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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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Officials warn of toxic smoke from Southern California wildfires; New bad news for the Arctic; New good news for Tesla; At global summit, the world fights climate change without the U.S.; PLUS: French president makes good on promise to fund U.S. climate scientists, after Trump drops out... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): NOAA: The Arctic shows “no sign” of returning to a “reliably frozen region.”; Avocados and lemons also victims of CA fires; Babies born near fracking sites face low birth weight; U.S. meat industry is the largest source of drinking water pollution throughout the Midwest; Trump Admin wrongly withheld funds from ARPA-e; Final GOP tax bill would ANWR drilling; Climate change made Harvey rainfall 15 percent more intense; Exxon to disclose climate risks to shareholders; Former EPA chiefs blast Pebble Mine project; Trump EPA chemical safety nominee withdraws; New discoveries on increase in earthquakes in KS, OK; Puerto Rico object to new excise tax in GOP tax bill... PLUS: United States of Petroleum: Government's secret alliance with Big Oil... and much, MUCH more! ...
A month ago, the notion that every one of California's fourteen (14) Congressional Republicans could be voted out of office in 2018 would have been dismissed as little more than a utopian dream for the Democratic Party.
If we've learned anything, however, from November's "Tidal Wave" off-year elections, which saw a diverse group of Democrats defeating Republicans in deep red districts in Virginia and elsewhere, it's that no Republican seat should be considered an absolute lock in 2018.
That proved to be the case in another special election, a week or so later, when a 26-year-old lesbian, Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman narrowly defeated an incumbent Republican state senator in a "deep red" Oklahoma district that Trump carried in 2016 by nearly 40%.
There are a multitude of factors, some unique to California, that suggest that no Golden State Republican --- not even House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) who trounced his 2016 Democratic opponent by nearly 39 percentage points --- should take their seat in the state's 53-member U.S. House delegation for granted...
A new bill that would grant unprecedented and unchecked powers to the California Sec. of State --- including those that could allow him or her to approve new e-voting systems for use in actual elections with no testing at all --- was approved late last week by the state legislature along partisan lines. It is now on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for his signature or his veto.
The Governor should veto SB 360, a sweeping, dangerous, ill-conceived and dishonestly presented piece of legislation, passed with little debate in public or in either chamber of the state legislature.
The measure has been, and is being, deceptively sold to the public and to state lawmakers as necessary to allow CA counties --- specifically Los Angeles County --- to "develop, own and operate public voting systems". In fact, the bill does much much more than that. What it actually does, among other things, is end the long-standing requirement that all electronic voting systems used in the state be tested and certified at the federal level before being allowed for use in California.
The bill also includes a provision allowing for new voting systems to be used in "pilot programs" during "a legally binding election", before the systems have been certified by the state in any way. That, in effect, could allow a new system to be used in an actual election, by actual voters in the Golden State, without any independent testing whatsoever, depending on a Secretary of State's interpretation of this poorly drafted bill. That should be a serious concern to all voters --- particularly given the massive flaws already discovered in e-voting systems used across the state (and country) that were subjected to independent testing by both federal and state authorities before use.
In other words, SB 360, as approved by the state legislature, does away with all federal testing for voting systems used in California, and, to make matters worse, grants the Secretary of State sole power to approve e-voting systems for use in actual elections --- even without certification testing by state auditors either.
As if all of that is not bad enough, the bill's Democratic author, state Senator Alex Padilla --- a leading 2014 candidate for CA Sec. of State himself --- has been misleadingly pitching the bill as necessary in order to allow for the use of non-proprietary, publicly-owned voting systems in the state. But, in fact, CA already allows the use of non-proprietary, publicly-owned voting systems. In fact, the voting system currently in use across L.A. County --- the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, with more voters than 36 actual states --- is already publicly-owned!
Such facts were not been mentioned by Padilla during his office's advocacy for the bill, and they have failed to respond to our multiple queries on that point and several others since the bill was initially introduced earlier this year. Instead, the state Senator and SoS candidate continues to dishonestly pitch the bill to the public, as evidenced again in his Friday press release (posted at the bottom of this article), touting the bill's approval by the state legislature.
"Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections," Padilla is deceptively quoted, in bold text, as saying in a number of press releases in support of the bill, including Friday's release. He then adds misleadingly (since we already have such a system here in Los Angeles): "A public voting system will be more transparent, instill public trust, be more accountable and provide greater access to all voters."
In short, SB 360 is a dangerous, irresponsible bill which fails to learn from the recent history of previously irresponsible and/or corrupt Secretaries of State, completely rewrites the state's election code to allow for less testing, rather than more, of the state's already-buggy and insecure collection of e-voting systems, and it's being sold dishonestly to the public and lawmakers by a legislator who is very likely to be the recipient of its new, sweeping, unprecedented, executive powers...
In a white paper issued in March, the California Federation of Labor (CFL) called for reforms to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, a California GOP-sponsored workers' compensation "reform" bill that was touted by AP in April 2004 as “one of the biggest victories of [then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's] new political career".
The celluloid action hero insisted the "reform" was necessary to curtail the spiraling costs of workers' compensation insurance for California employers.
As the CFL white paper correctly notes, the rationale behind Schwarzenegger's workers' compensation "reform" legislation was largely a scam. Like so many other investment schemes, the source of spiraling workers' compensation costs can be found in the 1993 deregulation of the insurance industry and a subsequent burst of a workers' compensation insurance investment bubble. Yet, Schwarzenegger refused to include limits on the rates insurance companies could charge employers as part of his "reform" package.
Despite an initial drop in the cost of workers' compensation insurance in California, costs have again climbed --- so much so that, according to a May 15 article that appeared in the Ventura County Star, "the Port of Hueneme is preparing to pay 120 percent more for workers' compensation insurance" in the coming year.
Contrary to the philandering actor-turned-Governor's claims that the savings would not be extracted from the backs of injured workers, SB 899 contained drastic reductions in benefits --- so drastic that, in a 2004 letter published by Los Angeles Times, after pointing out that I had represented litigants in workers' compensation proceedings since 1979 and was regarded by my peers as an exceptionally effective litigator, I warned California employees that if they were injured on the job, God help them because I was not sure I could.
Whatever efforts are now made to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, they will come too late for my client, Charles Romano. Thanks to the law's massive reduction in prohibitive penalties that could have been assessed for bad faith refusals to furnish vital, life-sustaining medical treatment --- the new penalties are a drop-in-the-bucket compared to what it had cost to keep him alive --- Charles is no longer with us...