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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 13, 2021
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Michael Hiltzik of L.A. Times; Also: KS GOP gubernatorial primary fight worsens; Very good news for NC voters; Very bad news for Monsanto; And why Trump wants to 'Make Asbestos Great Again'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2018 6:20pm PT  

It's yet another wild ride on today's BradCast! Climb aboard and buckle up! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, the saga of Kansas' wildly close primary election for the GOP gubernatorial nomination between current Gov. Jeff Colyer and the oft-disgraced Sec. of State Kris Kobach grows more acrimonious by the hour. The fight over Kobach's refusal then agreement to recuse himself from the counting and canvassing process now includes Colyer charging Kobach is giving counties advice on counting provisional and mail-in ballots that is "inconsistent with Kansas law" and that Colyer's new "voter integrity" hotline has received hundreds of calls, including claims that voters were "turned away" from the polls on Tuesday and had trouble finding Colyer's name on the ballot. (The latter complaint, as I explain, could be a result of new ES&S ExpressVote touchscreen voting machines now used in several KS counties. Those machines, in crowded races, fail to show all candidates on a single screen, requiring the voter to hit a "More" button.) A recount and/or litigation between the two Republicans may lie ahead, in what couldn't be a better result for Democrats if they'd designed it themselves.

Then, a followup on the Trump EPA's recent announcement that they intend to bring asbestos back and about the Russian company which mines and sells most of the world's supply of the deadly mineral. The firm, according to their own Facebook page recently, is now actually stamping Donald Trump's face on their packaging!

Next, we're joined by the L.A. Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist MICHAEL HILTZIK to discuss the real story behind Trump's recent tweets on California's ongoing record wildfires and the President's bizarre suggestion that the out-of-control blazes are due to "bad environmental laws" and mismanagement of the state's water system. He claims the firses are happening because California allows water to be "foolishly diverted into the Pacific Ocean". While none of those things are actually anywhere close to the truth or the reason for the global warming-fueled fires, Hiltzik explains how Trump's misinformed claims actually appear part of an effort by the Interior and Commerce Departments to exploit the ongoing catastrophes as a way to strip away the state's control of its own water system and, believe it or not, as a pretext for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hopes of hollowing out the Endangered Species Act.

Hiltzik describes Trump as the "Drought Denier in Chief" while explaining that the state of California has said they have plenty of water to fight the fires. "The diversion of water" in the state is not to the ocean, as Trump charges, but "for growers in the Central Valley of California who live in one of the very few Republican zones in the state and are basically supported by the very few Republican office-holders we have in Congress."

"Under federal law," he explains, "water has to be kept flowing through a lot of our rivers so that fish, and fishermen, and fisheries are supported, and we don't let those species go extinct. And when I say 'going extinct', it's not only fish at risk of going extinct but, as I've reported, there are salmon fishermen on the coast whose livelihoods are at risk of going extinct because the salmon are being stressed by federal policies that don't allow enough water to flow down the rivers they use."

"So growers have been on the warpath, saying 'Oh, we're not getting water, we're drying up because of these biological opinions that say the fish need the water'. These are biological opinions that were issued in accordance with the federal Endangered Species Act. So, Trump has been out for the ESA since the get-go."

But why do Trump and the Republicans favor the farming industry over the state's billion dollar fishing industry? Hiltzik explains that and much more, as the Administration ups their efforts to avoid letting a good catastrophe go to waste.

Finally, some good news for voters in North Carolina, where a federal court has blocked the state from purging voters without notice or in the 90 days before an election; A jury verdict out of San Francisco awards $290 million to a school groundskeeper after finding Monsanto liable for his terminal cancer tied to the use of their toxic weed killer RoundUp; And we close out with Jimmy Kimmel's clever idea for trying to convince Trump to give a damn about our ever-worsening climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-Trump) indicted for insider trading...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2018 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Election Administrator's (and Election Integrity journalist's) Prayer was decidedly not answered on Tuesday, based on reported results in at least two key races, and problems in the four states (Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington) which held midterm primaries and the one (Ohio) which held the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

But, first up today, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York, the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's candidacy, was indicted Wednesday morning, along with his son and the father of his son's fiancee, for an insider trading scheme, after he had tipped off his son to failed testing for a multiple sclerosis treatment by an Australian company in which Collins was the top shareholder and a member of its board. According to the indictment by the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, it sure looks like they've caught Collins red-handed. Though he vows to fight the charges and remain on the ballot this November, his once-safe seat is now believed to be in danger.

Then, onto yesterday's Election Day and the very long night that followed.

In the OH-12 special election, Democrat Danny O'Connor trails Republican Troy Balderson by about 1,700 votes out of some 200,000 cast, mostly on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems across seven Ohio counties. About 3,500 uncounted provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots could change the outcome in the days ahead, or at least lead to a state-mandated "recount" in the district that, for decades --- until Tuesday --- had been solidly "red". In 2016, Trump carried the district by 11 points and the now-resigned House GOP incumbent had carried it by 36 points. That has clearly changed with a virtual dead heat contest on Tuesday, leading to growing confidence in a "blue wave" this November by many Democrats and, yes, a "RED WAVE" in the same crucial midterms, as predicted today by Donald Trump.

In Detroit, where voters cast hand-marked paper ballots, they were able to continue voting even during power outages at more than a dozen polling places on Tuesday, following storms the night before. We have results from MICHIGAN's closely-watched Gubernatorial primaries and the somewhat bizarre, two separate Democratic primary races (one normal, one special) to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant last year by Rep. John Conyers resignation. State Dems will now host an historic, all-female slate at the top of the ticket for Governor, U.S. Senator, Attorney General and Sec. of State, and Rashida Tlaib will become the first Muslim woman in Congress.

In KANSAS, $10 million wasted on new, unverifiable touch-screen voting systems didn't help voters as some of the brand new ES&S ExpressVote ballot marking devices failed to work at all on Tuesday morning, and electronic tabulation grounded to a halt all together in Johnson County, the state's most populous, due to a problem that remains unclear at this hour. All of it resulted in another "too close to call" race today, in the GOP's gubernatorial primary between current Gov. Jeff Colyer and the controversial Trump-endorsed Sec. of State Kris Kobach. He leads, according to unverifiable touch-screen results finally reported on Wednesday morning, by just 191 votes(!) out of some 300,000 cast. A "recount" (overseen by Kobach himself) almost certainly awaits, as do future failures on the ExpressVote systems which produce unverifiable barcoded "paper trails" instead of hand-marked paper ballots. Sadly, the same systems are also being adopted by many other jurisdictions around the country as well.

In MISSOURI, a few Republicans came up with a novel new way to stop voters from voting. But that didn't deter the state which voted for Trump by double digits in 2016 from soundly rejecting a GOP anti-union (so-called "Right-to-Work") measure by a 2 to 1 margin. And, in St. Louis County, in a triumph of democracy, Bill McCulloch, the 7-term Democratic prosecutor who failed to bring charges in the 2014 police killing of Ferguson's Michael Brown, was defeated by Wesley Bell, one of the African-American leaders of the 2014 protests there. Bell had become a City Council member in Ferguson in 2015 and he will now be St. Louis County's Prosecuting Attorney.

And finally today, in WASHINGTON state, results of several U.S. House primaries suggest incumbent Republicans previously thought to be in safe "red" districts --- including Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest ranking female in Congress --- may not be quite as safe in this November's midterms as they had thought...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Important U.S. House Special Election next Tuesday in Columbus, OH; Trump, GOP Congress lying about election security; Admin announces deadly scheme to rollback mileage, air quality standards; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2018 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, if you're waiting for the government to save us by protecting elections --- or anything else --- that's not going to happen. But you can save us, as I explain today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, voters in Tennessee head to the polls for their midterm primaries (yes, on a Thursday! --- perhaps that's one of the reasons the state has among the lowest turnout rates in the country?), as voters elsewhere are preparing for next Tuesday's primaries in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington.

Also next Tuesday will be the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year before the midterms. The race is in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, a normally very "red" district centered in Columbus, where Republican Troy Balderson had, as recently as last month, been favored by some 10 points over Democrat Danny O'Connor. The race, however, has now become a dead heat, according to new polling from Monmouth and others. So, we have a few very specific and important thoughts for our friends and listeners in Columbus (on WGRN 94.1FM!) today regarding that contest. In short, as I explain: this long-held Republican seat --- in a district which both Romney and Trump reportedly won by some 10 points --- is now flippable, but it will require all hands on deck to do it next week (yes, including independent and Green Party voters!)

In the meantime, Donald Trump's White House paraded out a bunch of their top intelligence community officials to try and convince us all that they give a damn about election security before the November midterms. Don't believe them for a second. I explain why. Similarly, do not believe the Republicans in Congress who now pretend that they give a damn about election security, since, on Wednesday, they proved once again they do not. Every Republican Senator present, with the exception of TN's Bob Corker, voted against an appropriations amendment to give $250 million for additional election security to states. All Democrats voted in favor of the amendment, which received a majority 50-47 vote. But that wasn't enough to overcome the 60 vote filibuster threshold (which Republicans could have waived). That, on the same day the GOP-majority Senate easily approved a $717 billion defense authorization package --- in case you're wondering where their priorities really are.

As explained in an impassioned rant today, in response to all of the above, it's unclear that more money thrown at our computerized election systems would even result in more secure elections or those that Americans can have confidence in. When it comes to our elections and our democracy, and so much more, one thing is clear: "We are not going to be protected by Congress, or the White House, no matter who is in charge of either. The government is not going to save us here. We are going to save us here. We are the only chance that we have."

I offer a number of ways for folks to do exactly that on today's show, which I hope you'll share loudly and broadly. [Update: Desi has transcribed a bit of today's rant for easier sharing right here.]

Speaking of, as we warned on a recent BradCast, the Trump Administration has now formally announced their new scheme today to roll back automobile fuel-efficiency standards that had previously been worked out in an agreement between the Obama Administration, automakers and states like California who have stricter air quality standards than the federal government's. Trump's EPA, however, is hoping to block those new standards --- which experts say will save 40,000 lives per year thanks to cleaner air --- in favor of dirtier air more costly gas mileage for consumers. The Administration justifies the change with a dubious assertion that 1,000 lives per year will be saved, because it will be cheaper for Americans to purchase newer, safer cars --- never mind the higher fuel costs (approximately $170 billion over all) they'll have to pay.

The Administration which pretends to believe in "states' rights" is also moving with their newly proposed regulation to block California's legal right under the federal Clean Air Act to determine their own air quality and mileage standards. The state, and 16 others, have already filed suit against the proposed regulation. A public comment period is now open in response to the measure at this Regulations.gov docket page.

Our own Desi Doyen has a few words about all of that. And then she joins us for our latest Green News Report, with 2017 now officially found to have smashed global heat records, deadly global warming-fueled wildfires continuing to devastate Northern California, and the U.S. Supreme Court (surprisingly) giving their unanimous go-ahead for a landmark climate change lawsuit against the federal government, as filed by children, to move ahead!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein; Also: ES&S misleads officials after lie about remote access of election systems; Deadly storms slams Midwest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2018 6:09pm PT  

First up on today's BradCast, a follow-up to yesterday's important show on the wildly vulnerable remote access software installed with computerized election systems sold --- and lied about --- by the nation's top voting system vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), as well as by other U.S. vendors who have helped privatize our public election systems. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After Kim Zetter's report at VICE's Motherboard earlier in the week revealed the company had lied to her about their use of the dangerous software for her New York Times report earlier this year, ES&S apparently sent an extraordinarily misleading email to their "valued customers" (election officials in counties around the nation), hoping to minimize concerns over their ill-considered practices.

As they --- and the other corporate vendors who have taken over our public elections with poorly designed, oft-failed and easily-manipulated computer voting and tabulation systems --- have been doing for years, the letter misinforms their "customers" about the dangers of including remote access software on election management systems which program ballots for electronic voting machines and tabulate votes. We explain how the company --- and, sadly, most of the federal government --- continues to lie and mislead about the dangerous of such systems, all of which, despite claims to the contrary by many officials, are, in fact, vulnerable to both Internet hacking and insider manipulation.

Then, as a new federal court deadline looms in less than a week for the Trump Administration to reunite more than 2,500 children separated from their parents at the border, we're joined by Talking Points Memo reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN, who has been keeping up with a dizzying array of federal court motions, hearings and rulings in recent weeks.

The consequences of Trump's so-called "Zero Tolerance" policy at the border has somewhat fallen off the front pages over the past week of mind-bending Trump/Russia news, so Ollstein catches us up with much that we have missed, including one court loss after another for the Trump Administration and federal judges --- appointed by Democrats and Republicans alike --- quickly losing patience with them. Heartbreaking stories of thousands of separated families continue to come out, as the Administration, from all reports, appears nowhere close to meeting a July 26 deadline to reuinite thousands of children over 5 years of age with their parents.

"It's just a huge mess, and it has been for weeks," she tells me. "The administration has been saying things in court and in legal filings that are just blatantly untrue. They have made promises and not kept them. They've blown past the deadlines for the reunification. So these federal judges are losing their patience and stepping in."

Ollstein describes reports from legal groups and immigration advocates of kids still being snatched from their parents at the border and facing "deep, deep trauma" within government detention, while novel (and seemingly unlawful) new interpretations of asylum laws are challenged in court and Congressional Republicans refuse to take substantive action.

"This has been pushed off the front page by other crazy, breaking news in this crazy administration," she observes. "Obviously, people are still outraged, still upset about this and want to see a solution. But it seems Republicans are not feeling enough heat to take action."

Finally, with way too much heat in the Midwest, extreme weather turned deadly on Thursday, as 17 were killed when a sudden storm overtook an amphibious "duck boat" on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, and as a swarm of as many as 27(!) tornadoes seem to have appeared out of nowhere to devastate several towns in Iowa...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Trump's own intel agencies warning of election hacks and the White House contradicting them, disturbing new revelations of voting system vulnerabilities may help explain a 2011 BRAD BLOG exclusive report...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2018 6:43pm PT  

As noted at the top of today's BradCast, it's worth buckling up before listening. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We begin, gently enough, with the news of California's Supreme Court temporarily nixing a billionaire's statewide initiative from this November's ballot which, if adopted, would split the state into three. We explain why the Court removed the measure, for now, thanks to a challenge by an environmental group.

Then, with Donald Trump's own Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, warning this past week that "the system is blinking red" in a way that hasn't been seen since just before the 9/11 attacks, the multiple and ever-changing positions by the President of the United States in recent days, regarding whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election and is actively doing so in advance of the 2018 midterms, is all the more head-spinning. Coats was referencing warning signs being reported by U.S. intelligence agencies regarding ongoing attacks and intrusions on America's critical infrastructure --- including our wildly vulnerable electoral systems.

Moreover, new reporting on Trump being read into explicit source details weeks before he was inaugurated in early 2017 regarding Russia's alleged 2016 election intrusion measures, make his ongoing denials, ever-changing positions, and dizzying White House spin to explain them all following Monday's summit with Putin in Helsinki, all the more bewildering. Nonetheless, his own intelligence apparatus and appointees continue to contradict the President, even as the GOP-controlled Congress fails to take any substantive action to either place a check on Trump or even to help protect this November's crucial elections.

At the same time, after the FBI informed Maryland just days ago that its entire election system was being hosted on a private commercial server said to be owned by a Russian oligarch tied to Putin (as discussed in detail on yesterday's BradCast), we learn this week that the top U.S. election system vendor, ES&S, has been lying about remote access software and modems installed, for many years, on systems still used by a majority of U.S. voters.

The new revelations may help explain an exclusive special report published by The BRAD BLOG back in 2011, with an officially-commissioned independent analysis finding that, among other concerns, Venango County, Pennsylvania's ES&S election management system had been accessed by an unknown and unauthorized computer for "several hours" from a remote location. As we reported at the time, ES&S and the County's Board of Commissioners went to considerable lengths, after those revelations, to block a further, independent forensic analysis of the system.

And now, perhaps, we may know why. Kim Zetter reports this week at Vice's Motherboard that the company lied to her and New York Times' fact-checkers earlier this year in advance of her February article at the paper on the inclusion of modems and pcAnywhere remote access software included with the election management systems sold to customers from 2000 to 2006. After previously insisting the company had no "knowledge that our voting systems have ever been sold with remote-access software", ES&S reversed itself in a letter to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, she reports. But they have refused to respond to the Senator's subsequent follow-up queries or to appear at recent Senate hearings on U.S. election system vulnerabilities.

As Zetter details, pcAnywhere was found to include multiple and serious vulnerabilities over the years, which would have allowed unauthorized intruders to change election results with little chance of detection. Moreover, she explains, many questions remain about why ES&S lied, which jurisdictions around the nation may still feature the same, easily-exploitable flaws, and about electronic voting and tabulation systems manufactured by the nation's other top vendors, believed by expert to likely have included similar remote-access vulnerabilities.

All of that (and more, including our latest Green News Report), just over three months out from this November's midterm elections. Told you to buckle up...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guests: SC GOP activist Frank Heindel and attorney Larry Schwartzol; Also: New Senate bill finally calls for HAND-MARKED paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2018 6:44pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On the eve of Donald Trump's scheduled Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought eleven new felony charges against twelve Russian military intelligence officials on Friday. They were charged with various crimes related to cyber-interference in the 2016 Presidential election. And, a bi-partisan federal lawsuit is filed in South Carolina in hopes of finally terminating the state's easily-hacked, repeatedly-failed, 100% unverifiable voting system. [Audio link to show follows at end of article.]

The Russian military officials cited in today's indictment [PDF] relates to hacking into and stealing documents from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, and releasing them to the public in hopes of manipulating the election. The charges also relate to attacks against state and county election officials and a voter registration company where email spearphishing schemes are said to have implanted malware onto the computer networks in question.

The new indictment does not allege any Americans knew of the hacking scheme detailed by Mueller, though it notes that Trump's public July 2016 call for Russia to find and release "missing" personal Hillary Clinton emails was followed by attacks, "for the first time", on an Internet domain used by her personal office.

While the filing details at least one state voter registration system where some 500,000 private records were accessed, it does not allege that voting results were manipulated (although the DHS admitted last year they never examined either ballots or voting systems.) During Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's announcement of the new charges, he also excoriated partisan and media speculation regarding the probe, as well as attacks (presumably by Congressional GOPers and Trump) on the FBI itself.

Meanwhile, much media coverage was given on Thursday to the insanely chaotic ten-hour long U.S. House hearing featuring testimony by Peter Strzok, the top FBI counter-intelligence specialist who initially led the investigation into Russian interference back in 2016. At the same time, a hearing in the U.S. Senate this week on safeguarding our election infrastructure received little or not coverage. Today, we try to correct that a bit, with some of the testimony offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), sponsor of a new election reform bill in the Senate --- the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act --- which is the only one that would require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter in the U.S. His testimony calls out ES&S, the nation's largest computer voting system vendor, for failing to show up for the hearing or answer any of his basic cyber-security questions he's sent to the company over the past year.

Then, after more than a decade of failed elections on the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems used across the state of South Carolina --- including the still-remarkable and still-unexplained story of Alvin Greene, the completely unknown, unemployed man who somehow managed to win the state's 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary without campaigning at all, against a longtime, well-known state legislator and circuit court judge --- a lawsuit was filed this week in federal court to force the state to offer a secure system to voters.

The complaint [PDF] was filed on behalf of two plaintiffs. One, a former eight-term Democratic state legislator, the other a longtime Republican Freedom of Information Act champion and election critic in the Palmetto State. The Republican plaintiff, FRANK HEINDEL, and attorney LARRY SCHWARTZTOL, of the non-partisan, non-profit ProtectDemocracy.org, join me to explain the lawsuit, Heindel's years of work attempting to oversee state elections (and their accompanying disasters), and whether the new complaint might make any difference in the state before this year's crucial 2018 midterms.

"I've just always been skeptical of the 'black box' mentality where you go in and you just trust the machine, and there's no way to verify the results," Heindel explains. "I've just never really trusted that system. I've tried to push us towards a more paper-based way to vote, and it's taken many years here, but I'm starting to get a little optimistic that the worm has turned and we're going to make some progress."

"You need a system where the winner knows that he won, the loser knows that he lost, and everybody knows that their votes were cast and counted directly. We don't have that today," he tells me. The longtime businessman has spent the last decade or more filing some 47 FOIA requests attempting to personally investigate election results and related problems in the state. (We've been following Heindel's efforts for years. You can watch part of Dan Rather's 2010 report on Heindel, right here.)

The longtime litigator Schwartztol, for his part, explains: "What we're arguing for in the lawsuit is to replace that system with one that meets basic, common-sense principles. Secure in its basic architecture against cyber-attacks. The main way to do that, most people agree, is a pretty simple one. And that's building a system around paper ballots, that can be verified, that can be audited, that can be the subject of a recount if that's necessary."

"What we describe in the lawsuit is a voting system that contains unnecessary vulnerabilities and that is not sufficiently reliable to do the work," he adds. "The work of ensuring that votes are accurately recorded and counted."

He lauds the state's election commission chair, Marci Andino (one of the suits defendants), for stating her desire to move to a new system, but is critical of the claim that it would require $50 million to do so. A paper ballot system he says, citing a recent report from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, would cost much less. He also tells me that one of the solutions they hope to pursue in the case, potentially before November, is the use of the state's absentee paper ballot system that could be used for all voters this year.

"You saw today where Rosenstein was saying that the Russians had sent phishing emails to various state and county folks," notes Heindel. "Our county election people, they're hard-working and they mean well, but I can get tricked on a phishing email. The idea that we have state and county election people that are trying to fend off sophisticated attacks from foreign adversaries, it's crucial that we get our arms around this thing, and get to paper sooner rather than later."

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Also: D.C., AR election results; Why 'both sides are the same' argument from progressives is pathetic; Canada legalizes recreational pot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump gets even uglier as he's forced to back down on his lies about his immigration policies. A few election results out of D.C. and Arkansas. And some thoughts for progressive voters as we barrel towards this November's crucial midterms. [Audio link to show posted below.]

First up: A quick round-up of results and problem reports following primary elections on Tuesday in Washington D.C. (where voters adopted a $15 minimum wage measure for those in the service industry, despite a cynically and wildly misleading "Save Our Tips" campaign funded by the restaurant industry in opposition to Initiative 77) and in Arkansas (where runoffs were held following primaries and a computer tabulation "fiasco" late last month on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by ES&S.)

Next: After repeatedly claiming he didn't have the legally authority to keep parents and children together after they were arrested crossing the border, Donald Trump buckled under growing political pressure and signed an executive order on Wednesday to allow parents and children to stay together after being arrested crossing the border.

Many questions (and legal challenges) lie ahead regarding the new policy and what will now happen to those 2,300 children ripped from their parents over the past month following the Administration's chaotic and ill-considered "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border.

We cover a number of related stories to all of that today, as well as some response to our coverage of the issue over the past week. That response includes a bit of a rant in return, regarding the necessity of voting for Democrats this November --- good ones or bad ones --- in service of putting some brakes on the disastrous cruelty and incompetence of Trump/GOP rule in D.C. (Or, for those who prefer the chaos and cruelty of the Trump Administration, and there are many who do, the option to vote for Republicans or stay home entirely in support of still more of it.)

I've got a bit of a rant today (and so does Desi) on the incredibly lazy argument, still heard from some progressives --- even after all that we've seen in the Trump Era --- that "both sides are the same". We've got a few words for those who forward arguments which support that notion, which serves only to perpetuate the worst of the Trump/GOP's inhumane and horrifically destructive policies.

Finally: As a reminder what can happen in a mostly normal, progressive country, Canada, on Tuesday night, ended 90 years of failed prohibition policy, by approving the sale and use of recreational marijuana across the entire country...

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News on several massive Election Day failures in L.A. and some more noteworthy results in CA and elsewhere; Also: The continuing jaw-dropping kleptocracy of Trump's shockingly still-employed EPA chief...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2018 5:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We continue our coverage of fallout following this past Tuesday's midterm primary elections in eight states, as the counting and canvassing moves forward. [Audio link to show follows below]

In California on Wednesday night, Sec. of State Alex Padilla (D) sent a stern letter to Los Angeles County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan demanding answers and actions following a still-unexplained "printing error" that resulted in the names of more than 118,000 registered voters (including Fonzie!) being left off the printed rosters at more than 1,000 polling places.

Voters found missing from the rolls were to have been given provisional ballots on Tuesday, according to Logan, but there are questions as to whether all of them were. Also, there are concerns about whether those provisional ballots will all, in fact, be counted (or tossed for bad reasons, as some provisional and vote-by-mail ballots are), and if those ballots will be included in the county's 1% post-election manual "spot check", meant to determine whether hand-marked paper ballots were tallied as per voter intent by the county's computer tabulators. A new state law adopted last year exempts both provisional ballots and late vote-by-mail ballots post-marked by Election Day (which may arrive several days after the election and still be included in tallies) from that mandated 1% "random audit". We've got a bit of exclusive news on that front today.

That disaster was not the only problem for voters on Tuesday in L.A., the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. One blind voter reports on her failed attempt to vote on four separate audio voting systems for disabled voters at three separate polling places. All four machines failed to work, echoing a very similar problem that I had while attempting to vote on those very same systems in L.A. ten years ago. In a 2008 primary, 4 out of 12 of my own votes were misprinted by the computer-marked paper ballot audio voting system. (Luckily, I'm not blind, so was able to notice the computer-printed failure before casting the ballot!) Two years later, in 2010, when I tried the system again, it failed to work altogether on two different machines.

Also in CA on Tuesday, voters in a recall election successfully removed a state judge who had issued a controversially lenient sentence to a Stanford University athlete last year following his sexual assault of an unconscious woman. Another recall election, engineered by state Republicans, resulted in the removal of a Democratic state Senator for having voted in favor of a gas tax hike last year. The successful recall strips Dems of their two-thirds super-majority in the state Senate, which is required for the passage of any new state taxes or fees.

In Alabama, the unbalanced Republican Sec. of State John Merrill --- who blocked me on Twitter last December for being correct about the state's computer tabulation systems, before sending a barrage of insanely bizarre emails to me last week --- won his primary for re-election on Tuesday.

And Joseph Siegelman, son of the former Democratic AL Gov. Don Siegelman, (both guests on the show over the years) won his primary for Attorney General in the state. Depending on the results of a primary runoff on the GOP side, Siegelman may be running this November against a former AL Attorney General who was part of the GOP cabal who helped imprison his father on seemingly trumped up bribery charges more than a decade ago. (Tune in for a wild summary of the incredible GOP corruption in that state around all of that, which still echoes throughout state politics today. And, with all of the madness I quickly summarized on the show, I now realize I forgot to mention, incredibly enough, that the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who convicted and sentenced Gov. Siegelman was later forced to resign after being arrested for beating his wife!)

And, in South Dakota, some remarkable fallout from a Sheriff's race in one county, underscoring, yet again that elections have consequences and that so-called "Right-to-Work" states are anything but.

Then, after a smart observation from longtime BRAD BLOG reader "Dredd", who points out that more Americans appear to have been killed by one climate event --- Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico --- than in our (so far) 17-year long war in Afghanistan, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. Among other things in today's report, still more outrageous corruption news revealed from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. But, we had more on that front than we could fit into our GNR today --- and more that has broken since recording it Wednesday morning --- so we follow up with that additional news about Trump's kleptocratic EPA chief, including a Republican U.S. Senator who has some choice words for the shockingly still-employed Pruitt...

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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

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Guests: AUDIT USA election expert John Brakey, attorney Chris Sautter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rudy Giuliani works his magic as he settles in as the newest attorney on Donald Trump's personal legal defense team --- and it appears to have exploded spectacularly. And Ohio's Sec. of State and two largest counties are slapped with an election transparency lawsuit just days before next Tuesday's primary in the Buckeye State. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: On Wednesday night, the former NYC Mayor stunned Sean Hannity of Fox "News" when he told him on air that Trump reimbursed his embattled "fixer" and personal lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 in hush money paid to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, which Trump had long denied making himself, was meant to cover up an alleged affair Trump had with the porn star. Then, on Thursday morning, Giuliani dug the hole deeper by making clear, once again on Fox "News", that the payment was meant to protect Trump's candidacy.

All of which means that Trump is likely in even more --- and perhaps even criminal --- trouble, regarding serious campaign finance violations which Giuliani seems to have thought he was helping Trump avoid. We discuss and try to clarify the President's newly revealed legal peril on that front today, even as Trump (or his attorneys) took to Twitter to reverse his own previous denials by admitting that he did, in fact, reimburse Cohen for the payments to Daniels.

As Politico's Jack Shafer wryly tweeted today: "Having Giuliani in the mix is almost like having a second Trump."

Then, as we try to stay focused amidst all the noise, we're joined by election transparency expert JOHN BRAKEY and longtime election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER, both of Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT USA) about their lawsuit just filed in Ohio in advance of the state's 2018 mid-term primary next Tuesday.

The suit echoes a similar one filed last December in Alabama before that state's much-watched U.S. Senate Special Election between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. (That suit was successful in a lower court, before the state's woeful Sec. of State John Merrill convinced their Supreme Court to stay the ruling at the last minute.) The new complaint seeks to force Ohio's Secretary of State Jon Husted and its two most-populous counties, Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus), to retain digital ballot images created by the counties' computer scanners as hand-marked paper ballots are initially scanned during tabulation.

Those images, as Brakey explains, allow the public to safely examine the accuracy of election results without disturbing the original paper ballots and, according to Sautter (and several court rulings in other states), complies with federal election law requiring the retention of all election materials for 22 months after federal elections.

The pair detail why preventing the destruction of the images in question is at the center of the multi-partisan suit filed in Ohio, and why they plan to continue pressing election officials in Ohio and in many other states and counties around the country to ensure that digital ballot scanners are set to retain all such images for public oversight after Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with still more bad news for corrupt EPA chief Scott Pruitt and for the planet itself, but also with a bit of good news for NYC, Hawaii, and even one of China's major cities...

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Guest: Election Integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: EPA scam revealed; Young voters oppose Trump bigly; 'Liberal lion' of 9th Circuit dies; Huge majorities support single-payer, 'Medicare-for-All' health insurance...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2018 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Great news for a change, with a big victory for voters in Georgia! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

After what seemed impossibly long odds just days ago, a bill that would have moved the state from 100% unverifiable touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting devices to just-as-bad-if-not-worse 100% unverifiable computer-printed and barcoded "paper ballots", failed to pass in the state's General Assembly before the legislative session ended for the year on Thursday at midnight.

That, despite a powerful lobbying effort by the nation's largest private voting machine vendor, ES&S, which stood to make millions on the deceptive "paper ballot" scheme being pushed by elected officials --- including GA's Republican Sec. of State candidates State Rep. Buzz Brockway and State Sen. Josh McKoon --- in both chambers of the legislature.

In recent days, however, Election Integrity advocates on the ground in Atlanta and via social media have been rallying like crazy and mounting an extraordinarily impressive effort to inform the public in hopes of blocking this dangerous bill. The effort was focused on detailing the many dangers of unverifiable barcoded ballots as produced by the type of touch-screen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) computer voting systems that GA lawmakers were hoping to move to after 15 years of using easily-hacked, oft-failed DRE voting systems statewide.

We're joined again today, for a bit of a victory lap, by election integrity expert MARILYN MARKS who has been tirelessly fighting the bill and rallying the social media troops on Twitter, along with Jenny Cohn and others in recent days. (Cohn was on the show several weeks ago to discuss the GA bill and her must-read article documenting the many dangers of unverifiable BMD "paper ballot" voting systems.) Marks was also on the program just days ago, when overcoming the "incidious" vendors' last minute push for SB403 in the GA legislature seemed all but impossible.

"It is because of the hundreds of people that called, wrote, tweeted...just so much pushback from the citizens," that the effort to kill the bill was successful, she tells me today.

After citing the many who made Thursday's late night victory possible, Marks turns our attention to several continuing related battles. Among them, the lawsuit her organization, Coalition for Good Governance, filed months ago in hopes of ending GA's use of DREs in favor of a verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballots. GA already uses such a system for absentee vote-by-mail balloting and, Marks argues, the same existing system could easily and inexpensively be expanded for use by all voters at the polling place before this fall's crucial mid-terms.

She also offers a warning for voters around the nation, where unverifiable computer-marked and barcoded paper ballot BMD schemes, like the ones being pushed in GA, are already being deceptively sold to the public as "paper ballot" systems by Republicans and Democrats alike. PLEASE NOTE: Paper ballots or "voter-marked" paper ballots are not enough. Demand nothing less than HAND-MARKED paper ballots as your state or county "upgrades" its system with the hundreds of millions of dollars that have just been allocated for this by Congress!

Marks tells me she's hopeful that the broad social media effort on SB430 has resulted in lessons that can be used around the country "when --- it's not an 'if', but 'when' --- the barcode balloting comes to them. And they better be watching carefully, because this money is about to start flowing from the federal government like now, literally now, and you know exactly what the vendors are going to do."

Also on today's show: A recently leaked memo reveals how Administrator Scott Pruitt's EPA is now instructing employees to use false talking points regarding the science of climate change in order to create doubt and confuse the public about the broad scientific consensus finding the human burning of fossil fuels as the main cause of global warming; A new AP survey of young voters finds huge majorities see Donald Trump as "racist", "dishonest" and "mentally unfit" for office; Judge Stephen Reinhardt, "liberal lion" on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, died suddenly on Thursday, after nearly 40 years on the court; And, finally, a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds some 75% of Americans now support a "Medicare-for-All" style, single-payer, national health care insurance program...

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Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Gun debate shifts dramatically as former SCOTUS Justice calls for 2nd Amendment repeal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: the Overton Window regarding gun safety reform may have just taken a dramatic lurch towards "the left". And, then, the heated battle to block a new 100% unverifiable computer voting system (disguised as a "paper ballot" system) from being implemented in Georgia reaches a climax, as this year's legislative session in the state nears its end. [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of article.]

First up today (well, after a disturbing story out of Atlanta that further underscores the madness of Georgia's proposed new voting system): Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens penned a stunning op-ed in the New York Times, lauding students for marching to demand gun safety legislation, but suggesting it's time for them to go much further by calling for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution itself.

The 97-year old retired Associate Justice (and lifelong Republican) explains why history and his years on the bench have led him to regard the 2nd Amendment as "a relic of the 18th century", and how the National Rifle Association (NRA) has, in recent decades --- as the conservative former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger declared in the early 90s --- perpetrated "one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

Then, speaking of great frauds, the city of Atlanta finds itself using pencil and paper to carry out business again today in municipal courts, jails and other city agencies five days after a "ransomware" attack has crippled the city's use of its computer networks. Nonetheless, at the very same time, state lawmakers in Georgia are, incredibly enough, in last minute negotiations to adopt a measure to replace their statewide, easily-hacked, 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen computer voting systems.

Unfortunately, as legislators race the clock to pass a bill before the current legislative session ends on Thursday night, the current bill to replace those systems, SB-403, would institute a new 100% unverifiable computer-marked "paper ballot" system, which is now being opposed by both local and national election integrity advocates and organizations.

Longtime election integrity expert MARILYN MARKS, whose nonpartisan Coalition for Good Governance is suing the Peach State to force them to do away with their unverifiable Director Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines, joins us to warn about the proposed new scheme to replace them with similarly unverifiable touch-screen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) and why she sees that as "going from bad to worse."

"People today at least understand that their system is unverifiable, unauditable, and really a lot of guesswork," she tells me. "Unfortunately, this new system that they are so determined to find a way to put in, kind of has the look, from a distance, of a paper system. But it really is just as unverifiable."

Marks explains that the new legislation introduces computer-printed ballots with barcodes on them, which cannot be read by humans. Deceptively, the paper ballots produced by the new touch-screen systems also include a summary of the voters' votes in human-readable form. But, it is the unreadable and impossible to verify barcodes --- rather than the human-readable voter selections --- which are used by the system's computer optical-scanners to tally results. "What can be embedded in those bar codes may be very different from the human-readable list that is printed out," she says.

Even if the barcodes weren't printed on the paper ballots, Marks explains, the computer-marked ballots would still be unacceptable and unverifiable as reflecting any voter's intent after polls close on Election Night, as Jennifer Cohn recently detailed in a must-read article at The BRAD BLOG. Marks offers action items for preventing the passage of the bill, for those both in and out of the state of Georgia (as summarized here in this Twitter Moment.)

This is important for folks in every state, since similar systems are already spreading nationwide and will assuredly do so even quicker if Georgia becomes the first in the nation to adopt them statewide --- just as they were the first to go to touch-screen Diebold DREs statewide back in 2002. "We don't want this insidious disease of these things --- as we call it, 'Son of DREs' --- going on to other states," Marks cautions. "The minute that Georgia accepts this, the vendors will be out in other states trying to do the same thing. Change the definition of the ballot to include barcodes, and pointing to Georgia as 'look the whole state of Georgia just said this was okay!'"

Similar systems are already being deployed in Texas, Tennessee, Los Angeles and elsewhere (though not yet in Missouri, where a Republican state legislator has, happily, just introduced a bill calling for DREs used in St. Louis and Kansas City to be replaced by real, HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today with the latest Green News Report, including some surprisingly good news from the massive omnibus spending bill just signed into law, begrudgingly, by Donald Trump...

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Guest: Jennifer Cohn on the deceptive dangers of the move to computer-marked 'paper ballots'; Also: Callers ring on that, Kim/Trump, more...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The fight for Election Integrity is often one step forward and two steps back. Don't be fooled by what many are deceptively describing as a move to "paper ballots", when those "paper ballots" aren't really what they are being sold as. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: A quick preview of the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District on Tuesday, where voters will, shamefully, once again cast their votes in the crucial race on 100% unverifiable touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.

At the same time, lawmakers in the state of Georgia, which has disastrously used similarly unverifiable DREs for the past 15 years, are moving a deceptively described "paper ballot" bill forward in the legislature. However, what those lawmakers are not making clear (and some may not even understand) is that the bill would fund new computer-marked paper ballot systems, known as Ballot Marking Devices (BMD)s, across the state. Such systems also require voters to use a touch-screen device to vote and, like DREs, also cannot be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter.

Worse still, rather than use the human-readable information printed out by the computers onto the "paper ballot" at the end of the process, BMDs use optical scanners which tally results read from barcodes or QR codes printed on the ballot that are NOT human readable!

And, it's not only Republican-leaning Georgia that is quickly hoping to move to such unverifiable systems. So is the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, Los Angeles County! Also, counties in Texas and Tennessee are already using them and other states are looking to purchase them as well. Indeed, many supposedly progressive organizations and Democrats are actually recommending them, without understanding the very real dangers of BMDs!

We're joined today by attorney-turned-journalist JENNIFER COHN to discuss her well-researched and documented concerns, as detailed by voting system and computer security experts, regarding the nation's dangerous and disturbing lurch towards what she describes as expensive "electric pencils", otherwise known as BMDs. Cohn explained those concerns in simple, layman's language in a recent post at The BRAD BLOG.

As we discuss on the show: No, "paper ballots" are not enough! We need HAND-MARKED paper ballots that are known to have been verified by the voters, if we are going to even have a chance of restoring publicly verifiable democratic elections in the U.S.

Cohn details both in her article and on today's show, a number of academic studies finding that most voters do not check computer printouts and summaries at the end of the voting process, and of the minority who do, some 60% or more don't even notice when the computer has flipped their vote!

PLEASE tune in for this important conversation, because Americans must begin to understand the dangers presenting by these deceptively described "paper ballots", which are coming to a voting jurisdiction near you!

Then, we open up the phone lines today to callers on that issue, as well as some of my thoughts from last Friday's show regarding the supposed face-to-face meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and even crazier U.S. leader Donald Trump, regarding the North's nuclear weapons program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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As unverifiable touchscreen DREs are phased out of our nation's voting systems, unverifiable touchscreen BMDs ('Son of DREs') are on the way...
By Jennifer Cohn on 3/12/2018 9:45am PT  

[An earlier version of this article was originally published by Jennifer Cohn at Medium. She joined me on The BradCast to discuss it. - BF]

A Ballot Marking Device ("BMD") is a touchscreen computer that generates a computer-marked paper ballot or printout, which is then tallied on a computerized optical scanner. (Those computer-marked ballots can also, in theory, be counted by hand, but generally are not, as most election officials rely on optical scanners instead.)

BMDs were initially designed for people who are unable to hand-mark paper ballots due to disability, old age, etc. But the state of Georgia and Los Angeles County, California are now at the forefront of an unfortunate new trend, which is to consider buying these expensive hackable "electronic pencils" for use by all voters at the polls, regardless of need.

The Georgia legislature is quickly working to adopt a bill to fund such new systems to replace their similarly 100% unverifiable, 15-year old Diebold touchscreen systems used across the entire state. L.A. County is in the late process of a years-long development program to deploy these systems in time for the 2020 Presidential election.

Should Georgia and Los Angeles proceed on their current course, it would introduce a second unnecessary and insecure computer system in the polling place above and beyond already insecure optical scanners, creating twice as many opportunities for electronic programming errors, paper jams, and hacking. For example, some BMD systems have already had problems with:

  • Vote flipping (when election integrity advocate and journalist Brad Friedman used such a device in Los Angeles in a 2008 election, the device flipped 4 out of 12 of his selections on the computer-marked paper ballot);
  • Inability to display all candidates on one screen (a problem reported by the state of Maryland, which had acquired such systems for all voters, but changed its mind even though the screen problem was eventually fixed); and
  • Vendor breach of certification requirements (as occurred with vendor Election Systems & Software, "ES&S", the nation's largest voting system vendor).

Meanwhile, two of the most popular BMD's --- the ES&S ExpressVote and the Dominion ImageCast --- produce bar-coded (or QR-coded) printouts, which cannot be read by human beings, in lieu of traditional, hand-marked paper ballots.

This is alarming, according to experts --- including some who describe BMDs as "Son of DREs" --- for a number reasons...

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




Guest: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Trump's terrible tariffs; Good news for voters in WA and CA; U.S. Senators query U.S. voting system vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2018 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast, so many great cons to debunk, so little time. But we've actually got some good news for voters today as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, Trump unleashes his massive and wildly unpopular --- and, yes, job-killing --- new taxes on imported steel and aluminum.

Then, some voting news, most of it good. The state of Washington is the ninth state in the union to adopt automatic voter registration, and a federal court has ruled that California must inform Vote-by-Mail voters before their ballots are tossed out when election officials decide that the signature on the ballot doesn't match the one on the voter's registration form. According to the ACLU's lawsuit, as many as 45,000 voters in the state were disenfranchised, without their knowledge, thanks to California's horrible practice, carried out by the whim of officials who are anything but handwriting experts.

Meanwhile, two Democratic U.S. senators have sent a letter to the nation's top three election vendors, ES&S, Dominion, and Hart Intercivic, asking if they have shared the source code from their computerized voting and tabulation systems with Russia. We discuss what this actually means and doesn't. (For example: No, it's not necessary for Russia or anybody else, including elections officials, to have access or familiarity with proprietary source code from voting and tabulating systems in order to manipulate computer-tallied elections!) We also call out Reuters for continuing to spread the evidence-free claim in their report on this that "voting machines were not directly affected" by meddling during the 2016 election.

Next, we're joined by Vox.com's environment and politics writer DAVID ROBERTS to discuss a new report [PDF] released by the Trump Administration's own Office of Management and Budget(!) which, as he writes, "demolishes the GOP’s deregulatory claims." In short, it finds that benefits to the public of federal regulations far outstrip their costs in pretty much every imaginable way.

The aggregate costs of major federal regulations (those with an impact of $100 million or more) between 2006 and 2016, according to the annually mandated report released late on a Friday night for some reason, "were somewhere between $59 and $88 billion. And the aggregate benefits were somewhere between $219 and $695 billion," says Roberts. "So, even if you take the highest possible estimate of costs, and the lowest possible estimate of benefits, the benefits are still well over double what the costs were, in the most conservative analysis."

While Donald Trump has attempted to cut hundreds of rules and regulations across federal agencies --- repeatedly boasting about doing away with a record number of "job-killing regulations" and bureaucratic red-tape --- the fact is, as his own OMB (headed up by the far-right, Tea Party, regulation-hating Mick Mulvaney!) detailed in their report, those regulations do not "kill jobs" or cost the government money. In fact, killing those rules costs the government far more, particularly the environmental rules being radically gutted by this Administration.

But, as Roberts argues, the "job-killing" mantra has been so often repeated by Republicans since the days of Ronald Reagan --- and gone largely unchallenged by corporate media --- much of the public now simply accepts those false assertions as reality.

"Just to be clear, we've known this about federal regulations for a long time," Roberts notes. "These things have been subjected to cost-benefit analysis out the wazoo for years and years. Not only by the federal government, but by outside analysts. They all more or less converge on this same answer, which is that the public health and social and employment benefits of these things wildly outweigh the costs, and have for years."

"The reason Republicans hate this is because, when you see it in aggregate like this, it's almost enough to convince you that government can be an agent of good, that it can improve public health and welfare while still maintaining economic growth."

"It's revealing, I think, that this is treated as a revelation," he tells me. "It ought to be commonplace by now. It's the consensus of the experts. We just don't accept it, because Republicans, just through the sheer weight of repetition, have been saying 'job-killing regulations', 'burdensome regulations', etc., etc., for so long, that that's just sort of baked into the cake as one side of the debate, even though there's no support for it. There's no analysis that supports that."

We discuss why that is and who actually benefits from the GOP's great con. (Hint: It isn't the bulk of the folks who voted for Donald Trump!) Robert's also goes on to argue why he believes that Democrats are at least partly to blame for this con having taken such a death grip on the American conscience as self-defeating "conventional wisdom" over the past several decades.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report for yet another demonstration of how the decades-long scam to gut regulations continues to threaten the nation and the world...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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