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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, June 13, 2021
America's Billionaire Tax
Code Welfare Queens:
'BradCast' 6/11/21
Guest: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic of Mother Jones; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dem lawmakers in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
'Good Trouble' (or, Call for President Biden on Line 3): 'BradCast' 6/10/21
Huge, hard-fought win on KeystoneXL; New fight in MN over another tar sands pipeline; Biden goes to Europe (not a moment too soon); TX's corrupt A.G. faces more legal trouble...
'Green News Report' 6/10/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Keystone XL Pipeline finally cancelled, for good!; Mass arrests at MN pipeline protest; G7 spent big on fossil fuels in 2020; PLUS: Infra-structure talks with collapse, start over again...
Previous GNRs: 6/8/21 - 6/3/21 - Archives...
'His World, We Just Live In It': Manchin 'In the Catbird Seat': 'BradCast' 6/9/21
Guest: 9th generation West Virginian Robyn Kincaid; Also: Keystone XL is over!; Biden to reportedly close Gitmo...
Mystery Solved!: Professional Public Audit in NH Uncovers Why 100s of Votes Were Mistallied: 'BradCast' 6/8/21
Guest: Windham, New Hampshire auditor, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC Berkeley...
'Green News Report' 6/8/21
Extreme heat hits U.S., breaks records in Middle East; CO2 concentrations highest in 4M years; PLUS: Sir David Attenborough's done being nice about climate change...
What Do We Do About Joe Manchin?: 'BradCast' 6/7/21
After WV's Dem Senator comes out against democracy and filibuster reforms, Democrats -- and democracy -- have a very real problem...
Sunday 'Has Dem in It' Toons
Here yet again to obstruct your day! It's PDiddie! With his latest collection of the week's best anti-democracy toons!...
'Shockwaves Hit Oil and Gas Industry' After 'Black Wednesday': 'BradCast' 6/4/21
Guest: Carroll Muffett of Center for Int'l Enviro Law; Also: An insidious reason Trump wants MAGA to think he's about to be reinstated...
'Green News Report' 6/3/21
Enviro disaster in Sri Lanka; Global warming heat deaths; TX winter storm death toll hundreds higher than reported; PLUS: Biden suspends Trump's oil, gas leases in ANWR...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Election integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn with callers ringing in...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2021 7:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast, (riddled with a few tech probs at the station, so apologies for any incoherence on my part!) we bring you up to date on some of the latest developments in the insane, dangerously non-transparent "audit" theater in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona being carried out by the Trump-supporting Cyber Ninjas company. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.

[ALSO: See important "SHOW NOTE" at end of this summary!]

Notably, a story we broke some weeks ago, after the Ninjas were forced by a state judge to publicly release what suffices as their procedural documents [PDF] for the "audit" (they had claimed their procedures for counting public ballots from the 2020 election were "trade secrets") was confirmed, at least in part, by an excellent article at Slate this weekend by Jeremy Stahl. In short, we had explained weeks ago how the Ninjas poorly documented procedures (see p. 178 in the PDF linked above) allows them to change a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes in their so-called "audit", without setting off any internal or external alarm bells. Stahl's lengthy, well-reported story on the Maricopa mess, headlined "What if the renegade Arizona audit declares Trump won?" details, among many other things, the same point, that the Cyber Ninjas' own procedures allow them to change far more votes than would be needed to falsely declare Trump actually won the state. Any such mistally is considered an acceptable rate of error in their own documented procedures --- even though Joe Biden was certified to have won the state by just over 10,000 votes.

Moreover, if and when they do declare that AZ was somehow stolen from Trump, there is little that can be done to dispute such a claim, since the secure chain of custody for the 2.1 million actual ballots cast in Maricopa last year has now been irrevocably broken. Only yet another hand-count could prove or disprove such a claim by the Ninjas, since --- unlike real audits --- they have not allowed the public to track or oversee their daily tallies. But, after the private, Florida-based company took custody of the County's ballots weeks ago, they could have added, removed or changed ballots at any time since.

All of that, meanwhile, as a real audit continues in Windham, NH, being run transparently by actual voting system, cybersecurity and post-election audit professionals who are allowing full public oversight. And as a judge in Georgia just granted permission for yet another post-election audit of copies of the 2020 ballots cast in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's Presidential race last year.

Of course, all of these questions about the results of last year's elections --- whether offered in good or bad faith --- might have been avoided years ago had Democrats insisted on fully overseeable public elections, instead of allowing private voting machine companies to, by and large, take over America's election with computers that tally votes, essentially, in secret. We have been warning about this nightmare for years, and now it is coming home to roost.

As our guest today, San Francisco-based attorney, election integrity advocate and Twitter rockstar JENNIFER COHN pointed out in a recent smart Twitter thread, Republicans spent years blocking Democratic legislation, the SAFE Act, which would have at least mandated post-election audits for federal races in every state. Now, Republicans are claiming they are needed all over the country. But, oddly enough --- for reasons that Cohn has been unable to determine so far --- Dems have failed to reintroduce the SAFE Act in this session of Congress.

She speculates today that the legislation may now be seen by Democrats as feeding into the GOP's evidence-free claims of fraud in the 2020 election, not unlike how Dem fears of being labeled as "conspiracy theorists" over the years prevented them from challenging and demanding hand-counts after what her thread describes as "fifteen years of poll-defying victories" for Republicans.

"I don't want to imply that I think they are equally to blame," Cohn tells me. "But I do think that it's a failure of leadership. Because leadership isn't about just reacting always to what the other party does. It's about standing for something." She goes on to correctly note that Democrats "had an opportunity after 2016 to really be the champions of election security, and to even incorporate that into their campaign platforms, and they didn't do it." Doing so, "behind the scenes does not win the court of public opinion" and now that has "allowed Trump to hijack that narrative."

"It should have been the Democrats to take that to the people, to take that to the court of public opinion. Had they done that, Trump would not be in a position to play the victim. Had the public known about the SAFE Act, and that Republicans blocked it, they would not be in the position they were to pretend to be victims" today.

Cohn is a longtime, dyed-in-the-wool Dem. So she does not level such accusations lightly. We discuss those concerns and many other points regarding the various audits --- and several splits in the Election Integrity community about them --- before opening up the phone to listeners with thoughts and questions for her and/or me on all of the above today.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

SHOW NOTE!: We've just learned from my landlord that major construction --- tearing up a walkway to install a new security gate --- will begin on Tuesday and last anywhere from 7 to 14 days! That means jack-hammers outside of our studio will make it impossible for Desi and I to do shows for the rest of the week and maybe even next week. Our beloved guest host Nicole Sandler has agreed to fill in for us for the rest of the week...and then we'll see where we are after next Monday's holiday. It could be a week of re-runs, but I hope not! Just letting you know why we are forced to suddenly and unexpectedly disappear for at least the rest of the week! My apologies. Though, as usual, Nicole will do a swell job of covering for us in our unexpected absence! Thanks for your understanding! --- BF

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Guest: Susan Greenhalgh, Senior Election Security Advisor at Free Speech for People; Also: Officer killed in new U.S. Capitol attack; MLB pulls All-Star game out of GA; Boehner's message for Cruz...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2021 7:37pm PT  

We've got another sorry tale on today's BradCast of yet another federal "watchdog" agency clearly captured by the industry corporations that it is supposed to be overseeing and/or regulating. This time, democracy itself is at stake. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, we had quite a bit of breaking news just before airtime. For a start, the U.S. Capitol was locked down on Friday after two Capitol Police officers were rammed in a violent attack with a vehicle. One of the officers, an 18-year veteran, was killed. The other was said to be "fighting for his life" as of airtime. After ramming the officer, the assailant is said to have "lunged" at officers with a knife and was subsequently shot and killed. The assault was the most serious threat on the Capitol since the Donald Trump-incited insurrection on January 6th, which killed five, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer. Two more officers took their lives in the ensuing days after that attack by Trump supporters attempting to stop Congressional ratification of Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory.

That attack --- and Trump's evidence-free Big Lie about his loss being the result of "fraud" --- continues to reverberate almost three months since the MAGA Mob's assault on U.S. democracy. Last week, Georgia's Republican-dominated state legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that will make it more difficult to vote by, among other things, requiring additional forms of ID for mail voting, limiting absentee ballot drop-boxes and early voting hours, and banning the distribution of food or beverages to voters forced to wait hours on line. It would also allow partisan GOP officials to undermine County Boards of Election and even overturn results. The state's Governor, Brian Kemp (R), signed the sweeping bill almost immediately after it passed both chambers of the state legislature in a matter of hours.

This week, after some 70 Black corporate executives spoke out against the transparent attempt to making voting more difficult for minorities in the state, a cascade of other corporate entities --- including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, both based in Atlanta --- finally decided to speak out in favor of democracy and against voter suppression. And then, on Friday, shortly before today's show, Major League Baseball announced they will be moving the All-Star Game and MLB Draft, previously set for July in Atlanta, to another state in response to the GOP attack on voting.

And, as Georgia Republicans pushed back on Delta Airlines this week for belatedly standing up for the right to vote, Gov. Kemp took his shot at the company by accusing its CEO of "false attacks" by claiming misleadingly in a statement: "The last time I flew Delta I had to show my ID."

But Kemp, the state's former Sec. of State, certainly knows that flying is a privilege, where voting is a right. He also likely knows that, no, an ID is not required to fly on Delta or any other airline. As clearly explained on the TSA.gov website...

In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification...you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed [to fly].

In the meantime, as to real --- versus imagined or opportunistic and partisan --- threats of fraud in our elections, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the federal agency tasked with overseeing voting system security standards, is continuing the woeful job it has done since its creation by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Since its inception, as we have documented at The BRAD BLOG for almost 20 years, the EAC has largely been captured by the private voting system vendors whose systems they are supposed to be testing, overseeing, regulating and certifying as meeting minimal standards.

For years, the EAC has consistently helped mislead the public regarding the dangers of modems inside of computer voting and tabulation systems. The EAC's original Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), created about 15 years ago, allowed for use of the devices which cybersecurity experts have long warned can be used to introduce malware into systems that could disrupt elections or change results.

In August of 2019, as we detailed on the program at the time with cybsersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, a group of security and voting systems experts discovered "nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states" such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida. In January of 2020, almost six months after Zetter's exclusive and disturbing report, Cynthia McFadden followed up with her own report at NBC News, in which, despite federal officials repeatedly and falsely declaring that "U.S. voting systems are never connected to the Internet," the President of the nation's largest vendor, Elections Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), conceded that at least 14,000 of the company's modems were being used in vulnerable voting and tabulation systems across the country, even as the 2020 election cycle was getting under way.

Nonetheless, over the last five years, the EAC has been working with stakeholders --- from elections officials to cybersecurity experts to vendors --- to develop new minimum security standards for the nation's voting systems, which they call VVSG 2.0. The good news is that the draft of those final standards for the VVSG 2.0, made available for public comment last Summer, included a ban on modems and other wireless communications devices in computerized voting and tabulation systems.

The bad news: After the public comment period and before the new standards were officially adopted by the EAC Commissioners, they apparently met in secret with several vendors and quietly changed the new standards to once again allow for modems and other wireless communications devices in new voting systems.

After the standards changed and weakened without public notice, the non-partisan government watchdog, Free Speech for People (FSFP), filed public records requests for documentation of the non-public meetings between EAC officials and the voting machine companies. Despite acknowledging hundreds of pages of existing documents responsive to the request, according to our guest today, the EAC failed to turn over any of it to the group. Now, FSFP is suing the EAC for those documents.

We're joined today by longtime election integrity advocate SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at FSFP, to explain the organization's lawsuit [PDF], and the latest, extraordinary failure to protect our elections by the corporate-captured EAC.

"We have a real lack of leadership from the federal agency that's supposed to be helping assist election officials run election more efficiently, securely, accessibly and transparently at the EAC," Greenhalgh explains, charging "they're letting the vendors help weaken the standards directly."

"The EAC is way, way too deferential to the vendors," she says. "They need to either do the right thing and do their job, or they need get out of the lane and come up with some other way. Because there's an expectation by members of Congress that this is being taken care of, that the EAC is doing their job, they're developing the standards, they're testing voting systems. Unless you scratch the surface and find out what's really going on, you might think on the outside that they're doing their job, and they're not. They're taking up that space, and that makes us all less safe and secure in our elections."

There is, as you might guess, much more that Greenhalgh has to explain about this ongoing mess and FSFP's legal efforts to crack open the EAC blockade.

Finally, we close today with a rather hilarious audio message from former, George W. Bush-era Republican House Speaker John Boehner, to Texas' Trumpy, conspiracy-loving U.S. Senator Ted Cruz...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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OH AG looks $5.5B federal gift-horse in mouth; AZ GOP sanctioned for 'groundless' lawsuit after well-run 2020 election; Repub attacks on democracy seek to send voters to 'Back of the Line'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2021 7:17pm PT  

It's a bit of a grab bag on today's BradCast, but one that will hopefully keep you well prepared for your next conversation with any of your still brain-poisoned wingnut friends, family and coworkers.[Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

  • Ohio's Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is suing the Biden Administration because the $350 billion that the Democratic COVID relief bill (the American Rescue Plan) allocates to help all 50 states overcome a revenue cash crunch includes a provision that prevents states from using that free federal money to finance state tax cuts.
  • Of course, Ohio could also just refuse to take the $5.5 billion earmarked for them in the federal legislation, which not a single Republican voted for in the U.S. House or Senate, often describing it as a "blue state bailout". But, because we believe in facts around here...As detailed in a new report this week from the financial website WalletHub, Ohio's Republican-majority state government ranks 16th among those most dependent on the federal Government. In fact, the site's latest annual analysis finds that 11 of the top 12 states most dependent on D.C. are all controlled by Republicans, while 12 of the 14 least dependent are run by Democrats. In other words, "blue" state taxpayer dollars continue to be a perpetual "red" state bailout.
  • With the election of Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. Senators in Arizona (the 7th most dependent on federal dollars), the state is finally trending "blue", even as Republicans still hold control of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But turning "purple" is only leading the state Republican Party to lurch farther and farther to the right under the embarrassing --- and now costly --- leadership of AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward. This week, a state judge ordered the Party to pay $18,000 in costs and attorneys fees to the state's Democratic Secretary of State after a frivolous lawsuit sought to force another post-2020 election audit in Maricopa County (Phoenix). The "bad faith" and "groundless" GOP suit, as the judge noticed in his sanctions order describing the effort as "gaslighting," failed to recognize that the County had already run a post-election hand-counted ballot audit, finding no fraud or inaccuracies in its Dominion Voting System tabulators.
  • For good measure, in late January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors commissioned another audit, this one examining voting system equipment and source code, searching for malicious software or hardware on the systems used in November, checking for evidence of inappropriate network or Internet connectivity issues and rechecking the accuracy of the tabulation system itself against millions of actual votes cast last year. In all cases, according to the two separate, independent, federally accredited voting system test labs commissioned to carry out the audit, "No Issues" were discovered across the board.
  • Despite the clean bill of health from those post-election audits and the failed, evidence-free lawsuits to try and overturn Biden's win in the Grand Canyon State, Republican lawmakers in the state legislature continue to move dozens of voter suppression bills forward in hopes of, at the very least, undercutting the state's very popular mail voting system, as used by 80 percent of voters (Republican and Democratic alike) even before the COVID pandemic. One such measure would both add onerous ID requirements to mail-in ballots and require that absentee ballots be postmarked by the Thursday before Election Day!
  • The efforts in Arizona are, of course, being echoed by Republicans in statehouses all across the country of late, with more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in more than 40 states so far this year. All of which share the hope of making it harder for (certain) voters to cast ballots at all. The GOP has been hard at work at this sort of suppression for some time, though they are doubling and tripling down since the 2020 contest. All of which has echoes for folk singer/song writer MATT SIRCELY, whose new Back of the Line tune harkens back to the voting lines in Ohio in 2004, the lines of protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and the bread lines of the Great Depression. If Matt thought that thanking me for inspiration on this song would lead us to play it on the show...he is correct!
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as extreme weather slams the North, South and West; as corporate media coverage of climate change fell over a cliff with the COVID pandemic last year; and as a top Texas utility regulator gets fired after being caught on tape helping to rig the system for corporate investors over Lone Star State rate-payers...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn on newly discovered ES&S, EAC failures; Also: Biden endorses filibuster reform...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2021 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While Team Trump spent months pretending the Dominion Voting Systems company stole votes from Trump and flipped them to Biden with their computerized voting and tabulation systems, there is exactly zero independently verifiable evidence to support that baseless conclusion. At the same time, however, recently unearthed documents from the state of Texas and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reveal a gaping security hole in new systems made by the largest voting system company in the nation, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (better known as ES&S), which has systems deployed in dozens of states. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, some annoying (if long overdue) news that Donald Trump finally made it clear(ish), during a Tuesday interview on Fox "News", that he recommends his own supporters should, indeed, get vaccinated against COVID. He cites the "great" and "safe" vaccines that are now available, describing them as "something that works" to prevent the deadly disease. We hope his supporters listen, since they are currently the most disinclined to want to get vaccinated.

Next, some long overdue encouraging news on the Senate legislative filibuster. In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden --- a longtime Senate institutionalist previously opposed to filibuster reform --- said he now favors it being overhauled. He says he supports a modification to bring back the "talking filibuster", where obstructionists are forced to hold the floor and keep speaking until they can't anymore. That would place the onus on the minority hoping to block legislation, rather than forcing Democrats, in this case, to try and find 60 votes to pass anything at all. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem unilaterally killing the filibuster entirely to steal and pack Trump nominees onto the U.S. Supreme Court, now vows to grind the Senate to a halt if Dems dare change the legislative filibuster. But, of course, McConnell has already done that with his unprecedented use of the legislative filibuster to block everything! We discuss.

Then, on to our main story today. Shortly after the November election last year, Donald Trump and his gaggle of dopey friends and clueless, corrupt attorneys hatched an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems had participated in an elaborate plot to secretly flip votes and steal the election for Biden. (The theory was based in part on my accurate, deep-dive exclusive investigative reporting from 2010, regarding some voting system vendors --- though not Dominion --- who then had ties to Venezuela and its then living President, Hugo Chavez. Team Trump bastardized that reporting to pretend it had something to do with their dumb theory that Dominion stole the 2020 election from Trump.) Dominion has since sued Team Trumpers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation, slapping them with suits for $1.3 billion each. Last week, news out of Stark County, Ohio and out of Louisiana proved that Dominion is, in fact, being financially harmed by the fraudulent "fraud" plot used to try and discredit them.

But the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S --- with a years-long, thuggish reputation according to elections insiders, along with a long history of failed elections on their crappy, computerized voting and tabulation systems --- largely escaped scrutiny by Republicans after last November's election. But they shouldn't have, given the disturbing, well-supported, deep-dive exclusive that election integrity advocate and Twitter phenom JENNIFER COHN broke last week at Who, What, Why. She joins us today to explain both her well-sourced report and its far-reaching ramifications.

As it turns out, she reports, there is a flaw in ES&S' installation process that prevents "hash-verification" when software is installed or patched onto their ExpressVote touchscreen voting systems. What that means, in layman's terms, is that its impossible to know if the software installed onto the systems actually matches the certified version of the software that was tested by federal testing authorities under the purview of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

This gaping hole --- discovered by the state of Texas in advance of last November's election --- means that untested, modified software, perhaps containing malware, could potentially have been installed onto ES&S' systems in more than a dozen states last year. Even more maddening is that ES&S was well aware of this flaw, but told elections officials (if they happened to notice the failed hash test) that it was nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, everything is fine --- just trust us.

"The strong implication from the documents which were produced is that [ES&S was] telling them that a mismatch should just be treated as a match," Cohn tells me. "That blanket instruction really concerned the Texas examiners when they found out this was happening."

More maddening still, as Cohn reports, is that ES&S forces jurisdictions to allow their own employees or contractors to do these installations, rather than allowing jurisdictions to do so themselves, which might allow local or state officials to do their own hash-verification (or "acceptance testing", as it is known by some in the industry). Some jurisdictions that refuse to allow ES&S to do the installation will have their warrantees void by the company. As one former voting system employee tweeted in response to all of this, it is "like buying a new home and before the closing the seller says, 'You don't need a final walk-through. Just trust me."

"Normally, the customer is supposed to do it. The whole point of it is to make sure that the vendor is being honest and they're not giving malicious vote-flipping software. So to have the vendor do the hash testing themselves defeats the whole point," Cohn explains. "One of the examiners called it 'the fox guarding the henhouse', and said it was ES&S self-certifying their systems. Even the attorneys for the Texas Secretary of state were appalled."

Cohn's reporting at Who, What, Why is based on a passel of documents obtained via public records requests that reveal, for example, a troubled Texas election examiner complaining via email to their Secretary of State's attorney that this security flaw is "a gift wrapped opportunity to an insider threat," before going on to add: "It’s similar to a bank robber knowing that the camera covering teller #3 is broken."

In addition to Texas, ES&S systems used last year in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming may all have been similarly vulnerable to running modified, vulnerable and uncertified software during the election, as Cohn details in her report, explaining today that it could be as many as 35 states.

And, as if all of that is not yet maddening enough, she also reports on the disturbing reaction from the EAC to this gaping security hole. The federal agency which is supposed to oversee voting system certification, apparently knew about this issue prior to the election, but failed to inform the public and quietly helped patch it all over for ES&S before, essentially, lying about it all once Cohn started asking questions in February. The EAC, as we have reported at The BRAD BLOG for years, has a long and troubling history of protecting private voting system vendors rather than the voters they are supposed to be watching out for.

When the EAC learned about it, Cohn says, they were "in kind of a panic, I think, because if it had leaked out, they couldn't honestly say they knew what had been installed in those states was what it was supposed to be."

So, is any of this related to why Team Trump focused their phony, evidence-free complaints almost exclusively on Dominion, while ignoring well-documented problems with ES&S almost entirely? We discuss that and much more with Cohn on today's --- yes --- maddening BradCast, where she also notes that, despite Texas officials being as troubled as they were by all of this, "I don't think that anybody ever said, 'Why don't we use pens? They don't require hash testing.'"...

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Guest: Armstrong County, PA Election Director and longtime Election Integrity advocate Marybeth Kuznik on chaos, segregated ballots and unverifiable touchscreens in the critical battleground state...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2020 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Election 2020 is coming down to the wire, with the deadline for voting just days away and no small amount of chaos unleashed on the entire process by federal courts over the past several days. While the U.S. Supreme Court has invoked their so-called "Purcell Principle" in recent years, to prevent last-minute changes to even bad, suppressive election laws in order to avoid chaos, both SCOTUS and lower federal courts have been busy this week invoking invoking election chaos in several key battleground states. [Audio link to full show posted at bottom of summary.]

On Thursday night, two Republican federal appellate court judges reversed a rule enacted with a Minnesota state court's approval in July, in a radical ruling that follows on the heels of another decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a Pennsylvania case that has resulted in elections officials in both states now being forced to segregate late arriving mail-in ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day, but that don't arrive until the days following it. We explain the reason for the extraordinary disruption and the potential invalidation of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lawfully cast ballots in both states --- and maybe others --- based on a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause that has never been blessed by a majority on the Supreme Court, but which could be very soon, depending on the vote of Donald Trump's newest appointment to the GOP's stolen Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

We try to make sense of the chaos that has now been unleashed by...

  • that late Thursday night ruling by two Republican judges on the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals --- just five days before Election Day --- finding it unconstitutional for MN to count late arriving ballots lawfully cast and postmarked on time, despite a months-old state court-blessed settlement between MN's Sec. of State, voting advocates and even agreed to by the Trump Campaign;
  • the SCOTUS decision to wait until after Election Day to decide if similar ballots in PA will be discarded as well;
  • and a seemingly counter-intuitive SCOTUS decision to allow late-arriving ballots in North Carolina to be counted following a state court blessed settlement nearly identical to the one just struck down on Thursday night by the appeals court judges for MN.

As noted, chaos now reigns in several of the most important battleground states in the most critical election in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, in the new battleground state of Texas, where early voting numbers have now surpassed the total turnout for all of the 2016 election, officials in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) are dealing with chaos caused by what they describe as a printing error by their absentee ballot contractor. Roughly one-third of mail-in ballots cast in the County are being seen as unreadable by their computer optical-scan tabulation system. Rather than count those hand-marked paper ballots publicly by hand, state law calls for the potentially tens of thousands of unscannable ballots to be "remade" by elections officials by hand onto new, scannable ballot pages.

All of this should serve as a reminder of the necessity of citizen-based public oversight of our elections, which are not owned by unelected judges or elections officials or private vendors or contractors, but by we the people. If you've already voted and are now looking for a way to help between now and Election Day (and, as importantly, beyond), there are many opportunities! Check out some of them at Scrutineers.org, ProtectOurVotes.com, SmartElections.us and ValidateTheVoteUSA.org.

Our guest today is, herself, a longtime champion of public oversight of elections. MARYBETH KUZNIK is the founder of the election integrity group, VotePA.us and, as of September, also the Election Director in Armstrong County, PA, a somewhat rural, Republican-leaning county just north of Pittsburgh. She is kind enough to offer us some time amid the mayhem of her new job today, where she concedes "it's pretty crazy here."

Among the many topics we discuss...

  • the new order to segregate late-arriving absentee ballots in PA so they can, potentially, be nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court after the election;
  • the fact that the state legislature does not allow pre-processing, much less tabulation, of mail-in ballots until Election Day;
  • How many days it is likely to take her county and the state as a whole to tabulate them ("We are in unchartered water here...But, we're not going to know Election Night, that's for sure." She is still looking for volunteers to help! Though they must be from Armstrong!);
  • the type of voting systems in use in Armstrong (Optically-scanned hand-marked paper ballots. "I wouldn't be working here --- I would not be administering unverifiable touchscreen ballot-marking devices. You know that, Brad!");
  • her concerns about voting in Philadelphia this year amid both civil unrest and the strongly Dem-leaning County's foolish decision to use new, unverifiable, computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices which failed spectacularly during their first use last year. ("Philly worries me," she says, adding that she has "zero confidence" in the systems which she describes as "the most expensive and the most wasteful voting system ever developed. Every voter does not need a $9,000 touchscreen to cast a ballot.";
  • and some of the lessons she's learned in her transition from longtime Election Integrity advocate to Election Director...

Don't forget to exhale between now and Tuesday!...

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Guest: 28-year former Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho; Also: Coronavirus begins third U.S. peak; Ransomware attack hits GA county's election infrastructure...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're now just one week from Election Day. But as today's guest underscores, we may be much farther away from knowing who actually won it, given disturbing vulnerabilities that remain in our nation's voting system, beginning --- if not ending --- in the battleground state of Florida. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the Trump Administration announced over the weekend, via White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that it is no longer even trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with Meadows telling CNN that "we aren't going to control the pandemic." Rather, he said, they'll work on mitigating its effects, eventually, through the development of therapies and vaccines.

That, as the U.S. hit its third peak of infections over the weekend, with new daily records that outpaced those from the June-July peak, which previously outpaced those from the original March-April peak. The pandemic is getting far worse, not better, and it's now being super-spread by the President of the United States himself at maskless rallies around the country. The virus which has now killed almost a quarter of a million Americans in the past six months is also being similarly spread by Vice President Mike Pence at rallies, even after five of his top staffers and advisers, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short, were revealed over the weekend to have tested positive.

On Monday morning, Trump actually tweeted that reporting on COVID numbers should now be outlawed. At the same time, talks on a new emergency relief package for the American people, between the White House and Democrats in the U.S. House, collapsed yet again. And, in response to all of the above, the Dow plummeted 650 points on Monday.

Things are not going well, just one week out from Election Day, even after some 60 million Americans have already cast their vote this year, outpacing all early voting from 2016.

But, if you think Election Day will be the answer to all of our woes --- while I pray you are right --- you may want to hedge that bet. One of my greatest fears about the election, a ransomware attack, appears to already be playing out in one county in the battleground state of Georgia. In Hall County, a ransomware attack has hit the county's elections infrastructure by taking out its voter signature database and a precinct map hosted on its website. If a similar attack were to occur on or before Election Day, in any one of the thousands of counties which now rely on the Internet or networked computers to allow voters to cast a vote at all, we could see absolute chaos. This President, of course, is all to ready to exploit such a case to his advantage with the help of gerrymandered Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country and a compliant (and stolen) U.S. Supreme Court (made even more stolen today by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in the U.S. Senate.)

Down in the critical battleground of Florida, as my guest explains today, voters may never even know if the election is stolen from them. That guest today is the legendary, former 28-year Supervisor of Elections in Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida, ION SANCHO, who was so well-respected by his peers on both the right and left he was appointed to oversee the eventually-aborted year 2000 recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush in the Sunshine State.

On Friday, Sancho sent an urgent letter [PDF] to the Supervisors of Elections in 47 of Florida's 67 counties which use wireless cellular modems to transmit precinct election results to county headquarters after the close of polls on Election Night. The letter warns that those modems --- and the Internet connections to them at the counties' central tabulators --- can be easily hacked "from anywhere in the world." If they are, he explains on today's program, it's very likely that such a hack, changing election results, would never be noticed by election officials.

"The issue is that we’re using equipment that is not secure," Sancho tells me. "To quote Sen. Marco Rubio, 'Many Florida election officials are arrogant over their belief that they can’t be touched, that they are secure.' And this is a state that does not compare the numbers that we generate on those electrical optical scanners to the actual, physical votes on the piece of paper. We’re completely dependent upon those electronic totals on Election Night."

Manual examination of hand-marked paper ballots in Florida, to make sure the reported computer tabulation was correct, is prohibited by state law. Sancho details his concerns about those modems --- which are not federally certified for use in elections --- and how the state's election officials can avoid the threat posed by this very serious vulnerability to the state's election infrastructure. Making matters worse, he notes, "We do not audit the paper ballots to confirm that the election totals are correct. And that’s a huge, huge problem – not just in Florida, but everywhere in the country."

"Most of the election officials were not even aware that their systems were connected [to the Internet], because the vendor [in this case, ES&S, the nation's largest] never told them. You’re almost 100% dependent upon the vendor for the information about your system. So our most public process – our elections process, which is public – really are controlled by private entities."

"The worst-case scenario," with the modems now used in the systems in Florida, "is that a man-in-the-middle attack could actually intercept the totals that are being electronically-transmitted over the Internet, and manipulate them --- not only to the central tabulator, but re-routing back into the actual digital voting machine and altering the results in that device," he warns. "You could have a complete disaster here."

Sancho may be familiar to some listeners from his landmark appearance in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, in which he allows an experiment by "white hat" Finnish hacker Harri Hursti. In the film's climactic scene, we see an actual hack of one of Leon County's optical scan systems, as carried out by Hursti in a mock election. The hack flips the results of the election in a way that would never be noticed by elections officials, save for a manual examination of the hand-marked paper ballots cast.

Sancho also offers his concerns today about whether the 2020 Presidential election could become a redux of what played out in Florida in 2000, when a weeks-long battle to determine who would be President of the United States was kicked off on Election Night, after an optical-scan tabulator --- for reasons still unknown to this day --- recorded negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County. The election was ultimately decided in favor of Bush by an "official" margin of just 527 votes, thanks to a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court which stopped Sancho's statewide hand recount from ever being completed...

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Guest: Investigative journalist Art Levine: Also: No charges for Breonna Taylor killing; FBI issues curious 'Announcement' on election fakery...
By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: So, Donald Trump's campaign, as well as the National Republican Committee and the Pennsylvania state GOP, are battling it out with state Dems and the state's Democratic Secretary of State over pretty much all aspects of absentee mail-in voting in the key battleground state. But, for some reason, as our guest reports today, Trump and the GOP are actually joining forces with Dem Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to defend the use of brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the most Democratic-leaning part of the state. Now why would they be doing that?

Before we get there today, however, some quick news on today's announcement on the lack of charges brought against the Louisville, Kentucky police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 36-year old African-American emergency medical specialist, in her apartment in the middle of the night this past March.

Also, some thoughts on a somewhat odd "Public Service Announcement" issued on Tuesday by the FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency regarding "foreign actors and cybercriminals" who might take advantage of the necessary delay in tallying absentee ballots in the days following Election Day on November 3rd. The federal agencies warn that bad actors could "create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions." The announcement warns that malicious individuals could propagate false information about vote counts and other disinformation "that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections' illegitimacy." It's an odd "announcement" that focuses largely on foreign actors, while warning the public "to seek out reliable and verified information from trusted sources, such as state and local election officials." They say nothing about domestic bad actors, nor do they recommend federal sources as "trusted". We discuss.

Then, in Pennsylvania, Republicans have told the state Supreme Court that they plan to appeal last week's rulings against them to the U.S. Supreme Court. The news follows the Keystone State's high court determination that mail-in ballots can be counted if they arrive up to three days after Election Day; that absentee ballot drop-boxes are perfectly legal; and that state law bars poll watchers who come from outside of the county where they plan to observe. At the same time, the Trump Campaign is suing the state in federal court over many of the same issues in a suit that could also find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That may be just one of the reasons that Republicans are pushing so hard to seat a replacement so quickly for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As VP Mike Pence told Fox 'News' on Tuesday, "there is a possibility that election issues may come before the Supreme Court in the days following the election, and all the more reason why we should have nine Justices on the Supreme Court to be able to resolve any issues that may arise ." (Notably, this is something Republicans didn't seem to care about in the least before the 2016 election, when they were blocking Barack Obama's nominee from filling the late Justice Scalia's seat for a full nine months before the election.)

But for all the legal fights that Republicans are carrying out to block the use of, delivery of, and counting of verifiable hand-marked paper mail-in ballots in PA, for some reason the Trump Campaign is intervening in a court case to side with the Democratic Secretary of State there to defend the use of 100% unverifiable touchscreens in Philadelphia, the most Dem-leaning part of the state. Trump's intervention is in a suit filed by the NAACP (which we discussed with the attorney working on the case in a recent show) against the PA SoS, which seeks to block the state's use of the new computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). It's curious, to say the least, that Team Trump is supporting SoS Boockvar's use of the new, unverifiable devices, which are being forced for universal-use in all Philly polling places this year.

We're joined today by longtime investigative journalist and author ART LEVINE to discuss his detailed report today at Washington Monthly, headlined "Donald Trump's Favorite Voting Machines: Ballot-marking devices in key swing states could give him the perfect excuse to contest the election." In the article, and on today's show, Levine describes the boondoggle e-voting systems that have been installed for first time use this year in a number of key battleground states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and, yes, Pennsylvania. They are remarkably expensive, produce ballots that can never be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter who used one, and they have failed disastrously in multiple ways in several states (including PA) during their first-time use in primaries earlier this year.

Sadly, it's not only Trump and PA's Democratic Sec. of State who are defending or otherwise quietly allowing the use of these dangerous new voting systems. So are many Democratic officials and election watchdog organizations that have historically been critical of electronic voting systems. "They've been absolutely radio silent --- except for Ohio Democrats --- at the state and national level about the risks of this voting technology," charges Levine. Even here in Los Angeles, our Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla has been very supportive of the $300 million dollar boondoggle touchscreen BMD system installed this year, disastrously, by Los Angeles County's Democratic Registrar of Voters, Dean Logan.

Levine's new investigative report today explores many of these various strange bedfellows in detail.

"I hope I can shed further light on the tangled, unbelievable, nutty mess in Philadelphia that is emblematic of the kind of challenges that other swing states --- statewide in Georgia and in some key Democratic cities in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and so on --- will be facing. It's a nightmare beyond the already-other nightmares that we're aware of," he explains, describing a potential disaster with these systems that adds "kindling" for "a Constitutional crisis...if Trump doesn't win on Election Night."

Recent studies [PDF] reveal that 93% of voters do not notice when a BMD has changed one of their selections on the paper "ballots" printed out by these touchscreen systems. Moreover, the tallies created by optically-scanning those "ballots" (with yet another computer) are not even based on the human-readable printout that voters may or may not bother --- or be able --- to successfully verify as reflecting their intent. Instead, it is a barcode or a QR code, which can't be read by voters, that is also printed on the "ballots" and used by the scanning computers to tally the votes. But, still worse, even if everything works perfectly --- if the machines don't break down as they did during the primaries, causing hours-long lines, and if they aren't hacked or misprogrammed and everyone somehow manages to verify them accurately --- there is still no way for anybody to know after the election that any of those ballots accurately reflect the will of any voter.

As Levine warns in his report today: "Let's say the November election is close, and Donald Trump comes up short in Pennsylvania or Georgia or North Carolina, or all of them, and loses the Electoral College vote. ... It would make perfect sense for him and his lawyers to seize on the ambiguities of BMDs to argue that the voting was rigged and illegitimate. And Democrats would be hard-pressed to prove Trump wrong --- especially since some of their own elected officials and allies have been relatively quiet about the BMDs' shortcomings, and in some cases have even been at the forefront of pushing for the machines' use."

We have been warning as much for years. I'm happy to see Levine picking up those serious concerns and amplifying them. Please read his important article in full and then listen to today's show --- or vice versa.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some quick --- but VERY big --- news today out of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced plans to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in the state by 2035. That's right! If his initiative is successful --- and it is bound to be challenged and hated by Trump and the fossil fuel industry --- the Golden State may be selling nothing but electric cars at new car dealers in as little as 15 years!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Court nixes Trump 'national emergency' wall funding; TX, FL forced to re-close businesses as COVID spikes, Trump, Pence continuing lying about it...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2020 7:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why does Indiana's Secretary of State Connie Lawson believe her emails with other Secretaries of State, and potentially voting system vendors, should be exempt from disclosure via public records requests? She is claiming her discussions about those systems with members of the private National Association of Secretaries of State (and any private vendors they may discuss or hear from) should somehow be protected due to exemptions for trade secrets and national security that cannot be exposed to the public. A judge in Indiana, however, seems to believes she is wrong. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, a few items of breaking news amid our ongoing dystopian American nightmare...

  • A federal appeals court panel agreed today with a lower court judge that Donald Trump violated the law when he commandeered $2.5 billion in tax-payer dollars appropriated by Congress for the military in order to build his wall under the phony guise of a "national emergency". That, after Congress had specifically refused to allocate such funds. Bill Barr's corrupt Dept. of Justice will likely be appealing that one all the way up to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court if necessary;
  • As we have been warning for weeks (months?), the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better, in the U.S. In particular, as we've demonstrated, many of the hardest hit regions where infection rates, ICU usage and deaths are skyrocketing are places where Republican politicians have been successful in joining our maniacal conman President in pretending the virus would simply go away if we just reopened our doors for business. That strategy has failed miserably and tragically. So much so, that the very Trumpy Republican Governors in two of the hardest hit states, Florida and Texas --- which were among the first to prematurely reopen --- were forced to re-close bars, restaurants and other businesses today as infections rates surge to record numbers in their states, and as ICU beds in some locations are quickly filling to capacity;
  • That, at the same time Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force (remember them?), held their first press briefing in weeks to continue the Administration's attempted gaslighting of America to declare "very encouraging news" in the case numbers which are going straight up now in a majority of U.S. states;
  • Today's grim record COVID-19 numbers come just days after our failed President lied to his supporters at his latest maskless Death Rally inside a Phoenix church on Tuesday that "it's going away". It's not. It's getting worse. That was the same day in which internal White House task force documents, according to an NBC News exclusive, told both Trump and Pence that new case numbers in Phoenix --- which "had the highest number of new cases among the 10 metropolitan regions where the week-over-week change in infection rates spiked the most" --- was up some 150 percent over the past week. And, yes, infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths rates are rising as well, according to the White House's own numbers. That is not, despite the lies from both Trump and Pence, caused simply by "more testing".

With unabashed criminals like this now running our country --- and hopefully facing charges of criminal negligence if not mass murder someday soon --- we turn back to our "last firewall": our electoral system. There, we've got a bit of good news today, as Indiana Judge Heather Welch has rejected most of the claims made by the state's Sec. of State Connie Lawson (formerly a member of Trump's failed and phony "voter fraud" commission) to try and obscure her emails with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

The judge's ruling stems from a lawful request filed under Indiana's public records act. The suit, filed on behalf of the National Election Defense Council (NEDC) by Free Speech for People (FSFP), seeks those records in which Lawson was discussing voting systems with fellow Secretaries around the nation, NASS staffers, and, very likely, according to our guest today, private voting system vendors who wine, dine and lobby our nation's elections officials. In turn, those officials buy the unsecure, overly-expensive, error-prone computer voting and tabulation systems from the companies, and then parrot their talking points when the systems fail or when the public seeks to learn how they actually work (or don't.)

We're joined today by FSFP Legal Director RON FEIN to explain the court's recent ruling [PDF] in which the Judge rejected most of Lawson's claims to things like copyright and trade secret exemptions for her official Sec. of State emails. The judge is also demanding to privately review in her chambers those emails about which Lawson is claiming statutory exemption on the basis that disclosing those emails to the public would pose "a reasonable likelihood of threatening public safety by exposing a vulnerability to terrorist attack."

Lawson [pictured above with her newly purchased unverifiable computer voting systems] served as President of NASS from 2017 to 2018. She falsely testified [PDF] in 2017 before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, that America's "voting machines are not connected to the Internet or networked in any way." That claim has been proven to be an out and out lie, over and over and again.

Nonetheless, if true, what possible "vulnerability to terrorist attack" could Lawson be referring to? Fein offers his thoughts, and explains why the judge's ruling that "access to public records is an important statutory right," is already a victory in this little known, but potentially very important case.

"The fact that the Indiana Secretary of State has fought so hard to keep these materials private suggests that at least some of them have something that's embarrassing that they don't want the public to see," Fein tells me, suggesting that, "In some cases, the [voting system] companies are either outright bribing or engaging in extremely unethical practices with election officials."

"One of the most essential elements of democracy is a free and fair election. And the free and fair election requires that it be secure and trustworthy...And we have misinformation out there about the security of these systems. When that misinformation is being spread by election officials whose job is supposed to be to spread accurate information and, if anything, tamp down misinformation, then it means that we have a crisis of legitimacy in the election," Fein explains. "What we're hoping through this public records access lawsuit is that, if we can shine a light on the processes by which election officials end up as vehicles for misinformation about the security and reliability of our election systems, then that will provide an opening for reform."

Please tune in for the full conversation, as we cover quite a bit of ground. And, just for the record, Lawson also misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when she insisted under oath that "no votes were changed in 2016." In fact, nobody actually knows one way or another, because nobody ever bothered to check.

Finally today, after yet another hellish week in Trump's America, we close with a smile and a song "celebrating" his under-attended Death Rally last weekend in Tulsa...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Former insurance exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: More Early Voting probs for L.A. County's new, unverifiable e-voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2020 5:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A former insurance exec says Medicare for All is better than even the best union healthcare plans, more problems with L.A. County's new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems ahead of next Tuesday's Super Tuesday, and Desi Doyen "celebrates" another birthday...

First up, financial markets continued to plummet on Tuesday after a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) --- which Donald Trump has been gutting and/or attempting to gut since taking office --- announced Americans should prepare for the spread of the Coronavirus, declaring "It's not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but ... when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness."

At the same time, with that cheery news, the Democratic Presidential primary campaign moves forward after Bernie Sanders' landslide win at the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, with many members of the Party establishment concerned about the likelihood of his nomination. One of their concerns is Sanders' decades-long campaign to establish healthcare as a right, not a privilege, in the U.S., as illustrated by his Medicare for All (M4A) proposal. That plan, and its end to private health insurance in the U.S., was the source of concern by leadership of NV's powerful Culinary Union before the caucuses last week. Its members, however, according to Entrance Polling, were strong supporters of Sanders, a longtime champion for the labor movement, on caucus day nonetheless.

At issue with Sanders' (and Elizabeth Warren's) M4A proposal is the fear of the loss of top-flight, hard-earned health care benefits for the Culinary Union workers. The union has negotiated one of the nation's best health care programs, with leadership worried about losing those benefits under M4A. It's a fear shared by many Americans who are nervous about the prospect of losing their existing private health care coverage, while being misinformed about how the program would actually work.

RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, however, a former insurance executive turned political columnist, policy analyst and host of The Zero Hour, argues this week in an detailed analysis at The Intercept that, while the Culinary Union's plan is top notch, Medicare For All would actually be even better for them in many ways. He joins us today to explain why he finds that not only those union members would be better off under Sanders' plan if passed as currently proposed, but so would all Americans.

Eskow details his analysis of that union's very good health plan --- which, he tells me, "makes it a perfect test case, in a sense, for comparing Medicare For All to the best plans --- and how M4A would still be better. "My hat's off to the Culinary Union and to the workers, who went on strike and fought for years to get this plan, in the current environment we have now. It's just about as good a plan as you're going to see," Eskow says. "It's well ahead of most other plans, private insurance plans, private employer plans, whether they are union or otherwise. It's really one of the best." Nonetheless, he argues, after detailing all of the excellent benefits for those workers, "Medicare For All gives better benefits."

He also goes on to answer many questions that skeptics and/or critics of universal single-payer coverage --- from both the Left and the Right --- likely have.

Also today, we look forward, again, toward the crucial South Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary on Saturday and concerns about the state's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that all voters will be forced to use at the polls (despite myriad failed elections on similar equipment made by the same vendor, ES&S, the nation's largest.) And I've got a correction about a point I made on this topic on yesterday's show.

Then, we look again at more failures already revealing themselves here in L.A. County in advance of the March 3rd Super Tuesday Primary --- just three days after South Carolina --- in California and more than a dozen other states. Problems with L.A.'s brand-new, 100% unverifiable, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting systems surfaced over the weekend on the first day of Early Voting last Saturday, when several Voting Centers in the County were unable to open for hours, as equipment problems left workers unable to set up the new, complicated, Internet-connected computer pollbooks and voting systems.

Those problems continued on Monday, as reported by CBS2-LA's David Goldstein last night. He followed up his earlier investigative report on the new systems several weeks ago (in which I was featured) with another report on Monday night, finding Voting Centers still down in some areas, with one poll worker seen examining the system's user manual for clues and another bemoaning the idle voting systems: "They're not working because the router....we're waiting for AT&T to come," she says.

Oh, brother. 1,000 of these new Voting Centers with all new equipment, replacing 5,000 community precincts used for decades in L.A., are all supposed to be up and running by next Tuesday. Though, even if the new VSAP ("Voting Solutions for All People") systems work as designed, the results of next Tuesday's election will still be 100% unverifiable after the polls close.

Finally, Birthday Girl Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with her usual mix of bad news, very bad news, and some actually good news! It's also her birthday! So, to make up for the fact that she has to work today, all donations to BradBlog.com/Donate are going to her this week! Please consider cheering her up by pitching in!...

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Also: Super Tuesday Early Voting began this weekend on L.A. County's new, unverifiable touchscreen vote systems. How do you think it went?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2020 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A look at what happened over the weekend in Nevada, and a look ahead at wait awaits in South Carolina on Saturday, Super Tuesday three days later, and yes, even beyond. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

So, the Caucuses in Nevada over the weekend went only slightly better when it came to reporting results than the Iowa Caucuses two weeks ago. But, because Bernie Sanders appears to have won in a rout there, the corporate media declared as much and didn't seem to be bothered, or even much notice, that it took another three days before all results were actually in. (Proving once again that corporate media is interested in headlines, not about making sure that voters see their votes counted accurately.)

We cover the reported results out of NV today, beginning with Sanders' landslide victory there, and the fight for runners-up, with Joe Biden coming in second over Pete Buttigieg, followed by Elizabeth Warren in fourth place. She was followed in turn by Tom Steyer and then Amy Klobuchar.

But the night belonged to Bernie. He received well over twice the number of votes than his nearest competitor (Biden) in NV. Buttigieg challenged the reported results from the Saturday caucuses and attacked Sanders during his post-caucus remarks to supporters in a way that Republicans should be very happy about (and in a way that Sanders would have been justifiably excoriated for, had he done anything similar in either 2016 or in this year's cycle.) We explain all of that on today's show.

We also look forward to this Saturday's important Primary in South Carolina and to Super Tuesday in 14 states just three days later on March 3rd. In SC, Biden's once seemingly-insurmountable lead in pre-election polling appears to be slipping, even as he retains a small edge over Sanders there, according to NBC/Marist, as of today.

At the same time, the national polls are seeing some movement as well, with Warren surging into second place behind Sanders and ahead of Biden in a new CBS/YouGov poll out today, reflecting what many regard as her strong debate performance last Wednesday. Their performance, however, was not reflected in the NV Caucuses given, that most caucus-goers had already voted before the debate in Early Voting (which was used for the first time there this year.)

So, with Sanders the front-runner at the moment, having won the popular vote in each of the first three primary/caucus states, members of the "Democratic Establishment" and their media supporters appear to be, well, freaking out a little bit. We play some of that freak out and discuss.

For the moment, however, all eyes are now on South Carolina, where voters across the entire state will be forced to vote on brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). The new systems, made by Election Systems and Software, Inc., replace the state's old 100% unverifiable touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems, also made by ES&S. Their systems have failed in election after election over the past decade in the Palmetto State and elsewhere. But, of course, even if they work as designed this Saturday in the SC Primary, it will still be 100% impossible to know after polls close if any ballot cast on the expensive devices actually reflect the intent of any voter.

That's just one of the problems --- though, one of the biggest --- with BMD voting systems. In Los Angeles County --- which has more registered voters in it than the entire state of South Carolina has people --- the Early Voting period for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary (which will be held in 14 states) began on Saturday. We've been covering L.A. County's brand-new, $300,000,000 touchscreen BMD voting system for some time (about a decade in fact), warning about many of its failures and potential failures.

So, how do you think the first day of Early Voting went in L.A.? According to this report, and some of our own reporting as well, it did not go well, with officials unable to start up the new e-voting systems at all for several hours in a number of locations, some locations where the equipment didn't even arrive in time for Saturday's Early Voting, and an absense of the paper write-in ballots that were supposed to be available at every polling site as the first "condition" in the CA Sec. of State's recent "conditional certification" [PDF] of L.A.'s new "Voting Solutions for All People" (VSAP) touchscreen system.

And now it's your last chance, if you live in L.A. County, to get a real, hand-marked paper ballot instead, by visiting LAVote.net to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot for the March 3rd election before Tuesday night, February 25th at midnight! (And please do the same if you live in ANY jurisdiction in the country where you will be forced to vote on a touchscreen voting systems at the polls!)

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Could be approved for 2020 anyway. Public comment period ends soon! Hand-marked paper ballots needed in nation's largest jurisdiction!
Also: Booker out; Trump still lying about Iran; NBC covers huge e-vote security prob...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2020 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after a necessarily quick news round-up today (on Cory Booker dropping out of the Democratic Presidential nominating contest and the Trump Administration's continuing attempt to lie about about Donald Trump's unlawful assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani), we get on to the most important business of the day --- at least for voters in the state of California, though all across the country as well.

Brand-new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, which all voters at the polls will be forced to use for the first-time in the 2020 Presidential election in Los Angeles County, beginning with the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, are currently undergoing the CA state certification process. The $300 million system is failing state security and certification testing miserably, according to documents buried at the CA Sec. of State website, and reported on today's program for the first time.

In addition to producing a computer-marked ballot that can never be verified as reflecting any voters' intent after an election, documentation of state certification tests of the new "Voting Solutions for All People" system (or VSAP), reveal a myriad of incredibly serious security failures and violations of state law, according to experts we've consulted.

As we detail on today's program, the testers have discovered, among other very serious concerns, more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards, including findings that reveal:

  • The VSAP system can be booted from a USB drive that would bypass all security and logging protections and that access to the master account is needed for too many things, meaning that "too many people have access to the root password," according to state testers. That means "The excessive root access and the ability to boot the system from a USB port give access to the system by unauthorized individuals. Either scenario can result in undetected changes to files and data...Both scenarios can allow functions to be executed in non-intended ways. The unrestricted access to, and the ability to boot from, the USB port allows access to voting data";
  • Many problems were discovered with security regarding encryption and cryptography in the new system;
  • The testers discovered "It is possible to insert or remove ballots from both the BMD and ballot transfer boxes without detection";
  • "The printer cover allows access to the ballot box and can be opened without detection";
  • "Seals, locks, labels and sensors can all be bypassed" without detection.

Those are just some of the many findings that led one national voting system and cybersecurity expert to wryly describe the results to us as "not good" and another to describe the system as "a security fail".

Nonetheless, CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla could still certify the systems for use in the 2020 primaries and general election anyway, following the passage of a law he championed in 2013 as a State Senator that gives the SoS the ability to approve the use of new voting systems, even if they fail both federal and state testing, for actual elections.

The very quiet Public Comment period regarding certification of the unverifiable, unsecure VSAP touchscreen computer voting system ends next Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at 5pm Pacific Time. We are urging those concerned to contact the state at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov immediately to ask them to not certify this dangerous, unverifiable system, and to require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for all voters at the polling place in this year's crucial primary and general elections.

We offer much more frightening detail on all of this on today's program regarding the dangers of this type of voting system as they are proliferating not just in Los Angeles County, but also in key battleground states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and many others before the critical 2020 elections begin in just weeks time!

We appear to be the only media outlet, to our knowledge, reporting this important information on the failed VSAP tests out of California, so please share widely! We cannot afford to wait until corporate media bother to notice (such as NBC News, which just noticed on Friday a very serious concern about modems in voting systems in several battleground states that we had covered on The BradCast more than six months ago!)...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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