just for black people or people of color. It's for all of us, for all Americans to have equal access to the ballot. Democracy is at stake here.  So people have to understand it's not about black people voting, this is about democracy. This is the moment. We really need to be paying attention and act to get the right people elected that will preserve democracy for America."

Please tune in for today's important show...

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Also: GOPers laughing at, thanking Manchin, Sinema; Encouraging news on Dems' landmark infrastructure bill; Trump's COVID Death Cult rising...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2021 6:41pm PT  

Democracy, politics and death. Ya know, just another day on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Maricopa County, Arizona will now be forced to spend millions on new voting systems after state and County officials determined that their previous machines, which they only began using in 2019 and still haven't paid off, cannot be used again, and will be destroyed. That, after potential corruption of the systems during the Arizona GOP Senate's secret "audit" process, carried out by a private, conspiracy theory contractor named Cyber Ninjas. So much for those "fiscally conservative" Republicans (just in case you're wondering why we almost never refer to Republicans as "conservative" in almost any context. It's because they ain't. And folks in the media and in Congress and everywhere else should stop doing them the favor of playing along with their friendly, if utterly false and misleading, branding.)

    As we also discuss today, Maricopa doesn't actually have to spend millions of dollars on new computers to scan their hand-marked paper ballots. They could simply count them publicly by hand in the first place!

    The real cost of the phony, completely non-transparent and still-ongoing "audit" clown show in Phoenix, however, is that it is likely to make Democrats even more reluctant to seek recounts and post-election audits in the many cases where they absolutely should. (Here's just one such example.)

  • The wingnuts at CPAC over the weekend were laughing at Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) for their gullible willingness to do their obstruction bidding for them. A group of Republican officials were caught on video tape, laughing, applauding and urging others to call and thank the two Democrats for blocking reform of the Senate filibuster. "We don't want the people's will to be done," says former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in the clip. "Call Joe Manchin an say thank you, seriously. Call Kyrsten Sinema and say thank you," the failed Presidential candidate and fired CNN pundit says. That, as Senate filibuster reform (or elimination entirely!) is desperately needed right now in order to adopt federal protections for voting rights in hopes of countering GOP voter suppression measures now being adopted in Republican-controlled state after Republican-controlled state.
  • But, in somewhat brighter Manchin-related news, he does seem at least mostly willing to go along with the Democrats' landmark, "transformative", $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation package, which --- unlike a voting rights bill --- can be adopted by the U.S. Senate with a simple majority vote...so long as Manchin and Sinema, and all of the other Democrats, play along.
  • In the meantime, back in the states, the COVID infection rates are on the rise again nationally, along with surging hospitalization and death rates in areas of the country with the lowest vaccination rates. That, as the Delta variant is quickly gaining a foothold across the nation. Last week, we discussed Missouri's horrific situation in the rural, Southwestern part of the state, where hospitals are already overwhelmed. Today, we discuss the similarly horrific numbers out of Mississippi, where state officials issued new recommendations for masking indoors once again, and warned the unvaccinated last week that "people are going to die needlessly."

    But the Trump Death Cult appears to be in full flower now in Tennessee, where the State Health Department's new directive bars state health officials from vaccination outreach to teens, incredibly enough. But that's not only for the COVID vaccines, but any and all vaccines --- from Measles to HPV to flu shots! They are no longer allowed to even remind teens when it is time to get their second COVID shot, despite the lack of protection against the Delta variant after only one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That, just one day after the same brainwashed wingnut ghouls of Trump's Death Cultists at CPAC last weekend actually broke into cheers when a panelist discussed the unwillingness of millions of Americans to save their own lives by getting vaccinated.

    There is, however, a bit of apparent good news regarding some of these Trump Death Cult states. Vaccination rates have suddenly been increasing by double digits in some of them over the past week. So, maybe they're finally getting the fear of God in them. Not everywhere, unfortunately. In Tennessee, the number of doses administered over the past week, versus the prior one has fallen by 70 percent as of today. In Mississippi, it's fallen by 80 percent! It's only worse in Joe Manchin's home state of West Virginia, where the rate of vaccination has fallen 94 percent since the previous week, according to Washington Post's vaccine tracker.

  • Finally, I'm happy to say that Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report has much more encouraging news packed into it than usual, including a breakdown of the many long-overdue climate and clean energy provisions currently set for inclusion in the Dems' new infrastructure package (if Manchin doesn't kill them), and in a similar new "Green Deal" initiative being launched this week in the European Union...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Coalition for Good Governance's Marilyn Marks on that and separate challenge to state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2021 7:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With virtually every new voter suppression law adopted by Republicans at the state level since last November's election (there have been about 24 such laws adopted so far, in some 14 states), Democrats and voting rights advocates have been quickly filing lawsuits in opposition. One of those suits --- filed in federal court [PDF] against Georgia's SB202, the one in which I am named as a Plaintiff --- is to have its first major hearing next week. That, as Democrats in the U.S. Senate frantically scramble to get the last Democratic holdout (Joe Manchin) to come on board for federal legislation to counter at least some of the most restrictive elements of the tidal wave of new GOP anti-voting laws at the state level. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While the Jim Crow-style voter suppression of the new restrictions being adopted in Republican-controlled states of late have received a fair amount of attention, the provisions in those measures that would allow GOP state legislatures to take over elections --- and even overturn legitimate results --- have received less attention. Over the weekend, the New York Times highlighted, for example, how in "Georgia, members of at least 10 county election boards...At least five are people of color and most are Democrats" have been removed from their posts in recent weeks, "and they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."

Georgia is not the only state where this is happening. Similar provisions, targeting election officials and even election results, have also been adopted or introduced in states like Kansas, Arkansas and the critical swing state of Florida. But in Georgia, they go even further to target and/or threaten the media itself for simply reporting on elections!

That's where I come in. I am the named plaintiff representing journalists in the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) lawsuit challenging Georgia's SB202 in federal court. An emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction [PDF] has now been filed in regard to the media-related aspects of CGG's complaint, in light of the state's impending local election runoffs scheduled for July 13th.

I'm joined once again today by longtime Election Integrity champion MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of CGG, to discuss why the Press Freedom aspects of her group's broad challenge to the GA law --- far broader than some of the other challenges focused more on the voter suppression aspects only, as filed by the NAACP, the Democratic Party, and Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight, etc. --- have been bumped to a top priority with her filing of an expedited Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

Among the little-reported-on Press Freedoms at stake in SB202, the new law includes a Gag Rule which criminalizes the public, party-appointed monitors and the press’ reporting of absentee mail ballot processing or tabulation problems; A ban on the press Estimating (yes, estimating!) the number of absentee ballots that have been processed during an election tabulation or how many are still to be processed; SB202 even criminalizes photographing voted ballots or the 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems that voters are now forced to use at all Georgia polling places, despite the state's century-long history of routine press photography and videography of election activities inside of polling places on Election Day. (Yes, the photo used above for today's show logo, or even seeing those voters voting, can now result in felony charges in GA!)

All of these, as Marks and I discuss, are extraordinary restrictions on basic Press Freedoms, and our ability --- my ability in this case, as the named plaintiff, representing media --- to report what is going on during Georgia elections to the public. The law actually turns simply seeing one of the state's huge new touchscreen voting systems, while it's being used on Election Day, into a felony. That would apply not only to media inside a polling place, but also to poll workers, poll watchers and even voters simply waiting in line to vote.

"We are asking the court to address some of these issues before that runoff election [on July 13] happens. We are going to ask the judge to rule in favor of the press," says Marks, hoping that some other media outlets may even submit their own Amicus Briefs to the court in support of CGG's lawsuit. "Other members of the press are quite concerned about the fact that traditional photography, that they have been taking for decades, is not going to be permitted in the mail ballot processing locations," she tells me.

"It is mind-blowing," she continues. "I wouldn't be able to tell you [if I saw something wrong while serving as an observer]. All of a sudden, your reporting is going to be silenced. You would not even know that I had anything to tell you. You would just assume that, unlike in times past, that everything is going fine in Georgia."

Marks also breaks a bit of news by explaining that the Republican National Committee has now moved to intercede in this case to help defend GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's position on the bill. Marks says Raffensperger "essentially insisted on these provisions. Although some of the media consider him to be some kind of a saint [because he declined to overturn the November 2020 election amid entreaties from Donald Trump to do so], this is his bill. His attorneys drafted it. He's the one that wants to crack down on any criticism coming from people like you and me, CNN, New York Times, or any other place."

"The RNC has asked to intervene in our case to protect the Secretary of State. However, interestingly, they have said they are not going to oppose us on the Observation Felony, the Gag Rule, the Estimating Ban, the Photography Ban --- so even the Republicans are not going to try to defend four of these five things that we're going after" in the Motion. A hearing is now set on that Motion for Thursday, July 1.

In addition to CGG's lawsuit challenging SB202, the group has another, separate, longstanding challenge to the state's use of 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. That suit was successful in convincing the federal judge hearing it to ban GA's 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems before last year's elections. Unfortunately, Raffensperger immediately replaced them with new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices made by Dominion Voting Systems, which Marks describes as as bad or worse than the previous systems. That case has just now entered its discovery phase and Marks is confident that the same federal judge is quite concerned that the new systems are as insecure, unverifiable --- and, thus, as unconstitutional --- as the old ones she previously banned. A ruling in that case could affect the use of such machines in dozens of states and counties around the country, including states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas and even here in Los Angeles County, where voters are now forced to vote on unverifiable touchscreen systems at polling places.

Lastly, Marks describes the exciting forum scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 22), co-sponsored by CGG and another one of our favorite non-partisan good-government watchdog groups, Free Speech for People (FSFP), on the dangers of Ballot Marking Device (BMDs) as used in Georgia and many of those other jurisdictions mentioned above. The forum, called "Today's Electronic Voting Machines: An Examination of the Use and Security of Ballot Marking Devices" is scheduled live and online from Noon to 5pm ET on Tuesday. It features a huge number of guests that have been featured over the years on 'The BradCast', including FSFP's Susan Greenhaulgh; Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo; notorious University of Michigan white-hat hacker, J. Alex Halderman; Research expert Kevin Skoglund; UC Berkley's Philip Stark, inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit protocol; the legendary Finish cyberseucrity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, and many others.

Much more info and the schedule is available here. You can RSVP to participate in the event right here.

Finally, Democrats are teeing up a test vote on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate for their sweeping election and campaign finance reform bill, the For the People Act, now that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has suggested he may be willing to support a compromise version with the 49 other Senate Democrats who have all already signed on to the original bill as co-sponsors. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked today about President Biden's expectations for that bill and its test vote today, and on the need to reform the filibuster even if Manchin deigns to come aboard. If he does, he would also have to be willing to make changes to the filibuster rule that mandates 60 Senators support such measures, in order to see passage, since no Republicans are expected to support it. But he is not the only Democrat who has opposed long-overdue changes to the filibuster. Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema has also vowed to protect the anti-democratic, Jim Crow-era Senate rule. And now she is being targeted with a huge ad buy for that position, to ratchet up the pressure, by a group of progressives who are running spots in her home state on cable news, as well as during local news and sports programming.

Yes, the fight to save American democracy continues on today's BradCast...because it seems kind of important...

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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