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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 23, 2024
'First Domino Falls' in UAW Effort to Unionize the South: 'BradCast' 4/22/24
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Guest: Plaintiff advisor Susan Greenhalgh of Free Speech for People; Also: Trump case delays; U.S. retaliation in Middle East; Deluge in SoCal...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2024 6:28pm PT  

The long-awaited trial over Georgia's vulnerable voting systems has finally come to a close. As reported on today's BradCast: Last month, one of the plaintiffs' experts demonstrated in court that the state's vulnerable touchscreen voting systems can be hacked in about 5 seconds by one person, with nothing more than a ballpoint pen. And the state, for its part, defended itself by demonstrating that apparently nobody --- nobody! --- is in charge of cybersecurity for the statewide computerized voting systems used by every voter at every polling place in the critical battleground state. [Audio link to full story follows below this summary.]

After a few quick news updates at the top of the show --- including on the climate change-fueled atmospheric river raining down on us out here in Southern California today --- we're joined LIVE in studio by Free Speech for People's Senior Advisor on Election Security, SUSAN GREENHALGH, on the heels of the three-week civil trial in federal court that finally wrapped up late last month.

The case, originally filed way back in 2017, is called Curling v. Raffensperger. Plaintiffs are election integrity experts (real ones, not pretend Trump ones) challenging the use of Georgia's touchscreen voting systems, hoping to force the state to move from vulnerable, unverifiable touchscreens to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots before the 2024 Presidential election. Greenhalgh has been advising plaintiffs in the case for a number of years. She was in the courtroom in Atlanta last month for much of the trial which began on January 9 and ended just over a week ago. (Daily court transcripts for each day of the trial are now posted here.)

The suit is led by the Coalition for Good Governance, a non-partisan election watchdog group headed up by frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks. It was during the course of pre-trial discovery that Marks discovered that Trump-lawyer Sidney Powell, and others on Team Trump, actually organized a scheme to breach the statewide voting systems in the Coffee County, GA elections office beginning on January 7th, 2021. The were given access to the systems by the local elections supervisor at the time and proceeded to copy its sensitive software before distributing it to parts unknown across the Internet. The unprecedented breach of GA's touchscreen voting systems and the central Election Management System (EMS), was never actually investigated by Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office. It did, however, result in criminal charges against five co-conspirators among the 18 others charged along with Donald Trump in Fulton County, GA's broad felony indictment for his failed attempt to steal the state's 2020 Presidential election.

This civil case, however --- filed in federal court long before Trump pretended to have won the 2020 election --- seeks only to end the use of the state's vulnerable Dominion touchscreen systems. During the course of the trial, the plaintiff's expert, Dr. Alex Halderman, long time cybersecurity and voting system expert from the University of Michigan, demonstrated how he could take over control of one of the voting machines with little more than a ballpoint pen, without violating any of Georgia's security protocols or so-called "tamper evident security seals." In just seconds, Halderman revealed to the court how he could achieve "Super User Access" on the machines, allowing a bad guy to insert malware or take over any other number of system functions in that administrative mode. (Halderman has made clear he has found no evidence of fraud in GA's 2020 election.)

During the course of the trial, as Greenhalgh reports today, the state's Election Director conceded he didn't even know such a hack was possible, despite a detailed report Halderman submitted in the case several years ago. The State Election Director, apparently, never bothered to read it.

The State, however, for its part, maintains their systems are completely secure, despite a mountain of expert evidence to the contrary. Sec. of State Raffensperger is responsible for mandating the use of these machines for every voter at every polling place in the state. That, after the same judge in the same case, back in 2019, banned the use of the state's 20-year old touchscreens made by Diebold. Rather than move to hand-marked paper ballots, Raffensperger ignored the advise of cybersecurity and voting system experts and replaced the old Diebold touchscreens with new ones made by Dominion, with many of the same (and additional!) security flaws as the old systems.

During the course of the trial, as Greenhalgh breaks down today, nobody from the Office of Sec. of State was willing to identify who was in charge of cybersecurity for the 35,000 voting machines used across Georgia. "There was a bit of a 'Who's On First' routine" during the trial, she explains. The State Election Director, for example, testified that cybersecurity was the job of the State's Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO, however, testified that wasn't part of his portfolio, pointing back at the State Election Director. Raffensperger's office finally seemed to have settled on Dominion as the ones who were in charge of cybersecurity for Dominion voting systems in GA, the same company who created the vulnerable systems in the first place. "The Fox guarding the hen-house," quipped Greenhalgh.

Nobody from Dominion testified during the trial, she explained. And Raffensperger was similarly allowed to avoid testimony after appealing the District Court's mandate to do so up to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which allowed him off the hook just days before the trial finally got underway. That, as his offices refuses to apply security patches urgently recommended by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) based on the information in Halderman's report on GA's voting systems.

During the course of the trial, the judge, says Greenhalgh, cited "inconsistent candor" of state officials. As to the Coffee County Breach, she notes, the Sec. of State's "investigator got up on the stand and, under oath, said, 'I was told to hold off and not investigate.' He was asked specifically: 'So, did you perform any investigation activities?' 'No.' 'Did anyone else?' 'No, not to my knowledge...No, there was no investigation.'"

As you can tell, there is much to discuss with Greenhalgh on today's sorta mind-blowing edition of The BradCast, after the State's Defense rested and we now await a verdict from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg. That ruling could finally come...well, whenever. No rush. The Presidential Primary in Georgia is on Super Tuesday, March 5, exactly one month from today. Is it possible a ruling could come in time to save the 2024 general election this November?

We discuss all of that and much more with Greenhalgh on today's program. Buckle up...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Critics charge state laws block him from doing so, even if he wanted to...
By Douglas Lucas on 7/5/2023 11:24am PT  

Despite newly revealed cybersecurity flaws in Georgia's statewide touchscreen voting systems; a weeks-long breach by right-wing operatives of the sensitive voting and tabulation software used across the state; and a growing clamor by both the public and state officials for decisive action to try to plug some of these vulnerabilities before next year's Presidential election, all evidence obtained by The BRAD BLOG to date suggests Georgia's Secretary of State has little interest in taking any action at all. At least not before next year's critical contests in the battleground state.

Even if Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did want to take action, we have learned, he has yet to even begin necessary steps toward state certification of Dominion Voting Systems' newly created software said to remedy some of the recently disclosed cybersecurity flaws. Moreover, well-informed critics argue any software upgrades to the state's touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) would still result in violations of fundamental legal requirements for the state's voting systems.

The path toward nailing down what Raffensperger's office is or isn't doing; what they may or may not do under state law; and what they are or aren't telling the public about all of it has been an odyssey over the past days, amid misleading discussion with a representative of the Secretary's office, contrary information from an official at one of the country's few certified independent voting system test labs, and a curious admission by a representative for Dominion, the state's election system vendor.

The only thing fully clear as of now: Despite calls from cybersecurity and elections experts to mend Georgia's insecure, unverifiable voting systems before next year's Presidential contest, the state insists they will not be upgrading the Dominion voting software until 2025. What has become clearer to us in recent days is that the Secretary of State cannot upgrade the systems legally, at this point, even if he wanted to --- which, evidently, he does not...

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

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Guest: Election expert Dr. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley; Also: More Alito corruption; More on the 'single most important constitutional case for American Democracy since the Nation's Founding'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2023 6:40pm PT  

Yup. We're heading back to the critical battleground state of Georgia again on today's BradCast, as their ridiculous Sec. of State gets ridiculouser in his indefensible defenses of his ridiculously vulnerable, brand-new touchscreen voting systems which he is still refusing to upgrade, despite warnings from the federal government and increasing urging from voting system and cybersecurity experts. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST, a few more quick words on yesterday's landmark U.S. Supreme Court opinion [PDF] in Moore v. Harper, in which Chief Justice John Roberts and two Trump-appointed Justices joined with the Court's three liberals to put the kibosh, hopefully once and for all, on the bonkers, so-called Independent State Legislature theory pushed by far-rightwingers. Had SCOTUS given a majority blessing to the fringe Constitutional theory giving complete, unreviewable say over all federal election laws to State Legislatures, it would have wreaked indescribable havoc on some 250 years of election laws across all 50 states. It would also have given authority to those State Legislatures to overturn Presidential elections by selecting slates of electors not chosen by state voters!

As one of the nation's most conservative and respected former federal judges, Michael Luttig, tweeted today: "It would be impossible to overstate the [enormousness] of yesterday's seminal decision in Moore v. Harper. Not only is it now the single most important constitutional case for American Democracy since the Nation's Founding almost 250 years ago. ... It is also now one of the most important constitutional cases for representative government in America. ... Today, it takes its deserved place in the pantheon of great Supreme Court cases that give meaning to the Constitution's genius of a separation of powers --- among the national Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary, and also between the national government and the governments of the respective 50 states of the United States."

But there were three Justices who voted in the minority in that case. As it turns out, all three of them were recently highlighted by investigate journalists for their, shall we say, dubious ethics practices. Clarence Thomas (see here, here, here and here), Neil Gorsuch (see here), and Sam Alito (see here).

In addition to Alito's undisclosed, luxury fishing trip to Alaska on the private jet (and dime) of GOP megadonor and vulture capitalist billionaire Paul Singer, as revealed by ProPublica last week, this week The Intercept offers a new story shedding some fresh light on Alito's years of climate change-denialism and his Court decisions on behalf of the oil and gas industry.

NEXT UP, it's back to Georgia, where Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger is reportedly giving testimony in Atlanta today to prosecutors working on Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe of the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the other myriad ways in which Team Trump attempted to steal the 2020 Presidential Election. (One of those ways included Donald Trump's now-infamous phone call to Raffensperger, attempting to strongarm him to "find" the 11,780 votes he would have needed to flip the state's results from the winner, Joe Biden.)

But where Raffy has been seen as a hero by some for refusing to roll over to Trump after the 2020 election, we have explained for years that he is anything but. Now, he's under fire for the massive vulnerabilities discovered by cybersecurity and voting system experts in his new, $150 million Dominion touchscreen voting systems, and for his refusal, as first reported by The BRAD BLOG in mid-May, to install Dominion's security patches to them before the 2024 Presidential election. That, despite urgent warnings from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and many longtime election experts and computer scientists.

Now, Raffensperger's office is going on the offensive, attacking those experts as "paranoiacs and conspiracists", attempting to conflate them with the rightwing, Sidney Powell-organized MAGA loons who tried to steal the election in 2020 and breached the state's voting systems in Coffee County, GA on January 7th, 2021, the day after the Trump-insighted insurrection in D.C.

"The paranoiacs and conspiracists of the world have their beliefs reinforced when they read reports of theoretical 'vulnerabilities' that fail to mention the real-world security measures already in place," sniped Mike Hassinger, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office, to Politico last week. "If the PhDs don’t like being put in the same category as the Pillow salesman, tough noogies," he actually said. "They should stop saying similar things."

We're joined today by one of those paranoiac conspiracist PhD's on today's program. Our guest is DR. PHILIP STARK, Professor at University of California, Berkeley; inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit protocol; Advisory Board member at the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) and advisor to plaintiffs in the long-running Curling v. Raffensperger lawsuit in Georgia seeking to replace the state's new vulnerable and unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots. (The same plaintiffs in the same federal lawsuit were able to win an order from the judge in 2019 that banned the state's previous touchscreen systems made by Diebold after they were found to be so vulnerable and unverifiable as to be unconstitutional.)

Stark has a few choice words of his own in response to both the obnoxious and un-scientific remarks from the Sec. of State's office as well as Dominion, both of whom have been blasting the damning Halderman Report, as created on behalf of plaintiffs in Curling and finding at least nine alarming vulnerabilities confirmed by CISA in the Dominion systems. Both the State and private voting system vendor claim that the Univ. of MI's Dr. Alex Halderman failed to take into account, in his report, the physical protections of the state's 70,000 vote system devices. They believe that will adequately protect next year's Presidential election in the battleground state. In doing so, they seem to be pretending that the Coffee County breach by Team Trump in 2021 didn't already run roughshod over the state's voting systems, including by copying and distributing its sensitive, proprietary software over the Internet.

"If [Raffensperger's] spokesperson can't tell the difference between what we're saying and what the [MAGA] group is saying, then they are not competent to do their job," charges Stark.

"There is a world of difference between 'This system is Swiss cheese from a perspective of security, it's really vulnerable and you need to harden it,' and 'The election was rigged and the wrong person was announced to have won.' That's just not the same claim at all. Secondly, the idea that we should stop pointing out vulnerabilities and trying to improve the trustworthiness of voting systems because someone might twist our words --- the argument seems to be 'You should lie to people in order to increase their trust in you' --- that seems to be perverse. What we want is justified public trust in the outcome of elections."

He summarizes some of the most noteworthy concerns from the Halderman Report --- detailing the ease by which malware can be implanted into the system by a single voter via any one of the state's 35,000 touchscreen voting machines or by one person at the County level who can infect every machine in the jurisdiction --- before explaining how inadequate and naive the Secretary's responses have been.

Both Raff's office and Dominion cite a competing study to Halderman's commissioned by Dominion from a group named MITRE. Their unsigned report was created without access to the Dominion machines, unlike Halderman's report, and offers the misleading claim that physical security of the voting systems is likely adequate to prevent exploitation of the vulnerabilities meticulously documented by Halderman. Stark is among nearly 30 election experts now calling on MITRE to retract their report on that basis and others.

"First of all, they're just wrong," Stark charges, wondering what their instructions may have been from Dominion. "I conjecture that they were told to assume that those [physical] protections were in place. I doubt that they did any independent research to determine whether in fact there were effective protections in place."

"I liken this to saying it's completely fine to drive a car on bald tires, as long as you have a policy of only driving straight on dry pavement and never turning sharply, or applying the brakes. Except that's not how it actually works in practice. And here, it's very, very clear that the assumption that there is rigorous physical security around these devices is just not true."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Prof. Richard DeMillo of Georgia Tech's College of Cybersecurity; Also: MI's failed SoS candidate, now state GOP chair, sanctioned for bogus 2022 election lawsuit in Detroit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2023 6:15pm PT  

We have been reporting for at least two years now on the analysis by the plaintiffs' expert in a Georgia voting system lawsuit said to reveal vulnerabilities so alarming that the U.S. District Court judge overseeing the federal case actually sealed the report, even from the plaintiffs themselves! On today's BradCast, that report is finally unsealed. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But, first up, just a quick reminder of what some folks on the right seem willing to do to try and game elections anyway they can possibly think of, even if it involves the Republican candidate for Secretary of State in Michigan using nonsense claims to sue to prevent voters in the state's largest city (Detroit) from being allowed to vote by mail. That's what Trump-endorsed SoS candidate Kristina Karamo did last year, before losing to the incumbent Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson by nearly 15 points. After losing, the conspiracy theorist Karamo "failed up" to be elected as GOP state chair. And, this week, she and several top state Republican lawyers and candidates were sanctioned for more than $58,000 for their wildly frivolous attempt to use the state courts to steal the 2022 election.

Meanwhile, some of us actual election integrity advocates continue to fight for actual election integrity that doesn't prevent any legal voter from casting a vote, and that attempts to make sure that all of those votes are known to have been counted as per every voter's intent.

Which brings us back to Georgia once again today, and the lawsuit that we have been covering for years now. In 2019 it resulted in a federal judge banning the state's 20-year old Diebold touchscreens after finding them to be (as we'd long argued), insecure and unverifiable. Shamefully, the state's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger defied the no-uncertain-terms advice from the nation's top voting system and cybersecurity experts and replaced them with new unverifiable touchscreen systems in 2020, rather than a simple, inexpensive, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems. Instead, Raffensperger purchased a $150 million touchscreen system made by Dominion with many of the very same vulnerabilities as the state's old Diebold touchscreens.

Frequent BradCast guest, Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance, a plaintiff in the case that succeeded in banning the old Diebold systems, expanded the suit to challenge Raffensperger's new Dominion systems, seeking to ban them as well (other than for disabled voters who wish to use them) in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The expert for plaintiffs in the so-called Curling case, Dr. J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan, was then allowed to examine the new Dominion touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) systems. His report, however, finding multiple vulnerabilities was said to be so damning that it was sealed by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg and kept from both plaintiffs and the public for the past two years.

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) --- which oversees the nation's critical infrastructure, including computerized voting and tabulation systems --- was allowed to review Halderman's sealed report last year. They were so alarmed they issued an advisory citing “vulnerabilities...that should be mitigated as soon as possible.” And yet, as we reported exclusively on The BradCast last month, even though Dominion has now completed and certified the necessary upgrades, Raffensperger's office has told Judge Totenberg that they plan to wait until 2025 --- after the critical 2024 Presidential election in the battleground state --- to install the security enhancements on the state's 35,000 voting machines and more than 35,000 printers, scanners, and election management computers that support them.

All of that is made even more alarming by the fact that the day after the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol --- as we have also been reporting on in detail over the past year --- a group of MAGA folks, organized by Trump attorney Sidney Powell, were allowed by members of Georgia's Republican Party and the Coffee County Board of Elections to breach the Dominion voting systems in the small rural county to make unlawful copies of the system software before distributing it over the Internet. It was part of a multi-state scheme that we now know to have been hatched in Trump's Oval Office in December of 2020. The matter is believed to be under investigation as part of the broad conspiracy probe by Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis into Trump's efforts to steal the state's election in 2020. But, in the meantime, the Coffee County breach has allowed these lawless rightwingers to find and potentially plan to exploit all of the vulnerabilities that Halderman discovered and lawfully documented two years ago.

These same flawed Dominion systems are also now used in more than a dozen states, though only Georgia mandates that every county use the same system and requires that every voter at every polling place cast their vote on one of these terrible, unverifiable touchscreens.

Which brings us to today's very big news. The U.S. District Judge overseeing the Curling case has finally allowed Halderman's report to be unsealed! It is now posted here along with a simplified, summarized analysis of his own report that he has now published here. The Coalition for Good Governance's press release and additional context on the unsealing is here. (They all take care to note that Halderman's report neither alleges nor supports any claims of election fraud in the 2020 election.)

Among just some of the report's disturbing findings, according to Halderman today: "We discovered vulnerabilities in nearly every part of the system ... The most critical problem we found is [a] vulnerability that can be exploited to spread malware from a county's central election management system to every BMD [touchscreen Ballot Marking Device] in the jurisdiction. This makes it possible to attack the BMDs at scale, over a wide area, without needing physical access to any of them."

He adds, "Our report explains how attackers could exploit the flaws we found to change votes or potentially even affect election outcomes in Georgia."

One vulnerability allows an attacker to simply place a USB drive into a slot to install malicious code that could modify the election definition file to change election results. Another allows voters to print as many ballots as they like. Another allows malware to change both QRCodes printed on the ballots, which are used by the system to tally votes, and to even change the text of the printed ballots themselves.

We're joined today to discuss all of this by longtime cybersecurity and voting system expert RICHARD DEMILLO, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he recently founded Georgia Tech's new School of Cybersecurity and Privacy. He formerly served as Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett-Packard, in a leadership position at the National Science Foundation, and on the board of the Verified Voting Foundation. He has also advised plaintiffs in the Curling case.

"What we learned," from Halderman's report, he tells me today, "is that these voting machines are approximately like every other computer that we have in our daily lives. They don't work all the time, they're subject to being hacked, they get misconfigured easily, they get lost, they get stolen, sometimes people use them for illegal activities. And all the assurances that we have from voting machine companies and Secretaries of State --- about how well these machines are curated, vetted and tested --- is what experts have known all along as just a bunch of crap."

"The level of naivete, I think, involved in managing this technology is mind-boggling," DeMillo argues, citing Raffensperger's resistance to hardening the systems --- or, better yet, moving to hand-marked paper ballots --- "as a personal affront to his abilities."

"The headline here is that the things that you worry about --- and, kind of embarrassingly, the things that the election deniers are setting their hair on fire about --- is pretty close to what the vulnerability is. With modest capabilities, someone who had resources could attack, in the case of Georgia on a statewide basis, and install malware that could change votes."

"The Sec. of State's office in Georgia is tied emotionally to this idea of Ballot Marking Devices," says DeMillo. "You would think that saner minds would prevail and they would step back and say 'Why don't we move to a technology that is safer? We know how to manage the risk that is hand-marked paper ballots.' Which, by the way, 70% of Americans use to cast their votes anyway."

So, will unsealing Halderman's report make the system more vulnerable or less so? That, and much more, is part of today's must-listen conversation with DeMillo...

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Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ's Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising themselves...
By Brad Friedman on 11/29/2022 6:36pm PT  

It's another crazy day in MAGA Land on today's BradCast, as Accountability Season gets a very good start even before the 2022's Election Season fully wraps up. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among our stories today from Accountability Season...

  • BREAKING at the top of today's program: Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath Keepers clan (and former BradCast guest!) is found guilty of seditious conspiracy for his involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Fellow Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs was found guilty as well. Both now face as much as 20 years in prison on the sedition charges alone. They, and others, were also charged with Obstruction of an Official Proceeding and more. Perhaps our former President who inspired them should begin to be concerned.
  • Speaking of the former guy... Earlier this month, Kremlin-linked Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's Chef", boasted on social media that "we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere" with U.S. elections. "Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do." A week or two later, longtime GOP operative Jesse Benton --- who worked for Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, among others --- was found guilty on six counts related to money laundering some $100,000 for another Russian businessman before the 2016 election. He was charged with helping to funnel money to both the Trump campaign and RNC that year. As it happens, both Benton and seditious conspirator Rhodes both got their start in politics working as aides for Rep. Ron Paul. Benton is now married to Paul's granddaughter. He was charged last year (along with yet another BradCast guest --- who died shortly after being charged) just months after Trump had pardoned Benton for separate charges against him regarding campaign finance violations and bribery during the 2012 election. We 'splain the full sordid story and Russian collusion along with wistful memories of Tibetan monks and nuns and Al Gore from back in the day when Republicans used to pretend to care about unlawful campaign donations from foreign sources.

And from Election Season...

  • Welp, the days are getting crazier and crazier in Arizona. On Monday, the deadline for counties there to certify election results before the state certifies all results next Monday, the Board of Supervisors in Cochise County voted against doing so. They claim they will reconsider the matter on Friday. That, despite any evidence of fraud or voting system failure in the Republican-leaning county. Katie Hobbs, the state's Democratic Sec. of State and apparent Governor-elect, quickly went to court yesterday in an attempt to force Cochise to certify their result as, she argues, they are required by law. If they don't, all of the county's voters may be disenfranchised and the results of at least one U.S. House race would flip from Republican to Democratic, along with the statewide contest for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Moreover, any remaining chance for Abe Hamadeh, the GOP candidate running for Attorney General, to overcome his current 510-vote deficit against Democrat Kris Mayes, would almost certainly be gone. As the Arizona Republic's EJ Montini snarks today, if Hobbs was gaming the system to somehow help state Dems this year, as MAGA Republicans baselessly claim, "she really, really stinks at cheating"!
  • Meanwhile, Georgia voters are proving to be really, really good at early voting. They shattered all-time records for doing so on Sunday and again on Monday of this week, outpacing both Presidential and other general elections alike in the state's current runoff election between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R) for \ U.S. Senate. The big turnout could be a good sign for Democrats, though that's not certain. The long wait times it is causing for many voters around the Peach State, however, is a certain disgrace. (More on all of that, I hope, on tomorrow's show.)

And in other matters...

  • A bipartisan "Respect for Marriage" bill has been passed by the lame duck U.S. Senate to protect same-sex marriages following corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' recent opinion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade arguing that marriage equality should be one of the next rights stolen by the Court from the American people.

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Guest: Dr. David Jefferson, formerly of Verified Voting, Livermore Nat'l Lab; Also: Biden on U.S. Taiwan policy; First Russian sentenced for war crimes; Russian diplomat resigns, 'ashamed' of nation's Ukraine lies...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2022 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You'd think by now they'd certainly have learned that insecure, un-overseeable (and thus, unverifiable) voting systems are a terrible idea in the age of phony claims of "Fraud!" by the MAGA Mob. But, apparently, Dems --- at least a bunch of them in the California state legislature --- never seem to learn.

First up today, however, a quick review of everything, happening everywhere, all at once. And specifically some critical news today from overseas. On that overseas news...

  • Joe Biden declared today in Japan that, "yes", the U.S. would intervene "militarily" if China were to invade Taiwan. That, he said, was a commitment made "even stronger" following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Other U.S. officials, however, say those comments do not reflect a change in U.S. policy. Okay...
  • In Ukraine, a 21-year old Russian soldier who says he was ordered several times by superiors to kill an unarmed civilian, before he finally did, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday. He admitted to the crime and apologized to the wife of the 62-year old man that he killed. In truth, he seems to be a young kid who had no idea he would end up in a hot war in Ukraine when he signed up for the military to help out his family. There are likely to be hundreds of more such trials in Ukraine given the number of documented war crimes we've seen over the past three months of this horrific war.
  • And, in what we hope is a blow to Russia's well-funded, worldwide propaganda regarding Ukraine, a veteran Russian diplomat at the U.N. office in Geneva, Boris Bondarev, resigned on Monday, declaring in a scathing letter to colleagues that "it is intolerable what my government is doing now." He describes how, over his 20-year diplomatic career for Russia, he has never been "so ashamed of my country", calling the invasion of Ukraine "not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also...against the people of Russia." He went on to deride "propaganda clichés in the spirit of Soviet newspapers of the 1930s" emanating from the Russian foreign ministry and charges that it is no longer "about diplomacy," but "all about warmongering, lies and hatred." This incredibly brave man concludes: "The Ministry has become my home and family. But I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy. Job offers are welcome..."

NEXT, in a whiplash inducing change of topic today, as primary season continues (with midterm elections on Tuesday in Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia --- and several important primary runoffs in Texas), we turn to the urgent matter of a new bill moving quickly through the California state legislature which would allow Internet Voting in the state --- or, as the bill deceptively describes it, "electronic Remote Accessible Vote by Mail" or "RAVBM".

The measure, Senate Bill 1480, sponsored by Bay Area Democratic state Senator Steve Glazer, is opposed by dozens of world class voting system and cybersecurity experts --- both groups and individuals --- and is supported only by a handful of groups, including Microsoft and a couple of disability rights organizations. Nonetheless, it passed out of California's Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday and will quickly receive a vote on the Senate floor as early as today, before moving to the state Assembly and on to the Governor for his signature, if it's adopted there.

Dangerous Internet Voting schemes have long been prohibited in California. But SB 1480 would remove that prohibition to allow it for use by "qualified disabled individuals" once the Secretary of State certifies an Internet Voting system. Until then, those individuals would be allowed to vote via fax, according to the measure. Opponents see the targeting of disabled voters as a first step toward broader implementation of Internet Voting schemes.

We're joined today to explain all of this by one of the nation's most prominent Internet Voting experts and opponents. DR. DAVID JEFFERSON is a veteran of Livermore National Lab, a former board member of VerifiedVoting.org, and a pioneer in research at the intersection of computing, the Internet, and elections for 20 years. He has also served as advisor to five successive Secretaries of State of California on technology-related issues, specifically on voting technology.

Jefferson explains today what a terrible idea SB 1480 is and why, detailing the many concerns about security of transmission over the Internet, lack of transparency, and how even fax transmissions now use the Internet to send and receive information which can be easily intercepted and changed during transit without either the voter or election officials having any idea that it happened.

The wording "electronic Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail" in SB 1480 is, itself, "kind of a contradiction in terms," says Jefferson, "because you are no longer mailing a piece of paper back. After filling out the ballot on your computer screen or mobile device, you then click a button that says 'send back by fax' or some other electronic means. It inevitably travels over the Internet from the voter to the jurisdiction that is going to count it. So it's not a voter-verifiable ballot by the time it gets to the jurisdiction, and it's not meaningfully auditable because it's not voter-verified. It's subject to many, many cybersecurity hazards along the way."

"California has been a leader in not allowing any form of Internet voting. Some other states have copied that because they often look to California for leadership on technical issues," Jefferson observers, adding: "This would be, in my opinion, a giant step backwards."

"It's pretty clear to many of us that the long-term goal of some of the moneyed backers of bills like this --- and by the way, it's not just California, these bills pop up all over the country --- that their long-term goal is to open the door to Internet voting to all voters, if they can," he tells me. "They've tried before, and in some states they have succeeded, for some time, and it fortunately hasn't lasted. So yes, that's a realistic concern."

Bottom line, warns Jefferson: "If an election is attacked through the Internet, it's hard to even know that the attack has even occurred."

One would think CA Dems would know that by now, as they've tried over and over again (unsuccessfully, to date), to pass a measure that would lift the state's prohibition on using the Internet for voting or transmitting votes. SB 1480 is opposed by, among others, Brennan Center for Justice, California Voter Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verified Voting, Public Citizen and some of our personal favorites like the Coalition for Good Governance, Free Speech for People, and Scrutineers.org, not to mention about a dozen grassroots "Indivisible" organizations and the Progressive Democrats of America. But, apparently, that hasn't yet been enough to slow down what will absolutely be a nightmare for California voters and others across the country, if this terrible idea becomes law.

The longtime election integrity advocates at Scrutineers.org have created an action page on SB 1480 at Scrutineers.org/California, with details on the legislation and steps you can take right now to let the state Senate, Assembly and Sec. of State know that this is a horrible idea for California, the rest of the nation, and secure, overseeable, verifiable American democracy itself...

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Guests: Susan Greenhalgh of Free Speech for People; Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: Atrocities in Ukraine, in the U.S. and why protecting democracy remains more important than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2022 6:59pm PT  

We all woke up to atrocities on Sunday. In Ukraine and in Sacramento, California. Russian war crimes in Europe and another mass shooting in the U.S. On today's BradCast, we detail the atrocities in both places before turning to the fight for the only thing that still has a chance of stopping them: democracy. But we can't have democracy without voting systems the public can oversee, and that remains a huge problem, even in our own home county of Los Angeles. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, some of the newly revealed, gruesome details and evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by fleeing Russian troops against Ukrainian civilians in newly liberated towns, villages and suburbs outside of Kyiv. Despite being witnessed by independent journalists and catalogued by outside watchdogs like Human Rights Watch, which describes some of the crimes as "unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian citizens," including "rape, murder, and other violent acts," the Russian Government contends the charges are "fake" and little more than "stage-managed anti-Russian provocation." In response on Monday, President Biden reiterated his belief that Vladimir Putin is a "war criminal."

The gruesome body count in the U.S. also continued to mount over the weekend, as another mass shooting, this time in downtown Sacramento, left six dead and more than a dozen injured after "at least fifty rounds" were "fired right into the crowd" with high-powered weaponry during bustling Saturday night revelry, according to an eyewitness. That, just one day after Georgia's legislature passed a new law allowing concealed weapons to be carried pretty much anywhere without the need for a license. They are the 23rd state to do so. Our gun violence epidemic is getting worse, not better, as Republicans refuse to allow any action that might lessen America's shamefully continuing scourge.

But tyranny is not going to defeat itself. Not in Ukraine. Not in the U.S. To that end, we remain vigilant in our efforts to help the public try and oversee this year's critical mid-term elections. Unfortunately, problems with our un-overseeable and unverifiable voting systems continue into yet another election year in so-called "red" and "blue" states alike. While the GOP is actively undermining democracy with new voter suppression laws in "red" states, vulnerable electronic voting and tabulation systems remain a huge problem across the nation.

Back in 2020, Los Angeles County deployed a new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (or, VSAP) across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Some ten years in development by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, the new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed spectacularly in that year's Super Tuesday Presidential Primary, leading to long lines and questions about the results. The VSAP system had been conditionally certified by the Secretary of State just weeks before their first county-wide use, after state testing discovered about 30 different violations of California Voting System Standards.

The County was required to correct the violations detailed in the Conditional Certification in the months following the election, though they failed to do so in many cases --- for years. Now, the County is seeking state certification of VSAP v3.0 but, according to our guests today, has still failed to correct a number of critical security issues that failed more than two years ago.

We're joined today to discuss these concerns in advance of California's June 7th mid-term primary elections by SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-profit Free Speech for People and by IAN PATTON of the Long Beach Reform Coalition (he is also now running for the Long Beach City Council). Both recently wrote a letter [PDF] to California Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber, detailing uncorrected security issues in the VSAP system and urging her to force L.A. County to fix them before issuing certification to the newly updated voting and counting system yet again.

We invited L.A. County's Registrar Dean Logan --- the VSAP system is his brainchild --- to join us as well, after his office recently described Greenhalgh's public testimony on her concerns about certification for VSAP 3.0 as "mis- and disinformation". In declining to join us today, Logan once again accused Greenhalgh and Patton of "mis-stating facts" and took a swipe at the election integrity advocates by smearing them as if they were part of Donald Trump's mob of conspiracists offering evidence-free claims of fraud since his loss in 2020. Logan charged the documented concerns detailed in Greenhalgh and Patton's memo to the Secretary "contributes to further the false narrative about elections integrity and transparency that is pervading the country."

For her part, Greenhalgh has been an expert in elections security, integrity and transparency for decades. Patton had represented the Long Beach Reform Coalition in a lawsuit against the VSAP systems long before Trump's 2020 sore loser act, when a ballot initiative in Long Beach failed by just 16 votes. After the Coalition raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a recount of that initiative, they were informed by Logan that the price would, in fact, be hundreds of thousands of dollars instead-- to count just a few thousand votes. The reason, as we reported at the time, is that the new VSAP system is deployed at Voting Centers across the County, which have replaced community precincts. That means that Long Beach voters may vote at any Voting Center in the County, where more than 4 million cast ballots in 2020. Logan attempted to charge the Coalition for the hours and hours it would have taken the county to cull through some 4 million ballots (computer-marked by VSAP and hand-marked by mail voters) in order to find the ones cast by Long Beach voters at any of the hundreds of Voting Centers in the County. Of course, this is just another problem with the Voting Center model, particularly in large counties like L.A. The ballot initiative that is said to have passed by 16 votes never did receive a hand recount to make sure the results were accurate.

Greenhalgh details the security vulnerabilities that remain in the VSAP system, despite state requirements that they be corrected by last year. She was also surprised to hear that Logan claimed in his email to us that "the VSAP 3.0 upgrade is over and it has been approved by the Secretary of State."

"I'm disappointed that the Secretary is not taking further action to enforce these requirements, to really require LA County to meet them," she tells us. "Also it hasn't been updated on the website, that it's already been approved. That's not public information yet." We'll just take Logan's word for it, I guess.

For his part, Patton explains the aborted recount effort in Long Beach ("I'm not a conspiracy theorist in any way," he notes. "We have never alleged a rigged election. We were just talking about the facts. The facts are this was an extremely close election, and we were just not allowed to have a hand count."); the fact that L.A.'s $300 million voting system was promised to be the nation's first open source system (but has yet to disclose any of its source code); and whether he feels confident that his election for City Council this year will be accurately tallied under the still-unverifiable and virtually unrecountable new systems.

"We can speak very factually and say that vulnerabilities don't equate to a stolen election," Greenhalgh asserts, before describing Logan's smears as "extremely disheartening." She described the comments as "a new low to hear somebody try to smear and tar real serious questions, real serious issues that need to be addressed. We still have serious security issues in our election systems that need to be fixed. We all need to pull together to fix them. And if we are having election officials refuse to address those problems by dismissing them improperly as mis- and dis-information, there's two problems with that: We're not going to actually fix the problems, but also we have a crisis of confidence in our election system right now. And when somebody in a position of power says something that is pretty easily proven to be false....they're not going to have a lot of confidence in his ability to run an election. And we can't afford that. He needs to be honest."

Logan never did cite any specific claims from Greenhalgh and Patton's concerns that he believed to be misinformation, despite my repeated query. He has a standing invitation to join us on the show any time to do so. Hiding behind false claims by rightwingers of "stolen elections" is unbecoming of a public official, particularly when the very specific concerns in question are legitimate and publicly well-documented.

There is much more discussed about all of this on today's show, and the concerns about similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices now in use across the country, along with the similarly problematic Voting Center model replacing community precincts in other counties and states.

California's primary this year is on June 7th. Cross your fingers that things work out. Good luck even being able to figure out afterward is they did or didn't...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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...

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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.'"...

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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....

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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