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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sunday 'I Scream Cohen' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unethical Lying Sleazebags ... The Death of Satire ... Trains are Real ... And many more primal screams in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, 'Smoking Gun', 'Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
Canada's fire season erupts; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Recount in Tied House Primary Reveals Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
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THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
Tornadoes across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
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
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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'
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'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...

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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
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Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

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Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

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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...

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


Guest: Election technology expert Kevin Skoglund on why ES&S Ballot Marking Devices printed out the OPPOSITE of some voters' votes...
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2023 6:09pm PT  

After a number of headlines on today's BradCast --- a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke last week --- we're on to our main story today. And it's a doozy.

Last month, during off-year elections in several states, touchscreen voting systems in Northampton County, Pennsylvania made by ES&S, the nation's largest voting system vendor, were discovered to be printing out the opposite of what voters had selected on their screens in two different statewide contests.

The so-called touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) used in Northampton, a suburban swing-county just outside of Philly in the critical battleground state, are supposed to print a ballot summary card, in human-readable language, based on selection made on the touchscreens, allowing voters to confirm their choices before those cards are then tabulated by an optical-scan computer. Similar systems are (shamefully) still used by about a fifth of the nation's voters on Election Day across the county, including in every precinct in the critical battleground state of Georgia and here in the nation's most populace County in Los Angeles.

But last month, on November 7th, there were two statewide retention elections for Judges, one Democratic and one Republican. If voters selected either YES or NO for both judges, everything printed out on the ballot cards as expected. But if they selected YES in one race and NO for the other, the system would flip their votes on the summary print-out. But here's the catch. It only flipped the votes on the human-readable portion of the ballot. The barcodes also printed on the ballot summary --- which humans cannot read --- as used for tabulation, recorded the votes correctly as cast.

As you can imagine, all of this resulted in chaos on Election Day. Some voters --- once precincts even noticed the problem --- began voting on hand-marked Emergency Paper Ballots instead. In PA, however, there are only about 20 such emergency ballots available at each precinct. They ran out very quickly.

After explanations by election officials and employees at ES&S (which did the programming of the computers for the election) on Election Day, a County judge ordered voters to begin using the touchscreen systems again. Some officials tried to ease voters worries by telling them they would just FLIP the votes after polls closed! In other precincts, voters were reportedly instructed to simply vote the opposite of what they actually wanted in those two contests.

This is the same County where, back in 2019, the first time these ES&S ExpressVoteXL systems were first deployed, the systems recorded zero votes for some races in certain precincts. One of those races, believe it or not, was for the County Judge who, this year, gave the okay to start using the misprogrammed systems again. He didn't receive zero votes in those precincts in 2019. In fact, he won the race for County Judge, as a post-election investigation would reveal.

So, what actually happened on November 7th last month? Longtime election technologist KEVIN SKOGLUND of Pennsylvania's nonpartisan Citizens for Better Elections, investigated to find out. He recently published a detailed report breaking down exactly what wrong. He was able to confirm that while the printed, human-readable text appeared to flip the votes in those two races, the human-unreadable barcode version of the ballot correctly reflected the intent of voters. In short, the votes were right, but the labels next to the two contests in question had been reversed.

As he explains on today's program, this is a programming error that, frankly, should never have been able to happen. Election Officials have long told skeptics of unverifiable touchscreen BMD systems that there was nothing to worry about, because the systems printed out a paper record of voters votes that they could approve before casting, and that the computer-printed barcodes or QRCodes would always match that human-readable text. In Northampton County last month, clearly they did not.

Skoglund also discusses the terrifying danger posed by a programming error like this --- whether it actually happens or voters simply claim that it did --- to next year's Presidential election in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and elsewhere where voters at the polls are forced to use the same or similar touchscreen systems to cast their ballots.

Describing BMDs like those used in Northampton as "a $9,000 pencil," Skoglund warns today that "events like this shake people's trust, with good reason."

"One of the core cybersecurity concerns is resilience," he tells me. "You want to have systems that can recover from problems. One of the reasons that we like hand-marked paper ballots is not just that the voter marks their ballot and verifies it all at the same time --- so there's not this extra step of checking if the machines works --- one of the other properties of them is their resilience. Because even if the power goes out, even if the machines all stop working, as long as you have a pen, you can mark the ovals on your ballot. But with these [BMD] machines, your 'pen' may just stop working. And you have to have a backup plan if that happens."

Clearly in Northampton, PA last month, there was no real backup plan. If something like this happens next year --- either real or manufactured by nefarious voters --- in even one precinct in PA or any of the other swing-states where similar systems are insanely still used by millions of voters, I shudder to think of what may happen next in this nation.

Incredibly enough, even after the failures in 2019 and 2023, Northampton plans to use the same systems again next year. We discuss that and much more related to all of this on today's show, before we receive phone calls near the end of the program from a few other election experts --- Susan Greenhalgh of FreeSpeechForPeople.org and Dr. Philip Stark, UC-Berkeley election expert and inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol. Both have long warned of exactly this kind of election nightmare and have long urged all election officials to move to reliable, verifiable, hand-marked paper ballots for all voters, other than for disabled voters who may choose to vote with an assistive technology.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Huge ES&S touchscreen fail in PA county; Missing VBM ballots at OSU; Also: WI GOP advances impeachment against state Election Director; Meadows sued by own book publisher for lying about 2020 election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2023 5:55pm PT  

Today was Election Day in a bunch of states across the U.S. Important contests and ballot measures were before voters in this off-year election, including in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Mississippi, parts of California and elsewhere. And, as covered on today's BradCast, things did not go well for voters in parts of at least two of those states on Tuesday. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • As we reported at The BRAD BLOG earlier today in some detail, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting machines made by ES&S were reportedly flipping votes in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This wasn't the type of "flipping" that we've seen many times in the past, where the screens on the voting system are not calibrated correctly and when one tries to select a candidate, a different one gets highlighted instead. This was quite different.

    At a number of precincts across Northampton, a largely suburban enclave outside of Philly, when voters selected either "Yes" or "No" in a statewide retention election for each of two judges (one D and one R), everything presumably worked as expected. But if voters chose "Yes" for one of the judges and "No" for the other, their votes would get reversed to the opposite selections. Making matters worse, the computer printout of those votes would be reversed, while the screen itself would show the voters' actual selections.

    Back in 2019, as we reported at the time, just after the ES&S ExpressVote XL systems --- wildly expensive computerized electronic pencils --- were first purchased for use in Northampton, there were a number of candidates who learned after the election they had received ZERO votes on them. That, of course, was not true, and the paper printouts from the systems were eventually used to discern what were believed to be the correct results of the elections. But, of course, there is no way of knowing if the printed paper records were actually accurate, whether voters bothered to verify them, or if they did so correctly even if they tried to. That's just a few of the problems with every touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) used across the country. (For example, every voter at every polling place in the entire state of Georgia is still forced to use similarly unverifiable BMD systems made by Dominion Voting Systems.)

    Shamefully, after the 2019 disaster, PA's Northampton County didn't dump the machines then and there and move to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots instead. Today, those same systems melted down for voters again. And, perhaps even more shamefully, the County officials who approved them for use in the first place were blaming everybody but themselves for it, including election officials and ES&S. Perhaps most shameful of all, one of the candidates who, in 2019, was reported to have received "zero" votes in his election at the time for Northampton County Judge, but later found that he had actually won the election, presided over what to do about today's mess. After the problems came to light, he was the Northampton County Judge who, rather than ordering a move to hand-marked provisional paper ballots, instructed election officials to continue using the machines despite the fact that they were reversing votes.

    One local outlet reporting on the mess described today's "solution" to the problem this way: "In cases where the error would pop up for the retention question, the county would flip the results during the post-election canvass." (!!!)

    As noted, this is just a mess. Much more on all of this on today's show. And, I suspect, we'll be covering it more in the days ahead. Let's hope there are no close elections either statewide or in Northampton when PA results are tabulated tonight.

  • Also today, it is being reported that, according to several nonpartisan voting rights groups, "an extraordinarily high number" of voters in the zip code of Ohio State University never received their requested absentee ballots by mail. The state held a critical election for a Constitutional measure today to protect abortion rights, as Republicans in the state, including its Sec. of State Frank LaRose, have pulled out all the stops to block the Amendment from passage (including recently purging 26,000 voters quietly from the rolls after the election had already begun.) There is also a proposal to approve recreational marijuana on Tuesday's ballot. Once again, the results, whatever they may be, better not be close, or there will be some hell to pay in the Buckeye State, I suspect.
  • In Wisconsin, Republicans appear to be working hard to ensure chaos for next year's critical Presidential election in the Badger State. State Assembly speaker Robin Vos, last week, advanced 15 articles of impeachment against the state's top election official, as part of their years long effort to blame someone --- anyone! --- for Donald Trump's 2020 loss in the battleground state.
  • And, speaking of 2020, Mark Meadows, Trump's former Chief of Staff and current co-defendant in the conspiracy case against them and 17 others for attempting to steal the Presidential election in Georgia, is being sued by his own book publisher. The publisher, All Seasons Press, claims that Meadows' reported cooperation in Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal indictment against Trump for his attempt to steal the 2020 election, contradicts Meadows claims in his book that the election was "rigged" and "stolen". ASP is now suing Meadows for millions. And it's hilarious.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia braces for another record bushfire season amid an El Nino; October 2023 is officially declared the hottest October ever recorded on the planet; Michigan enacts sweeping climate and environmental legislation; and President Biden unveils the nation's largest investment in rail travel in 50 years...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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In 2019, same machines recorded ZERO votes for some candidates
NOW UPDATED WITH MORE DETAILS...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2023 11:46am PT  

Unfortunately, this "programming error" being reported during today's off-year elections in Pennsylvania is hardly the first time that these terrible touchscreen voting systems made by ES&S and shamefully still used in Northampton County --- just outside of Philly --- have failed during a critical election day.

As reported this morning by the Lehigh Valley News...

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A flaw in Northampton County's voting machines forced multiple polling places to turn to provisional ballots Tuesday morning.

A programming error with the county's ES&S ExpressVote XL machines is causing votes to flip when voters split their votes on [statewide] retention questions for Superior Court judges Jack Panella and Victor P. Stabile. Panella, of Palmer Township, is a Democrat while Stabile is a former chair of the Cumberland County Republican Committee.

If a voter cast a "Yes" vote for one of the incumbents, but a "No" vote for the other, the votes come out flipped, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure said.

McClure characterized the error as relatively minor and stressed all votes will be counted. But he expressed his frustration that the mistake wasn't caught during pre-election testing.

"I'm livid at the election folks and ES&S," McClure said.

This is only "relatively minor" for those who continue to support using unverifiable, computerized touchscreen voting systems rather than simple, verifiable, hand-marked paper ballots, which appear to have saved the day here (hopefully), in any case...

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

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Also: Computer tabulators declared losing candidates to be winners in at least two states in the November, 2022 mid-terms...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2023 6:22pm PT  

Yes, it's possible that two seemingly conflicting things can be true at once. On today's BradCast we report on two different cases where that is true, regarding Russia's war on Ukraine and Dominion Voting Systems' defamation case against Fox "News". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, on Presidents' Day, Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine to meet with its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just days before the first anniversary of Russia's horrific invasion of its sovereign neighbor. It was also just days after Vice President Kamala Harris declared at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend that the U.S. believes Russia has committed "crimes against humanity" in their unlawful invasion.

In his remarks, President Biden described "a brutal and unjust war," as air raid sirens were heard during his visit to the Ukrainian capital. "One year later, Kyiv stands," said Biden after meeting with Zelenskyy at Mariinsky Palace. "And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you." As we discuss, yes, it's possible to understand various diplomatic missteps taken by the U.S. and NATO in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Soviet Union, while still being able to hold the correct party accountable --- in this case, Russia --- for unjustifiable and continuing atrocities.

As yet another war in defense of democracy rages in Europe against a tyrannical autocracy, a decades-long champion of democracy in the U.S. and across the world is now in his final hours. On Saturday, the Carter Center in Atlanta announced that "After a series of short hospital stays," 98-year old former President Jimmy Carter has "decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention."

We share some thoughts today on the legacy of our 39th President, including some of his comments last year on the first anniversary of the Donald Trump-incited Republican attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government on January 6, 2021. "One year on, promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems," Carter wrote at New York Times. "These forces exert power and influence through relentless disinformation, which continues to turn Americans against Americans."

The "relentless disinformation" of Fox "News" has been on full display for the past several days, following last week's redacted unsealing of Dominion Voting Systems' 192-page motion [PDF] seeking summary judgment in its $1.6 billion defamation suit against the right-wing fake news outlet. As the striking filing reveals in detail, Fox hosts and executives alike knew they were broadcasting fake, evidence-free claims of election fraud by Trump and his supporters following the 2020 election. They didn't much care. Instead, they feared losing viewers and chose to put company profits above both truth and the health of American democracy.

Dominion may prevail in this case. We hope they do. Even as we have been no friend to the company or any of the other oft-failed, private computer voting and tabulation firms over the past 20 years. In fact, some of the news misreported by Fox and Trump's supporters like Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani was taken directly from some of our accurate, exclusive reporting from years ago. But, again, two seemingly conflicting things can be true at once. Fox lied about election fraud and should be held accountable for that, and Dominion and other voting system vendors have repeatedly failed in American elections.

By way of fresh evidence to support that charge, we close with details on voting system failures in both New Jersey and California in November of 2022. In both cases, the systems ended up naming candidates who actually lost to be the winners and vice versa. In Monmouth County, NJ, the ES&S voting tabulators allowed duplicate votes to be uploaded to it twice. It wasn't discovered until last month. In Alameda County, CA, the tabulators were programmed incorrectly to do the impossible math of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) elections in the Bay area. It was discovered in late December last year by a pro-RCV organization who happened to run the math on their own computers and discovered the error.

In both cases, the errors were discovered after losing candidates were certified as winners. How many places did that happen but wasn't ever discovered, because human beings rarely bother to count ballots to make sure the computers did so accurately. This is what comes of outsourcing public elections to private companies and running elections on computer systems that are virtually impossible to oversee by the American public.

Many more details --- and callers --- on all of the above on today's program!...

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Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2023 6:44pm PT  

There's a reason I always warn, when reporting election results on The BradCast, that they have only been tallied by computers to date, and that errors in results often do not come to light until days, weeks or even months after elections...if ever. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST UP TODAY... Some thoughts on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' 'Doomsday Clock' which was, this week, ticked forward from '100 Seconds until Midnight' to just '90 Seconds until Midnight.' The main reason for the move, the first since 2020, as explained by The Bulletin, whose esteemed scientists, diplomats and Nobel Laureates take such decisions quite seriously, is thanks to "Russia's war on Ukraine," its "thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons," and for "violating international protocols and risking widespread release of radioactive materials" in bringing "its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites."

In response to the metaphorical clock --- first unveiled at the dawn of the Cold War in 1947 --- being moved closer than ever to a proverbial 'midnight', when humanity destroys itself, a Kremlin spokesperson said Wednesday that the move was "really alarming." (Really? You were "alarmed" by this, Russia? Really?!)

That, on the same day that the U.S. and nearly a dozen European countries finally agreed to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine so the sovereign former Soviet nation can better defend itself from the grotesque, ongoing, hostile invasion by it's empirical neighbor.

We take the opportunity today to explain why --- amid our years of (continuing) anti-war advocacy --- we, nonetheless, support Ukraine's right to defend itself against Russia's war crimes; agree with critical support being supplied by fellow democratic nations against an autocratic invader; and how we see many of those on the supposed Left in the U.S. that are echoing Kremlin propaganda by, among other things, demanding Ukraine declare a ceasefire and negotiate with their invaders, have been unhelpfully (and wildly) misled.

THEN... Yes, we likely drive regular listeners crazy when reporting results after elections and offering the caveat, over and over again, that reported results in the immediate aftermath are wholly unverified and only tallied by computers --- either correctly or incorrectly --- and that there is no way to know for certain either way unless and until results of hand-marked paper ballots are examined by actual human beings.

Last week, more than two months since the November midterm elections, we finally learned that a computer tabulator mistallied some of the results in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The error appears to have resulted in at least one loser being named as the winner in a School Board race in Ocean Township. After a probe into "an unrelated issue" caused the County's Board of Elections to notice potential problems in the tallies, an investigation reportedly found errors in six voting districts across four municipalities.

One candidate named as a loser after November 8 last year appears to have won his race by a single vote after results were correctly re-tallied. But a bunch of races had been mistallied originally thanks to results from at least one precinct being uploaded more than once to the Election Management System's central tabulator from a USB memory stick.

While there is no evidence of nefariousness in the matter, a spokesperson from the County's private election vendor, ES&S (the nation's largest), attempted to downplay what happened as "a human procedural error". But the fact that it is even possible to upload the same results more than once without a system warning is disturbing. Longtime election and voting system experts have expressed horror at the problem, if not surprise, given the woeful state of NJ's post-election audit protocols and the nature of proprietary computerized voting system software.

Since the problem has come to light, one state lawmaker has called for passage of a measure that would mandate Open Source software on all voting and tabulation systems in the Garden State, along with the use of paper ballots at polling places. I explain today why Open Source systems (while a fine idea if we must tally ballots with computers) is no panacea, and why the state Senator's call for "paper ballots" --- as opposed to HAND-MARKED paper ballots --- will likely ensure that 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, still shamefully used across most of the state at the polls on Election Day, will continue to undermine confidence in NJ elections.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a spate of troubling new studies on the deteriorating state of our climate, but also with a number of stories detailing some good news, of late, in response to it!

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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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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...

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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...

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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!...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

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

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