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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, January 26, 2020
Dems Wrap at Senate Trial; CA Approves Unverifiable Voting in L.A.: 'BradCast' 1/24/20
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Schiff's powerful plea; CA SoS certifies new touchscreens, adds curious 'hand-marked paper ballot' provision...
'Even Puts Nixon to Shame': Damning Evidence at Senate Trial: 'BradCast' 1/23/20
Repubs called out for blocking key docs, witnesses; Dershowitz, Graham cited for flipping 1998 positions; Fox 'News' bags out; 'Doomsday Clock' nears 'midnight'...
'Green News Report' 1/23/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Big Oil rebrands for climate change; Trump DOJ and Big Oil in cahoots; U.S. drinking water more toxic than previously known; PLUS: Greta's dose of climate reality for Davos...
Previous GNRs: 1/21/20 - 1/16/20 - Archives...
Impeachment Trial Begins With a Trial About Holding a Trial: 'BradCast' 1/21/20
Repub Senate blocks document, witness subpoenas as White House offers remarkably hypocritical defense...
'Green News Report' 1/21/20
World's oceans hottest ever recorded; Climate change worries Wall Street; PLUS: Federal court dismisses climate kids' lawsuit...
My Letter to CA's SoS on L.A. County's New, Unverifiable Touchscreen Voting Systems
Dangerous VSAP system must not be certified! HAND-MARKED paper ballots needed for 2020 elections!...
Sunday 'Ding Dong the Witch is...' Toons
PDiddie documents yet another week over the rainbow in his latest toon collection!...
On Bernie's 'Electability':
'BradCast' 1/17/20
Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
A Statistical Response to the Charge That Bernie Sanders is 'Unelectable'
Analysis of 2016 primary election numbers in three key states appears to counter the allegation...
Parnas Sings, Sen. Trial Begins, Suit Against L.A.'s New Vote System: 'BradCast' 1/16/20
D.C. bombshells; Huge fail in L.A.'s $300M vote system, County Clerk finally responds...
'Green News Report' 1/16/20
GNR SPECIAL COVERAGE: Climate change pervades the final Democratic presidential primary debate before 2020 voting begins...
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...


Speaker holds back Trump impeachment articles to force McConnell to allow witness testimony; Also: Goods news for NJ, GA voters; Update on VerifiedVoting.org controversy; Two important new e-voting exposés...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2019 5:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As messy as the process of passing two Articles of Impeachment against rogue President Donald J. Trump was, the post-impeachment phase got messier still on Thursday, as Democrats stood strong --- at least so far --- in their fight for a fair impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. We've also got some important election integrity and voting rights news, along with our final Green News Report of the year. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to today's impeachment standoff, we finish out a few points from shortly after we left air on Wednesday night, including a review of the late vote on those historic Impeachment Articles in the House --- and some thoughts on Tulsi Gabbard's less than courageous vote of "present" --- as well as the surprising emergence of the backbone being displayed at the moment by House Democrats.

In a blistering response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's repeated admissions in recent days that he is working hand-in-glove with the White House and has no intention of serving as an impartial juror in the Senate trial to decide whether the President should be removed from office, despite his Constitutional mandate to do so, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday: "Our Founders, when they wrote the Constitution, suspected that there could be a rogue President. I don't think they suspected that we could have a rogue President and a rogue Leader in the Senate at the same time."

We do our best today to bring you up to date on the ugly and quickly moving story of what has come today from McConnell's --- and, shamefully, fellow juror, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)'s --- attempt to make a mockery of the Senate trial by rigging it in favor of the White House in refusing to allow first-hand testimony from witnesses of Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors. That, despite Graham's own insistence from 1998, when he served as a House Manager for Bill Clinton's impeachment, that "in every trial that there has ever been in the Senate regarding impeachment, witnesses were called. When you have a witness telling you about what they were doing and why, it's the difference between getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Those archival video-taped remarks came courtesy of an ad released on Wednesday from Republicans for the Rule of Law to call out Graham. It is in response to McConnell and Graham's refusal to allow testimony from a number of top Administration officials who were first-hand witnesses, but who failed to answer lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents in the U.S. House. The witnesses sought by Democrats and by a huge majority of Americans of all parties (including 64% of Republicans and 72% of independents) include Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Then, we move to some quick election integrity and voting rights news as the first votes in the 2020 elections are now just weeks away. In New Jersey this week, the Democratic Governor signed a bill to restore voting rights to 73,000 people across the state who are currently on parole or probation.

In Georgia, after Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger was allowed to purge more than 300,000 voters earlier this week amid an ongoing lawsuit to prevent the removal of at least 120,000 of them, his office was forced to admit today that at least 22,000 had been wrongly removed due to what Raffensberger's office describes as an error in the state's screening process. The Admission came just hours before another hearing in federal court, leading plaintiff Fair Fight Action to demand that "every voter purged this week" should be "reinstated immediately."

We also have a quick update on the recent internecine battle at e-voting watchdog VerifiedVoting.org after the courageous resignations of now two well-respected members of their Boards of Directors and Advisors. (We interviewed the first of those to quit, Prof. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley on a BradCast last week, after which the resignation of the second, Prof. Rich DeMillo of Georgia Tech --- who we have also interviewed a number of times --- was made public as well.)

The public resignations were in response to Verified Voting's disturbing years of support for 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 elections, and their frequently misleading information about how post-election audits could be used to verify results on such unverifiable systems. This week, the group finally responded to the embarrassing and costly pushback they have been receiving from Election Integrity advocates.

There were also two very important stories published this week on the very serious concerns about e-voting systems in advance of 2020. The first, "How New Voting Machines Could Hack Our Democracy," by attorney and Twitter activist Jenny Cohn at New York Review of Books, is a disturbing and encyclopedic exposé on the dangers and failings of BMDs, the Election Integrity groups such as Verified Voting who have failed to adequately warn against their use in American elections, and the private vendor/election official revolving doors and payoffs that have brought us to this perilous moment.

The second investigative article, out today from NBC News, reviews the shady ownership and shadowy manufacturing processes that runs through China and the Philippines at the nation's largest electronic voting company, Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) of Omaha, Nebraska.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (our last one of the year!), with more disturbing news out of Australia, more bad news for our oceans, troubling news about the disturbing high costs of fracking and, shockingly, some kind words about global financial services behemoth Goldman Sachs!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Climate crisis; Impeachment madness; 2020 debates; GOP voter purges...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2019 6:45pm PT  

The gods must be angry. But they have very good cause. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • At least four were killed and dozens injured as some 27 tornadoes reportedly ripped across the Deep South causing "total chaos" on Monday and Tuesday. In December. Is that normal?;
  • DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez steps in to help resolve a labor union dispute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles that had threatened to derail Thursday's 2020 Presidential Debate. Now, it won't. And the union workers got a great deal out of it;
  • Nine Democratic Presidential candidates, led by Sen. Cory Booker (who did not qualify for Thursday's debate), petition the DNC to relax qualification thresholds for upcoming Presidential debates. The Party says it won't;
  • Another former Trump campaign officials is heading to jail. Rick Gates, Trump's former Deputy Campaign Chair and a top Transition official, receives 45 days in jail, three years of probation and a $20,000 fine for fraud and lying to federal investigators --- to which he pleaded guilty last year. His sentence comes despite prosecutors seeking no jail time after Gates had cooperated with federal officials in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, by helping to to secure guilty verdicts against Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and longtime Trump associate Roger Stone;
  • Donald Trump unleashed a bizarre, blistering, six-page, single-spaced, Donald Trumpian rant, disguised as a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [PDF] on Tuesday, decrying his looming impeachment as a "perversion of justice" by Democrats. The jokes seem to write themselves here, but for how pathetically sad, dangerous and threatening to our Constitutional order the behavior of this President of the United States now actually is;
  • That threat continues to spread to Congress, where the House Rules Committee on Tuesday set terms for Wednesday's House Floor debate on the two Articles of Impeachment against the President, as Rep. Jim McGovern, Chair of the Committee said he looks at Trump's attempt to use Ukraine to help him win the 2020 election as "a crime in progress", with Democrats "trying to prevent the President from rigging the next election";
  • While over in the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused a request from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena the testimony of four top Trump officials who were first-hand witnesses to Trump's Ukraine extortion plot. The officials, whose testimony is sought for the almost certain upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate --- in which Senators are supposed to serve as impartial jurors to determine whether Trump should be removed from office --- include Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor;
  • As McConnell continues to rig the Senate trial on behalf of Trump, Plan B for the removal of this President involves the ballot box. There too, Republicans are attempting to rig next year's election results. In Wisconsin, which Trump reportedly won by just 23,000 votes in 2016, a Republican-appointed Circuit Court Judge ordered the removal of more than 200,000 voters from the voting rolls before the 2020 election. The voters were previously set for removal in 2021 as the Wisconsin Elections Commission had planned, and as the League of Women Voters had argued in favor of. A rightwing group sued to have them removed before 2020 instead, and the GOP-appointed judge agreed. Dems vowed today to re-register them;
  • In Georgia, a federal judge allowed the purge of more than 300,000 voters identified by the Republican Sec. of State for moving or failing to vote in recent elections. But voting rights advocates argue that approximately 120,000 of them should not be on the list at all. The judge allowed the mass removal to move forward on assurances from the state those voters can be quickly restored after further hearings on the matter;
  • But, it's not just rightwing controlled states where voter registration concerns are rearing their ugly (if expected) head before 2020. Due to what is being described as a "computer glitch" related to the state's new, automatic registration system, as many as 100,000 voters in California may have had their party preference incorrectly changed on their registration files in advance of next year's upcoming March 3rd Presidential primary. The state's rules for who can vote in which party primary are particularly confusing. So, its a very good idea for residents who believe they are registered to check their registration at VoterStatus.SOS.CA.GOV to make sure they are still registered, and for the party they think they are. Those who are registered as permanent "No Party Preference" vote-by-mail voters but who wish to vote for a Presidential candidate in a party primary on March 3rd, will need to make that request with their County Registrar very soon or will receive a vote-by-mail ballot with no Presidential candidate options!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the U.N. climate talks in Madrid end without an agreement, but with much disappointment and rancor, thanks in no small part to sabotage by the U.S., and a new report finds the Greenland ice melt is on track for scientists worst case-scenario predictions of catastrophic sea level rise by the end of the century.

The gods have very good reason indeed to be angry again today...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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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Guest: Prof. Philip B. Stark, inventor of post-election Risk-Limiting Audits on his resignation from e-vote 'watchdog' VerifiedVoting.org; Also: A tale of two KY Governors and one corrupt U.S. Senator...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue down the long and often-too-winding road toward democracy and justice. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

After some 14 hours of debate on Thursday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee made history on Friday morning by voting along party lines to approve two Articles of Impeachment --- for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress --- against Donald John Trump. It is only the fourth time in America's 243-year history for such a "solemn and sad" event. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't even wait for this morning's vote before declaring out-loud on Fox "News" Thursday night that he intends to rig the U.S. Senate's impeachment trial. The Kentucky Senator (who is up for re-election next year) and leader of the Senators who will serve as jurors in the impeachment trial to consider removal of the President early next year --- presuming the full House votes to adopt the Articles next week --- boasted that he has been colluding with the accused in order to assure the Senate trial will be anything but fair.

Speaking of Kentucky and the importance of uncorrupted democracy, on his way out the door, now thankfully-former Republican Tea Party Governor Matt Bevin, who narrowly lost reelection last month in the otherwise "red" state to Democrat Andy Beshear, pardoned and/or gave commutations to 428 convicted criminals. Among those granted clemency are a convicted child rapist, a man who hired a hit man to kill his business partner, and a third who killed his parents. Perhaps most appalling, however, was the pardon for a home-invasion murderer in the second year of his 19-year sentence, after the man's family threw a fund-raiser for Bevin's campaign just last year. (His two accomplices, whose families did not donate to the Governor, remain in jail.)

By way of contrast, the new Democratic Governor, on his second day in office this week, restored voting rights and the right to run for public office to some 140,000 non-violent former felons, leaving Iowa as the only state in the union which still bans all former felons from voting for life. Yes, voting and elections still matter.

But the right to vote and have that vote counted accurately, in a way that we can know it has been counted accurately, continues to be an ongoing fight for Election Integrity advocates across the country as we are weeks away from the start of voting in the 2020 Presidential race. On Friday, several such groups filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to block the use of brand new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Computer Ballot Marking devices made by ES&S, and set for use in the key battleground state next year, after the systems failed to correctly record tens of thousands of votes during last month's municipal elections. The suit seeks to block the new touchscreen systems from use and to require hand-marked paper ballots instead in at least 17 percent of the state, including Philadelphia. Failure in that much of the state next year would be more than enough to throw the results of the 2020 Presidential election one way or another in the critical swing-state.

After those new systems failed so catastrophically during their first use last month (as new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems did in Georgia on the same day), long-time, previously well-respected e-voting watchdog group VerifiedVoting.org seemed to help both elections officials and private vendors off the hook by endorsing so-called Risk-Limiting Audits of some of the computer-marked paper ballot summaries produced by the systems in both states.

That appears to have been the last straw for Verified Voting's Board of Directors member Prof. PHILIP B. STARK of UC-Berkeley. Stark, a math and statistics professor, as well as a Board of Advisors member on the US. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol. He has been trying, in recent months, to make clear to elections officials and vendors that RLA's of computer-marked (versus hand-marked) paper ballots are "meaningless" [PDF], because its impossible to verify that they reflect voter intent. With Verified Voting jumping in to publicly praise GA and PA's use of such tests to proclaim that reported results accurately reflected voter intent, Stark submitted a blistering resignation letter [PDF] to the group.

The missive, which he shared with me on the night he recently sent it, decries VV's "whitewashing [of] inherently untrustworthy elections by overclaiming what applying RLA procedures to an untrustworthy paper trail can accomplish." He accused the non-profit, non-partisan organization of "providing cover for inherently untrustworthy voting systems --- and the officials who bought them, the companies that make them, and any officials who might contemplate buying them in the future --- by conducting 'risk-limiting audits' of untrustworthy paper records, creating the false and misleading impression that relying on untrustworthy paper for a RLA can confirm election outcomes." His resignation letter charged that the result of VV's action was "security theater, not election integrity."

Stark joins us on today's program to discuss the response to his resignation from leadership at Verified Voting and the other well-respected, world-class cybersecurity and voting systems experts who serve on its Board (many of whom have appeared as guests on The BradCast and sources for BradBlog.com over the years). "Verified Voting retracted a tweet that had claimed that Risk-Limiting Audits, or audits to be conducted in Pennsylvania, would confirm outcomes when they suffered from the same flaw that the audits in Georgia did," he says. "I think in general, the board and I are sorry to part ways. I would gladly go back, if they revised their public position with regard to what audits of an untrustworthy paper trail can possibly accomplish."

[Update: No sooner did we get off air tonight, than the resignation of yet another, very well-respected VV Board Member, Prof. Rich DeMillo of Georgia Tech and former Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett-Packard, became public as well. DeMillo's most recent appearance on The BradCast is here. His resignation letter and a story about it is now posted here.]

Stark also explains --- as I've been very skeptical of the efficacy of post-election audits for many years, for reasons described on the program --- how RLAs work and/or don't. He tells me what type of voting systems he believes to be best for the secure and overseeable casting and counting of votes in American elections (hint: no computers necessary), and much more, including a conversation about just some of the many dangers of computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) proliferating the country for 2020, and the ability for voters to cause chaos with them by reporting --- either accurately or not --- that the systems have misprinted their votes on Election Day.

"They're completely vulnerable to crying wolf. Even if an election official trusts public complaints that their votes were altered or contests were missing, then their only recourse is to run a new election, and that opens the possibility for people colluding to cry wolf and have an election invalidated. In the other direction, the incentives are stacked in favor of election officials saying, 'well, it was probably just voter error, we're going to let it stand.'" That, argues Stark, is exactly what we saw last month in Northampton, PA, when elections officials and ES&S claimed that "just by re-tabulating the paper that was printed by technology that malfunctioned big time, they can figure out who really won. It's farce."

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Impeachment debate continues in House Judiciary, Newspapers are in support; First 2020 ballots go out in two weeks; St. Louis County, MO's easy move from touchscreen to hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2019 6:05pm PT  

Desi and I are back for today's BradCast --- (thanks for saving us over the past three day, Nicole Sandler!) --- as the House Judiciary Committee's debate over two Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump continues and with the first ballots for the 2020 elections set to be mailed out in just over two weeks. That, even as many jurisdictions around the nation are still choosing between gambling on faulty new electronic voting systems or moving to safe, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • Dems continue to make Trump's reelection easier for him with fresh compromises in Congress, including approval of his new Space Force military branch and expanded paid parental leave for millions of federal workers (as also supported by Trump);
  • The (so far) two-day markup of the Democrats' two Articles of Impeachment against Trump continued into Thursday after opening statements on Wednesday night. We share some notable and pointed clips from Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen (TN), on the President's attempts to undermine American democracy itself; Pramila Jayapal (WA), who accurately describes Trump as "the smoking gun"; and Veronica Escobar (TX) who offers a great analogy to explain how Trump's attempt to force Ukraine to help him in the 2020 election would have landed any other public official in jail;
  • In an attempt at fairness, we searched for hours (and hours) to find remarks from the Republican minority that were not comprised of blatantly false claims, wholly misleading information and/or out and out lies. We failed. We did find Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), however, apparently characterizing 2016 Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein as a "Democrat" and falsely claiming that she filed "a frivolous lawsuit...claiming voting machines were rigged in three states" in 2016. She did no such thing. Nor did anybody else to our knowledge. But that's the sort of knowingly fake news Republicans are now using to try and defend their President from impeachment. They are also claiming that "Abuse of Power" and "Obstruction of Congress" are not actually high crimes and misdemeanors (which would likely come as a delightful surprise to Richard Nixon);
  • Three years into his Presidency, major newspapers are now finally jumping in to support Trump's impeachment --- now that he is already being impeached. That, after many of those same courageous outlets called for Bill Clinton to resign from office within just days of a sex scandal that resulted in his own impeachment. But we do offer some well-deserved kudos to the American Conservative magazine, for their non-hypocritical support of Trump's impeachment, find the case to be "Overwhelming";
  • As to what We, The People, can do about all of this, the first ballots of the 2020 Presidential Primaries will be sent out as early as December 28, just two weeks from now, for military and overseas voters participating in New Hampshire's February 11 primary. And voters from more than a dozen states which are holding Super Tuesday primaries on March 3rd --- including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia --- will begin receiving Vote-by-Mail ballots in just over a month, as of January 18. That's before the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 3 or the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11;
  • Nonetheless, there are still many jurisdictions around the country fighting to determine exactly which voting systems they will be using at the polls in the 2020 elections. Recent failures of brand-new touchscreen voting systems in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas should spook officials and voters alike, even as officials in the battleground state of North Carolina are facing big problems with their plans to use similarly unverifiable systems.
  • Meanwhile, in Missouri, the most populous jurisdiction in the state, St. Louis County, was able to move seamlessly from unverifiable touchscreen systems to a brand new, completely verifiable, "Print-on-Demand" hand-marked paper ballot system last month with no complications, and at a saving of some $3 million for tax payers!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for both good news and bad in our latest Green News Report, as Exxon is exonerated in a big climate fraud case, while 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg is named TIME Magazine's 2019 "Person of the Year"!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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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Special coverage of the first official House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable offenses, with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2019 5:27pm PT  

As we try to tell you damned near everyday here on The BradCast, everything is ultimately about elections. All of it. Today's impeachment hearings, I'm happy to say, drove that point home yet again, particularly regarding concerns from our nation's founders about the corrupting nature of foreign influence on U.S. elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The House Judiciary Committee held its first official impeachment hearing on Wednesday, regarding the Ukraine scandal and, yes, obstruction of justice in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel's probe. Four academics testified on both the history and meaning intended by the founders of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the U.S. Constitution's impeachment clause, and on what at least three of the four scholars smartly described as clearly impeachable offenses committed by President Donald J. Trump.

"President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency," said Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School. We share some extended excerpts from his opening statement as well as his fellow esteemed Constitutional law professors Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law. All three testified that the record is now clear that Trump committed impeachable offenses in his strong-arm bribery campaign to force Ukraine to announce an investigation against his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden in exchange for nearly $400 million in military assistance allocated by Congress but frozen by the White House in what Trump's own EU Ambassador described in a previous hearing as a "quid pro quo" scheme.

Today's hearing was surprising enlightening with the unusually lively and passionate academics answering sharp questions from both Democratic and Republican counsel and members of the Committee, as chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Not all of those who testified, however, agreed that Trump should be impeached --- at least not yet. George Washington University School of Law professor Jonathan Turley --- the Republicans' witness, who testified in support of impeachment against Bill Clinton in 1998 because "he ha[d] deprived himself of the perceived legitimacy to govern" --- argued the record was still too "wafer thin" to move forward with Articles of Impeachment against Trump.

We discuss that point and many others, including the Democrats' reasons --- some good, some not --- for moving quickly on impeachment before voting begins in the 2020 primaries less than two months from today, with our ace Impeachment Hearing Correspondent HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Democrats appeared to be homing in on at least three, and maybe four, Articles of Impeachment, as both Digby and I read today's hearing, including Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair), and Obstruction of Justice (in the Mueller investigation). But there was far more from today's eight hours of hearings and our coverage of it than I can possibly summarize here, so I'll just strongly suggest you tune in.

Also covered on today's program (as both stories also concern the importance of elections to the very heart of our republic): Georgia's illegitimate Republican Governor Brian Kemp names a new, wholly inexperienced "Ivanka Trump"-like U.S. Senator for the Peach State, and NATO world leaders are caught on video tape laughing (and laughing) at, not with, the President of the United States. Happy travels back from the NATO Summit, Mr. Trump!...

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Also: Bullock out; Hunter pleads guilty; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer questions about new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 12/2/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Don't say we didn't warn you. We'll keep trying. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • Montana's Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who won reelection on the same statewide 2016 ballot that Trump reportedly won by 20 points that year, announced he is dropping out of the Dem Presidential nominating contest on Monday. His campaign also claims he will --- sadly (shamefully?) --- not be running for U.S. Senate next year, despite his proven ability to flip a statewide seat from "red" to "blue" at a time his country needs him to do exactly that. Also, former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak dropped out of the 2020 race over the weekend as well, though odds are you're even less aware of his candidacy than you were of Bullock's;
  • Wildly corrupt conspiracist and Trump supporter Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) agrees to plead guilty --- rather than face trial in January --- in his criminal campaign finance fraud case in which he and his wife lavishly spent some $250,000 of campaign funds on personal expenses, while claiming, in some cases, that their spending was for veterans' charities;
  • The impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump moves forward, as the center of action will move from Rep. Adam Schiff's House Intelligence Committee to Rep. Jerry Nadler's House Judiciary Committee this week. The Trump White House continues to pretend they are not being allowed due process, as they informed Nadler on Sunday night that they refuse to participate in Judiciary's first hearing on the matter scheduled for Wednesday;
  • We then step through the process for Congressional proceedings on the matter as they are currently scheduled to occur over the next month, with Articles of Impeachment likely approved by the full House before year's end, followed by a trial on the removal of Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate beginning in January and leading right up to (or even beyond) the first votes being cast in the 2020 elections. The Iowa Caucuses will be on February 3, followed by the New Hampshire primary just one week later.

    By March 3, more than a dozen states will be voting on Super Tuesday, including California. For the first time that day, here in Los Angeles County --- which, by itself, is larger than 41 states --- voters at the polls will be forced to vote on brand new 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer systems.

    The new computers in L.A. are similar to the new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems that failed disastrously on November 5 this year during sparsely attended municipal elections in battleground states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania. In both states, failures of the new systems forced some voters to wait for nearly an hour to cast their unverifiable vote. (Imagine how things will go in a large turnout election...say in 2020.)

    Over the holiday weekend, The New York Times finally noticed the disasters for voters in Philadelphia and Northampton County, PA nearly a month ago, where the new touchscreens registered an impossible zero votes for some candidates in certain precincts. The failures left voters and party officials alike wondering what went wrong, and if the numbers ultimately reported by the system actually reflected the intent of the voters. As we've been arguing for some time, it is impossible to know whether results accurately reflect any voter's intent on these systems, even as they are currently (insanely) proliferating in the U.S. ahead of the critical 2020 elections.

  • Are you ready for the potential disasters? We offer a few helpful tips on how to try and avoid them. But, otherwise, we hope you'll have at least heard our warnings --- if few from anyone else --- if things go as catastrophically as they well could next year in jurisdictions where voters are not able to vote on hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place.

    (And, once again today, we are forced to detail some of the very simple questions that L.A. County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan refuses to answer about the new systems, either on the show in person or even via email.)

  • Finally, we open up the phones to some great (and chilling) calls on all of the above...

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Also: Federal Judge says McGahn must testify; GA SoS attempts to intimidate election experts; High profile resignation at Verified Voting; Callers ring in after blockbuster impeachment week...
By Brad Friedman on 11/25/2019 6:10pm PT  

Hmmm....That's interesting. With all of those pro-Trump callers we had last week after Week 1 of impeachment hearings, there were none willing to call in to today's BradCast to defend the President after the bombshells of Week 2. I wonder why. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to those calls today, a few other news headlines of note that we've been trying to get to for several days (and hope to cover more in coming days), but for our impeachment coverage over the past week. Among those stories...

  • Georgia's new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger is attempting to intimidate election integrity and computer science experts by announcing official state investigations of their activities. The recently announced probes are of prominent experts, several of whom have appeared on The BradCast as guests multiple times. They have been critical of Raffensperger for installing new, hackable, unreliably and 100% unverifiable touchcreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems across the state before 2020, despite the new systems' disastrous performance failures in the counties which pilot tested them in the recent 2019 off-year elections;
  • The inventor of the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, used by some jurisdictions to (supposedly) assure that computer tabulators correctly tallied voter intent when reporting election results, has resigned from the previously well-respected voting system watchdog group Verified Voting. Prof. Philip Stark of UC Berkeley has been critical of the group on which he served on their Board of Directors, for helping to validate what he describes as "meaningless" [PDF] post-election audits in jurisdictions --- such as Georgia and Philadelphia --- where unverifiable BMD systems are used to mark paper ballot summaries. He argues that only hand-marked paper ballots can be known to reflect voter intent, and that RLA's of computerized ballots is likely to offer a false sense of security in results produced on such systems. Stark sent a dramatic resignation letter over the weekend, blasting VV for "providing cover for inherently untrustworthy voting systems --- and the officials who bought them, the companies that make them, and any officials who might contemplate buying them in the future --- by conducting 'risk-limiting audits' of untrustworthy paper records, creating the false and misleading impression that relying on untrustworthy paper for a RLA can confirm election outcomes (and debasing the meaning of "RLA" in the process)";
  • In related-ish news, but far more hopeful news, the New Jersey Assembly voted to restore voting rights to some 83,000 people on parole & probation. The measure would overturn a law adopted in 1844, but must still be approved in the state Senate and sighned by the Governor;
  • And, in breaking news just as today's show began, a federal court judge has ruled that Donald Trump's former White House Counsel Don McGahn must respond to a lawful U.S. House subpoena for documents and testimony related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, during which McGahn testified that Trump attempted to obstruct justice at least 10 different times. While the ruling is likely to be appealed by Trump's Dept. of Justice, the order to testify would also likely apply to a host of top Trump officials who have refused to answer Congressional subpoenas in the Trump/Ukraine affair for which he is currently facing an impeachment inquiry, after the Administration has claimed "absolute immunity" from Congressional oversight.

Speaking of which, we summarize last week's explosive impeachment hearings today, and cover a number of new, related stories which broke over the weekend before opening the phones to callers. Last week, when we did same after Week 1 of public testimony in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, we heard from a number of callers who remained strongly opposed to Trump's impeachment and removal. Today, however, when we opened the phones to listeners to take their temperature after the several blockbuster revelations of Week 2, those callers were nowhere to be found...Go figure!

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Susan Greenhalgh of Nat'l Election Defense Coalition; Also: CA shooting; Deval jumps in; Bevin concedes; Trump loses (again); More...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2019 6:24pm PT  

With a brief break in the hot impeachment action, we're able to pick up on a couple of stories on today's BradCast that got buried yesterday, some breaking news from today, a continuing story that should have everyone's hair on fire right now (in advance of the 2020 elections!) and, sadly, the story that already has the planet on fire. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, some quick news on today's school shooting in Southern California, north of Los Angeles, where a 16-year old shot five students from 14 to 16-years of age. So far, two are reported dead and the shooter is said to be in grave condition from a self-inflicted wound from his .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

On Wednesday, Trump lost yet again in one of his many different lawsuits seeking to block the release of his taxes to Congress and state prosecutors. The latest defeat was the refusal yesterday by the full U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to rehear his lawsuit seeking to block the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee's subpoena of his accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking several years of his financial records. With that loss, the case will now almost certainly be going to the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court (on which two of Trump's appointees now sit). And in Trump's separate and so-far-similarly unsuccessful suit in federal court in New York, seeking to block the release of tax documents from Mazar's in the state's criminal probe involving Trump's hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom he was having affairs, his attorneys on Thursday officially filed their appeal with SCOTUS.

In elections news, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, a conservative Democrat, has announced his late entry into the race for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. And both Trump and Republicans are going all in to try and win the Gubernatorial runoff this Saturday in Louisiana, in hopes of avoiding another Kentucky-style embarrassment.

Last week, Trump went all in for KY Governor Matt Bevin, who reportedly came up a few more than 5,000 votes shy of defeating Democratic challenger Andy Beshear. Bevin refused to concede last week, however, requesting a recanvass that was carried out by the state today. The procedure --- essentially re-checking the same computer-reported numbers again --- resulted in few changed votes, unsurprisingly. So, Bevin finally announced his concession. But that came only after his election night claims of "well-corroborated" voter fraud, including thousands of illegally cast votes.

While his promise of evidence never materialized in the week since the election, Bevin recently changed his argument to focus on concerns about the state's electronic voting and tabulation systems. While there is scant evidence of problems on that score (all the other Republicans on the statewide ballot last week, other than the unpopular Bevin, won their races), his newly found concerns --- whether he actually means them or not --- regarding the difficulty of voters to oversee and have confidence in the accuracy of electronically-cast and tabulated results, should be taken to heart by voters of all parties. These concerns are real, and could have a devastating effect on next year's elections.

To that end, one need look no further than the many disasters we've been reporting on over the past two weeks that befell voters attempting to use brand-new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia last week. In the roll out of the new systems in those states, which many election integrity and cybsersecurity experts warned strongly against, many voters were unable to vote at all. Some faced hour-long wait times --- during sparsely attended, off-year municipal elections! --- followed by completely inaccurate results reported by the computers.

For example, some candidates reported receiving zero votes at some precincts in Northampton County, just outside of Philadelphia (which also used the same new systems last week for the first time, despite warnings from cybsersecurity experts, and had similar problems.) In a contest for County Judge in Northampton, a Democratic candidate for County Judge reportedly received just 164 votes out of more than 100 precincts reporting on Election Night. In fact, as a manual examination of computer-printed records revealed, he is believed to have received 26,142 votes instead.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know if even that number is correct on the County's new 100% unverifiable BMD systems, which are proliferating across the nation, including PA, the entire state of GA next year, and in counties in more than a dozen other states (including here in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest!) for 2020.

We're joined today by SUSAN GREENHALGH, a longtime Election Integrity champion who now serves as Vice President for Programs at the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC). Following last week's disasters, her group has called for the immediate decertification of the 100% unverifiable ES&S ExpressVote XL systems used last week for the first time in Northampton County and Philly. Greenhalgh explains why such systems, which use touchscreens to help voters use a computer to mark and print "paper ballot"" summaries, should never be used other than as an assistive device for disabled voter who may choose to use one to help cast their ballot.

"What's really concerning about these ballot-marking devices is that there's been a false equivalency created by the vendors," she tells me. "And I think it's been accepted my many people in the election official administration space, and in the election community at large, that there's a paper record there, so therefore the voting system is verifiable. The problem is that all evidence that we have so far to go on, indicates that that the paper record [from] the expensive touchscreen ballot-marking devices is not actually verified by the voter. And that's the critical point." The NEDC advocates hand-marked paper ballots.

After years of working with elections officials and elected officials across the country, Greenhalgh offers her thoughts as to why so many of them --- Republican and Democratic alike --- continue to ignore the continued warnings from election integrity and cybsersecurity experts who strongly urge against the use of such systems, while listening instead to private vendors, such as ES&S and Dominion (the nation's two largest) who stand to make hundreds of millions from the sale of their poorly designed, oft-failed, easily-hacked, and completely unverifiable touchscreen systems.

"I've heard it said that we need a system that the Devil himself could run and you could still trust the results. It needs to be transparent, and verifiable to the electorate. And that means something that is auditable, that the voter knows that the election results are correct and that the officials can prove it." Greenhalgh argues. "There's no room for 'just trust us' in this. We shouldn't have to trust the vendors. We shouldn't have to trust the election officials. We should all be able to see and verify with our own eyes, through observation and auditing, that the election is being conducted in a fair and accurate manner, and in a secure way. Anything less than that is unacceptable in a healthy democracy --- or one that aspires to be healthy."

Greenhalgh, who is as concerned about all of this before 2020 as I am, says, however, that there is still time for jurisdictions to dump their expensive, unverifiable touchscreen systems in favor of much cheaper, far more secure, and completely verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems. She also also explains why post-election audits of results cast on computer-marked ballot systems are worthless.

"Implementing hand-marked paper ballot systems, fortunately, can be done in very quick order," she says. "States have shown us they can do that, like Maryland and Virginia. So it's not too late to fix that. What we need is the will of the election officials to make it happen, and then it can be done."

Tune in for much more that you need to hear from this conversation!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our 1001st Green News Report, with disturbing news on the enormous and raging Australian bush fires, climate-change fueled frigid weather in much of the U.S., Greta Thunberg's solar-powered voyage back to Europe, and the Trump EPA's latest --- and deadly --- attack on science...

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Guest: VA Delegate Mark Levine on Dems' new, long-awaited 'trifecta'; Also: Brand new touchscreen voting systems failed in GA and PA, while Dems saw a number of big wins in VA and probably KY...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2019 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There was much for Democrats to be delighted about in Tuesday's off-year elections around the country, though plenty for them to be remain very concerned about, including the failure of brand new voting system in several key battleground states. (Not to mention new charges of election fraud filed against Republicans in Ohio.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

We pick up today where we left off on yesterday's program, regarding disturbing voting disasters in several states, as nearly two-decade old touchscreen voting systems failed in Indiana, including flipping votes for at least the fifth year in a row, while brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being deployed in Pennsylvania and Georgia failed fantastically in several counties. Some voters were left unable to vote at all or facing long lines --- even during otherwise sparsely attended off-year municipal elections! Some candidates were left off of the electronic ballots all together and others found themselves with reportedly ZERO votes recorded on the all-new, way-better-than-the-old unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) tested in both PA and GA before wide deployment for the critical 2020 Presidential election.

In GA, voters were unable to vote in 4 of 6 counties where the new $100 million Dominion Voting Systems ImageCast machines were test run in municipal elections, before they are deployed statewide to 7.5 million voters next year. The electronic pollbook systems that creates voter cards that must be inserted into the touchscreens weren't working properly on Election Day in those 4 counties, after they had worked fine during pre-election tests and early voting.

In the critical battleground state of PA, there were all kinds of problems with the new ES&S ExpressVote XL systems deployed for the first time to Northampton County (where the systems were said to be operating incredibly slowly and results were reported as 0 for some candidates, as later confirmed by the County) and in Philadelphia, where candidate names were missing and many of the machines reportedly refused to work at all. (But this will all be fine by 2020, right?)

As to actual reported results from key contests on Tuesday, we break down a disappointing, if not completely surprising gubernatorial loss for Dems in Mississippi, a big apparent win for Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear and the challenge to that still-unofficial victory by the state's unpopular Governor Matt Bevin, and then the unequivocal success for Dems in the great Commonwealth of Virginia. There, a blue wave resulted in new Democratic majorities in both the House of Delegates and state Senate. The long-awaited victories, along with a Democrat already in the Governor's mansion, mean that Dems will enjoy a "trifecta" in Virginia for the first time in nearly 25 years.

We're joined today by DELEGATE MARK LEVINE, representing Virginia's 45th District (including parts of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County) in the House of Delegates. Levine, who ran uncontested for his third term on Tuesday, credits Trump, almost entirely for the rise of the Democratic Party in the once deeply-red state. "I like to say the only good thing Donald Trump has ever done in his life is help us win state legislative seats," he says, describing the President as "the gift that keeps on giving". He "fed our fire," he argues, adding that he believes the ongoing impeachment proceedings helped, rather than hurt, turnout for Democrats in the Commonwealth just outside of Washington D.C

We also discuss the effect that recently court-ordered un-gerrymandered maps had on flipping the two General Assembly chambers from red to blue on Tuesday, as well as the role the state's recent switch from hackable and unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots may have had, and whether Democrats will continue to support a state constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission now that they will be in control of both the Assembly and the Governor's mansion after the 2020 Census.

Levine, the longtime progressive radio host of "The Inside Scoop from Washington", breaks down a litany of long overdue policy agendas Democrats plan to undertake with their newly won majorities, including becoming the final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (though legal battles await after their passage of the ERA).

"We're going to lead the way on gun safety laws. We're going to finally do something about climate change, which the Republicans have been fighting us on for decades. We're going to raise the minimum wage. We're going to do criminal justice reform. We're going to have non-discrimination for LGBT Virginians. We're going to improve education and teacher salaries, and workers' rights, consumers' rights, lower the cost of health care --- I'm really just getting started," he says, before explaining that "Democrats are unanimous" when it comes to expanding voting rights as well, including making it easier to vote with early voting, same-day registration and more.

"We're going to get past the Joe Biden wing of the party and into the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party," he vows. "Maybe some things on the further-most progressive edge, we might not have the votes for. But we're going to do a lot to change Virginia in a very blue direction"...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Democracy's need for lifeboats in the form of hand-marked paper ballots...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/30/2019 9:35am PT  

Like those who took part in the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic as it blindly traversed the Atlantic, many American citizens are rushing headlong towards a pivotal 2020 election, unmindful of the potential for yet another e-voting catastrophe.

In 1912, in defiance of science, passengers and crew mistakenly believed that the Titanic was "unsinkable". In 2019, far too many Americans are either unaware of or have chosen to ignore repeated warnings from computer scientists. For many, the very idea that a Presidential selection could be the product of election fraud or failure in the form of undetectable, malicious manipulation or error of electronically tabulated ballots in disparate local, county and state-run election systems across an entire nation is simply unthinkable.

In 1912, ignoring the danger led to the deaths of 1,500 of the Titanic's 2,224 passengers and crew --- paltry numbers when measured against the threat to humanity's very survival that would be embodied in another four years of the Trump Administration's greed-over-science, anti-environmental policies.

Over the past two decades, the central problem for both computer scientists and election integrity advocates has not been the question as to whether all e-voting and electronic tabulation systems are vulnerable to manipulation via external hacks, mis-programming or malicious insider manipulations --- they are! Instead, they've been stymied by the near impossible task of proving that a given election result was fraudulent. That inability is occasioned by the fact that, in the absence of timely forensic access to the system, its ballot programming and its source codes, electronic theft is largely undetectable in any system that does not deploy hand-marked paper ballots.

While e-voting vulnerabilities to all manner of manipulation, as well as unintended programming errors, have always been present, both the threat of wholesale electronic theft and the dire consequences of that threat in 2020 have never been greater.

Fortunately, just as help for the surviving Titanic passengers and crew was just over the horizon in the form of the HMS Carpathia, democracy itself may be saved as the result of the valiant efforts by the Coalition for Good Governance ("the Coalition") to help compel the State of Georgia to conduct verifiable elections on hand-marked paper ballots. The help may not only save Georgia, but save the entire country, eventually, as evidenced by the extraordinarily well-informed 153-page ruling [PDF] that was recently handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg…

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




County election chief Dean Logan 'declines' to appear or answer public queries as nation's largest jurisdiction plunges headlong into major voting overhaul for 2020 Presidential elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

Well, as detailed on today's BradCast, we've been trying, for a long time to get answers about the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems set to replace Los Angeles County's verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system for the first time in the 2020 Presidential elections. Disappointingly, however, the L.A. County Clerk/Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan, who had been very responsive and helpful in previous years, no longer answers simple questions about the new voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (VSAP), which he has been developing for more than a decade. That is very troubling, as we explain in detail today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

The new VSAP system is a touchscreen Ballot Marking Device or BMD, which prints out a computer-marked paper ballot summary of votes selected via the touchscreen, before using another computer, an optical-scanner, to read the non-human readable QR Code that is also printed on the ballot summary. The QR Codes are used to tally votes. While the QR Code (a type of barcode) cannot be verified for accuracy by voters, it is also impossible with such systems to know if any voter has even verified the human-readable portion of the ballot summary at all, much less correctly, after an election. Studies reveal that most do not verify computer-marked ballots at all, and that of the minority who do, most don't recall the details or selections on the ballot they voted just moments earlier. That's just one of the many reasons why most cybersecurity and voting systems experts warn against the use of such systems which are now proliferating --- and sometimes replacing verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems --- in many states and counties across the country before 2020. (The list of states where counties or the entire state are moving to BMD systems include a number of key battleground states. Such systems are planned for use next year, or are already being used, in OH, WI, PA, TX, WV, KY, NY, NJ, KS, TN, IN, SC, NC and, yes, CA, unless the public prevents these plans.)

We have been trying to get simple answers from Logan about the VSAP project before voters are forced to use it next year in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, but Logan has both repeatedly refused to answer many such questions and has declined repeated invitations to appear on the program, including today's. That, after he has joined us on a number of occasions over the years (the last time he joined us was in April 2013 to announce that the new system would be an unverifiable touchscreen system) and he used to be quite responsive to voter questions and concerns on Twitter and elsewhere.

Among the simple questions Logan refuses to answer of late:

  • Will voters at the polls in Los Angeles still be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots as previously mandated by the CA Sec. of State? (The office of Democratic SoS Alex Padilla, a supporter of the new system in L.A., has also not yet responded to that question.);
  • Will there be paper backups of the new electronic pollbook systems used with VSAP at the new Voting Centers which will be replacing community precincts this year? (1,000 such Voting Centers will allow voters to vote from any of them, versus the 4,000 local precincts L.A. voters have used in the past);
  • Will independent cybersecurity and voting systems experts like Harri Hursti, who has hacked many voting machines over the past decade or more, be allowed to carry out security and penetration tests on the system before it's used in the 2020 Presidential election? (Hursti has agreed to do so, but Logan has not responded, at least publicly, to take him up on his generous offer);
  • Where is the public documentation for whatever certification and security testing that Logan claims to have already carried out?
  • Why was a private, foreign-based voting systems vendor named Smartmatic given the nearly $300 million contract to build and program the systems, despite their disturbing record of mysterious foreign ownership and failed past elections?;
  • Why does Los Angeles and the California Sec. of State characterize the new VSAP system as "open source", while refusing to disclose the so-called "open source" to the public and responding to public records request to review it (even from other elections officials!) by claiming the system's code is "propriety information", "trade secrets" and that disclosure would "reveal vulnerabilities to attack or would otherwise increase the potential for an attack on the public agency's information technology system"?

We would have preferred Logan joined us on air today to answer such questions, and many more from callers. However, as he declined, we were forced to do our best to answer them ourselves.

Moreover, it would also be helpful if corporate media bothered to cover any of these important issues to the public. The Los Angeles Times ran two stories on VSAP last week, one a fawning 1,900 feature article on Logan and his years-long development process for the system. Neither story by the Times' Matt Stiles --- including the one headlined "Ready for the voting overhaul in L.A. County? Here’s what you need to know" --- mentioned anything about the many security and verifiability concerns of the new system. Following my public complaints to that end over the past week, Stiles has told me he is considering a story on those concerns. I hope so! Voters need to corporate to step up to this stuff, even a tenth as much as they cover the horse race --- while ignoring the track conditions on which the horses will be running!

Arguably, as bad or worse, Washington Post has a page up on their website headlined "How Ballot-Marking Devices Work". There is no story or text on the WaPo page, remarkably enough, just an embedded version of a two-and-a-half minute promotional video for the VSAP project created by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office. Seriously! Nonetheless, out of an abundance of fairness, we aired the full promotional video for the system on the program.

We take a deep (and often harrowing) dive into all of the above and much more --- along with listener calls, many of them furious, as they hear about this for the first time --- on today's BradCast...

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Guest: SMART Elections co-founder, documentarian Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB treated for pancreatic cancer; David Koch dies; Trump blows up markets, trade war with China; Amazon burning...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2019 6:38pm PT  

Just before airtime for today's BradCast, everything seemed to blow up at once (figuratively!) But we do our best to navigate through the most important explosions, including one that is likely receiving little coverage around the country. An astounding vote by the North Carolina Board of Elections --- led by a new appointee of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper --- has allowed the certification of controversial, new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the state for the 2020 elections. The Board's vote was 3 to 2 against a motion that would have blocked the dangerous and expensive voting systems made by ES&S, with the newly-appointed Democratic chair voting with the Board's two Republicans to kill the motion. It had been put forward and supported by the two Democratic Commissioners and supported by virtually every public commenter who packed today's SBE meeting. We discuss that remarkable news and much more with our guest today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first, a few of the other items blowing up in today's news that you have likely heard a bit more about than the very bad news out of NC today. The U.S. Supreme Court released a statement that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has completed radiation therapy for a malignant cancerous tumor discovered on her pancreas at the end of July, but that there is no evidence of the disease remaining in her body at this time. The 86-year old Justice underwent surgery for lung cancer in December and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Rightwing billionaire David Koch has died, according to his brother Charles. Collectively, the pair had raised and spent about $1 billion on elections and in support of almost exclusively Republican candidates and causes in recent years. Just last week, brother Charles was allowed to absurdly opine in a Washington Post op-ed that "both sides" of the political spectrum "have made it harder to come together as a country."

And, the Dow Jones took another 600+ point dive on Friday, after China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods and as Donald Trump pitched a tirade on Twitter in response. Not only did he announce intentions to double-down several times in kind today, but he also attacked his own Fed chair Jerome Powell by calling him an "enemy" of the U.S. and comparing him to China's Chairman Xi. But, that's not all. He then absurdly declared that he has "hereby ordered" U.S. companies to stop doing business with China and their 1.4 billion consumers. White House officials, as well as Republicans in Congress and rightwing business groups were reportedly left dumbstruck by the President's latest and increasingly unhinged Twitter pronouncements as he headed off to France for a G-7 summit with allies --- and as the market headed sharply "south" in response to it all.

With the figurative national cancer in the White House seemingly metastasizing quickly at this point, and with corporate media focused almost exclusively on the horse race elements of the 2020 Presidential election, we look once again toward the quickly deteriorating track conditions on which next year's horses will be running. That issue has received a lot of coverage on The BradCast over the past several weeks, if not from the rest of the media, including news of the federal judge finding Georgia's entire touchscreen voting system unconstitutional; voting and tabulation systems discovered online in at least ten states, including several battleground states, despite claims by elections officials and private vendors that the systems were never connected to the Internet; ransomeware attacks that have shutdown city government computer systems in 22 Texas municipalities over the past week; and the successful efforts by citizens in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia to demand new security reviews of recently certified, hackable touchscreen voting systems.

But the wild twists and turns in the battle against the new systems in the battleground state North Carolina came to a shocking and disappointing conclusion today, after scores of citizens spoke out against the dangers of the new computer-printed, barcoded ballot system being unleashed in the state. While largely the only person to testify in favor of the systems was a representative of the company selling and servicing them, the State Board of Elections certified them for use anyway, with the help of the Board's new Democratic chair voting with its Republican Commissioners in a series of stunning 3 to 2 votes.

We spoke to a number of folks on the ground in NC today, who testified against the new systems, and they were both stunned and furious. Frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (a plaintiff in the successful federal case against Georgia's touchscreen voting machines) is a North Carolina resident who testified today. She sent me a statement just before airtime: "As a North Carolina voter I am embarrassed by the level of ignorance shown by three of the five members of the Board. The arguments they made wouldn't pass muster in fifth grade civics class." Another opponent of the new systems, Lynn Bernstein, an election security advocate, aerospace test engineer and ardent supporter of hand-marked paper ballot systems also spoke today and told me afterward that the new Chairman Damon Circosta "couldn't cite a single reason" for his vote, "other than he has confidence the new system will be fine."

We're joined today by longtime, award-winning journalist, columnist, documentarian and SMART Elections co-founder LULU FRIESDAT for her response to today's stunning news from NC, which she says she regards as a "coup" that will allow the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems next year in the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina as well as other jurisdictions such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles, unless the public can rollback this alarming trend.

"We have state after state after state --- we have this in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, we've had it in New York, they had it in Kansas --- it's the same ES&S machines. And now you're seeing it in North Carolina, where you have a vast majority of citizens coming to these Board of Election meetings saying 'We want hand-marked paper ballots! We want voting systems that we can trust! We don't want touchscreen barcode systems!' And the election officials are putting in place those electronic touchscreen barcode systems that are the exact ones that people are protesting against."

She cites broad donations by vendors to many of the officials tasked with selecting the systems and passing statutes which allow them.

We also discuss the disturbing news out of DefCon's Voting Village a week ago, where she witnessed new voting and electronic pollbook systems --- like the ones now set for use in NC --- being easily hacked by attendees in minutes time. "This is the third year that they've had a Voting Village, where they have voting machines that are in use in the United States available there. And each year it becomes more clear that really, every system is extremely vulnerable. There was not a single system there, to my knowledge, that was not penetrated in some way, or they didn't find vulnerabilities," Friesdat tells me.

And, finally, we discuss her newly-launched effort at SmartElections.US to help train and organize voters nationally to help oversee our own public elections via her new #CountTheVote citizens initiative to help people "get involved on a very local level" .

CountTheVote will be "training people who care across the country, in county by county, especially targeting states where we know this is really going to come down to the wire, swing-states, giving people the toolkits that they need and the skills and information they need.," she explains. "You can have conversations with your election officials to try to influence them to purchase secure voting equipment. Get other groups involved to start pressuring them. This is happening all over the country."

Finally, if it seems that the world is on fire of late, that's because it is --- both figuratively (see everything above) and literally, from the Arctic to the Amazon. We close with a few words on the troubling developments in the Brazilian rainforest where that country's Trump-like authoritarian climate science-denying leader, Jair Bolsonaro, is actually blaming non-profit groups fighting to save the Amazon rainforest for the global warming conditions and Bolsonaro policies that are actually helping to spark the massive fires in a region of the world that otherwise helps turn climate warning C02 into oxygen. At least it did before the record fires have become to consume the region...

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Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we catch up with a grab bag of stuff, most of which doesn't have to do with Donald Trump's idiocy --- you're welcome --- but a lot of which has to do with what Americans need to do about him! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • The front page of the New York Times now, officially, looks like a pre-2016 parody of what the Times might look like if Donald Trump were ever elected President;
  • Denmark still doesn't want to sell Greenland to the US. Why, after all, would its citizens want to give up "universal health care, free higher education, five weeks of annual paid vacation and 12 months of paid parental leave, subsidized childcare and more"? But the Premier of Greenland is, however, interested in buying the U.S.!;
  • Two-term WA state Governor Jay Inslee, the climate change candidate, drops out of the 2020 Presidential race, but accomplished quite a bit and will now run for a third term as WA Governor;
  • Former CO Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the Presidential contest a week or so ago, announces his run for U.S. Senate to take on vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in an already very crowded field of Dems vying for the nomination. (But, ahem....hint, hint, O'Rourke, Castro and Bullock!);
  • And, on the Republican side of the aisle, "reformed" Tea Party Republican and former one-term House Rep. Joe Walsh appears set to announce plans to primary Trump from the right next year. If his recent, blistering NYTimes op-ed is any indication, in which he eviscerates Trump for, well, just about everything, he would be a welcome participant along with already-declared former MA Gov. Bill Weld and a few other potential GOP challengers that may be coming soon;
  • In more disturbing and much-less noticed news, 22 Texas towns have been simultaneously crippled by coordinated ransomware attacks that have shut down all computerized city services. The hackers are demanding some $2.5 million to restore services to the unidentified towns which may all have used the same private contractor for municipal IT services. The attack-via-contractor is reminiscent of the 2016 spearphishing attack on voter registration services vendor VR Systems as described in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report. That attack appears to have resulted in penetration of voter registration databases in several Florida counties in 2016, and perhaps other states (such as North Carolina) serviced by the same private vendor.

    But, sadly, none of this has prevented states and counties around the country from moving swiftly to fully-computerized voting and tabulation systems, as well as computerized electronic pollbooks (all frequently serviced by a small group of private contractors) as we move toward the critical 2020 elections. If those any of those thousands of jurisdictions whose poling places now rely on such automated systems on Election Day --- often without paper backup for ballots or pollbooks --- were to be similarly crippled by a ransomware attack on or before Election Day, the result would be unimaginable chaos next year. But how likely is that, really? Why worry?;

  • Some voters in Georgia are, in fact, very worried, and justifiably so, about the state's newly certified, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems now planned for first-time use in 2020. As we reported on the show a few days ago, those voters have invoked a little-known provision in GA's election code to demand a reexamination of the new systems which the state certified just weeks ago. The multipartisan voters charge Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger violated state requirements in his initial certification, and failed to do any security testing at all. The Sec. of State's office now says the petitioners, who prefer state voters use verifiable hand-marked paper ballots systems, simply disagree with the "policy preferences" of the Georgia General Assembly and must pay the costs for the second examination themselves;
  • In similar-ish news here in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, which is also planning to move to new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices for the 2020 election --- the county's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan is refusing to answer questions by voters on Twitter as to whether they will be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place this year. That has been a mandate by the CA Sec. of State for many years.

    Also, Logan has similarly failed to respond for several days to a generous offer by legendary Finnish cybsersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti to examine the county's new, never-before-used-in-any-election BMD systems for security concerns. Hursti, the first to have hacked a Diebold voting system over a decade ago, runs the now-infamous annual Voting Village event at the DefCon hackers convention in Las Vegas --- where, year after year after year, enormous vulnerabilities are discovered in every voting system put before the attendees. Despite Hursti's offer, Logan has not responded to it via Twitter.

    Why has the previously communicative Logan gone so mum? He has been very outspoken on Twitter in the past, and still seems to have no problem citing L.A. Times stories about his new system there. (Perhaps because those stories shamefully fail to mention any of the many security and verifiability concerns about them, as cited by cybersecurity and voting systems experts.) Why is Logan, a long time, usually quite responsive and responsible election official no longer answering questions from his voters and media about such a huge sea-change in voting for some five million L.A. County voters?;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on record wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic, record Alaskan heat killing salmon in the rivers, Jay Inslee's exit and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's imminent U.S. arrival...by solar-powered boat.

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Jeanne Devon of the AK Dem Party; Also: GA petition effort mandates new review of state's new unverifiable voting system...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A new petition effort to rename the block of Fifth Avenue in New York City where the Trump Tower is located after President Barack Obama has now gained nearly half a million signatures. It began as a joke, according to its author, but quickly caught on. While it's a brilliant, if unlikely idea, other, somewhat more important petition efforts --- with actual legal standing --- have recently caught fire over the past week or so as well. And the consequences of those efforts could be far reaching. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First, in the battleground state of Georgia, where the Secretary of State has just selected an all new 100% unverifiable touchscreen ballot marking device (BMD) voting system for the state, which voters will be forced to use at polling places in 2020, was certified just a week or so ago in violation of the state's elections code, according to election integrity experts and opponents of Republican SoS Brad Raffensberger's $150 million new system made by Dominion Voting Systems of Canada.

Raffensberger's decision comes as a federal judge in Atlanta, just last week, found [PDF] the state's current 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system to be "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack". So much so, that the judge also declared the old system be in violation of voters' right to have their votes counted as cast. As we discussed with one of the plaintiffs in detail last week, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the state to use a new, hopefully verifiable system in 2020. But the new system selected by Raffensberger may face a similar fate in federal court, as opponents vow to challenge it as well, while calling for hand-marked paper ballots instead.

In the meantime, however, more than 1,400 state voters, as of air time, have signed a petition demanding a reexamination of the newly selected system, charging that it was improperly certified in violation of the state elections code. Only 10 voters, according to GA state law, are needed to sign the petition to trigger such a second look, far fewer than the number of Georgia residents now demanding it.

And, at the same time, way up north in Alaska, another petition effort is rocking our nation's 49th state. In just two weeks, a multipartisan coalition has gathered more than 29,500 signatures calling for a recall of newly-elected Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy. That is a thousand more signatures than required by law --- and a lot of signatures in such a short time, in a state with a population of only about three quarters of a million. The petitioners say they will continue to collect signatures through September 2nd. If this first step is successful, as appears likely, a second effort to get about 70,000 signatures will be needed to place the actual recall measure on the ballot.

The unprecedented effort comes as Gov. Dunleavy has attempted to implement radical cuts of some $443 million to the state budget, including $130 million --- or 40% of the state's budget contribution --- to the University of Alaska system. Also slashed was about $30 million for senior benefits, early learning funds and Alaska Legal Services. One of the most objectionable (and likely unlawful) attempted cuts was to the state's court system, a punitive measure in the exact amount of what the state currently spends on abortion services, meant as retaliation by the Republican Governor for the state Supreme Court having upheld a constitutional right in the state to abortion services.

And, all of this comes as Alaska is seeing record high temperatures and wildfires that have ravaged about two and a half million acres in the state this year amid our ongoing climate crisis, and as the President of the United States appears to have made a secret deal with the Governor to okay a controversial mining project on the pristine waters of the Bristol Bay watershed.

We're joined today by our old friend JEANNE DEVON, formerly known as "AKMuckraker" of the great Alaska blog The MudFlats. She now serves as Communications Director for the state Democratic Party and breaks down the details of the political tremors now reverberating in Alaska, including the fact that, while the state Democratic Party supports the petition effort to remove Dunleavy, they are not actually responsible for the effort. It is being brought forward by a coal baron, believe it or not, along with a longtime Republican legislator, the last living signer of Alaska's Constitution (a 95-year old Dem, pictured above), and the state's former independent Governor's Chief of Staff, among others.

The broad coalition, Devon explains, opposes Dunleavy for a host of reasons as the transplant from the "lower 48" does not appear to understand Alaska's values and how Republicans, Democrats and independents don't necessary operate on the same terms they do elsewhere in the country. For example, as we discuss, Alaska --- which has voted for the Republican nominee in every Presidential election since Lyndon Johnson --- is actually a socialist state, in that the fossil fuel companies who operate there are legally obligated by the state to send royalty checks to every man, woman and child each year.

"It's set up that way," Devon explains, because the resources are seen as being "owned communally by everyone in the state. We actually have written in our state constitution that our resources are to be developed 'for the maximum benefit of the people'." The result, she says, is that the people who live in Alaska own their own resources and receive a minimum basic income. Ideas that unleash shouts of "SOCIALISM! COMMUNISM!" by Republicans elsewhere, but not in Alaska for some odd reason, where the state relies, bigly, on those royalties from the fossil fuel industry. Devon notes the payments also serve to "keep 25,000 Alaska families out of poverty every year" and sever as "a huge influx of almost a billion dollars into the local economy."

As to the recall movement, she suggest that not only will petitioners successfully complete the first step, but that they are also likely to gather the 70,000 signatures needed in the second step to see the measure to remove Dunleavy placed on the ballot. "You do have folks that are Republicans, who are industry Republicans, business Republicans, who are conservatives but not ideologues in the way that Gov. Dunleavy is. He is coming from the point of view of really breaking government. And that is where the line is drawn. There is just a sense that he does not love the state, and he doesn't understand the state" as a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

In regard Dunleavy's attempt to punish the state Supreme Court, Devon argues "It's unconstitutional on so many levels. It's chilling that you can have a branch of government that not only will do their own calculations about the number of dollars that the state has spent on abortion, but will then line item veto just that amount from the entire court system as punishment. And then announce it, publicly, that this is what they're doing and why." With the help of a cold-hearted GOP operative by the name of Donna Arduin, hired by Dunleavy to slash the budget after similarly devastating cuts she made on behalf of GOP Governors in Kansas, Arizona and Florida, Devon explains that Dunleavy "even cut the money that would have earthquake-proofed children's libraries in schools, so that giant bookshelves won't fall on tiny children" in the earthquake prone state.

In our fascinating discussion today, Devon also explains what is known about the deal recently struck between Dunleavy and Donald Trump --- during a secret meeting at the state's airport in Anchorage --- that resulted in Trump's order to his EPA to reverse an environmental endangerment finding by the Obama Administration's EPA that had finally blocked the long controversial Pebble Mine project. The enormous and controversial planned gold, silver and copper mine, according to scientists, environmentalists and many other opponents in the state, will put the world's largest and most important sockeye salmon habitat in critical danger in and near Bristol Bay, causing what the EPA described previously as "irreversible loss of fish habitat". Devon describes it as"the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery on the planet. It employs almost 20,000 commercial fisherman. It feeds a region of indigenous Alaskans who have been surviving off of these fish for over 10,000 years. It's not only a food staple, but really an entire culture" that will be destroyed if the mine is allowed to be built.

Hope you'll tune in for today's important and must-listen conversation on the entire mess now consuming the great state of Alaska and how it might --- by the way --- also effect the 2020 Presidential election!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter on her jaw-dropping new exclusive finding battleground election systems vulnerable on the Internet despite claims to the contrary by elections officials, private vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections officials seem to be panicking around the country, and for good reason. But their concerns may be coming a bit late...perhaps a decade or so too late, as virtually every aspect of our "public" elections in the U.S. --- from ballot programming to registration to voting to vote tabulation to election results reporting --- has now been allowed to have become largely taken over by private vendors and contractors, with little or no oversight from either state or federal officials. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at end of article.]

An exclusive analysis last month by AP found that virtually all voting systems currently in use in the nation's 10,000 separate voting jurisdictions in all 50 states run on software --- Windows 7 or earlier --- that will no longer be supported by Microsoft with regular security updates and patches as of January. That includes systems certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) from the nation's largest private elections vendors as recently as this year. Those newly certified systems still use Windows 7, which was released a decade ago in 2009.

Of course, the EAC's certification process --- for the few states which choose to follow federal voluntary (yes, voluntary) guidelines --- has been laughable for years. It focuses on usability and functionality, not security. Most systems in the U.S., if they are EAC certified at all, were tested to guidelines published by the EAC in 2005.

At a summit this week of elections officials and vendors, hastily convened by the EAC in Maryland in response to the disturbing AP analysis, officials complained about the lack of federal support and standards, and that financially strapped and technologically challenged elections divisions at both the state and local level are realizing only now that they are being asked "to take part in what is national security" with little or no help from the federal government. One official at the EAC confab reportedly complained: "We are talking about local communities having trouble funding roads and water bills, and now we want them to take part in defense against foreign and state actors."

Of course, it is not only nation-states like Russia that pose a threat to the security of America's vulnerable, computerized and privatized public elections, so do regular old Americans, as the recent hack by a woman in Seattle of more than 100 million customer records at Capitol One proved, along with the vulnerabilities in brand new voting and registration systems discovered by hackers in a few hours at the DefCon Voting Village convention last weekend in Las Vegas.

All of this comes on the heels of Thursday's federal court ruling finding Georgia's voting systems to be so "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack" that the judge declared the systems (which are similar to ones used in several other states) a violation of voters' Constitutional right to have their votes counted as cast.

But all of that might ultimately be small potatoes in light of longtime cybersecurity journalist and author KIM ZETTER's recent exclusive at VICE's Motherboard, finding that "Critical U.S. Election Systems Have Been Left Exposed Online Despite Official Denials". Zetter, one of the only journalists in the nation who has been covering these matters as long or longer than we have at this point, joins us on today's program to explain her jaw-dropping article which begins this way: "For years, U.S. election officials and voting machine vendors have insisted that critical election systems are never connected to the internet and therefore can't be hacked. But a group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties --- all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections. Some of the systems have been online for a year and possibly longer."

In many cases, she tells me, the elections officials seemed to have no idea that their systems were connected to the Internet by their vendors. As for the vendors' part --- in this case, the nation's largest, ES&S --- Zetter explains their bizarre claim that voting and backend tabulation and reporting systems connected around the clock for years at a time aren't really connected to the Internet at all --- and, even if they are, they are perfectly secure. Zetter and the data researchers found otherwise.

The systems found vulnerable on the net, she details, would allow a malicious actor to change unofficial election night results, official results, and the public reporting of the results themselves. Moreover, she explains, access to the exposed backend portions of these systems over the Internet could also result in malware being transferred to voting machines themselves. And all of this was discovered by a small team of researchers with little or no funding. No nation-state required, she confirms.

"If it was just a box on the Internet that was receiving the votes transmitted [on Election Night from the precinct] that would be a security problem in itself, not only because you could potentially alter those votes. They are unofficial results on Election Night --- and the officials results are taken from the actual memory cards in the voting machines. But if you can alter the unofficial results, that's going to create a lot of mistrust in the final outcome if they don't match," she says.

"But even if you don't alter those votes, that communication over the phone between the voting machine in the field and that backend server that's on the Internet creates a channel for infecting those voting machines. So, someone who could actually install that malware on that system on the Internet can design it in such a way that it downloads to the voting machines when they connect to that system. So the attackers can alter that voting machine in preparation for a future election."

"But that's not the only problem," she continues. "If that was the only thing that was on the Internet, that would be a concern in itself. What was remarkable is that ES&S acknowledged to me that they don't just put an empty box on there to receive the votes. Also connected to that Internet connection is the backend system for tabulating both the unofficial results on Election Night, and those official results that are later taken from the memory card."

"And the Election Management System is also connected. The Election Management System is used to do a lot of functions in elections. Among them is the actual programming of these voting machines before each election. So, if you don't get to the machines through that little receptacle that's connected to the Internet, you can get to that backend Election Management System and put in malicious code that then gets transferred directly to the voting machines before the next election."

But, of course, other than that, why worry, right? Well, Zetter has much more to say on that as well, including about Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's continuing efforts to block any and all election security measures in the Senate that might help shore up at least some of these concerns, including bills already passed by the House that would mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Even that, at this point, wouldn't fully protect against attacks on computer optical-scanners currently used in all 50 states to tabulate those ballots with little or no post-election audits to make sure they did so accurately...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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