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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, December 6, 2022
All State-Funded Media is
Not Created Equally:
'BradCast' 12/5/22
Guest: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
Sunday 'Abandon All Hope' Toons
Give it up for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
AZ Election Super-Geniuses: 'BradCast' 12/2/22
Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
Seditious Conspiracy Verdicts and 'Mob Boss' Obstruction: 'BradCast' 12/1/22
Guest: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppressors; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump docs case...
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!: Sedition! Collusion! Denial!: 'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Const. disqualify Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announce-ment climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
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...


Tiny Delaware's huge mistake; Graham's nationwide abortion ban bill; Also: Franken on the illegitimacy of our U.S. Supreme Court...
By Brad Friedman on 9/13/2022 6:18pm PT  

The three states carrying out the final midterm primary elections of the year on Tuesday offer a great side-by-side comparison of voting systems on today's BradCast, from the very best to the very worst in the nation. Also, Sen. Lindsey Graham offers an example of the GOP's very worst politics, even as it is likely to work out for the very best for Democrats. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Why Delaware's so-called "hybrid" Ballot Marking Device (BMD) system made by ES&S and forced on all voters in the state at the polls, places the tiny state in contention for having the very worst voting systems in the country. You'd think they would realize that a 100% unverifiable touchscreen system that prints voters' selections on a paper ballot for them is already a terrible idea. But one that allows the computer to secretly reprint a voter's ballot --- allowing it to add, change or delete votes --- after voters think they've already approved their computer-marked ballot, is unspeakable stupid. That said, the system's "Permission to Cheat" feature is arguably even worse.
  • Contrast DE's voting system with New Hampshire and Rhode Island's fully verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. They, along with DE are also holding primaries today. But in about 40% of NH towns, they go even further in respecting voters by hand-counting all hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place, in public, as soon as polls close and before ballots are moved anywhere. That would be Democracy's Gold Standard. RI, in the meantime, tallies all ballots by computer, but at least (unlike in DE), they're hand-marked ballots, so can be known to reflect the intent of the voters. Well, most of them, anyway. As discovered during the early voting period in four towns, candidates from 2018 appeared on the 2022 touchscreen ballots for some voters who chose to use the state's new BMD systems, made available at the polls for optional use by disabled voters.
  • Next, a follow-up to our conversation last week with Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance, which is suing Georgia and its Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, hoping to ban the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. Marks was on the show to discuss the security camera surveillance video she unearthed in her federal lawsuit last week, revealing a bunch of Team Trump MAGA Republicans being allowed in to the Coffee County, GA election office last year to unlawfully breach the state's Election Management System software made by Dominion. The breach, as we discussed, was covered-up by Raffensperger, even though the Trumpers copied, stole and shared the critical software with others. That makes the 2022 and 2024 elections in the state (and elsewhere, where the same systems are used) uniquely vulnerable to malware and manipulation, given that Coffee County's system is connected to the state system, which programs all of the identical systems that Raffensperger forces every county in the state to use.

    Shortly after Marks' appearance on the show last week, a hearing was held in her federal lawsuit, and the judge inquired as to how the Coffee County breach relates to the plaintiffs' complaint. One of their attorneys, David Cross, gave a brilliant explanation in response (see transcript here, beginning on page 4), ending his remarks on the matter with a fantastic metaphor: "If we're going on a skydiving trip and we saw a bunch of bad actors unpack our parachutes, take them all apart, and then repack them and put them back and we learned that when we were on an airplane and if the pilot said to you, it is probably fine, your parachute is probably fine, just go ahead and jump and we'll find out when you're in the air, no one would jump out of that plane.

    "That is where we are," Cross added. "It is not an exaggeration. We have lots of people who are widely considered bad actors because of the lies that they spread about the 2020 election who had unmitigated access to the election system --- not pieces, not disconnected pieces --- the actual system in practice for the better part of two weeks. And we don't know what all they did. But we do know what they could have done. And it is not satisfactory to tell voters, 'Let's just hope the system works, and we have begun an investigation in the last couple of weeks, let's hope that that doesn't find that the system doesn't work.' That, Your Honor, we don't think is an appropriate way to proceed. And that is why this is so critically important for our claims."

  • In what ought to win an award for worst, most tin-ear politics of the century, so far, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a bill today to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy in all 50 states. States that wish to go further, however, by banning abortions all together, are more than welcome to do so under his nationwide bill. So, this measure --- deceptively being sold by Graham as a "late-term" abortion --- would largely only affect "blue" states where privacy rights and reproductive freedoms are still respected. The bill, which Graham's own Republican Party is already furious about, comes after the GOP's corrupted, stolen and packed (with Graham's help) U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and just weeks after Graham previously said he believes "states should decide the issue of abortion." Turns out that was just another pathetic lie from one of the nation's most pathetic U.S. Senators.
  • Speaking of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court (and tin-ears), Chief Justice John Roberts offered his first public remarks last Friday since his Court overturned Roe. He blasted those who question the legitimacy of the Court because they disagree with its decisions. "Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the Court," the Chief Justice said, completely missing the point. Over the weekend, the much-missed former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) appeared on CNN to debate Roberts' remarks with GOP strategist April Stewart. As you'll hear, it did not go well for Stewart.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as a hurricane finally ends California's record heat wave; reactors are finally shut down at Ukraine's besieged nuclear power plant; a showdown finally looms in Congress over energy permitting; and a climate champion finally ascends to become King of Britain...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4), on his bills to expand the Court, impose term limits and ethics rules for 'unaccountable', 'corrupt' Justices; Also: TN's Thursday primaries and unverifiable voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2022 6:49pm PT  

I suspect you'll get much more out of listening to today's BradCast than I can possibly share in this summary. Hearing my conversation with the Congressman --- who has a very dry wit --- is also much, much funnier than reading about it. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, voters in Tennessee were voting in their midterm primaries on Thursday. Yes, on a Thursday! In a state where the right-wingers who run it aren't all that interested in democracy, apparently. Otherwise, they would hold primaries on a normal Tuesday, and they wouldn't have upended a state law passed years ago --- when Democrats held the legislative majority there --- to move from unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. A story today out of one of their counties where a touchscreen system appears to have failed for one of their voters (described misleadingly in the report as "a rare glitch") underscores this point and my continuing, expanding, years-long nightmare.

Then, we're joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON, Democrat from Georgia's 4th Congressional District and Chair of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Courts, for a detailed and lively discussion about his ongoing attempts to bring accountability to what he describes as the "corrupt system" embodied by today's U.S. Supreme Court.

In April of last year, Johnson introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021, a simple, single paragraph bill [PDF], co-sponsored by a number of House colleagues and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) who declared, at the time, that when "Republicans stole the Court’s majority" they "undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans". Over a year later, with little progress for the measure, after a full term with the Republicans' packed majority now having run roughshod over longstanding Constitutional rights and Court precedents --- on everything from the rights of voters to those of detainees, to gun safety and the environment and, of course, privacy rights and reproductive freedoms --- the bill's sponsors held another press event last month in front of the Capitol to try and bring focus to the need to, as Johnson describes it today, "re-balance the Court away from this current 6-3 rightwing extremist majority that was packed by Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and the Federalist Society."

This week Johnson also introduced another measure --- this one, just three pages [PDF] long --- called the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act of 2022, to introduce term limits for Justices and mandating that new appointees shall be appointed solely by each President in the first and third years of their terms.

"It would establish an 18-year term limit for Supreme Court Justices, if that legislation passes --- and it needs to pass along with the Judiciary Act to expand the Court. We don't really need Justices letting the grass grow under their feet, becoming insulated and removed from accountability from the public", Johnson charges. "You can appoint a conservative judge, but that judge's views would have to end up being subject to being replaced by another judge at the end of that judge's tenure. So, in this way, we give every President the opportunity to appoint new blood into the Supreme Court. Keep the Supreme Court from getting old, stale, and rotten, as it is now...starting with the Honorable Clarence Thomas. "

The Georgia Congressman has also introduced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act of 2022 [PDF], recently marked-up in the Judiciary Committee to bring ethics reform to the High Court, where Justices currently are allowed to police themselves and are exempt from the judicial ethics rules and requirements which govern the rest of the federal judiciary. That, he asserts, has brought us to the "corrupt system" we have to today.

"The Supreme Court can simply decide to ignore all of the cases it chooses to ignore, and cherry-pick cases that have been inserted into the legal pipeline by activists who are intent on getting their way in the United States Supreme Court," says Johnson. "These are the same activists that have these same Supreme Court Justices traveling to exotic locations to be wined and dined, to deliver a speech to the assembled audience, who happen to be stakeholders in one position or another, that they want to insert into the Court and have the Court decide it their way."

"This is the system that we have now, with the Court being able to select a few cases in the pipeline, for that pipeline to be packed with issues that are ripe for these rightwing Justices carefully indoctrinated through their law school years with Federalist Society 'free market' thinking," the Congressman continues. "They have gotten the jobs with the law firms and with the prosecutors' offices that put them on a track to be nominated by a Republican to a judgeship. And they preside over the judgeship and then they get elevated to the United States Supreme Court, after being recommended by the same Federalist Society that indoctrinated them from law school and secured the job for them. These Justices are primed to rule in favor of the rightwing, 'free-market' capitalist interests that put them in the pipeline. It's a corrupt system that we have at this point, and Congress definitely is in position to do something about it."

Johnson has created a website called CourtReformNow.com to detail these measure and many others in order "to do something about it."

That said, many of these long-overdue reforms have had trouble gaining traction in Congress. I ask the Congressman if there is any reason, for example, that his Subcommittee couldn't call in Justice Thomas (who he describes as "ethically bankrupt") to discuss years of impropriety, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars those same activist groups have given his wife Ginni. (She was also recently revealed to have been a key player in helping Donald Trump to try and steal the 2020 Presidential election.) In response, Johnson offers a fascinating --- and amusing --- insight into how the House and its leadership work. That alone is worth tuning in for. But, the central point is that Committee and Subcommittee Chairs don't necessarily have the final say on what those committees may do and who they may call in for testimony. Moreover, as Johnson collegially chafes against some of those restrictions, he also underscores the need to "educate my colleagues about the power that we have and the need for us to use the power."

At "a political moment when the future of our democracy, our freedoms, are at risk," he notes, pressure from the public "has a lot of bearing" on what Committees and the Party itself in Congress are able and allowed to do.

As mentioned, tune in for this one for a much more expansive and colorful explanation on all of this.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a very "sexy" close to today's show...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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CISA issues advisory based on sealed expert report in GA voting system lawsuit; Also: We try to open the phones re: upcoming J6 hearings, get waylaid by callers with other matters on their mind...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2022 6:05pm PT  

Like it or not, we're back on today's BradCast! But we've got plenty of trouble-making and muckraking for you today, and even some contentious listener calls for your listening pleasure! [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, some long overdue good news. Though we've been warning, in great detail, over the years (nearly 20 of them, at this point) about the risks of voting on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, we now have some good(ish) company. Last Friday, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) issued a public security advisory regarding nine serious vulnerabilities discovered in touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) made by Dominion.

The alert comes after the federal agency's review of a sealed report, which a federal court in Georgia allowed CISA to access, created by the University of Michigan's J. Alex Halderman, a longtime cybersecurity and voting systems expert who is serving as an expert witness in the Coalition for Good Governance's long-running lawsuit to block the use of those systems in the state. The Coalition, founded and headed up by frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks, filed suit in 2017 against Georgia's use of touchscreen systems made by Diebold. After the court found those systems to be unverifiable, insecure and, therefore, unconstitutional, the state defied expert advice to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system. Instead, GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger forced all counties in the state to switch to a newer touchscreen BMD system made by Dominion, which has many if not all of the same vulnerabilities as the older systems that were banned by the court.

As part of the Coalition's lawsuit, Halderman was granted access to the Dominion systems and found vulnerabilities so alarming that his report was sealed by the federal judge and even blocked from review by the plaintiffs. Only their attorneys could view the report, until CISA asked to see it in February. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg allowed them access and, after studying the report and notifying the 16 states where Dominion BMDs are used, CISA issued their public alert last week.

"One of the most serious vulnerabilities could allow malicious code to be spread from the election management system to machines throughout a jurisdiction," according to Kate Brumback's excellent coverage at AP. "The vulnerability could be exploited by someone with physical access or by someone who is able to remotely infect other systems that are connected to the internet if election workers then use USB sticks to bring data from an infected system into the election management system."

In the wake of Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 Presidential election being stolen (when, in fact, it was he who was attempting to do so), has led to a rash of election insiders --- the County Clerk in Mesa County, CO, the Board of Elections in Coffee County, GA, to name just two cases --- making secret copies of proprietary voting system software and releasing it to members of the public in an extraordinary security risk for future elections.

The vulnerabilities, according to CISA, could allow manipulation of results in a way that would not necessarily be discovered by most security provisions employed by most jurisdictions which use these terrible types of voting systems. Halderman told AP that he believes it is not only the systems made by Dominion that are vulnerable. Similar touchscreen systems made by ES&S, the nation's largest vendor, are used in many more states across the country, or by Smartmatic, whose touchscreen BMDs are now forced on voters at the polling place here in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest single voting jurisdiction. They all have many of the same design flaws, such as the use of barcodes/QRCodes to tally ballots printed out by the systems, ignoring the human-readable selections printed on the same ballot paper that may or may not have been correctly verified by the voter.

"There are systemic problems with the way election equipment is developed, tested and certified," Halderman told AP, "and I think it’s more likely than not that serious problems would be found in equipment from other vendors if they were subjected to the same kind of testing."

We dive into the details of this long overdue story today, along with recommendations for how voters can maximize the odds are their votes being tallied as per their intent in this year's critical midterm elections. (One key suggestion: Vote on a hand-marked paper ballot if possible! Even if it means using an absentee ballot. Deliver it in person to a dropbox or polling place, if you can!)

Next up, we try to open the phones to callers regarding their hopes for the the upcoming U.S. House select Committee's public hearings, beginning this Thursday, on Donald Trump's January 6, 2021 insurrection and his attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. As it turns out, however, some callers want to discuss election concerns. And, among them, at least one of whom is a terribly disinformed rightwinger who actually believes the 2020 election was stolen. Much fun ensues thereafter! Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns 'poison' of white supremacy, those who 'spread the lie' of replacement theory 'for power, political gain and profit'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2022 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's primary election day in five states, with voting system problems reported in at least three counties in one of them, as the President traveled to upstate New York to condemn white supremacist "terrorism" and grieve with the community following Saturday's racist massacre at a neighborhood grocery story in a predominately black area of Buffalo. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST UP, a bit of seemingly encouraging breaking news just before airtime today from the New York Times. They report that the Dept. of Justice "has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for transcripts of interviews it is conducting behind closed doors, including some with associates of former President Donald J. Trump." The paper describes the news as "further evidence of the wide-ranging nature of the department’s criminal inquiry into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol and the role played by Mr. Trump and his allies as they sought to" steal the 2020 election.

That sounds like encouraging news, even if the Times, for some absurd reason, describes the effort to steal the election as an attempt "to keep him in office after his defeat in the 2020 election." Normal humans would describe it simply as an attempt to steal an election. Our corporate media, and even most Democratic officials, for reasons I cannot explain, do not do so. In any event, sounds like good news no matter how stupidly the Times is reporting on it.

NEXT, it's midterm primary day in Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho, North Carolina (where insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn is running for his life) and Pennsylvania (where Dems see one of their best opportunities to flip a Republican-held U.S. Senate seat.) We'll have noteworthy results on tomorrow's program, but today we focus on three counties in PA, where voters were reporting problems simply trying to cast their vote.

In Berks county "widespread" problems were reported apparently with the County's new electronic pollbooks made by ES&S, just added to polling places countywide for the first time this year. Those new computers were added to the complicated mix of high-tech equipment already forced on voters in Berks, where residents are required to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device computers at the precinct. It was a full two and a half hours after polls opened before officials finally deployed backup paper pollbooks(!)to all locations in the county, so voters could finally vote. It's unclear whether the systems simply didn't work, or election officials didn't make sure to properly train poll workers to use them. Either way, voters couldn't vote for hours and some were undoubtedly disenfranchised entirely because emergency paper ballots were not supplied either, according to one state Rep. who said he was held up for hours (though he appears to have misreported the problem as one with voting machines, as opposed to the e-pollbooks.)

In Alleghany County (home of Pittsburgh), some precincts reportedly opened hours late, due to a mix of problems, including lack of keys to get into precincts or a lack of Election Judges in some case, thanks to COVID. At least they respect their voters enough there to allow them to vote on simple, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots (with simple paper pollbooks) ... once the polls finally opened, in any event.

In Luzerne, a Republican-leaning county with a history of voting system issues, it was reportedly the touchscreen voting machines made by Dominion that held up voters, though the Chair of the County's Board of Elections seemed happy to throw poll workers under the bus for what she described as "human error". That, instead of taking blame for forcing those over-worked, under-paid workers to use overly complicated computer systems with a lack of training, in order to eventually (maybe) allow voters to cast unverifiable ballots on touchscreen voting systems after they manage to sign in with e-pollbook computers made by ES&S.

THEN, we head to Buffalo for President Biden's remarks to victims of Saturday's mass shooting by an 18-year old white supremacist who killed 10 and wounded 3 with a Bushmaster assault rifle in a matter of minutes in a predominately African-American neighborhood. The massacre came just three days after a Trump-appointed federal appeals court judge issued a ruling overturning California's law banning semiautomatic weapons purchases for those under the age of 21, finding the law to be an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment.

In his Wednesday ruling, Judge Ryan Nelson cited "the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army" in "reaffirm[ing] that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.” Never mind that young adults during the Revolutionary War used rifles that fired one shot at a time after being laboriously loaded through their muzzle --- as opposed to the semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle used to shoot more than a dozen, including an armed guard, in mere seconds on Saturday in Buffalo.

Biden said today that the nation must "reject the lie" of "replacement theory" spread the far-right, Fox "News" and GOP elected officials, while describing America's diversity as its strength. He derided the "hateful minority" who spread the lie "for power, political gain and for profit" --- as Fox' Tucker Carlson has done hundreds of times on his primetime show and as GOP House Leadership's Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate NY has recently done in her campaign ads.

"Evil will not win," the President vowed in moving and powerful remarks which we share at length. "Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word," Biden said, charging that "hate and fear have been given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for a few thoughts on all of the above, as well as our latest Green News Report. Among the matters she covers today: a new analysis finding wildfires are likely to double across the U.S. in the next several decades; while Russia has used energy as a weapon in its war on Ukraine, they are now threatening to cause a global food crisis as well; and while the state of California recently became powered by 100% renewable electricity for a short time, the state of Texas is, once again amid another heat wave, having trouble even keeping their lights on...

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Also: Turner loses again to Brown in OH; Trump-endorsees win in OH and IN; Amazing appeals court hearing in Cawthorn ballot eligibility case; Trump wanted to shoot BLM protesters, says his former SecDef...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2022 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With midterm primaries in Ohio and Indiana yesterday kicking off a month of about a dozen such primaries across the country, and more to come in subsequent months, America is voting again. So, naturally, America's voting systems are failing voters again. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

In Ohio, in at least three different counties (Lucas, Cuyahoga and Williams) reports of misprogrammed systems prevented voters from casting their votes or forced them to return later in the day to do so. Electronic pollbooks used as part of computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) appear to be the culprit this time. Again. In this case, at least in Lucas (Toledo) and Cuyahoga (Cleveland) it appears the e-pollbook vendor misprogrammed them to print out barcodes on ballot cards that subsequently brought up the ballot for the wrong party when voters put those ballot cards into the BMDs to try and cast their votes. Republicans received Democratic ballots and vice versa.

The widespread failure was reportedly corrected eventually, by about 2pm. In some cases, poll workers were able to manually punch in codes to bring up the correct party ballots and precincts onto the BMD systems for voters. In other cases, voters were given printed ballots that they could fill in by hand (begging the question as to why all voters weren't simply given reliable, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots to use in the first place to avoid these ongoing electoral nightmares!) Either way, problems like these do little to foster confidence in our electoral system, particularly on BMD systems which are already 100% unverifiable after elections, making it impossible to know if votes cast via such systems actually reflect the intent of any voter.

Luckily, confidence in our voting systems hasn't been a big concern in the U.S. of late, right?

As to actual reported results of voting on Tuesday, we cover, among other things, the Democratic U.S. House race watched closed by some on the progressive left between Rep. Shontel Brown and Bernie Sanders-ally Nina Turner in the state's 11th Congressional District (which happens to touch both Lucas and Cuyahoga Counties, where voting systems failed). The contest was a re-run of last Summer's special election to fill the House seat vacated by Rep. Marcia Fudge after she was tapped to serve as Joe Biden's HUD Secretary. Turner lost once again on Tuesday, reportedly by a much wider margin this time, before suggesting in her fiery concession speech that she may be planning an independent run for President in 2024.

All of the U.S. House races in Ohio were run on a new map found by the state Supreme Court to violate the state's constitution, requiring districts that reflect the state's partisan balance after a 2018 ballot iniative for fairer maps won 70% of the vote. Ohio's Presidential contest in 2020 was about 53 to 45% in Trump's favor. Nonetheless, the new maps created by the GOP-majority Redistricting Commission in the Buckeye State will likely result in a 13 to 2 --- or maybe 12 to 3 --- advantage in favor of Republicans in Ohio's U.S. House delegation, as redistricting expert Dave Daley told me via email today. The unconstitutional map is being used in 2022 as the court challenge continues. Perhaps they'll get fair U.S. House maps by 2024. Or not.

On the Republican side of Tuesday's primaries, all of Trump's endorsed candidates --- no matter how crazy, no matter how many times they've been accused of domestic violence or sexual harassment --- won yesterday in both Ohio and Indiana. In Ohio, that even included author and former never-Trumper J.D. Vance in his bid for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination. Vance, back in 2016, said he couldn't "stomach Trump" and found him "noxious". But he changed his tune when he decided to run for the open Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Now, Vance says, Trump's "a great President, certainly the best President of my lifetime." That was enough, apparently, to win Trump's endorsement, which appears to have catapulted Vance from third place, just a few weeks ago, to a reported win on Tuesday night. He'll be running in November against Democratic nominee Rep. Tim Ryan.

While all of this is great for Trump's considerable ego, it remains to be seen whether having a bunch of far-right, radical loons and alleged abusers who insist the election was stolen from Trump in 2020 (despite any evidence to support the claim) will be good or bad for the GOP this November. It should be a big year for them, but there are still a whole lot of X Factors that could affect so-called Conventional Wisdom on this.

Next, the voters challenging the eligibility of North Carolina insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn to run for reelection had their day in federal appeals court on Tuesday, after a Trump-appointed lower court judge tossed their Constitutional challenge to Cawthorn's eligibility under the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" of the 14th Amendment. The Q&A between Cawthorn's defense attorney and one of the judge's on the appeals panel was...um...kinda mind-blowing.

As Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People, the group representing the voter challengers, summarized on Twitter yesterday: "'Let's say you want to run for office at 12 years old, or something like that,' Judge James Wynn said. 'The state can't do anything? You've got to wait until Congress says they can't run?' Cawthorn's counsel: Yes, the state has no role + must allow that 12 year old on the ballot." Even that snippet doesn't do this hearing justice. We break the whole thing down for ya today.

Then, as we try to get caught up on a bunch of stuff that's been buried by larger stories (in Ukraine, at the Supreme Court) this week, a new memoir by Trump's last Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, claims that Trump wondered why the military couldn't just shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the street.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as unprecedented heat in South Asia is now "testing the limits of human survivability" and much more, including even some good news on Denmark going all-electric...

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Guest: Lynn Bernstein of Transparent Elections NC on intimidation and an independent review of unverifiable ES&S vote systems; Also: Major media failures at Fox 'News', CNN and Washington Post...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2022 7:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we are bound and determined to take back the real fight for Election Integrity from the MAGA "Stop the Steal" loons and dupes who have no such interest in anything of the sort, as the Right has attempted to co-opt the idea of "Election Integrity" as part of Donald Trump's efforts to steal the election in 2020...and/or to steal the next one. But even too many weak-kneed Democrats have been frightened off of the fight to secure our nation's vulnerable voting and tabulation systems and ensure public oversight of election results for fear of offering fodder to the MAGA Mob. We're not playing that game. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up, some pretty dreadful media failures from both the wingnut Right and the non-wingnut Corporate Media. First, after a deteriorating, 50-year old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, ironically enough just hours before President Biden's planned appearance in the city to tout his recently signed $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, one Fox "News" host may have jumped the shark when it comes to disinformation from the propaganda news outlet. (Which is not easy!)

Longtime Fox host and news anchor Julie Banderas went off on an embarrassing tear about how "President Biden has been making promises over promises over promises and, as you've noticed, none of them have come true," as she asserted to four others appearing with her, each in their own little silent box. "Back in June of 2021 he started talking about his bipartisan infrastructure deal," she sneered derisively. "There's nothing bipartisan about it! If it was bipartisan, it would have been passed by now!," she continued cluelessly in her rant, slamming the President for failing his vow to "reach across the aisle" to make policy with Republicans. That, she insisted, "has clearly not happened." She was quickly followed by Kayleigh McEnany who concurred. "That might have been the biggest fairy tale of them all," said Trump's former White House Press Secretary.

In fact, Joe Biden's landmark, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill --- which he was in Pittsburgh to discuss on Friday, fer chrissake --- was passed with nineteen Republicans voting with all the Democrats in the Senate. It was signed into law a full two and a half months ago --- even if word of that promise-kept has yet to pierce the Fox "News" reality bubble.

Sadly, non-wingnut news outlets are not a whole lot better in too many cases of late. On Thursday, a federal judge invalidated the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in the nation's history. 1.7 million acres were recently auctioned in the Gulf of Mexico after a different federal judge last year, one appointed by Donald Trump, blocked Biden's Executive Order pausing new fossil fuel leases, forcing the Biden Administration to sell off the Gulf. That, even after a scam environmental analysis by Trump's Department of Interior claimed that it would be worse for the climate if Big Oil was not allowed to buy up the leases and expand their drilling there. The Biden Justice Dept. sued to prevent the sale and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made clear to reporters back in November that the President opposed the auction, but was left no option by the Trump-appointed Judge to carry it out.

So, Thursday's ruling was a welcome victory for the Administration. But one would have to read the actual stories from outlets like Washington Post and CNN to learn that, because both of those outlets sent out news alerts to mobile phones telling a very different story. CNN's alert screamed: "A federal judge invalidated the Biden administration's oil and gas leases for 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, citing climate change," while WaPo misinformed its readers by declaring "Federal judge throws out Biden administration's massive Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale, faulting its climate analysis."

Wow, if we didn't know better --- or hadn't clicked through to read the actual stories --- it sure would sound like Joe Biden is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he claims to care about climate change and transitioning off of fossil fuels, while carrying out the nation's largest-ever sale of drilling leases in the Gulf! With non-wingnut corporate media like ours, no wonder his approval ratings continue to plummet (despite the fastest growth in the economy since 1984, as the media has also been failing to adequately report, as discussed on yesterday's program!)

NEXT UP...The Department of Justice on Thursday announced that its Election Threats Task Force, formed seven months ago, has made its second arrest. They indicted a 50-year old Nevada man who had repeatedly called the Nevada Secretary of State's office with violent threats on January 7, 2021, just one day after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, promising they were "all going to fucking die". That, after hundreds, if not thousands of similar and worse threats have been issued since the 2020 election against elections officials across the country.

But its not only elections officials forced to face down such attempted intimidation. One longtime Election Integrity advocate, who joins us on today's show, says she has faced similar nightmares in response to her work in a critical swing state, resulting in both in-person intimidation to herself and her family, and a chilling attempt to hack into her home security system.

Our guest is LYNN BERNSTEIN, an aerospace engineer with an expertise in testing satellite systems, who has, in recent years, turned her skills toward fighting for evidence-based elections as founder of Transparent Election NC in North Carolina. The non-partisan group's mission, according to its website, "is to confirm that every eligible vote is counted as the voter intended by working with elections officials to ensure that elections are secure, transparent, robustly audited, and publicly verified."

But, Bernstein contends, there are some in her state who may not like that idea. She has become a critic of North Carolina's recently approved, unverifiable computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by ES&S, the nation's largest private voting system vendor. Bernstein went public last month on Twitter with some of the threats she began to face after she (a registered and active Democrat) found common ground with the state's Libertarian Party. She helped convince them to exercise their right, under state law, to seek an independent source code and security review of ES&S' unverifiable BMD voting and tabulation systems.

Bernstein offers several chilling details on the intimidation she has faced since the Libertarian Party announced their plans to seek an independent source code review, which will be overseen by the excellent University of South Carolina computer science and voting system expert Dr. Duncan Buell (who has also been a guest on this program). "Elections officials have been in the news a lot about being harassed and threatened," she says. "It seems though that the intimidation of election advocacy leaders happens way more than the public is aware of. I work with people all across the country and privately we discuss it among ourselves, but most won't publicly disclose that they've been hacked or intimidated before."

She also shares her well-researched concerns about the state's controversial new ES&S voting equipment --- which are also used in many other states --- and which experts had strongly advocated against certifying in the closely divided swing-state. "I'm a big proponent of hand-marked paper ballots," says Bernstein. "I think it's just the best record of voter intent. It's a very direct record." She explains how the ES&S BMD systems print out bar-coded paper ballots, supposedly representing voter's touchscreen selections. But those ballots cannot be verified by any voter as actually reflecting their intent. "North Carolina law says that a voter must be able to verify their ballot before casting it. With ES&S's barcode system, it doesn't actually allow the voter to verify their vote before casting it."

During our conversation, Bernstein also offers an endorsement of the state's Libertarian Party chairman who explained in his Party's December press release announcing the review, that "this is not about litigating the 2020 election." She claims that "one of the reasons why he's the perfect person to do this" is because "he has done forensic examinations before" as a former fraud investigator. "When I let him know that this particular ES&S system has never undergone a truly independent source code review, a full comprehensive one, he was shocked, as I think most of us are when we learned of these things."

There's a lot to discuss here, including whether both the state and ES&S will allow the state-mandated review, as we recommit to working to reclaim the real fight for Election Integrity around the nation.

Finally, when it comes to election fraud --- and, arguably, voter fraud --- nobody holds a candle to what Trump and the GOP tried to pull off in 2020. So it's nice to see that the January 6th Committee in the House on Friday, subpoenaed 14 Republicans from seven different states --- all of them won by Biden in 2020 --- who signed their names as duly-sworn "electors" for Trump, on documents fraudulently sent to Congress and the National Archives, in one of the most brazen (and, thankfully, failed) election fraud schemes in the history of this nation...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: 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.

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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...

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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...

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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!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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