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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, July 23, 2021
Another Cuban Crisis:
'BradCast' 7/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with journalist and author Anthony DePalma...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic flooding in central Chinese; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
Previous GNRs: 7/20/21 - 7/15/21 - Archives...
'Our Darkest Hour, Our Selma Moment...We Must Act': 'BradCast' 7/21/21
Guest: Voting rights champion Helen Butler, after her GOP removal as a GA election official; Also: Tragic ends for COVID deniers; More clues AZ's election 'auditers' are clueless...
Fact-Checking Right (Phony AZ 'Audit') and Left (Garland's DoJ): 'BradCast' 7/20/21
Also: Chair of Trump Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, arrested, charged with acting as foreign agent, lying to FBI...
'Green News Report' 7/20/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Europe flooding shows nowhere safe from our climate emergency; Parts of Amazon now emit more carbon than they absorb; PLUS: High-tide flooding is about to get much, much worse...
Previous GNRs: 7/15/21 - 7/13/21 - Archives...
Callers Explain Their Refusal to Get Vaccinated as Deadly Delta Variant Surges: 'BradCast' 7/19/21
Also: New analysis finds fewer than 200 POTENTIAL cases of voter fraud in AZ...
Sunday 'Critical Erase Theory' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the best, unavoidable, toons of the week...
Critical Failure in Coverage of RW 'Critical Race Theory' Hoax: 'BradCast' 7/16/21
Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Masks back on in L.A. County; Deadly climate change-fueled deluge in Germany...
The REAL Cost of the Maricopa, AZ 'Audit': 'BradCast' 7/15/21
Also: GOPers laughing at, thanking Manchin, Sinema; Good news on Dem infrastructure bill; Trump's COVID Death Cult rising...
'Green News Report' 7/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Senate Dems unveil $3.5 trillion infrastructure and climate deal; EU unveils landmark 'Green Deal'; PLUS: More evidence that climate action would save lives and money...
Previous GNRs: 7/13/21 - 7/8/21 - Archives...
EAC Sued Over Guidelines After Secret Meets with E-Vote Vendors Allows Modems: 'BradCast' 7/14/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Dems' $3.5T health, climate, infrastructure deal...
'Test of Our Time': Biden Steps Up for Voting Rights, Democracy: 'BradCast' 7/13/21
Also: 2020 Election Night genesis of the 'Big Lie'; Heroic TX Dems land in D.C. to press for federal reform...
'Green News Report' 7/13/21
Western grid tested by massive fires, more extreme heat; CA expands state drought emergency; June 2021 hottest ever in U.S.; PLUS: Fox to launch a weather channel...
Amid CA Emergencies, State GOP Tries to Oust Dem Guv in Recall: 'BradCast' 7/12
Guest: Ernie Canning on reforming CA's Recall process; Also: TX DEMS FLEE STATE TO BLOCK GOP VOTE-SUPPRESSION BILL...
Sunday 'Delta is Ready' Toons
PDiddie is ready when you are, with his latest collection of the week's best (and worst!) political toons...
SCOTUS' Disregard of Constitution's Plain Text Augurs Dark Days: 'BradCast' 7/9/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on Alito's 'fabricated' rules for the VRA and much more...
Now May Be a Good Time to Reform or Eliminate CA's Gubernatorial Recall System
CANNING: GOP abuse of the time-honored progressive process is wearing thin...
COVID Surge in Trump Country; US (Almost) Out of Afghanistan: 'BradCast' 7/8/21
Also: Rudy's woes worsen; U.S., Canada heat wave kills 100s; Murdoch's Fox 'News' broke the nation and planet...
'Green News Report' 7/8/21
While we were out...Historic heat wave killed hundreds, shattered all time records in PNW, Canada; Exxon lobbyists caught on tape; PLUS: Record-breaker Elsa...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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: Election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn on newly discovered ES&S, EAC failures; Also: Biden endorses filibuster reform...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2021 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While Team Trump spent months pretending the Dominion Voting Systems company stole votes from Trump and flipped them to Biden with their computerized voting and tabulation systems, there is exactly zero independently verifiable evidence to support that baseless conclusion. At the same time, however, recently unearthed documents from the state of Texas and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reveal a gaping security hole in new systems made by the largest voting system company in the nation, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (better known as ES&S), which has systems deployed in dozens of states. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, some annoying (if long overdue) news that Donald Trump finally made it clear(ish), during a Tuesday interview on Fox "News", that he recommends his own supporters should, indeed, get vaccinated against COVID. He cites the "great" and "safe" vaccines that are now available, describing them as "something that works" to prevent the deadly disease. We hope his supporters listen, since they are currently the most disinclined to want to get vaccinated.

Next, some long overdue encouraging news on the Senate legislative filibuster. In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden --- a longtime Senate institutionalist previously opposed to filibuster reform --- said he now favors it being overhauled. He says he supports a modification to bring back the "talking filibuster", where obstructionists are forced to hold the floor and keep speaking until they can't anymore. That would place the onus on the minority hoping to block legislation, rather than forcing Democrats, in this case, to try and find 60 votes to pass anything at all. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem unilaterally killing the filibuster entirely to steal and pack Trump nominees onto the U.S. Supreme Court, now vows to grind the Senate to a halt if Dems dare change the legislative filibuster. But, of course, McConnell has already done that with his unprecedented use of the legislative filibuster to block everything! We discuss.

Then, on to our main story today. Shortly after the November election last year, Donald Trump and his gaggle of dopey friends and clueless, corrupt attorneys hatched an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems had participated in an elaborate plot to secretly flip votes and steal the election for Biden. (The theory was based in part on my accurate, deep-dive exclusive investigative reporting from 2010, regarding some voting system vendors --- though not Dominion --- who then had ties to Venezuela and its then living President, Hugo Chavez. Team Trump bastardized that reporting to pretend it had something to do with their dumb theory that Dominion stole the 2020 election from Trump.) Dominion has since sued Team Trumpers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation, slapping them with suits for $1.3 billion each. Last week, news out of Stark County, Ohio and out of Louisiana proved that Dominion is, in fact, being financially harmed by the fraudulent "fraud" plot used to try and discredit them.

But the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S --- with a years-long, thuggish reputation according to elections insiders, along with a long history of failed elections on their crappy, computerized voting and tabulation systems --- largely escaped scrutiny by Republicans after last November's election. But they shouldn't have, given the disturbing, well-supported, deep-dive exclusive that election integrity advocate and Twitter phenom JENNIFER COHN broke last week at Who, What, Why. She joins us today to explain both her well-sourced report and its far-reaching ramifications.

As it turns out, she reports, there is a flaw in ES&S' installation process that prevents "hash-verification" when software is installed or patched onto their ExpressVote touchscreen voting systems. What that means, in layman's terms, is that its impossible to know if the software installed onto the systems actually matches the certified version of the software that was tested by federal testing authorities under the purview of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

This gaping hole --- discovered by the state of Texas in advance of last November's election --- means that untested, modified software, perhaps containing malware, could potentially have been installed onto ES&S' systems in more than a dozen states last year. Even more maddening is that ES&S was well aware of this flaw, but told elections officials (if they happened to notice the failed hash test) that it was nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, everything is fine --- just trust us.

"The strong implication from the documents which were produced is that [ES&S was] telling them that a mismatch should just be treated as a match," Cohn tells me. "That blanket instruction really concerned the Texas examiners when they found out this was happening."

More maddening still, as Cohn reports, is that ES&S forces jurisdictions to allow their own employees or contractors to do these installations, rather than allowing jurisdictions to do so themselves, which might allow local or state officials to do their own hash-verification (or "acceptance testing", as it is known by some in the industry). Some jurisdictions that refuse to allow ES&S to do the installation will have their warrantees void by the company. As one former voting system employee tweeted in response to all of this, it is "like buying a new home and before the closing the seller says, 'You don't need a final walk-through. Just trust me."

"Normally, the customer is supposed to do it. The whole point of it is to make sure that the vendor is being honest and they're not giving malicious vote-flipping software. So to have the vendor do the hash testing themselves defeats the whole point," Cohn explains. "One of the examiners called it 'the fox guarding the henhouse', and said it was ES&S self-certifying their systems. Even the attorneys for the Texas Secretary of state were appalled."

Cohn's reporting at Who, What, Why is based on a passel of documents obtained via public records requests that reveal, for example, a troubled Texas election examiner complaining via email to their Secretary of State's attorney that this security flaw is "a gift wrapped opportunity to an insider threat," before going on to add: "It’s similar to a bank robber knowing that the camera covering teller #3 is broken."

In addition to Texas, ES&S systems used last year in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming may all have been similarly vulnerable to running modified, vulnerable and uncertified software during the election, as Cohn details in her report, explaining today that it could be as many as 35 states.

And, as if all of that is not yet maddening enough, she also reports on the disturbing reaction from the EAC to this gaping security hole. The federal agency which is supposed to oversee voting system certification, apparently knew about this issue prior to the election, but failed to inform the public and quietly helped patch it all over for ES&S before, essentially, lying about it all once Cohn started asking questions in February. The EAC, as we have reported at The BRAD BLOG for years, has a long and troubling history of protecting private voting system vendors rather than the voters they are supposed to be watching out for.

When the EAC learned about it, Cohn says, they were "in kind of a panic, I think, because if it had leaked out, they couldn't honestly say they knew what had been installed in those states was what it was supposed to be."

So, is any of this related to why Team Trump focused their phony, evidence-free complaints almost exclusively on Dominion, while ignoring well-documented problems with ES&S almost entirely? We discuss that and much more with Cohn on today's --- yes --- maddening BradCast, where she also notes that, despite Texas officials being as troubled as they were by all of this, "I don't think that anybody ever said, 'Why don't we use pens? They don't require hash testing.'"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Special Coverage of Day One; Also: U.S. Election Assistance Commission leaders quietly override cybersecurity experts to allow modems in new voting system standards...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2021 7:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast Special Coverage: There have only been three Presidents during the 243-year history of the United States who have been Impeached, for a total of four Presidential impeachments. Donald Trump has been impeached twice. He alone makes up a full half of all of the Presidential Impeachments in the history of our nation. That will be a scar and mark of shame that will never be removed from his pathetic legacy, no matter what happens in his historic second Impeachment Trial in the US Senate, which began in earnest today....sort of. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

Democratic House Impeachment Managers on Tuesday were forced to make the case for the Constitutionality of holding an Impeachment Trial for a President who is already out of office. Frankly, it's a ridiculous case to have to make, as we discussed on yesterday's show and again today. Of course an impeached, former official can be tried by the U.S. Senate after leaving office. It's been done several times in our nation's history, and legal scholars from both the Right and Left have argued as much in recent days in response to the disingenuous case made against it by Trump's defense attorneys and his sycophantic Republican supporters in the Senate.

Nonetheless, lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD) opened the argument on this point on Tuesday, with a compelling narrative that there is no "January Exception" to the Constitution's impeachment clause. If there was, he argued, Presidents leaving office would have impunity to cause any amount of mayhem during their final weeks in office. Raskin's presentation began with a stunning, riveting and chilling video juxtaposing Trump's January 6th rally comments to his supporters at the White House, instructing them to "fight like hell" before directing them to the U.S. Capitol, along with previously unseen video clips of his supporters subsequent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The montage showed Congress being interrupted by the violent insurrectionists, with lawmakers sent scurrying for their lives during the Joint Session to certify the 2020 Electoral College results from last November's Presidential Election victory by Joe Biden...

Raskin's presentation was followed with ones from Managers Joe Neguse (CO) and David Cicilline (RI) who offered historical, Constitutional and legal background in support of their case, before Raskin returned to close the argument with a heartbreaking personal tale of his --- and his family's --- experience during the January 6th attack at the Capitol. We share extended excerpts from his presentation and video.

Next, Trump's team of defense attorneys offered their own case, beginning with a rambling, disjointed, confusing, often political case by lead defense attorney Bruce Castor (famous for having refused to charge Bill Cosby while a prosecutor in Pennsylvania), before an angry, confusing, and even-more-political and partisan case was made by attorney David Schoen (who had previously represented convicted felon and Trump pal Roger Stone, and was set to defend convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein before he committed suicide in prison.)

Castor made no case at all about the Constitutionality of the proceedings, and even appeared to threaten at least one Republican Senator before arguing that a trial to determine if Trump should be allowed to hold future office was not necessary, since "smart" voters had already done a very good job of voting Trump out of office by themselves. (Begging the question of whether Castor will be allowed by Trump to return tomorrow!) Schoen eventually seemed to make a case against the Constitutionality of the trial, but his argument was so quickly read, and included so many arcane Constitutional and historical references, it was virtually impossible to follow or make sense of.

No worries, however. His case --- any case at all, apparently --- was good enough to win the votes of 44 Republicans Senators when the resolution to dismiss the trial was ultimately defeated at the end of the day by a 56-44 vote. All Democrats and six Republicans (Collins, Cassidy, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse and Toomey) voted to allow the trial to proceed. Opening arguments for the actual substance of the article of impeachment for "Incitement of Insurrection" begin on Wednesday.

Finally, in our closing few minutes today, we switch gears (mostly) for a quick report on two disturbing, and somewhat related developments. The first story regards an apparent hacker or intruder who was able to use remote access software several days ago, to dangerously increase sodium hydroxide (sometimes known as lye) levels at a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida, near Tampa. Luckily the incident was noticed --- live, as it was happening --- by an alert operator at the plant who saw the manipulation on his monitor before drinking water was actually poisoned.

And, in somewhat related news, we learned over the weekend that top officials at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) --- the federal agency responsible for certifying computer voting and tabulation systems --- quietly changed a provision in new security standards for voting systems to allow wireless modems and chips in such systems. The change comes after years of work on the new draft standards by cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged against allowing remote access hardware, which can be used to hack election results, in such systems.

Whether they are used to manipulate results or not obviously makes no difference to those who are concerned that results might have been changed by hackers, as today's Impeachment Trial should, once again, underscore.

We hope to have more information in the future on this, but the newly modified standards --- known as the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) --- are now much more friendly to private voting system vendors (and hackers) and are set to be approved by the Commission tomorrow (Wednesday). The EAC has long been captured by private voting system vendors, and appears to be doing their bidding once again.

The Election Integrity advocates at Free Speech for People have set up a petition that they are asking voters to sign in hopes of encouraging EAC leadership to return to the safer, modem-free standards before they are officially adopted and used by many states across the country...

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Also: Contest filed in Iowa U.S. House election with 6-vote margin; Newsmax cracks under legal threat from voting machine company...
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2020 8:12pm PT  

Well, the good news on today's BradCast, is that he won't be California's Secretary of State anymore. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced he is appointing his long time friend, CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, to fill the seat being vacated in the U.S. Senate by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The ambitious Padilla has risen up through the ranks of CA politics, from the Los Angeles City Council to the State Senate to becoming a twice-elected SoS, and now to his appointment to the U.S. Senate. He will serve out the rest of Harris' term through 2022 as the state's first Latino Senator.

In his official announcement today, the Governor detailed a long list of accomplishments by Padilla during his career in the Golden State. In turn, we share a number of Padilla's disturbing failures both before and during his tenure as SoS, as we have covered at The BRAD BLOG over the years. In 2013, for example, while he was still a state Senator, we highlighted Padilla's dishonest and misleading campaign for a major election reform bill (SB 360) which ended the long-standing requirement for federal testing and approval of new voting systems in the state and transferred sole power for certification testing and approval of new systems to the SoS. As it happens, Padilla was the leading candidate for the office at the time and eventually became SoS in 2014.

In selling the measure to the public and the media --- it was eventually passed along partisan lines in the CA legislature and signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown --- Padilla claimed the bill was needed to allow counties in the state to create and own their own voting systems. "Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections," he told the public. The remarks echoed his early announcement of the bill [PDF] in which he deceptively explained that "A public voting system will be more transparent, instill public trust and be more accountable than our current systems."

At the time, Los Angeles County had been developing a new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system. It was finally implemented (disastrously) for the first time this year. What Padilla failed to make clear in his deceptive sale of SB 360 was that L.A. County had already owned its current voting system at the time, and didn't need the radical new measure to do so. While Padilla's office had initially asked for our input on SB 360, they stopped communicating with us entirely once we asked about his dishonest sales pitches.

Moreover, after 10 years in development, when L.A.'s new, $300+ million voting system was found to be in violation of more than 40 California Voting System Standards late last year, Padilla certified it for use anyway, rather than simply mandating verifiable hand-marked paper ballots for every voter in the nation's most-populous County. The first roll-out of L.A.'s Padilla-approved "Voting Solutions for all People" (VSAP) system was a disaster during this year's March 3rd Super Tuesday primaries. Problems cited by testers (but ignored by Padilla) contributed to long lines for voters that stretched, in some cases, until after midnight. The same failed systems were again re-certified for use in the general election, though they fared better overall with much less use after the Governor mandated absentee ballots to be sent to all registered voters in the state during the pandemic.

Those are just some of the concerns that Election Integrity advocates in the state have had about Padilla. But the good news is that he'll likely be a reliable Democratic place-holder vote in the U.S. Senate while, perhaps, a more competent Sec. of State can be named to replace him in the Golden State. We'll see.

Also today, Rita Hart, Iowa's Democratic former state Senator and 2020 U.S. House candidate in the state's 2nd Congressional District, filed an election challenge in the House under the Federal Contested Elections Act. Iowa certified Hart's Republican opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, as the winner of the open seat by just 6 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast in the November election. Hart's contest, however, notes that at least 22 legally cast votes for her were wrongly excluded from the final tally, including many which state election officials agree were lawfully cast but excluded from the count because they were discovered after the initial canvass. State law bars the inclusion of such ballots in the final tallies. She also argues that the state recount which narrowed the margin from 47 votes to 6 --- and included a number of major counting errors along the way --- was unconstitutionally conducted, as the 24 counties of the District used disparate counting methods. Some used machines, others hand-counted, others used a combination of both. She is seeking a full, uniform hand-count by the Government Accountability Office and hopes to eventually be seated by the Democratic-majority U.S. House Administration Committee under the Act. The investigation is likely to take months.

In other elections-related news today, rightwing propaganda outlet Newsmax joined fellow rightwing propaganda outlet Fox "News" on Monday by attempting to walk back their false assertions regarding the private elections vendors Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems. The two competing vendors have been targeted with baseless, evidence-free claims by Team Trump attorneys and others from the MAGA Mob --- which have been shared and parroted by both outlets, as well as One America News (OAN). Last week, Smartmatic sent a legal threat, demanding retraction for the outlets' claims that Smartmatic was involved with Dominion in a worldwide conspiracy --- with Venezuela and its dead President Hugo Chavez, China, Cuba, the Clinton Foundation and George Soros, among others --- to flip the results of the election and steal it from Donald Trump in several swing-states. As we explained recently, the baseless allegations are taken, in part, from my own accurate investigative exclusives about the ownership of Dominion and Smartmatic from more than a decade ago.

In response to the possibility of facing a defamation lawsuit, over the weekend Fox "News" ran a bizarre, three-minute segment on shows hosted by rightwing conspiracists Lou Dobbs, Janine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, featuring a disembodied voice asking questions of Eddie Perez of the Open Source Election Technology foundation. Perez, who has recently been a guest on our show, is seen denying largely all of the claims that the wingnut outlets have been making to advance Trump's false claims that he won the election.

On Monday, Newsmax joined Fox by running its own version of an attempted retraction, to "clarify" that, in fact, they have absolutely no evidence to support myriad claims the stations has aired regarding Smartmatic and Dominion during the weeks since Election Day. The "clarification" will supposedly run across all Newsmax shows, according to its CEO and longtime Trump supporter, Chris Ruddy. Given that Smartmatic has hired one of the nation's top defamation attorneys --- who won a case for $177 million in 2017 --- its little wonder that both outlets are now running very scared. We'll see if OAN buckles soon as well, in the face of someone attempting to hold them accountable for countless lies meant to undermine our democratic system in support of Trump's attempt to steal the election from Joe Biden and the American people.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our last Green News Report of 2020! As Biden-Harris round out their historic climate team nominations; long-overdue climate legislation is included along with Congress' long-overdue COVID emergency relief package; and as the Trump Administration triumphantly ends the tyranny of efficient showerheads....

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks on election havoc in the Peach State, and lack of national media coverage; Also: Trump loses, voters win in court absentee ballot rulings in WI, IN, MT, AL, and maybe NC...
By Brad Friedman on 10/1/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got good news for voters from a bunch of courts today --- including in both battleground and "red" states --- when it comes to the absentee mail-in voting that Donald Trump and the Republican Party are working so hard to block. But we've also got some very disturbing news out of the state of Georgia in a story that nobody other than us seems to be covering for reasons we can't quite explain. Especially since it now involves installing all brand-new, untested, and uncertified software --- at the very last minute, just days before Early Voting is to start --- on every touchscreen voting system used across the state. [Audio link to full show follows below summary]

But first, the good court rulings coming out of several states so far this week...

  • A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court judge's six-day extension beyond Election Day for the receipt of incoming absentee ballots postmarked by November 3rd in the critical battleground state of WISCONSIN. The unanimous ruling comes from a panel of three Republican-appointed judges, including one nominated by Trump, in a state which he is said to have barely flipped to "red" in 2016, for the first time in decades, by just over 20,000 votes out of millions cast. Republicans could appeal to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court. That's just one of the reasons they are trying to pack the Court with Trump's nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, in record time before the election;
  • Similarly good news out of Mike Pence's home state of INDIANA, where a federal judge rejected a deadline of noon of Election Day for absentee ballots to be received. The ruling will allow ballots postmarked by November 3rd to be counted if they arrive by November 13. The judge says the extra days do not benefit any particular party or candidate and "should in fact help assuage" concerns about the legitimacy of election results in the Hoosier State;
  • In the state of MONTANA, a federal judge blocked an effort by the Trump Campaign and other GOP groups to prevent counties from automatically sending absentee ballots to all active registered voters as they did during this year's June primary elections. That, after the plaintiffs were unable to "point to a single instance of voter fraud in Montana in any election during the last 20 years," according to the judge who described concerns about widespread fraud as "a fiction". While the state went to Trump by some 20 points in 2016, its Democratic Governor Steve Bullock won re-election on the same statewide ballot that year, and is now running for the U.S. Senate to unseat incumbent Republican Steve Daines;
  • In ALABAMA, a federal judge ruled that the state may not block counties from offering curbside voting and that witness signature requirements and Photo ID requirements for absentee voters during the COVID-19 pandemic are unconstitutional for certain voters. Their Republican wingnut Sec. of State John Merrill says he will appeal all the way to the stolen Supreme Court if necessary;
  • And in the closely divided battleground of NORTH CAROLINA, a proposed settlement between the state and plaintiffs will allow for absentee ballots to be "cured" by voters if they lack proper signatures; voters will be able to use secured drop-boxes for mail-in votes; and for ballots postmarked by Election Day may be received until November 12. But this week, a letter has been sent by the Trump Campaign to Republican officials on County Boards of Elections instructing them to ignore guidance from the State Board of Elections! The NC SBE has had to send a letter in response to those same officials, warning them that they are required to follow state guidance and that guidance from "a political party or other source should not be considered or followed." The extraordinary situation has led one international expert on election security from Duke University to (accurately) opine: "It comes down to the fact that this President is not actually trying to win this election – this President is trying to not have to concede this election. That’s what going on." That expert is right on the money.

Then, to the extraordinarily disturbing story out of GEORGIA, which our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition of Good Governance, describes as "scandalous". As we reported during Monday's show, last Friday, the Secretary of State's office quietly sent a notice to elections officials in all 159 counties telling them to immediately stop their pre-election "Logic and Accuracy" testing of the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that all voters are currently forced to use at the polling place. The reason, as the office explained, was due to "an error in the November database which will require every county to get a new database for the November 3, 2020 election."

That startling news late on Friday night resulted in an emergency filing by the Coalition with U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, who has been overseeing their long-running lawsuit to block the use of unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots at the polls. On Monday, Totenberg called an emergency hearing for all parties to the suit, during which the Secretary of State's office and the state's new private vote system vendor and ballot programmer, Dominion Voting, claimed that new databases (which contain the programming for all contests in each county) were not actually needed to correct an error that prevented some U.S. Senate candidates from appearing on the touchscreen in certain cases. In fact, what they planned to do instead was to change the code used on the voting machine software itself, and install new software onto all 34,000 touchscreens in the state. All of this, just days before Early Voting is to begin, and now just over one month before Election Day.

As Marks notes, the new software to be installed on every voting machine in Georgia has not been certified for use --- or even tested --- by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) as required by state law. But this story is even more scandalous in several ways that we discuss on today's program, after another emergency hearing was called by the judge today, following another emergency filing from the Coalition on Wednesday night regarding an apparent change of plans by the Secretary of State.

"It's outrageous. They're wiping all of the software," Marks tells me, and installing "new software that's just been written, has not been tested, and has not been certified by the Elections Assistance Commission. As far as we know, it has not even been submitted for approval. This is federal certification, and Georgia, like most states, is not supposed to be using systems not certified by the federal government."

"They've written this over a weekend, and have not thoroughly tested it. There's been no user testing. The number of things that can go wrong will take up more time than your show permits," she says. "They might as well have gone out and said, 'we're going to buy the Lucy and Ethel software, and put it in.'"

While that is troubling enough, Marks also notes that the programming is not even being done by public state officials, but by private contractors at the Canadian-based firm from whom GA purchased the systems for more than $100 million for first time use this year. "This election has been completely outsourced to Dominion Voting Systems. They are a third party profit-making corporation and, essentially, Georgia has just said, 'Take it and do with it as you will, Dominion!'"

Marks says it is all "outrageous and preposterous," telling me, "Like you, I am shocked that the national media has not picked up on this more, because we're talking about the votes of 7 million voters here."

"I thought that I was beyond having anything that could shock me anymore," she continues. "But I have to say, my jaw is still on the floor from this week. And the fact that the media is not covering it, I don't understand. I can only surmise that they are still in disbelief. Maybe the facts just aren't fully out yet. That's the only thing I can come up with. This is scandalous. "

Please tune in for the full story --- there is much more to it. But, suffice to say for now, it IS a scandal that WE have been covering this story and this lawsuit for at least three years, while the mainstream corporate media seems to be ignoring it almost entirely, even with the possibility that the Peach State could flip from red to blue this year in the Presidential race for the first time in decades, and that there is not one, but two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot there this November, both of which are currently held by Republicans and believed to be endangered by Democratic challengers.

Finally, we close today with our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of the surprise --- and surprisingly substantive --- discussion of climate change in this week's otherwise off-the-rails Presidential Debate in Cleveland, OH...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern on Amy Coney Barrett; Also: GA SoS orders pre-election testing stopped on new, touchscreen voting systems after major errors found affecting all 159 counties...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2020 6:49pm PT  

If you haven't already heard about the huge news regarding Donald Trump's taxes, I strongly recommend you go read it, because it's quite stunning. And yet, we didn't have enough time on today's BradCast to more than wave at that news at the top of the show. That's because the news at the U.S. Supreme Court is about to change this nation for a generation, according to our guest today, and perhaps forever. And not for the better. Also, we've got news that broke late Friday night out of Georgia that you almost certainly haven't heard about, but that is jaw-dropping and could result in an absolute disaster for every voter who chooses to vote at the polls in all 159 counties in the key battleground state this year. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

So, with that encouraging warm up, we turn first to the weekend's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett by Donald Trump to become the sixth rightwing justice on the U.S. Supreme Court following the recent death of progressive icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Before Ginsburg was even buried (her funeral is scheduled later this week), Trump wasted no time in naming Barrett, a proud disciple of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, to the high court. That as more than 20 states are already voting in this year's Presidential election. No nominee has ever been named this close to a Presidential election, and Republicans vow to have her seated before Election Day, even though they refused to even give Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing after Scalia died almost 300 days before the 2016 election. Republicans claimed at the time that "the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," since voting had already begun in the primaries that year. At the same time, as multiple polls make clear, huge majorities of Americans believe whoever is elected in November should be the one to name the next Justice to SCOTUS.

While disingenuous, duplicitous, dishonest, hypocritical Republicans lied in 2016 about that, they couldn't care less in 2020. So they are planning to ram Barrett through the confirmation process as quickly as possible, according to our guest today, Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN, so that she will be seated in time for the Court to throw the election to Trump as needed. "Donald Trump has selected her for the express purpose of handing him the election by nullifying enough Democratic votes to secure him a second term," Stern makes clear at the outset. "He has said that out loud on multiple occasions. We have every reason to believe that was his chief criterion in selecting Barrett."

Beyond that, as to what Barrett's vote on the Court on other issues will mean for this nation, for health care, for abortion rights, for gun rights, for voting rights, for the environment, for LGBTQ rights, for immigration rights and much more, Stern pulls no punches today. The outlook is bleak. Very bleak.

"She is going to allow states to ban abortion, to punish and prosecute women who terminate their pregnancies, and even to let Congress ban abortion nationwide so that no state can give people access to the procedure," Stern details in his no-uncertain-terms litany of what Americans can expect under a 6 to 3 Court led by Barrett. "She isis against almost any kind of gun control law, including basic gun safety laws that keep violent criminals from obtaining firearms. ... She does not believe in the right to vote. She believes that states should be able to strip individuals of their right to participate in democracy for arbitrary and discriminatory reasons. ... She does not support LGBTQ equality. She rejects the idea of same-sex marriage. She does not even believe it's real marriage, so far as we can tell. ... She is going to strip our federal laws of all environmental and labor regulations that have any effect. She is going to abolish the federal government's ability to regulate carbon emissions, mercury, lead, to protect workers from labor exploitation," he explains before summing up: "She is going to remake this entire country's law in a way that might satisfy a robber baron of the 1800s, but will make every one else feel --- rightly --- like they're living in the dark ages."

Other than that, she's great! Actually, that's just a partial list of what he says should be expected if/when she is confirmed.

But he's equally clear about what he sees as the only way that Democrats --- and the nation itself --- can now be preserved. And that is the expansion of the Supreme Court with the addition of 4 more seats to restore the Court majority to liberals who should rightly have it after the GOP stole the Court majority from them in 2016. Presuming Dems take the White House and Senate majority this year, Stern argues: "Nothing else the Democrats do is going to matter if they don't begin here first. This is it. This is the test. If Democrats fail this, there might not be any coming back from it."

Would such a "radical" move make things worse? Will it lead to an endless cycle of SCOTUS Wars and the delegitimization of the Court itself? Stern speaks to all of that and much more today. Please tune in.

Then, the news that you almost certainly haven't heard out of Georgia. On Friday night, the Secretary of State's office informed elections officials in all 159 counties that they should immediately stop pre-election testing of the state's brand-new, $100 million, unverifiable touch-screen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting system due to what Election Director Chris Harvey described in an email as "an error in the November database which will require every county to get a new database for the November 3, 2020 election."

"I am very sorry to have to tell you this," Harvey continued, somewhat understating how serious this matter is. "I know that everyone is working as hard as they can to be prepared. We will do everything we can to minimize the delay this will cause. I will give you an update Monday on any ETA for your new database."

While it's still unclear when the corrected databases (or whatever the problem actually is) will be available, the Coalition for Good Governance, which has a long-running federal lawsuit to block the use of the state's new unveriflable touchscreen voting systems --- which every voter in the state is forced to use at the polling place, instead of safer, verifiable, hand-marked paper ballots --- filed a motion on Friday night explaining to the court that it is simply too late to properly test the 80,000 or so separate pieces of the system, as required by law, before Early Voting begins in two weeks.

"[U]nder the current plan," the Coalition spells out in the filing, pre-election "Logic and Accuracy testing is required for 34,000 touchscreens, 34,000 BMD [Ballot Marking Device] printers, 8,600 pollPads [electronic pollbooks], 3,800 precinct scanners, and 175 high volume mail ballot scanners," adding that "A far more manageable, realistic, and safe solution for an orderly and defensible November election is to use hand marked paper ballots instead of the BMD touchscreens and printers, while maintaining a single BMD in every polling place for accessibility needs, to satisfy the requirements of HAVA [the federal Help America Vote Act]."

The federal judge who found the state's previous, 20-year old touchscreen systems to be unsecure, unverifiable and, therefore, unconstitutional, is set to make a ruling at any moment on whether the new systems are equally unconstitutional and should be banned like the old ones were last year. She called all the parties in the case to an emergency hearing on Monday following Friday's stunning news, placing into question whether the state will be able to use the systems at all this November.

We will have much more on this disturbing story as it develops in coming days. But this is just another reason why it is insane to use these types of systems in any election, much less the most critical one in this nation's history. In addition to the entire state of Georgia --- a key battleground state this year --- similar unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device systems are being used for the first time this year in many of the most Democratic-leaning counties in key battleground states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, among others, not to mention Los Angeles County in California, the most populous voting jurisdiction in the nation...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Hurricane Sally drenches AL, FL; Results from 2020's final primary in DE...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2020 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last year, a federal judge in Georgia banned the state's 20-year old, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, finding them to be "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated" and, thus, effectively unconstitutional for use in federal elections. This week, that same federal judge held a hearing to determine whether the new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems Georgia has chosen to use this year for the first time are any better, or whether the Peach State should have listened to the cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged the state to move, instead, to a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, Hurricane Sally slammed ashore near the Alabama / Florida border this morning. As predicted, the very slow moving storm is packing a punch, with rainfall "measured in feet, not inches swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people as it pushed inland." Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on that slow moving disaster as water is quickly rising, rescues continue, the storm moves into Georgia, and as more hurricanes are already lining up behind it in an already record breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which still continues until late November!)

Even as that climate change-intensified disaster unfolds on the heels of Hurricane Laura just three weeks ago (with thousands still without power and in shelters in Louisiana), along with the record deadly climate-fueled wildfires out west, Donald Trump has chosen --- amid all of this --- a notorious climate science denier for a top position on "environmental observation and prediction" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If those stories don't underscore the existential importance of this year's elections, we don't know what would.

On that score, the final state Primary Elections of the 2020 season were held on Tuesday in Joe Biden's adopted home state of Delaware, with most ballots cast by mail, and with both masks and social distancing in place at the polls. Happily, there have been no reported voting problems to come to my attention yet and, as expected, there were few surprises in the reported computer-tallied results. Some of them, however, are either eyebrow raising, historic, or just plain fun. Among those categories is the QAnon conspiracist who is now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state; the first openly transgender person to (almost certainly) win a seat in a state Senate; and the 12-year, Democratic state legislator who opposed same-sex marriage being beaten soundly on Tuesday --- in a landslide --- by a local, gay, progressive drag queen!

And with the primaries finally (and thankfully!) out of the way, we move straight to the general elections and back to Georgia, which Democrats hope to flip from red to blue in the Presidential election this year for the first time in decades. But it's also a state where not one, but two vulnerable Republican U.S. Senators are facing tough re-election challenges from Democrats.

There is a lot riding politically on the state of Georgia this year, which makes this week's much-anticipated three-day virtual hearing in an Atlanta federal court all the more critical. When the second day of the three-day hearing which wrapped up this week, regarding the security of the state's vulnerable new computer voting, pollbook and tabulation systems was interrupted --- "Zoom bombed" --- with photos of the 9/11 attacks, swastikas and pornography posted by a user calling him or herself "Osama", it would have been impossible for U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg to miss the irony.

"It was a very sobering reminder of just how vulnerable electronics are, and just how targeted the United States and our elections are right now," says MARILYN MARKS, our guest today. She is Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, a lead plaintiff in the long-running case. She says it served as a reminder of the need to "get hand-marked paper ballots that are verifiable and auditable."

The Coalition is suing for a ruling that would find Georgia's new, unverifiable, $100+ million touchscreen voting system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting Systems to be an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. That would be a similar finding to the one Totenberg issued last year, effectively banning and decertifying the state's 20-year use of its previous insecure, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold.

In addition to hoping to see those systems replaced with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, the Coalition is asking the judge to order backup paper pollbooks at every polling place, after the new electronic pollbook systems failed during the state's June primary elections, leading to hours-long lines, largely in minority voting districts. The plaintiffs are also calling for oversight of the state's optical-scan tabulation systems which failed to tally thousands of votes on absentee ballots during the state's recent primaries. (We interviewed Jeanne DuFort, who discovered that problem, and is also a plaintiff in this case on several recent programs.)

Marks shares her observations from this week's hearings, including on the testimony and cross-examination of the Coalition's cybersecurity and voting systems expert witnesses (many of whom have also appeared multiple times on this show, including Univ. of Michigan's Alex Halderman, UC-Berkley's Philip Stark, expert data researcher Kevin Skoglund and legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti). Similarly, Marks offers her thoughts on the state's, um, less-than-expert witnesses and responds to a number of allegations made by the attorney representing Georgia and its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, who selected this new, "Rube Goldberg" computerized voting system despite the urging of experts and voters alike.

Among the stunning points noted by Marks was the testimony from the man who led the certification testing of this system for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Marks reports the witness seemed "quite confused about the technology" and "admitted to having no real security background and not really any long-term established security people on his team." She says his testimony "made it clear that security is really not a top priority for the certification of voting systems" at the federal level, adding, "It was really kind of unbelievable."

While transcripts may be available from the hearing soon (we'll update with a link to them here when they are), Marks noted some portions will be redacted, since the state argued privately in front of the judge on certain issues that even the plaintiffs were not allowed to witness. (Though I wonder whether "Osama" did?)

"The public learned a lot from these expert witnesses about just how seriously vulnerable the Georgia election system is," she tells me. "The expert witnesses gave extremely compelling testimony during the direct examination by our attorneys. But when the state's attorneys got them up on the stand for cross-examination, they were equally strong. Quite frankly, the state was really not able to get in any type of evidence --- because there is none --- that would help get anyone comfortable with their equipment."

When it came to the witnesses from the state and the voting system vendors, she says, her attorneys explained to the court that those "experts have not been able to tell the court just the basic fundamental operational and security details --- the plaintiffs have been the ones who bring all the information. The state basically had no one with any independence. Every expert witness they had had a financial interest in ballot-marking devices. Two of the expert witnesses are [voting system] vendors, three of the expert witnesses are vendors of ballot-marking device suppliers. So they were hardly considered independent, at least by the laymen who were watching."

While Marks says she does not know when Totenberg will issue her ruling, it is likely to be soon. Reports from the virtual courtroom via AP suggest Judge Totenberg appeared concerned by points made by the plaintiffs and may be forced to implement changes --- if she determines there is time to do so with Early Voting beginning in just four weeks in the Peach State. Marks believes there is plenty of time to make the state's elections more secure and overseeable, though the state begs to differ. Soon we'll learn how the Judge feels.

During closing arguments, according to AP's coverage, Robert McGuire, an attorney for the Coalition and individual voter plaintiffs, "recalled Totenberg's prior admonitions to the state" by noting that "Totenberg previously told the state that a new voting system should address the need for 'transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes that guarantee each citizen's fundamental right to cast an accountable vote.'" But the state's new computerized Ballot Marking Device system "satisfies none of these requirements," McGuire said...

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Guests: Lulu Friesdat and Robin Gibson on activist efforts to urge CA Sec. of State to mitigate most dangerous elements of $300M computer voting machines before certification and critical 2020 general election...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We make short work (for now) of several breaking news stories from over the weekend and into today. Then its straight on to our main story today, which you will hear nowhere else in the media. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below summary.]

In January, we broke the news here on The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast that Los Angeles County's brand-new, unverifiable, $300 million, 10-years-in-development touchscreen polling place voting system had failed to meet more than 40 different California Voting System Standards, according to independent certification testers hired by CA's Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Despite critical security issues that alarmed voting system and cybersecurity experts, the machines were nonetheless "conditionally certified" by Padilla just prior to the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary in the state. The new machines (known as Ballot Marking Devices or BMDs) and the electronic pollbooks that are required to work with them, both failed spectacularly. Voters were disenfranchised by the "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system, as many across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction were either turned away or forced to wait for hours in line to vote.

It was well after midnight before all of those still in line finally cast their votes on Super Tuesday. It was, of course, impossible to know if any of those votes were tallied as per any voter's intent, because BMD systems print out a computer-marked paper ballot which may or may not reflect the actual intent of any voter. It's impossible to know if results are accurate in any election that uses BMDs for the majority of voters. Recent studies [PDF] find that more than 90% of voters do not notice when a BMD has misprinted one or more of their votes on the paper printout.

After the March 3rd disaster in L.A. (which we had warned about long in advance, to little interest from media or public officials, even from the L.A. County Supervisors, much less Sec. Padilla) the system's brainchild, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, was allowed a mulligan. He promised to fix what didn't work before the November election and told us all to simply trust him. Next time would be better. Many in the media then lost whatever interest they had as it was just weeks after Super Tuesday that COVID pandemic struck hard.

Well, now Padilla has recently posted the new certification testing results from Logan's mulligan, VSAP 2.1. The results do not inspire confidence, as many of the same problems with the system originally --- such as paper jams and misprinted QR Codes {PDF] --- still exist, according to testers. Now Padilla must decide in the next two weeks whether or not to certify them again. In truth, he has little choice as Early Voting is now just weeks away. While the state's decision to send every active voter a Vote-by-Mail ballot may help to ease many of the potential log jams at the county's new Voting Centers, ballots cast on the new systems --- as opposed to verifiable hand-marked paper absentee ballots --- are still vulnerable to manipulation and can never been known to reflect voter intent after the polls close.

However, there are some things that Padilla could require to be done to mitigate some of the worst dangers of the system if it is to be used for this year's critical November election. Several dozen election integrity and activist groups, along with a number of esteemed cybersecurity and voting systems experts, recently signed on to an excellent public letter led by the California Clean Money Campaign, demanding Padilla implement a number of the mitigations before certifying the updated voting systems.

We're joined today by LULU FRIESDAT, co-founder of SmartElections.us and ROBIN GIBSON, longtime Los Angeles Election Integrity advocate, to discuss those potential mitigations and the one-and-only public comments hearing held today online before Padilla's pending decision to certify. They report that Padilla did not bother to attend, though Logan, apparently, came by near the end of the session to claim that everything is now working fine. "Our registrar got on the call and dismissed two hours of worried voters, and said he had tests that said it was fine," Gibson explained. "It was like 'I win, nah, nah, nah.'"

As Friesdat and Gibson explain, the citizen advocates and experts are asking in their letter for the ballot boxes attached to each touchscreen tablet system to be removed, so that the computer-printed ballots don't have to pass back through the same printer heads after they've been (theoretically) verified by each voter. Experts warn [PDF] that sending the ballot back through the same printer path after verification is a major security risk, allowing the system to change voters votes, without their knowledge, after they have supposedly already approved their printed ballot. Instead, the group is urging that the attached ballot boxes be removed, and that ballots be deposited manually by voters into a separate ballot box at the polling place, for tabulation later.

The group is also asking Padilla to do away with the unverifiable QR Codes that are printed on each ballot. It is that code --- which can't be verified as accurate by any voter --- that is actually read by the optical-scan computer tabulators to tallly each ballot, rather than the human-readable text print out that voters may or may not have verified! "It is not secure to have the vote encoded in a QR code," Friesdat joins cybsersecurity experts in warning.

Moreover, the groups are calling for real, hand-marked paper ballots to be made available to any and all voters at Voting Centers for voters smart enough to want to cast a verifiable vote. "This is basic," Friesdat insists. "Hand-marked paper ballots are the gold standard that security experts recommend. It's not hard to provide them, and voters should be encouraged to use hand-marked paper ballots if they're able to mark by hand."

They also uge Padilla and Logan to finally release the source code to this supposedly County-owned and developed system. The money appropriated by tax-payers was done on the basis, advanced by both Padilla and Logan, that it would be a fully "open source" system, 100% publicly owned. All of that is also important because elections officials in other states and counties across the country have expressed interest in adopting this exact system if it ever actually works in L.A.

Friesdat and Gibson detail many of their own concerns, as well as others who offered public comment today before we open up the phone lines to listener questions about this terrible new system, just 64 days before Election Day and mere weeks before early voting is set to begin in Los Angeles County...

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Hours-long lines as computer touchscreen and e-pollbook systems fail in CA, TX; TN voted anyway, despite deadly tornadoes in Nashville...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2020 5:57pm PT  

Okay, I gotta make today's BradCast summary really quick, as polls are closing around the country and people are still fighting like hell to cast their votes out here in California. [Audio link to show follows below.]

With 14 states voting in today's critical Super Tuesday elections, voters were once again prevented or absurdly delayed in their attempts to take part. Of all the states holding elections today (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia) only one --- maybe two --- had a good excuse for the failures.

Tennessee was hit with early morning tornadoes, which resulted in at least 25 dead in or near Nashville, with some 15 polling places knocked out by the storms. Voting continued nonetheless in the Volunteer State, as well as in Alabama, which also saw several twisters just as polls opened Tuesday morning.

But what are the excuses for forcing voters to wait in line for hours in places like Austin and Houston, Texas and up and down the great state of California, where almost 700 delegates in total will be awarded towards the 1,991 needed to win a majority for the Democratic Presidential nomination?

In the dozens and dozens of cases emerging throughout the day --- in L.A. County and at least 15 other California counties, not to mention all over Texas --- as covered on today's program (at least as many of them as we could fit in to a single hour!), it was the failure of computer touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbook check-in computers. All of which was completely predictable. And we should know, because we've been predicting it for months and much longer, as long time listeners and readers likely know.

We cover a tsunami of such problems across the country today, particularly in California, where Bloomberg News is reporting tonight that L.A. County is admitting some 20% of the the new voting machines deployed for the first time countywide in this election failed to work today. Yes, these are the brand-new, 100% unverifiable, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting systems (which we've very specifically been a lonely voice in warning about for YEARS --- yes, as long ago as 2010, when I was invited to the first development meeting and gave the very same warnings many others are finally offering today. See my 2013 interview with their brainchild, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, from back before he decided to no longer answer my questions or appear on the program.)

We also open the phones to callers ringing in with their own various nightmarish experience on L.A. County's new systems and we get an update from the polls in Southern California via KPFK News Director ERNESTO ARCE along with much more infuriating madness on today's program. (Including a smear on Twitter from Logan who called me a liar there last night after I had reported on Sunday that a poll worker at the Hollywood Bowl voting center said he was not allowed to speak to the media and that I had to call a special number to ask questions like "Was it busy today?" "Why was this voting center shutdown for hours yesterday?" "Have many voters been seeing their ballots jammed in the new printers, like that woman?" But, of course, I shared the "receipts" to show who was actually lying.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer quitting the Democratic Primary race, the coronavirus' deadly clearing of China's air, and a sad sign of climate change at Yosemite National Park...

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Story details (some of) my concerns about the new $300 million unverifiable touchscreen system in the nation's largest jurisdiction
NOW UPDATED WITH FOLLOW-UP REPORT...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2020 1:31pm PT  

A few days ago, I ran the :30 second preview for this report from David Goldstein of CBS-2 Los Angeles on the new,100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems being deployed to all polling places in Los Angeles County (the nation's most populous) for the first time in the critical 2020 elections. I am seen in the preview responding bluntly to how much confidence voters should have in this new system, as paired with the response to the same question from Goldstein by L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan.

We now have Goldstein's full video report and it's posted below.

The first countywide use of the $300,000,000 system, ten years in development, will be for the upcoming Super Tuesday primary on March 3rd in California. What could possibly go wrong? Well, just ask Iowa.

But, beyond that, I've spent a great deal of time in recent weeks, months (and, yes, years) specifically detailing what could go wrong, from the fact that...

  • these systems were recently "conditionally certified", by CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, despite warnings from experts after they were found to have failed failing to meet more than 40 California Voting Systems Standards;
  • that the computer-marked paper ballots it creates can be changed by the system without voters knowledge after they are supposedly verified by voters and then run back through the same printer path that printed them in the first place;
  • that a recent study found that 93% of voters do not notice when a BMD system has flipped one of their votes;
  • that Los Angeles County is being sued by Beverly Hills because the system only displays four candidates in any given race at a time, which means that voters could hit the NEXT button to go to the next race, without ever seeing all of the voters in the contest (something that is also not a problem when using a more reasonable, sensible, much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system);
  • that this system could result in voters not being able to vote at all, if there is a power or internet outage or ransomware attack;
  • and that even if voters succeed overcoming all of these obstacles and manage to correctly verify the computer hasn't changed their vote, there is till no way for anybody to know after an election, whether any vote has been printed accurately as per any voter's intent!

That's just some of the concerns about these systems --- and they are true for the new system being deployed in L.A. called VSAP for "Voting Solutions for All People", as well as for other similar systems being deployed for the first time this year in critical battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas and elsewhere, for some insane reason.

Anyway, while I'll have more to say about this on today's BradCast later tonight, I'm happy that at least a few corporate media outlets are waking up to these concerns. Too few, if you ask me. Perhaps more will do so after what's happened in Iowa. But, for now, here's the full report now from CBS-2 Los Angeles' David Goldstein, as aired Tuesday evening on the 11 o'clock news.

WATCH...

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




Also: Tragic death of an L.A. icon and listener calls on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2020 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The President's defense team picked up on Monday where they left off on Saturday in their Opening (and potentially Closing) Argument in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump. But that defense was hit with a major bombshell by the New York Times on Sunday which could (emphasis on "could") turn out to be a game-changer for the previously expected course of this trial. [Audio link to program is posted at the end of this summary.]

But first, and before we eventually open the phones today, a few updates on the tragic Sunday death of Los Angeles Lakers' legend and NBC icon Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with his 13-year old daughter and seven others during a helicopter ride on a very foggy day just outside of L.A. While the shocking death of the 41-year old Bryant has reverberated around the globe, the pain of his loss was particularly acute here in Los Angeles yesterday.

In other Los Angeles news with national implications, we've got a bit more information on Friday's "conditional certification" [PDF] by CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla of L.A. County's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first-time use in the upcoming March 3rd Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. Among the updates, we've got a bit more information on the so-called "hand-marked paper ballot" that Padiila has ordered be made available at Voting Centers "for any voter that requests to cast" one. It will, according to the Secretary's mandate, be a "write-in absentee ballot," modeled on the Federal Voting Assistance Program's federal write-in absentee ballot [PDF] --- meant as a ballot of last resort for overseas voters who do not receive a normal absentee ballot in time to cast a vote --- that requires voters to write in all of the names of the offices and candidates for which they would like to vote. As much confusion and chaos as L.A. County's new, $300,000,000 "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP voting system is likely to cause at the polls this year, the provision for a second-rate, hand-marked "write-in ballot" as the only means for casting a hand-marked ballot at the polling place, is likely to make things even more chaotic. We detail that, and a few other points related to the certification of the new system on Friday, despite a newly filed lawsuit and warnings from cybersecurity and voting systems experts after its failure to meet more than 40 California Voting System Standards, according to the independent testers hired to analyze the system during Padilla's certification process.

Next it's on to the President's lawyers' case being presented once again as we went to air today, in the U.S. Senate, where Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr, the Special Prosecutor who recommended impeachment against Bill Clinton for lying about an affair) argued hypocritically that Trump could not Constitutionally be impeached for Abuse of Power (Article 1 of the two Impeachment Articles against him), even though Starr's own recent book on impeachment explains that Abuse of Power was the capstone of Clinton's impeachment case in 1998. That, and his argument that impeachment was just too divisive to put the country through without a bi-partisan political consensus was a bit hard to stomach for those of us old enough to remember the Clinton impeachment.

But the most noteworthy Impeachment-related news today is John Bolton, Trump's former National Security Advisor, reportedly charging in a manuscript of his new book, according to the New York Times, that Trump was directly involved in the unlawful freeze of $391 million allocated to Ukrainian for military assistance, unless the Ukrainians agreed to turn over documents related to an investigation of Joe Biden meant to help Trump's 2020 reelection changes. That alleged Abuse of Power is at the heart of Trump's impeachment, and the manuscript of Bolton's forthcoming book reportedly charges that Attorney General Bill Barr, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and Trump's Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were all directly aware of the scheme, according to the Times blockbuster report.

That explosive news on Sunday has, according to several different news outlets, led a number of key GOP Senators to rethink their previous votes against calling for new witnesses and documents in the Senate Trial. Will four or more Republican Senators now agree to vote in favor of subpoenaing Bolton and other related (and/or unrelated) witnesses? That appears to be the question of the moment in this matter as we go to air today, and one we open up to discuss with callers near the end of today's program...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Schiff's powerful plea; CA Sec. of State 'conditionally certifies' VSAP touchscreens, adds curious 'hand-marked paper ballot' provision, Beverly Hills sues over system's critical flaw...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2020 6:17pm PT  

Our special coverage of Donald John's Trump Senate Impeachment trial continues on today's BradCast, but we interrupt that coverage briefly at the top of today's show with some breaking news out of California, on a story we've been covering closely. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

After we revealed last week that Los Angeles County's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems were found by the Secretary of State's independent testers to have failed to meet more than 40 requirements of the California Voting System Standards, we called on Sec. of State Alex Padilla to deny certification of these horrific systems and to require a verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot system instead for all voters in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. We called on listeners to send Public Comment to the SoS before the Public Comment period for certification ended this past Monday for L.A.'s new $300,00,000 touchscreen "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system.

I sent my own comment and, in doing so, cited a comment from the brainchild behind L.A. County's new voting system, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan. As we noted in that comment, Logan promised me a year ago, in January of 2019 via email, that "The equipment/system components [for VSAP] are/will be … in compliance with California's voting systems standards that exceed the federal voluntary system standards."

That vow from the County's top election official now turns out to have been untrue. Today, incredibly, Sec. Padilla "conditionally" certified [PDF] the VSAP system for first-time countywide use in the March 3rd Super Tuesday primaries, despite all of its many flaws.

He did, however, include a very curious --- and, for now, confusing --- condition, stating that "Los Angeles County shall make available in each vote center a sufficient number of blank write-in paper ballots for any voter that requests to cast a hand-marked paper ballot"...

What that means exactly, and whether this now means that every voter will be able to vote in any party's primary with a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot simply by requesting one at one of the 1,000 new Voting Centers (which replace the 5,000 community precincts we've always used in L.A. in previous years) remains to be seen. I have queries out to both the Secretary and Registrar and will report back whatever I can learn when I do.

In related news, the City of Beverly Hills announced Thursday they will sue the County, due to the fact that the VSAP system, as we explained last week, only shows four candidates in each race, before a voter is required to hit a "MORE" button if they wish to see additional candidates in the same contest. That "MORE" button, however, is very close to the "NEXT" button on the touchscreen, and takes voters to the next race without ever showing them all candidates in the previous one.

Padilla's conditional certification calls for mitigation to this enormous design flaw, but not until five months from now when "a plan" must be presented to the SoS regarding redesigned "functionality and usability". That means this flaw --- and the others --will be there for the critical March 3rd primaries and potentially changed before the crucial Presidential election in November. Whether that design change will actually be independently tested to ensure it has not introduced other problems also remains to be seen. But Beverly Hills, which has an upcoming election for City Council with five candidates on the ballot (one who will be hidden on Page 2 of the touchscreen for this race) has now filed a legal complaint, announcing they "are deeply troubled that voters will be disenfranchised by the new VSAP system."

Then, it's back to the ongoing mess on the East Coast in Trump's Impeachment Trial. We share the powerful and impassioned closing remarks from Thursday night's session from Rep. Adam Schiff. The lead Democratic House Manager spoke directly to Republican Senators about the internal dilemma that many are almost certainly facing in realizing the necessity of removing Trump before he cheats again on the 2020 election as he did in 2016 and, as Democrats have proven beyond a shadow of doubt, that he attempted to do in his unlawful pressure scheme with Ukraine to force them to announce an investigation seeking dirt on Joe Biden and an evidence-free claim about the 2016 election. Sadly, despite the power of those remarks, nobody who watches Fox "News" saw them because, as Media Matters found, the pretend "news" outlet showed live coverage of the actual, historic Senate trial "during its evening programming (between 7 p.m and 11 p.m. EST) for a total of just 22 seconds."

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to help us make sense of the past week of the trial as Democrats wrap up their opening (and perhaps closing) argument; what we can expect from the President's attorneys who begin their own presentation in response on Saturday; our best analysis of what comes next; and why Parton predicts "jury nullification" and believes "shamelessness is their superpower"...

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By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2020 3:07pm PT  


The Public Comment period regarding certification of Los Angeles County's 100% unverifiable new touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) system ends today (Jan. 20th at 5pm PT).

As we have been discussing in great detail recently on The BradCast, the new system failed its independent certification tests, by revealing more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards. Nonetheless, CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla appears set to certify these horrific new unverifiable voting systems anyway in time for its first time county-wide use in the critical March 3rd Super Tuesday Presidential Primaries.

Here is the letter I wrote to the Public Comment address (VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov) earlier today, advising against the certification of these machines and in favor of HAND-MARKED paper ballots instead for all...

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




Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2020 6:45pm PT  

Is Bernie "unelectable" as many well-paid pundits and columnists have argued? We take an evidence based approach to that question on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, with the end of the Public Comment period for certification of Los Angeles County's $300,000,000 boondoggle of a new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system coming to a close next Monday, Jan 20th (Martin Luther King Day holiday!) at 5pm PT, it's great to see Libby Denkmann's comprehensive piece at LAist, on the potential nightmares for L.A. voters in the making. Her piece is headlined "LA's New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried". She picks up on many of the points we highlighted when we broke the story earlier in the week of more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards discovered by the independent testing team hired by the CA Sec. of State during the certification process.

We also follow up on Denkmann's scoop from earlier in the week, regarding the Beverly Hills City Council's recent vote to explore a lawsuit against Los Angeles County because the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system forces voters to notice a "MORE" button if they wish to see more than the first four candidates listed on the ballot in any particular race. That button is right next to the "NEXT" button that would take voters to the next race without seeing all of the candidates in the current race. A listener writes in with a couple of solutions to that huge design flaw on these incredibly expensive "electric pens" that L.A. is investing in, instead of a much cheaper, much more secure and reliable, overseeable HAND-MARKED paper ballot system.

Then, with many in the pundit class helpfully informing us that candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are just too progressive to be elected in the 2020 general election (many of these same pundits also told us Donald Trump could never be elected, by the way), we take an evidence-based look at those claims.

The question, however, begins with dismantling the notion that pack journalism and "conventional wisdom" on such matters should be trusted. For example, conventional wisdom tells us that members of the active-duty military will be big supporters of Trump's again this year. Actual evidence, such as the annual opinion poll of active-duty subscribers to Military Times, reveals a very different set of data than that presented by much of the media. That poll, taken at the end of last year, finds that half of respondents view Trump unfavorably, with 45% viewing him "VERY unfavorably". His overall ratings have dropped dramatically since the military publication's first annual poll in 2016. Moreover a plurality back impeachment for their Commander-in-Chief! (And today's Washington Post story on Trump railing at his Generals as "a bunch of dopes and babies" probably won't help him much either.)

In fact, as we discuss with our guest, historian, author and election fraud investigator RICHARD HAYES PHILLIPS, nobody really knows anything. At least when it comes to the paid pundits substituting their opinions for actual facts. Phillips published a fact-based analysis of the questions regarding Sanders electability at The BRAD BLOG on Friday, based on known raw numbers from the 2016 primary (with a particular eye on the "Blue Wall" states of WI, MN, PA, MI, IA and OH) and what can be gleaned from opinion polls today.

While avoiding punditry and predictions, Phillips' findings --- at least based on what we know at this time --- suggest that Sanders is, indeed, electable. Whether he would still be by the time Republicans got finished with him, or whether he is more electable than someone like Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, remains unknown no matter what the TV talking heads tell you. "Take your pick," he tells me when I ask whether his analysis today will hold up even after Trump and the GOP media turn their fire on Sanders if we wins the Democratic nomination. "Which three words do you want to hear Donald Trump say over and over again in the same sentence 10,000 times? Do you want to hear 'Biden Ukraine corrupt'? Do you want to hear 'Bernie crazy socialist'? Do you want to hear 'Pocahontas crazy socialist'? I don't even want to think about what he would say about Pete Buttigieg. I'm not going to go there."

Noting that his work "is based upon numbers and not opinions," he suggests voters should vote for who they like in the primary and forget about "electability", before adding his key takeaway: "The lesson to this is that the most important thing that Democrats can do is to unite behind the winner and not split the opposition. Trump's best scenario is a 3rd party candidate on the Left siphoning enough votes from whoever wins the Democratic nomination to throw the election to Trump."

Phillips argues: "My advice is that Democrats should not be afraid of a spirited primary contest between two or more viable candidates. What they need to do, as recent polling data also reveal, is united behind the ultimate winner. You can't just take your ball and go home and mope because your candidate didn't get the nomination. That's what Trump wants you to do."

It is certainly true that Republicans will say anything, do anything, to win the general election against whichever Democratic candidate ends up winning the nomination. We close with one amazingly audacious recent clip from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Fox "News" that underscores precisely that point...

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