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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, October 18, 2019
Syria 'Disaster', Trump 'Meltdown', a Fallen Giant: 'BradCast' 10/17/19
U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi says 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
'Green News Report' 10/17/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
CNN/NYT ignore climate in OH debate; Protesters shut down parts of London; CA to block Trump fossil fuel plans; PLUS: Another fossil fuel explosion in earthquake country...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/19 - 9/12/19 - Archives...
Special Coverage: 2020 Dem Presidential Debate in Ohio: 'BradCast' 10/16/19
Guests: Jodi Jacobson of Rewire.News; Richard 'RJ' Eskow of The Zero Hour...
Impeachment, Syria and Trump's 'Russia First' Policy: 'BradCast' 10/15/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges blocked in OH; Return of 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 10/15/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're back! But, while we were out --- some big developments in climate science, climate strikes, extreme weather impacts, public lands policy and pollution. All in today's GNR!...
Previous GNRs: 9/12/19 - 9/10/19 - Archives...
We're Back! With a Few Lessons from Dad:
'BradCast' 10/14/19
And from guest (not guest host, for the first time in over a month) Nicole Sandler!...
Sunday 'Great and Unmatched Wisdom' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly toons, like the rest of us, are not in Kansas anymore...
Kiss This Thing Goodbye: 'BradCast' 10/11/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with former CIA office Jack Rice and the News...
With Friends Like These: 'BradCast' 10/10/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Denis Campbell on the UK and progressive radio's Thom Hartmann on the history of the U.S. Supreme Court...
Broken News:
'BradCast' 10/9/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with the Latest News and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler on M4A...
Co-Equal Branches of Government Being Tested: 'BradCast' 10/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with David L. Phillips and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara...
About Our Allies The Kurds:
'BradCast' 10/7/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Kurdistan's Rep to the US Bayan Rahman, and Mike Elk on the GM Strike...
Sunday 'Two Scoops of Peach Mint' Toons
There are a number of potential just deserts envisioned in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Real News, Abortion Rights and Charity: 'BradCast' 10/4/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with authors Jenny Brown and Doug White...
Impeach This: 'BradCast' 10/3/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with the latest news and Marcy Wheeler too...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

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Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

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The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
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Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

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

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

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After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest hosted by Angie Coiro with Patrick Poblete and Richard Clarke on UAW Strike, Wisconsin Voting Machines, Cybersecurity...
By Angie Coiro on 9/16/2019 5:27pm PT  

Welcome to another BradCast! I'm in for Brad and Desi today - Angie Coiro, heard on some of these same stations and streams with my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Best wishes to Brad and Desi while they take care of family business. If you haven’t read Brad’s post about what’s going on, please do. There’s no better time than now to support the Blog in every way you can.

First up is what I imagine would be Brad's headline story, too: the latest in the ongoing Wisconsin voting machine drama. PATRICK POBLETE from WisPolitics covers the story. The jawdropper: state officials felt they had bigger priorities than to check out reports of potential vote-hijacking.

A big fat news roundup includes two Elizabeth Warren stories: her campaign's endorsement by the WFP, and her newly-announced plan to attack DC corruption. Some of it strikes me as a bit pie-in-the-sky, but why not aim high?

Then a long excerpt from my interview earlier this year with RICHARD A. CLARKE, about his book The Fifth Domain.

And more more more. Check it all out!...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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




Guest: Cybsersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2019 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Questions about the results of a controversial do-over U.S. House election in North Carolina and about disturbing revelations from a secret reexamination of a wildly unsecure touchscreen voting system being deployed in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) next year. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

At long last, NC's 9th Congressional District has held its do-over election, after a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme was uncovered to derail the contest last November. With a new Republican candidate, the very Trumpy state Senator Dan Bishop, and the same Democratic candidate, Marine vet Dan McCready (pictured above), the two faced off in the long-time Republican district on Tuesday. It had long been predicted to be a very close race, seen as a potential bellwether for 2020 and a referendum on Donald Trump, who, with Vice President Mike Pence, helicoptered into the district for last-minute rallies on Monday night.

According to the reported unofficial --- and unverified-by-any-human-being --- results posted by the State Board of Elections (SBE), the Republican Bishop defeated the Democrat McCready by just under 4,000 votes (a margin just over 2%) out of nearly 200,000 votes cast in the district, which is spread over parts or all of 8 counties. While Bishop's margin of victory is slightly more than 1% too large to allow for a candidate "recount", the county with the single largest share of the votes cast in the race is Mecklenberg, which forces voters to use 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polls. So there would little to "count" there anyway. Most of the rest of the district votes on hand-marked paper ballots.

But even with the unofficial 2% spread, there may be reason for McCready's team to examine the results, despite his quick concession on Tuesday night after media outlets, using unofficial results, called it for Bishop. His quick concession followed a similar one last November, when he'd reportedly lost by less than 1,000 votes in a race that the NC SBE ultimately refused to certify due to the GOP election fraud for which seven contractors now face felony indictments. Given the fraud last time in NC09, and the importance that both Trump and the GOP had placed on this race in advance of 2020, one might think it appropriate to wait until all votes were at least canvassed by the state before conceding. Moreover, Democratic turnout during early voting outpaced Republican turnout by even more than it did during the very close race during last November's "blue wave" election.

But in a curious new twist, just before airtime today, another anomaly came to light, as shared with us by a listener that I detailed here with screenshots and video. As I break down at that link, video from MSNBC's coverage on Tuesday reveals that McCready, after leading in the vote count throughout the early part of the night after 52% of precincts had come in, was suddenly overtaken by Bishop once 55% of precincts had reported, according to MSNBC's chyron. While that's not unusual, what is unusual is that when it happened, McCready's vote tally actually DECREASED by more than 3,000 votes, even though more votes had supposedly been tallied! After that, Bishop retained a very similar lead for the rest of the night, ultimately "winning" by a margin just under 4,000 votes.

There could, of course, be a good explanation for the vote count appearing to go BACKWARD --- a typo at MSNBC, a transcription error at the SBE, a non-nefarious bad data transfer somewhere along the line --- we just haven't yet been able to figure out what it is yet. Bishop's total also decreased at the same point, but by just over 1,000 votes. If we do figure it out, of course, we'll let you know.

But those maddening anomalies underscore, yet again, the importance of the other big story we cover on today's BradCast out of Pennsylvania. There, a group of citizen election integrity advocates filed a petition some weeks ago demanding a re-examination of the state's newly certified ExpressVote XL voting system made by ES&S. The new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system (pictured above) was recently certified to be deployed in Philadelphia and other jurisdictions in the key battleground state of PA before next year's critical 2020 Presidential election. While PA's Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, did, in fact, carry out the new examination of the system, as required by statute, apparently she did so in secret, employing the same company closely tied to ES&S that carried out the initially flawed certification testing, and did so in another state entirely (Colorado) with no notice or public oversight for the first time in PA history.

We're joined again today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, Chief Technologist for the Pennsylvania-based Citizens for Better Elections. He is a cybersecurity and voting systems expert and was one of the petitioners who joined us several weeks ago after the state agreed to the new examination. Skoglund, along with other long time election integrity advocates both nationally and in PA are outraged by the secret testing which, he explains, failed to even examine 7 of the petitioners' 10 cited concerns.

"This is the same company that did the initial examination. So, we're asking the people who gave the opinion the first time to give their opinion again. It doesn't really make sense," he tells me. "It's not a second opinion like you might get from a doctor." Moreover, he explains, "This was only a two-day examination. The lab that's doing this is not experienced in cybersecurity penetration testing. This is a voting system test lab that tests for the functionality of voting machines...These things are very technical in nature and they require specialists." In this case, it is a company who is actually paid by the vendor, ES&S, to test their systems.

As to those concerns which the examiners reportedly did bother to review [PDF] (in secret), they confirmed the petitioners' concerns. Nonetheless, Boockvar went ahead and recertified the new systems, citing new, additional procedures she hopes to impart to pollworkers next year as protection against the very serious security concerns cited by the petitioners and confirmed during the re-examination. One such concern, for example, is that the computer-marked paper ballot summary card produced by the ExpressVote's touchscreen system for theoretical verification by the voter before it is cast, returns back through the very same printer path after it is approved by the voter. That, Skoglund explains, would allow the voting system to change the voter's vote after they believe they have verified it for casting and counting by an optical scanner. New, similarly computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices being deployed in other jurisdictions, such as Los Angeles County and Georgia (and in many other states before next year) appear to feature the same extraordinary security flaw.

"It's the craziest thing. This voting machines prints the information that you've selected on the screen onto a piece of paper, and then it presents it for you to review. And then, if you decide that it's acceptable, that piece of paper travels through a printer again before it's stored. So if you had a voting machine that was malfunctioning or manipulated or hacked, it could change that paper record before it gets stored. They 100 percent confirmed it," says Skoglund.

Other problems with the PA system include the fact that, due to the way it stores computer-marked ballots, the ballot secrecy of voters may be easily violated. Skoglund suggests the fight against these systems is not over by a long shot, and that the coalition of election integrity groups with whom he is working are reviewing their options for litigation in the days ahead. "We're definitely not giving up. We are not done contesting the certification of this machine."

As noted at the end of today's program, the woeful story of the likely unverifiable election in NC-09 underscores the important work being done by Skoglund and others BEFORE these dangerously unverifiable and easily hackable voting systems are deployed for U.S. elections in 2020...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa; Also: Trump's Greenland debacle worse than it looks; Trump-fueled domestic terror epidemic growing...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2019 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the first day of early voting in two U.S. House Special Elections, both in North Carolina, one of them a do-over election after a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme last November resulted in the State Board of Election's refusal to certify the fraudulent results. And this week, as our guest today discovered, the RNC has already stepped in it again at one of their websites supposedly meant to help voters apply for absentee ballots in the two contests. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first up today, a few thoughts on why we cover what we cover, and how difficult it actually is to make those decisions in the Trump Era. One story we haven't covered --- until today --- is the absurd effort by Donald Trump to purchase Greenland. While we've ignored the ridiculous story before today, the events of the past 24 hours, including the international incident caused by Donald Trump's abrupt cancellation of a planned state visit to our allies in Denmark next month, due to their refusal to sell him Greenland, have led us to rethink our coverage.

Trump's erratic behavior (on that and several other matters) suggests a quickly deteriorating state of mind for the President of the United States, leading George Conway, the conservative attorney and husband of one of Trump's senior advisers, Kellyanne Conway, to call today, in no uncertain terms, for the Vice President, Trump cabinet members and Republicans in Congress to begin seriously considering the use of the 25th Amendment to remove the "mentally unstable and unfit to serve" Trump from office.

Also today, a short follow up on our detailed coverage on yesterday's BradCast of what is clearly now a nationwide epidemic of domestic terrorism by white American rightwing men. There have now been at least 27(!) arrests across the country since the El Paso and Dayton shootings just over two weeks ago, of such men who have threatened mass slaughter and more against immigrants, Jews, African-Americans, LGBTQ people, and abortion clinics. They frequently cite Trump while doing it and most of the alleged terrorists also appear to own the high-powered military-style weaponry and ammo to pull off their threatened mass shootings.

Then, we're joined by North Carolina's DR. WILLIAM BUSA of the campaign consulting and data firm EQV Analytics. Busa --- who may be better known as "DocDawg" of the progressive website DailyKos --- joins us to detail his alarming findings this week after carefully reviewing the Vote.GOP website. The site is run by the RNC and offers various voting services, such as registration and absentee ballot applications for voters. With early voting now underway in the NC-03 and NC-09 special elections for the U.S. House, Busa discovered that the RNC's online application for North Carolina voters to apply for absentee ballots on the site was misconfigured in a way that would result in the potential purge of voters who used it!

Moreover, Busa found, as he documented at EQV Analytics in an article headlined "Political Malware", "Every visit to Vote.GOP peppers the user's browser with tracking cookies, web beacons, and data-harvesting code, including code attributed to a division of Tremor International, an Israeli advertising technology company whose RhythmOne subsidiary touts its ability to harvest web users' 'demographics, psychographics, shares (including dark social media), interests, purchase behaviors, and browsing habits'." Between those trackers and the information provided by voters seeking to register or request an absentee ballot, Busa describes, the GOP is scraping up what "the holy grail of campaign advertising [which] enables precision micro-targeting of just the right message to exactly the voter most likely to be persuaded by it, just as Cambridge Analytica did for the Trump campaign in 2016."

Since publishing these details in his exposé late Monday night, he reports, "the Republican Party appears to have hit the kill switch on their website. The site itself is still up, but it now no longer offers any voter assistance services," he tells us.

Busa also offers updates on the two U.S. House Special Elections now at stake on September 10th. One is to fill the now-vacant seat of the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3) in a very "red" district. The other much more "exciting" race, is the do-over election following the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud Scandal that resulted in some 7 recent indictments of Republican operatives, no certified winner and a new election called after last November's U.S. House election in the state's 9th Congressional District.

Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate in that race had reportedly lost by just 905 votes to Republican preacher Mark Harris last year, until the scandal carried out by a GOP contractor and known fraudster hired by Harris finally came to light. McCready is running again for the Dems in the do-over, but the Republicans have put up Dan Bishop, the State Senator who wrote NC's controversial "bathroom bill" several years ago, a measure which ended up costing the state about a "billion dollars in boycotted business," according to Busa. Moreover, he explains, the notorious Bishop has also been revealed as an investor in the alt-right social media site called GAB, which might be better described as simply Twitter for White Supremacists.

A lot of money is now being spent by both sides on the NC-09 race, where McCready has reportedly been able to out-raise Bishop by more than 2 to 1 in the longtime Republican district. Busa believes the contest is currently a "toss-up" that will come down to turnout, especially that of independent voters.

We also get a quick update from Busa on the amazing battle raging at the State Board of Elections right now regarding whether new, very expensive, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices made by ES&S will be certified by the state, or whether the state will move to all hand-marked paper ballots. As we reported on the program several weeks ago, that battle took a number of astonishing twists and turns triggered by the resignation of the SBE's Chair after he told an off-colored joke about a cow and woman to a convention of some 600 NC election officials.

So...tune in for the latest skinny on that particular madness and more today in the increasingly-notorious swing-state of North Carolina!...

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

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system unconstitutional is a victory for voters across the nation...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2019 6:10pm PT  

We've got some pretty huge and long-overdue breaking news today from a federal court in Atlanta. It's huge enough that we dumped what we were previously planning to cover to devote today's BradCast to the judge's new order in a case that we have been following now for years. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg, in a 153-page ruling [PDF], finds that Georgia's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen voting systems, in use in the state since 2002, are not fit for U.S. elections because they are "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated". They are so unsecure, in fact, that they violate the Constitutional right of voters to have their votes counted as cast.

"Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack," Totenberg writes.

She excoriates the state Defendants --- former Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and current Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger --- for lying about facts and evidence in the case (though she is only slightly more polite in her wording, by describing the "Defendants' inconsistent candor with the Court") and for dismissing the many long-proven security concerns about these systems as "fantasy" forwarded by Plaintiffs.

While Judge Totenberg will allow the old Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems to be used one last time in Georgia's municipal and county elections this November, she makes it clear they may not be used again in 2020 or thereafter under any circumstances. She also offers several hints that the state's recently selected new touchscreen systems, now planned to replace the old ones, may also be found unconstitutional in further proceedings, leaving the clear preference of cybersecurity and voting systems experts --- hand-marked paper ballots --- as the only option likely to meet requirements for auditability and Constitutionality.

We're joined to explain all of these details and much more today on what is a clear, overdue --- if not (yet) total --- victory, by plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance. She has been joining us on the show for a number of years now with updates on each important aspect of this broad and gruelingly long case since filing it about two years ago. Marks calls today's ruling a victory not just for Georgia voters, but for those in many states where similar systems are now used --- including some where newer, if still unverifiable, touchscreen systems are being planned for use in 2020.

"The court ruled that DREs are unconstitutional. And that anybody voting on these things should be worried about their vote," says Marks. "Of course, this doesn't relate just to Georgia. The words of this federal court will be heard around the United States. Hopefully this will have an impact on other jurisdictions" where, she hopes, they will take notice of the judge's words recommending hand-marked paper ballots.

Marks explains that Judge Totenberg does not appear much happier with the new system Georgia now plans to use in 2020, though was unable to offer a finding on it, yet, given that the state just finalized their decision last week. But, Totenberg offered warnings about those new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in several places in the ruling, such as when she warned: "The past may here be prologue anew — it may be 'like déjà vu all over again.'"

Indeed, Marks says her non-partisan organization plans to seek an injunction on use of Georgia's new, equally unverifiable touchscreen systems as well, and that Totenberg, perhaps with that in mind, has ordered that a number of counties run hand-marked paper ballot pilot elections this year in advance of next year's Presidential primary elections. "We will absolutely be launching a constitutional challenge against Ballot Marking Devices," she vowed.

"Surely they realize that the hand-writing is on the wall and they've got to quit fighting for unverifiable elections. I would think Georgia voters are going to get pretty sick and tired of this. Most of these guys are elected officials, so I think that they need to consider the political consequences if they want to continue to fight for unverifiable elections."

As to allowing the old, unconstitutional systems to be used one more time in the state's 2019 municipal elections, Marks advises: "While they can be used in November, they shouldn't be used in November. Those people on the ballot, those people voting in the municipalities, should demand right now --- right now is the time to do it --- that their county, their municipality go ahead and use hand-marked paper ballots. They've got the equipment for it [since they already use hand-marked ballot systems for absentee voting across the state] they've got the know-how, they ought to do it."

In one other key element of this case, as Marks explains, the Judge also ordered a review of the state's electronic pollbook systems which resulted in failure and chaos and disenfranchisement during last November's general elections. She has ordered that polling places must have paper backup pollbooks on hand in elections moving forward, to avoid the disenfranchisement of voters when electronic voter registration systems fail on Election Day or are manipulated by malign actors.

"Just like with any computerized voting component, it can be hacked," Marks tells me regarding the state's ES&S ExpressPoll registration computers used in the Peach State's precincts. "There can be errors. There can be mis-programming. And that's been occurring in Georgia. [Judge Totenberg] asked us to bring her evidence. We brought her hundreds of affidavits of people who were turned away at the polls who should not have been. We brought her evidence of software problems in the e-pollbook system. And therefore she said, 'Enough of this! Go fix the system!'"

She continued: "I get it as to why computerized [registration] records can be very helpful here, but let's use some common sense. And the judge has said have a paper backup so that if there is a question that needs to be adjudicated, use the official paper backup. And look it up right there, and don't run people away from the polls. Give them their ballot."

In fact, in her ruling, the judge cites "threats of contamination, dysfunction, and attacks on State and county voting systems, disparaged by the Secretary of State’s representatives...as a fantasy and still minimized as speculative" by the Defendants as recently as a hearing in the case this year. That, Totenberg notes, despite threats "identified in the most credible major national and state cybersecurity studies and official government reports." She even cites "real life" incidents that "played out with the United States’ July 2018 criminal indictment of a host of Russian intelligence agents for conspiracy to hack into the computers of various state and county boards of election and their vendors as well as agents' efforts during the 2016 election to identify election data system vulnerabilities through probing of county election websites in Georgia and two other states." All of which, writes Totenberg --- as Marks has long been arguing --- serves to "burden Georgia citizens' right to cast a vote that reliably will be counted."

As to the lies --- er..."inconsistent candor with the Court" --- Marks notes the Secretary of State's staff told "just absolutely black and white lies. They didn't mind lying to the court. And one has to wonder what is it that they are hiding that makes it worth lying to the court, and facing the potential consequences of lying to the court." She told me she intends to seek sanctions from the court for those lies in the days ahead.

So, yes, some big --- and very good --- news for a change today!

Finally today, the one thing we did not throw over to make room for the landmark ruling out of Georgia, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on global warming-fueled toxic algae blooms now killing dogs in a number of states; Big Oil pushing into plastics manufacturing as gasoline demand declines in the wake of the electronic car revolution; plastic pollution found in falling snow in the otherwise pristine Arctic; and Democratic-led states suing Trump's EPA to block his rollback of Obama's Clean Power Plan...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: 'Atomic Analyst' Stephen Schwartz on the still-unfolding nuclear weapons test disaster in Russia; Also: Stacey Abrams announces Fair Fight 2020 to help Dems protect voters in next year's crucial elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2019 6:25pm PT  

No, 'Skyfall' is not the nickname for the 800 point plummet in the Dow Jones Industrial average on Wednesday in response to signals of an imminent recession not seen since 2007. In the context of today's BradCast, it's the nickname given by NATO to an experimental Russian nuclear-propelled cruise missile project that appears to have gone horribly --- and tragically --- awry a few days ago. The consequences of yet another secretive nuclear accident in Russia have left western nuclear weapons analysts guessing as to what is now actually going on near the disaster site in northern Russia. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But, before we get to that story today, a few quick news items of note regarding the 2020 election. Popular Georgia Democrat, Stacey Abrams, has announced the launch of a new project called Fair Fight 2020 to focus on election protection in about 20 swing-states and several (Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi) with gubernatorial elections next year. The effort comes out of Abrams own experience fighting massive voter suppression in her gubernatorial contest last year against Republican Brian Kemp who, as Georgia's Sec. of State, purged roles and helped suppressed minority voters across the state while overseeing his own reported narrow "victory" on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems.

Abrams, who would have become the nation's first African-American female Governor, has also been seen as a potential 2020 candidate for President. She has announced her plan to roll out this new, much-needed initiative to help Dems prepare well in advance (for a change) before next year's elections, in hopes of combating the many, inevitable anti-voter tactics expected by Republicans. The project comes in lieu of running for President or Senator in the Peach State, where she would have a very good chance of unseating Republican Sen. David Perdue next year.

While a Senate run would have been welcomed by many (she has said she is still open to a Veep nod), her Fair Fight 2020 effort is both very important and very much needed to help Dems win back both the White House and possibly U.S. Senate next year. We contrast her effort on today's show with that of California billionaire Tom Steyer, who recently-announced his own, likely-pointless run for the Democratic nod. Steyer has vowed to spend $100 million on his own campaign, instead of using that money to help Democrats --- for example, the nearly 1 million voters who are currently being blocked by Republicans from even being allowed to register to vote in the key battle-ground state of Florida.

Then, we are joined by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst and former Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (the folks who bring us the infamous Doomsday Clock), where he now serves as a Senior Fellow. He's here to help us unravel the disturbing nuclear mystery that is currently unfolding in northern Russia.

Last Thursday, an explosion on a Russian missile testing platform in the White Sea resulted in the deaths of at least seven people, including five nuclear scientists. After several days of conflicting information about the incident, Russia finally conceded that an incident with a "nuclear isotope power source" had released radiation during an off-shore test. A town nearby saw a spike in radioactivity at least 16 times its expected normal background radiation and the hospital rooms where the injured were taken were sealed off after patients and the doctors who treated them were mysteriously transported to Moscow for observation.

The accident, as Schwartz details, is believed to have been part of the experimental nuclear-powered missile program that Russian President Vladimir Putin described last year in remarks to Parliament as a cruise missile that is propelled by a small nuclear reactor, allowing it to fly indefinitely on a path too unpredictable to be intercepted by defensive missile systems. The Russians call the project Buresvestnik. NATO has dubbed it Skyfall.

Schwartz cites the lack of information and conflicting details being made available by Russia as a relic of the secrecy mindset of the old Soviet Union. "Old habits die hard," he tells me. "The Soviet Union is gone, Russia remains. But this reaction is quite reminiscent, not just of Chernobyl, but also of the sinking of the Kursk ballistic missile submarine in August of 2000" as well as other nuclear accidents going back to the 1950s Cold War era. "Their first approach is admit only what you have to, to try to make the situation seem not so terrible. And then when you can't do that, you admit as much as you have to, in order to try to deal with whatever the concerns are."

While western analysts like Schwartz have been pouring over local media reports and grainy satellite photos to learn what may have happened and what the ongoing fallout appears to be, Donald Trump tweeted out a reaction in which he described the incident as "Not good!" and claimed that "we have similar, though more advanced, technology". That is either a lie, something that Trump misunderstood, or a program that is so highly classified it remains currently unknown outside of the U.S. government, Schwartz explains, citing a long-shelved Cold War project called "SLAM --- for Supersonic Low Altitude Missile --- that would have been powered by a reactor that had the code name of Pluto". That, he says, was a "dangerous weapon" believed to have been abandoned as of 1964, given the danger of "spewing highly radioactive exhaust everywhere it goes" as it would fly over allied nations on its way to the Soviet Union, among other concerns.

We also discuss why both Putin and Trump appear to be entering into a new nuclear arms race as Russia responds to U.S. missile defense systems being deployed to nations which border Russia. Why would Russia even want to produce such a weapon that amounts to a "flying reactor"? "We've made a lot of claims about our system," Schwartz says. "Most of them are not true. But the Russians have an undying faith in American technology and a fair degree of paranoia about what we're going to do with it. And they've decided that they need to find a way to counter it. Their fear, their paranoia, their desire to make sure that we cannot destroy them as a country has led them to the point where they're testing this exceedingly dangerous weapon."

That effort, he explains today, has now become a disaster with very serious consequences that we are only beginning to learn about as the world's latest nuclear tragedy continues to unfold....

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Also: Cybersecurity firm was able to take over GA's 'entire' voter registration network; Lots of bad news for Trump and GOP in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2019 6:24pm PT  

Lots of bad news on today's BradCast for Trump and the Republican's in Congress as they head home for their long summer recess. And several astonishing followups to major voting-related stories we broke earlier in the week out of North Carolina and Georgia. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, several big stories out of Congress today, none of them good for the President or Republicans...

  • The GOP's only black U.S. House member, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, says he won't run again in 2020. The stunning announcement Thursday night represents a huge pickup opportunity for Dems in a state slowing turning "blue", and just the latest in a quickly growing string of GOPers calling it quits in the House;
  • On Friday, Donald Trump abruptly pulled his 5-day old nomination of TX Rep. John Ratcliffe to become the nation's next spy chief. Ratcliffe, after attacking former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during hearings in the House last week, was tapped by the President to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who publicly contradicted Trump on Russian interference in U.S. elections, Iran compliance with the landmark nuclear pact that Trump violated and pulled out of, and on the national security threat of climate change, among other things. Ratcliffe, however, was revealed to have had no previous intelligence experience, as required by statute for the DNI role overseeing the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, and was found to have lied about past claims to have prosecuted terrorists;
  • And, in more bad news for Trump on Friday, a majority of House Democrats have now publicly called for an official impeachment inquiry of the President. CA Rep. Salud Carbajal became the 118th out of 235 House Dems to publicly call for an inquiry to begin. With the majority of her caucus now supporting impeachment proceedings, it remains to be seen if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will finally modify her current position to allow Dems only to "legislate, investigate and litigate". House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler recently filed a court motion seeking grand jury information from the Mueller investigation which, for the first time, referenced a need for the documents due to Congressional consideration of impeachment proceedings.

Then, several (occasionally amazing) follow-ups to stories we broke earlier in the week regarding the citizen-led fights for publicly overseeable elections and hand-marked paper ballots in two key swing states.

First, on Tuesday's program we detailed what appeared to be a "win", if a short-lived one, by election integrity advocates in North Carolina, after they'd convinced the state Board of Elections, in a 3 to 2 vote, to adopt a resolution effectively blocking the certification of a 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device made by ES&S, the nation's largest (and sleaziest) private voting vendor. That vote, if finalized next month, would likely result in hand-marked paper ballots across the entire state in next year's crucial Presidential election. The powerful ES&S is currently the only voting system vendor certified to do business in the closely divided battle ground state.

But, in reporting that story on Tuesday, we also broke the news that one of the three "yes" votes on the resolution blocking ES&S, Republican David Black, had changed his mind, leading to a new meeting --- and a revote on the resolution --- called for Thursday. Black's reversal would mean a 3 to 2 vote in FAVOR of ES&S' new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems for counties currently serving some 2.5 million voters whose current, older 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are set to be certified, by state law, at year's end.

But, a funny thing happened before the Thursday revote, after the state Board's Chairman, Democrat Robert Cordle --- who had voted against the resolution on Monday --- told a wildly inappropriate joke to open a state conference of some 600 election officials. He was subsequently forced to resign by the Governor, resulting in Thursday's re-vote becoming a 2 to 2 deadlock, leaving the initial vote, which could lead to hand-marked paper ballots for all NC voters, in place.

There will be yet another vote --- the formal vote on the resolution --- on August 23rd, when whoever Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper names as the new Chair to the beleaguered 5-person Board, will be able to cast the decisive vote to determine if the key swing state will have verifiable elections in 2020 or not. And, yes, we share the "dirty joke" in question, about a woman and a cow, on today's program;

Then, we also have a follow-up to a story we broke on Monday's BradCast, regarding the federal lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before the 2020 Presidential election. On Monday, plaintiff Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, joined us on the show to describe a revelation from a court hearing latest last week in which a witness from Georgia's Sec. of State's office revealed that all voting machines across the state in 2018 were programmed, without oversight, by three independent contractors working for ES&S out of their garages, using unsecured home WiFi.

Last night, the UK's Guardian picked up the story about the state's fully-outsourced elections, confirming our reporting from earlier in the week and adding a number of additional disturbing details. Among those new details: Georgia's entire voter registration system was similarly outsourced to a private company which even contractually disallowed the Sec. of State's office from having access to the network. More alarmingly, however, as the Guardian's Jordan Wilkie reports, during security penetration tests, a third-party (fourth-party?) cybersecurity company contracted by the state, found that it was able to "take over the entire network". Moreover, in November of 2018, a year later, in a second round of testing just before last year's midterms, many of the vulnerabilities discovered during the initial test remained unresolved.

Until last week's hearing, when much of this information was revealed on the stand for the first time during questioning of the Sec. of State's chief information officer, the state had completely misled the federal court about all of the above and more.

Finally today, some very grim news out of the Arctic, where Greenland, over the past week, has gone through an extraordinary melt event, with record high temperatures --- 10 to 30 degrees above the normal average --- resulting in the loss of some 10 billion tons of ice over the past day or two, with nearly 200 billion tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean during the month of July. How's that for a cheery way to end the week? You're welcome!

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Gilroy, CA festival shooting tied to white supremacy, Trump's stochastic terrorism...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2019 6:07pm PT  

We've got several pieces of important news, on today's BradCast, regarding the long federal court challenge against Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, the new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems they plan to move to before the 2020 elections, and a hope from one of the plaintiffs that the case could result in all such systems --- now being adopted by states and counties across the nation before 2020 --- being declared unconstitutional for use in American elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, a few words about stochastic terrorism from the President of the United States (also see this chilling editorial cartoon from our collection this week), as his appalling attacks on minority Democratic members of Congress continued with a new target over the weekend, and as another mass shooting --- this time at a food festival in Gilroy, CA on Sunday night --- is once again tied to white supremacy.

Then, we're joined by MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance for some of the at-times jaw-dropping news from a marathon hearing in federal court last Thursday and Friday in Atlanta. Marks' Coalition is a plaintiff in the case hoping to sideline Georgia's nearly 20-year old Diebold touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before this fall's municipal elections and beyond, including the 2020 Presidential primary and general elections.

Marks shares a number of remarkable updates in the case we've been following since she filed it back in 2017. The updates include new details on the state actually destroying evidence --- including computer servers, databases and voting system memory cards --- needed in the case, and lies told to the court by the defendants about security issues related to the voting system. The misleading statements came from the office of Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger and the state's former GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. Kemp is now Governor of the state, after he is said to have narrowly defeated popular Democrat Stacey Abrams last November on the very same unverifiable computer voting systems overseen at the time by then SoS Kemp.

Marks details the extraordinary security measures plaintiffs were forced to undergo in order to have their experts even partially examine the ballot database used by Georgia which, the state had claimed, included customized, "super-secret" security measures built in to the system that made it completely different from identical --- and completely hackable --- Diebold touchscreen systems used elsewhere in the country. As it turns out, after spending thousands of dollars to create secure "clean rooms" at Georgia's insistence to allow plaintiffs' experts to examine the databases in two different locations (Michigan and Washington, D.C.) those experts found there was, in fact, no special customized "super-secret" security measures. The database structures are identical to those found available for download on the Internet --- from many different states --- going back as early as 2002, when Georgia first adopted their current, easily-manipulated voting systems.

"Let's be clear that we've still not had a chance to look at the system or the programming in the voting machines or the servers," she told me. "We were allowed to look at a database that is used to program the memory cards, just one tiny piece. There was a huge fight because the state lied to the judge, and lied to us, and said that this database was its 'crown jewel' of security, [that] nobody else using Diebold had this super-secret database."

"We found out that, just as we had told the court, their database is just like every other state's database, many of them published on the Internet as public records. They just found it so convenient to lie to the court in order to keep anyone from having easy access to see what a mess they're making," she says.

On the destruction of evidence, she tells me: "The Secretary of State destroyed their two primary servers --- the first one four days after we sued them, the next one a few hours after the case was assigned to Judge Totenberg. From there, we asked to start preserving memory cards, internal memories of the voting machines themselves, and they just completely defied every request. Even the judge told them to go to the FBI, where there was a partial copy of one of the servers, and be sure that thing did not disappear, be sure it was retained, and they even refused to do that."

She also details a revelation from one of the witnesses on the stand last week which elicited gasps in the courtroom after he admited that "100%" of Georgia's ballots are programmed by three independent contractors who do not work for the state and who prepare the ballots at home --- on potentially unprotected WiFi setups. That, despite the extraordinary --- and expensive --- measures plaintiffs were forced to enact in order just to have their experts view the state's "super-secret" election system database.

"It was shocking. We had just taken the deposition of the [state official] on the witness stand. He had told us it was his employees who do the programming of the machines. We subsequently got a written contract that told us the opposite. So we asked him on the witness stand, 'Who is it that is programming ballots?' He told us about these three people who are out of their homes or garages with no real security. They are ones that have these databases, who are programming every single machine in the state, with no oversight, no public ability to check what's going on, and with such an insecure home system, that of course it's open to the bad guys."

"These are exactly the same databases that they were making us sign these enormous confidentiality agreements, set up safe rooms, have couriers fly and hand these CDs off in person because they were so super-secret, and it turns out they were three people working in their garages...The 2018 elections were 100% outsourced to three people operating in a garage."

Marks also explains that she is hopeful this suit may result in unverifiable computer Ballot Marking Devices --- like the systems Georgia hopes to move to next year, and the ones currently being installed in states and counties around the country in advance of 2020 --- being found unconstitutional at the federal level.

"We're going to do more than just 'raise awareness' on Ballot Marking Devices. This lawsuit will be the first lawsuit to challenge Ballot Marking Devices and to put them out of their misery. We are definitely going to work to see that Ballot-Marking Devices are declared unconstitutional."

Finally, Marks offers her reaction to news of Georgia's announcement today (filled with misleading nonsense [PDF]) that they plan to award a $90 million contract to the Canadian firm Dominion Voting to replace all of the state's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems with new, 100% unverifiable Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) made by Dominion in time for next year's Presidential primaries in a battle-ground which could swing the 2020 election...

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Guest: NC elections expert Dr. William Busa ('DocDawg' of Daily Kos!); Also: Barr, Ross found in contempt by House Oversight; Big progressive wins in VA; New NATIONAL polls show Trump in trouble, Warren surging...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2019 5:10pm PT  

We've got some interesting follow-up on today's BradCast, following the disturbing story we broke on air earlier this week regarding the "master passwords" for North Carolina electronic voting systems --- and more --- found online, unprotected, and downloadable by anybody since at least early 2016, at the NC Board of Elections website. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, some quick news updates: A second U.S. House committee has now voted to hold Donald Trump's new Attorney General and fixer William Barr in contempt. The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend holding both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents regarding the lies told by both Commerce and DoJ about adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Ross previously claimed he was asked by DoJ to add the question to help better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but new documents from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering operative reveal the real intent was to shift resources and Congressional districts to white Republican jurisdictions.

In other Constitutional Crisis news, Hope Hicks, Trump's former Communications Director and longtime aide --- before his run for office, during the campaign and transition, and while in the White House --- has reportedly agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week about her cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's two-year probe. Hicks was a key witness on a number of the criminal obstruction charges detailed in Mueller's report. She has agreed, however, to testify to Judiciary only behind closed doors next week, presuming the White House doesn't move to block her in some way.

In elections news, new Quinnipiac polling shows six of the current top contenders for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination --- Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg and Booker --- all handily defeating Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up in NATIONAL polling, if the election were held today. That new poll and others out today still show Biden atop the pack in the primary contest, though slipping since he entered the race last month. Two new polls show Warren leaping into second place above Sanders since last week. We offer some thoughts and WARNINGS about all such polls today.

And then, some surprisingly good news for progressives in Virginia, where two criminal justice reformers ousted long time state prosecutors in elections on Tuesday.

Next, we're joined by Dr. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, a Democratic campaign consulting and technology firm in North Carolina, though Busa is likely better known to many on the Internets as "DocDawg" from Daily Kos. Busa has been doing some excellent follow-up work on the startling recent disclosures by cyber risk researcher Chris Vickery, who explained on Monday's BradCast how he discovered "master passwords" for some of NC's electronic voting systems, and much more, on the state Board of Elections website last year. Hundreds of files and screenshots, he said, were all left vulnerable on the Internet, in a directory set as public, to anyone who felt like downloading them, at least since early 2016 in advance of that year's Presidential election and its stunning, razor-thin conclusion.

Busa, as a well known elections maven in NC, tells me he was contacted following Vickery's revelations this week by the SBOE's spokesperson with a vague explanation for the exposed files --- which were subsequently set to private after Vickery notified the Board about the vulnerability last year in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. But, as he documented at Daily Kos on Tuesday, the explanation by the Board's Public Information officer Pat Gannon only made the case "murkier". Gannon, according to an email he sent to Busa, claimed the files were old passwords that were no longer in use and that, in any event, they were encrypted when posted online. Busa studied the claims regarding encryption and finds them to be untrue based on evidence revealed by the unencrypted screenshot of the passwords posted by Vickery.

For his part, Vickery --- who previously told me he found evidence the passwords had been in other jurisdictions as well as the one county the state claims --- politely suggested that Gannon appears to be uninformed about the details of what was left online. "Both of these issues," Busa observes, "being told that they were encrypted when clearly they're not encrypted, being told they were posted in 2012 when pretty clearly they were posted in 2016 --- goes to the question of 'Are we being told what's going on?'"

Moreover, Busa hits on what he describes as "the most troubling part of this.". The larger question --- one that we've been trying to make clear since the night that Trump was supposedly elected: Nobody --- not the states, not Mueller, not the FBI, not the DHS --- nobody has done a forensic analysis of the computer voting and registration systems and tabulators used in 2016 to assure they were not manipulated in some way, despite the many claims made by the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Special Counsel's office that Russia attempted to interference with elections systems in as many as 21 states before the 2016 Presidential contest.

If "white-hat good guys like Vickery" were able to find these vulnerable files, surely black-hate bad guys could easily have done so as well. "If DHS didn't find those things, then DHS is not as good as Chris Vickery. And if it's not as good as Chris Vickery at finding the chinks in our armor, then it's certainly not as good as Russia's GRU is," notes Busa. So, why didn't the DHS --- which, the U.S. Government has claimed has taken unprecedented steps to work with states to help them protect our elections from vulnerabilities --- already find these files and notify the state about the serious breech long before Vickery did? Both Busa and I are still asking.

"With McConnell blocking any meaningful election cybersecurity legislation in the Senate, DHS's 'band-aid' approach to 'Well, we're going to consult with the boards of elections in the fifty states and give them some assistance, it really is just that --- a band-aid. It doesn't give me any confidence whatsoever, especially now with what we've seen from the Vickery information."

Also today, since we've been covering so much GOP corruption in NC of late, (Busa quips: "North Carolina has become such an embarrassment that South Carolina is considering changing its name to 'North Georgia'), the NC elections expert and campaign consult rings in with helpful insight on the crucial, upcoming, SCOTUS opinion expected anytime now regarding unlawful GOP partisan gerrymandering of the state's U.S. House districts ("we have very little voice in North Carolina today because of those gerrymanders"); two upcoming U.S. House Special Elections in the state (one in NC-03 to replace the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones and the other to fill the NC-09 seat, which is still vacant following last year's GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that left the state BOE unwilling to certify results last November); and an important project Busa developed last year at NCGoVote.org called "Reg Watch", to automatically notify voters if their registrations have been changed or deleted for some reason. It would be very nice to see that project scaled up to all 50 states if possible! We discuss...

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White House censors climate science; NC GOP lied to federal court about gerrymandering; FL Repubs solidify power by gutting state initiative process; Jon Stewart shames Congress for ignoring 9/11 victims...again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2019 6:33pm PT  

We are far beyond politics and partisanship at this point. Our nation, and indeed our planet, is under threat from an entirely corrupt enterprise from top to bottom: the Republican Party. That doesn't mean that Democrats are wonderful. It means that the GOP may as well no longer exist as a political party. It is now no more than a wholly corrupt tool of corporate paymasters hoping to retain power and willing to take down an entire nation or planet with them in order to do it, if need be. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast...

  • Like China or North Korea or the old Soviet Union, the Trump Administration is finally just censoring science. The White House, according to the Washington Post, blocked a State Department intelligence analyst from delivering the written version of his opening testimony to a Congressional meeting last week after severely censoring his spoken remarks as well. Objections from several different corrupt White House agencies prevented Rod Schoonover, of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, from submitting his prepared testimony because it allegedly included just too much science from federal agencies such as NASA and NOAA, warning about the national security perils of unchecked climate change. In the oral version of his remarks, which he was allowed to deliver, he was forced to remove the words like "possibly catastrophic" from the phrase: "Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant --- possibly catastrophic --- harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change." Our climate crisis in frightening enough. What is happening now at the very top of our federal government makes it all the more terrifying;
  • On yesterday's program, we featured my exclusive interview with cybersecurity researcher Chris Vickery, who discovered hundreds of sensitive documents available for download on the Internet at the North Carolina State Board of Election's website, including "master passwords" for voting systems used in the state. We hope to have some followup on that story in coming days, but, in the meantime, North Carolina Republicans seems to be in competition with the nearby states of Georgia and Florida when it comes to who is able to be the most corrupt and willing to blatantly game elections for partisan advantage the most.

    Setting aside Vickery's disturbing report for now, and setting aside the DHS finally beginning a forensic probe of potential corruption (or even foreign penetration) of the state's voter registration system during the November 2016 Presidential election, and setting aside the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that derailed last November's U.S. House election in the state's 9th Congressional District, the state GOP's multiple attempts to unlawfully use both racial and partisan gerrymandering in their successful effort to prevent Democrats from winning elections at both the state legislative and U.S. House level is breathtaking.

    But it has now been revealed to be even worse than previously known, thanks to new documents found on the hard drive of the RNC's late redistricting expert which reveal the state lied to a federal court in at least one of three different lawsuits against them for unlawful gerrymanders. We try, with the help of Daily Kos' Stephen Wolf, to break down the three different gerrymandering cases (two in federal court over racial and then partisan gerrymanders of U.S. House seats, and an ongoing case in state court over the gaming of legislative districts) to help expose how breathtakingly corrupt and dishonest state Republicans have become and the lengths to which they have been willing to go in recent years to try and cling to power. That, as statewide elections have now resulted in Democratic victories for the top executive offices such as Governor and Attorney General, and a 6 to 1 advantage for Democrats on the elected state Supreme Court.

    Nonetheless, with the several illegal gerrymanders, the GOP has been able to hold on to super-majorities in both chambers of the state legislature until last November, when court-ordered fairer districts were used for the first time. But the lie that has now been exposed thanks to the dead GOPer's hard drive allowed the party to enjoy an extra year of veto-proof control and a bevy of bills and ballot measures were adopted that likely never would have been had democracy actually existed in state legislative elections;

  • Speaking of corrupt Republican state lawmakers, Florida is working hard to keep up with NC. After their legislature recently passed a measure to gut a state Constitutional amendment adopted by nearly 65% of Florida voters last year to restore voting rights to most former felons in the state after completion of their sentences, the Sunshine State's new Governor, Ron DeSantis (who reportedly won election last year by less than one half of one percent of the vote), insisted lawmakers gut the entire statewide ballot initiative process to make it nearly impossible for citizen-led initiatives to end up on the ballot at all. The new measure, as the Tampa Bay Times describes it, "will solidify Republican control in Tallahassee by eliminating one of the last threats to their power: the ballot box." They report that the legislation will "stifle the last area outside of statewide Republican control in Florida," noting "Republicans have dominated the Legislature, Cabinet and governor’s mansion for the last 20 years, and every member of the state Supreme Court has now been appointed by Republicans";
  • But where state GOP lawmakers are wholly corrupt, those at the federal level, setting the tone, are putting them to shame. We set aside today's Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment Update to bring you Jon Stewart's full testimony to a Congressional committee this afternoon, instead. Most Republican lawmakers didn't even bother to show up, despite the fact that it was a House hearing on renewing the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund which is said to be running out of money. The VCF covers health care costs of first responders such as police and firefighters who worked on and in the pile at Ground Zero on 9/11 and in the days that followed. Many of those victims have since died and are continuing to die due to long-term ailments related to breathing the air at Ground Zero. Shamefully, the GOP is, once again, fighting an extension of the program. Stewart blasts the lawmakers in moving, must-listen, sometimes tearful remarks that are alternately enraging and heartbreaking, citing "callous indifference and rank hypocrisy" of those who formerly used "Never Forget" as a political slogan supposedly in support of the same first responders who are now forced to show up on Capitol Hill to beg for healthcare as they fight for their very lives;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on one of those troubling days when the GNR, of all things, is the lightest, fluffiest segment we seem to be able to muster...

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

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Guest: In exclusive interview, cyber security expert Chris Vickery details his startling discovery of NC's exposed files before the 2018 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got an exclusive interview with CHRIS VICKERY, Director of Cyber Risk Research at the cyber security firm UpGuard. Vickery revealed late last week on Twitter that he discovered files, including administrative master passwords for voting systems, at the North Carolina State Board of Elections website that were left vulnerable and available online for anyone to download, prior to the 2018 election. Today he explains the evidence that suggests these files may have been available as early as February of 2016, months before that year's controversial Presidential election. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of article.]

The files were found by Vickery unencrypted and with no password needed to retrieve them from the site. He tells me today that there were so many files and screenshots (see a redacted snippet from one of the password screenshots in the graphic above), that he's not even sure if they number in the hundreds or thousands.

The longtime cyber security researcher says he promptly notified state officials of the discovery last year, before the 2018 elections, and that the state, shortly thereafter, set the files in question and their directories to "private". In response to a commenter on his short Twitter thread revealing the potential security breech late last Friday, however, he notes that "someone would have had to actively choose to make the file repository available to the entire world. It is not unprotected by default."

He tells me today that he is "very concerned" about the exposure and would "like to know who the data was intended for. If you put it up somewhere, you're intending it to be accessed by somebody. So who did they aim this for? I would love to know that." Indeed, he also shared an email with me over the weekend that was posted in the same directory as the passwords screenshot, in which a State Board of Elections official notes: "The attached screen shots should show just about all of the settings you will need for contests and candidates" in the ES&S iVotronic Image Management program, part of the computer voting system which defines where candidates selected by voters are placed on the electronic ballots and optical-scan systems.

Vickery says he decided to go public with the disclosure following the Washington Post exclusive last week reporting that federal investigators at the Dept. of Homeland Security have finally agreed to work with NC on a forensic investigation of the state's voter registration computers which inexplicably failed during the 2016 Presidential Election, on Election Day, in parts of the state. That announcement via the Post comes on the heels of Robert Mueller's redacted report [PDF] (see Volume 2, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), in which the Special Counsel briefly details how Russian Military Intelligence operatives were able to penetrate the voter registration systems of "at least one" county in Florida. Just over a week ago, the new Republican Governor of Florida announced he was notified by the FBI that, in fact, two counties had, in fact, been penetrated via a spearphishing attack on VR Systems, the private vendor contracted to run those voter registration systems.

VR Systems also supplies similar systems in about half a dozen other U.S. states, one of them being North Carolina. But, as Vickery notes, the password files that he found exposed on the Internet last year were not for registration systems, but for the state's computer voting machines, scanners and tabulation systems made by private vendor ES&S (the nation's largest), as used across most of the state of North Carolina. And ALL of this comes after we have been trying to point out on The BradCast for the last two and a half years that nobody --- not the FBI, not DHS, not the states themselves, nor even Mueller's Special Counsel team, as he admits --- ever carried out a forensic investigation of the computer voting, registration or tabulation systems in use in any of the states in 2016, despite that election's surprise ending in which Donald Trump purportedly won by a razor thin margin.

In his first broadcast interview on these new revelations, Vickery explains how he discovered the files, how the state responded when he told them about the vulnerability last year, whether the DHS has contacted him since he revealed his findings on Friday, and how serious of a potential security breech this is, especially given the extraordinary effort that the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Mueller Report claim Russia expended in hopes of interfering in the 2016 Presidential election. "When you have computers, and software, and firmware updating passwords and modems all mixed in together, you have the capability to do a lot of crazy stuff," he says, in response to my question about whether these passwords could have been used to alter or upload false results. "It's not out of the realm of possibility, but I have no specific reason to believe that happened. But that is kind of a frightening concept to realize that all of the ingredients are there."

Disturbingly, Vickery's report is startlingly similar to one revealed last year by Kim Zetter at Politico in the state of Georgia, regarding a security researcher who found millions of voter registrations along with voting system administrative passwords online and vulnerable to download without a password, prior to the Peach State's 2016 elections.

Also today: The last many weeks of climate changed-fueled weather disasters move from the Central U.S. to the SouthEast, with a month's worth of rain falling in one day over this past weekend (yet the DNC still won't allow a 2020 Presidential candidate debate focused solely on climate change!); Donald Trump pretends that his backing off of a threat to tax Americans who purchase imported goods from Mexico is a great negotiation victory; And we take a few calls on our disturbing interview with Vickery, including from one listener who quips that NC "left the combination of the safe written on top of the door"...

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Also: More GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud, this time in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2019 6:05pm PT  

The Constitutional Crisis in D.C. continues to heat up on today's BradCast, following Monday's directive from the White House that former White House Counsel Don McGahn should defy a lawful Congressional subpoena to appear for testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and Monday's ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that Donald Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over financial documents from Trump within the next week, as subpoenaed by Congress. And we've got a new case of GOP election fraud tossed into the mix with everything else today, as well. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below.]

McGahn did not appear Tuesday morning at the Judiciary Committee, defying his subpoena and prompting a public upbraiding from the panel's Democratic Chair Jerry Nadler who declared "our subpoenas are not optional" and vowed the Committee would hear McGahn's testimony "even if we have to go to court to secure it." Nadler added that Democrats will not be deterred from their Constitutionally mandated oversight investigations and "will hold this President accountable, one way or the other."

The "other" way, of course, is via an official impeachment inquiry in the House, which is now being sought by more and more House members, including several both in Democratic leadership and serving on the Judiciary Committee, which would take the lead in such an inquiry. Proponents of an impeachment inquiry now reportedly includes Chairman Nadler himself. He is said to have made the case to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday night, while she reportedly maintains that such an inquiry would hold up both legislation as well as other investigations in the House. Nonetheless, calls for impeachment proceedings from House Democrats are getting louder and appear more inevitable with each passing day and each defied subpoena, even with court rulings favoring Democrats to date. That could change as Trump takes his cases to Courts of Appeal or the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court, as the Administration clearly hopes.

But, even conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash (MI) is sticking to his guns following his weekend Twitter thread in which he declared the redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller reveals that Trump "engaged in impeachable conduct," displaying a "pattern of behavior that meet[s] the threshold for impeachment." Amash pushed back against his fellow Republican critics in a new Twitter thread on Monday. The founding House Freedom Caucus member shot down a number of limp and uninformed defenses and excuses offered by Trump, his Attorney General Bill Barr and other apologists who wrongly claim the President could not have obstructive justice --- despite the mountain of evidence presented by Mueller of repeated instances --- because there was no "underlying crime" that Trump was attempting to obstruct. All of that, as Amash explains, is simply false from top to bottom.

Also today, more breaking news of yet another case of Republican absentee ballot election fraud, this time in Florida. The latest incident comes on the heels of a GOP absentee ballot fraud scandal that resulted in North Carolina calling a do-over election for this September after the State Board of Elections refused to certify last November's tainted contest in the 9th Congressional District. The newly exposed case was from earlier in 2018, in Miami, where a WhatsApp chat log obtained by the Miami New Times appears to reveal campaign supporters and organizers for a Republican running for a seat on the Miami-Dade's County Commission describing the theft and destruction of absentee ballots cast for their opponents. The incident offers yet more evidence that voting by mail --- unless absolutely necessary --- remains a terrible idea, as we have long argued (despite many Democrats, including lots of friends, readers and listeners in Oregon and other states with all Vote-by-Mail elections, who feel quite differently about it.)

Lastly today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as 67 tornadoes blew through half a dozen states over the weekend and at least another 21 continue to wreak over the past 24 hours in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, where millions of Americans are now under flash flood warnings. Also on today's GNR, another coal company bankruptcy, a new scammy effort by BP and Shell to lobby for a carbon tax, and the introduction of comprehensive new plans to take on our climate crisis by two different 2020 Democratic hopefuls...

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Guest: Dave Daley of FairVote: Also: Tornado swarms erupt across U.S. amid climate crisis; Ford to fire thousands of workers...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2019 6:58pm PT  

Our guest on today's BradCast, argues that representative democracy is facing a "major crisis." And he wasn't even talking about the Constitutional Crisis we are now seeing as Trump turns up his obstruction measures against the U.S. Congress to 11. But partisan gerrymandering underscores that crisis as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, much of Texas and Oklahoma are under tornado watches and warnings today, as 10 million Americans were under flash flood warnings as of airtime today, following as many as 67 tornadoes over the weekend in in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska. That, after more than a month of record flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in many states. There is good reason that the UK's Guardian newspaper updated its style-guide last week to reflect the existential climate crisis humanity now faces, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels. The Guardian is now recommending "climate change" be referred to by its journalists as "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown", and that "global warming" is better described as "global heating", with "climate science denier" to be used instead of the inaccurate "climate skeptic". It will be nice when US media decides to do the same.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Ford Motor Co.'s CEO --- who personally received a 6% raise last year, bringing his total compensation package to nearly $18 million --- announced plans for a "smart organizational redesign process" on Monday. That's a nice way of describing the company's decision to lay off as many as 7,000 workers by the end of summer. So much for the $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut assuring jobs, jobs, jobs and putting our economy "on rocket fuel", apparently, as Trump promised.

But the biggest news over the weekend, no doubt, comes from conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who announced and explained on Twitter why he believes "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct" and why even the redacted version of the Mueller Report reveals Trump "engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."

The courageous, staunch libertarian Tea Party Republican and co-founder of the hard right Freedom Caucus in Congress, also charges that Trump's new Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report", that "partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances," and that "the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ [impeachment] as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct." He went on to warn, as we long have as well, that "When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law --- the foundation of liberty --- crumbles."

Trump's impressive response was to call Amash "a total lightweight" and "loser". Ours is to bestow him with our much-sought after, if rarely bestowed, Intellectually Honest Conservative Award

Of course, there are other reasons that so few (exactly zero, at the moment) other Congressional GOPers have joined Amash in standing up for what they used to pretend to believe in. One is that Democrats have yet to present the case for impeachment to the American public, even as the Trump Administration invokes every form of unlawful obstructive measure to try and keep them from doing so. (Breaking news during today's program, for example, includes a federal judge finding Trump's accounting firm Mazars must turn over Trump's financial documents as lawfully subpoenaed by Congress, despite a lawsuit from Trump attempting to block them from doing so; and news that the White House has now ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to defy a Congressional subpoena requiring him to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.)

The other reason many Republicans in Congress feel no need to hold Trump to account is that the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in state after state following the 2010 census has resulted in members of Congress who feel --- with no small amount of justification --- that they cannot be removed from office by voters in a general election. The radical imbalance of such obscene district maps have resulted, for example, in Democratic House candidates winning almost 50% of the vote last year in North Carolina, but ultimately taking just 3 of the state's 13 U.S. House seats. In Ohio, essentially 50/50 splits by voters for members of Congress have resulted in just 4 of 20 seats going to Democrats, year after year, over the past decade. We've similar stories in other key states such as Wisconsin, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with courts finding House Districts and state legislative districts alike to have been unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and orders by federal courts to draw new, fairer maps repeatedly blocked by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

That decade-long scam, as our guest today, DAVID DALEY of FairVote argued last week at New Republic, is precisely why GOP-controlled state after GOP-controlled state in recent weeks, have been able to adopt radical, extremist and even unpopular anti-abortion restrictions. Daley, author of the book RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, lays out his argument, updates us on the recent partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland now before SCOTUS (with a ruling due next month), and why, as he argues, the fight for fair maps, fair elections and democracy itself "is not going to be saved in this country by any given election," but needs to be "engaged and fought every single day" as we are now in "a war for the future of this country"...

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Leon County's 30-year veteran Election Supervisor tells us FBI lied about hacks in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL ballots will be unverifiable in 2020; calls NSA 'leaker' Reality Winner a 'heroine'; warns new GOP law means 'Jim Crow' has returned to the Sunshine State
Also: Trump's Iran war threat; AL bans almost all abortions; NC-9 do-over candidates set...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2019 6:59pm PT  

It seems that even Republicans in Florida have finally been forced to notice/admit what we've been pointing out about the 2016 election for years now. And our guest on today's BradCast, a longtime county elections chief from the Sunshine State, is none too happy about any of it. He offers several serious-as-a-heart-attack warnings about 2020 in the bargain. [Must-listen audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But, first up today, the nation and world continue to pay a dangerous and painful price for whatever did or didn't happen that resulted in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The Administration continued to ratchet up their threats of war against Iran on Wednesday by ordering all nonessential U.S. Government staff out of Iraq, citing unspecified and publicly unsupported claims of threats from Iran. The face-off clearly comes from Trump's ill-considered decision to pull out of the 2015 Obama Administration-brokered, seven-nation nuclear agreement which had effectively ended Iran's nuclear program. Though even the Trump Administration conceded Iran has been faithful to the anti-nuclear pact, Trump withdrew the U.S. and re-imposed crippling sanctions. He's now threatening war, for reasons that nobody seems to understand, and has deployed war ships and bombers to the tinder-box region.

Back at home, Trump's stolen U.S. Supreme Court has inspired dozens of new anti-abortion laws in state after state. On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most draconian measure yet, a bill that would outlaw almost all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, while jailing doctors who perform the (currently) Constitutionally-protected procedure for up to 99 years. The new law, adopted on Tuesday by the male-dominated state Senate and signed less than 24 hours later, would not only force women to carry the child of their rapists, it could also penalize doctors more harshly than the rapists. The ACLU has vowed to challenge the law which would require even pregnant 11-year old rape victims to carry their baby to term.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republican primary voters selected their candidate to run against Democrat Dan McCready in the do-over election for the state's 9th U.S. House Congressional District after the Republican candidate and Baptist Minister Mark Harris was discovered to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive Absentee Ballot Fraud Scheme last November. The 10-candidate GOP primary resulted in hard-right, Trump-loving state Senator Dan Bishop being selected to run against McCready in September's do-over election. Bishop is the author and lead sponsor of NC's infamous 2016 law restricting bathroom access for transgender people.

But, as the nation and world continue to pay the price for Trump's nightmarish Presidency, new questions emerge (or, at least, are finally being noticed by Republicans) regarding his own supposed 2016 election victory. On Tuesday, Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged the FBI notified him that election systems in at least two different Florida counties were infiltrated by by Russian intelligence in advance of the 2016 election. He says the FBI has barred him from publicly stating which two counties those are.

The news comes on the heels of similar (and similarly vague) allegations detailed in the redacted Special Counsel report [PDF] from Robert Mueller (see Volume II, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), as well as public claims in 2018 made by Florida's then Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson's assertions about Russian access to the state's elections systems were publicly ridiculed at the time by then Gov. Rick Scott and other GOPers, even though Florida's Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was told about the same information at the same time as Nelson in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Scott would go on to narrowly defeat Nelson for the Senate seat in 2018 and Republican DeSantis is said to have narrowly edged out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on the same day. Both races were so close they resulted in unprecedented statewide "recounts".

However, as our guest today, 30-year veteran Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO explains, "recounts" in Florida amount to little more than running the same paper ballots through the same optical-scan computers which tallied them --- either correctly or incorrectly --- in the first place. Sancho, the legendary elections chief in Tallahassee, the state's capital, was so well-respected by all sides that he was tapped in 2000 to oversee FL's notoriously aborted Presidential recount that year. He is furious today about DeSantis' announcement, the secrecy behind which are the counties that were penetrated (he retired after the 2016 election), and explains that he was lied to by the FBI when he was told, during a then confidential conference call with Bureau officials in 2016, that "no county had been hacked" in the run-up to the election.

"The Justice Department has continued to obfuscate and lie about this situation from the very beginning. I was on a confidential call on September 30, [2016] in which all 67 election officials here in this state, and the state election officials, were informed by the FBI that no county had been hacked. The state hadn't been hacked. They told us that. And we now know, from the documentation that's been released through The Intercept and Mueller, that was false. We now know from the documentation, some time in early August [of 2016], the successful penetration occurred."

Sancho also now questions whether there were more than two counties penetrated and says he has no reason to trust the claims by either DeSantis or federal officials that election results were unaffected by the attack. "Here's the crazy thing about it," he tells me, "the Russian GRU knows which counties they've penetrated. The only people that don't know are the election officials and the citizens and voters of the state...it's time the American citizenry, particularly Floridians, figured out that information."

He also hails NSA whistleblower Reality Winner as a "heroine" for alerting the world to documents revealing that the Russian GRU had penetrated elections systems in Florida (and possibly elsewhere) via coordinated spear-phishing attacks that allowed them access to voter registration and website election results reporting systems made by VR Systems, a private election systems vendor with contracts in dozens of U.S. states. Winner is currently serving 5 years in federal prison for having leaked those documents to The Intercept in 2017.

Sancho demands to know "why Homeland Security decided to keep critical information from state and local election officials" for so many years. "Why weren't we told?" He also furious at Rubio and other Republicans for their treatment of Nelson when he tried to blow the whistle himself last year. "Nelson was vilified as being old and senile for saying such a ridiculous thing. And actually he was right...And quite frankly, the individual whose stock falls in my eyes is Senator Rubio, who confirmed what Sen. Nelson said, only after the election. He could have told the truth, and said that Sen. Nelson is raising a valid point. He kept his mouth shut. He put his party over this nation, and we are poorer for it today."

As to the security of the state's election systems as we head into 2020, he warns that "Florida is not well protected," adding a chilling note: "You do a reconnaissance before a major attack," he tells me, "and I don't think we've had the major attack yet."

Sancho has plenty more to say regarding Florida's move to unverifiable computer-marked paper ballots in advance of the upcoming Presidential election, and much more that I hope you'll click below to tune in for. There's simply too much to fully summarize here.

But one last point for now. Sancho also offers his thoughts today on the recent measure passed by GOP state lawmakers to undermine Florida's Constitutional Amendment 4 which was adopted by nearly 65% of statewide voters last November, allowing some 1.5 million former felons in Florida who have completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation, to have their voting rights restored. The new GOP measure, which awaits DeSantis' signature, would bar those newly-eligible voters --- including more than 20% of the states African-American voting-age population --- from registering to vote unless all court-imposed fines and fees are paid.

"What the Republicans did was reprehensible," Sancho rails, arguing that the bill contradicts "the overwhelming, clear language" of the statewide constitutional ballot measure. Many have described the new GOP bill as a poll tax. Sancho calls it more "cash register justice", as it will allow those with money to vote, but not those without. "This is clearly restricting the right to vote based upon who can afford to pay. Jim Crow has been reestablished in Florida."

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump trade war sends markets plunging; Trump's Constitutional Crisis with Congress continues; Good news for FL voters; NC-9's do-over primary election...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trump-induced chaos continues to worsen, from China to the U.S. Congress, and the fights over 2018 and 2019 elections continue in Georgia and North Carolina, while a court ruling in Florida will make things a bit easier for voters in 2020. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, Donald Trump sends world markets --- including the Dow, which dropped more than 600 points on Monday --- plummeting, after China announces plans to respond to Trump's newest 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday. Today China announced they plan to institute retaliatory tariffs on some $60 billion in U.S. exports and may cut off sales from certain companies entirely. So, Americans are left paying exorbitant new import taxes (tariffs on Chinese goods imported to the U.S. are taxes paid by U.S. companies and consumers, they are NOT paid by China, as Trump keeps falsely asserting), and now financial markets are taking an additional hit. Experts worry the dispute could soon nudge the economy into recession if a trade deal is not brokered. Trump has since threatened to add new taxes on all goods made in China if they refuse to kowtow to his demands.

At the same time as Trump is playing out his ill-considered foreign trade war, he is also expanding his domestic war against Constitutionally-mandated oversight by the Legislative Branch. A weekend analysis by the Washington Post finds Trump and his allies are now blocking more than 20 separate Congressional investigations "into his actions as president, his personal finances and his administration's policies" in what experts --- and even former Republican Congress members and legal staffers --- cite as a deepening crisis of unprecedented proportions between the two co-equal branches.

From Florida, however, we have a bit of good news from a federal court, where a judge has ruled that the state must follow the Voting Rights Act by supplying election materials and assistance for Spanish-speaking voters in advance of the 2020 primaries. The ruling is key for the tens of thousands of new Spanish-speaking Florida voters who moved to the Sunshine State from Puerto Rico following the devastation of 2017's Hurricane Maria.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republicans voters in the state's 9th Congressional District will select their nominee to run against Democrat Dan McCready in a do-over general election scheduled for this fall, after the state refused to certify a winner from last November's contest following the revelation that the Republican candidate (and Baptist minister), Mark Harris, was found to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive absentee ballot fraud scheme on his behalf. In February, after some remarkable testimony, the state scheduled a new election. Tuesday's GOP primary in NC promises to be a bit of a circus with 10 --- um, colorful --- Republicans running for the nod. If none of receive more than 30% of the vote, there will be a runoff in September, with the general election then pushed back to November. The U.S. House seat in NC-9 will remain vacant until then, as 2018's last undecided election is finally completed near the end of 2019.

In Georgia, meanwhile, results from a 2018 race are still being challenged in court, after more than 125,000 votes cast in last November's race for Lt. Governor appeared inexplicably "missing". The unusually large undervote rate in that contest does not appear in any others races, including statewide elections much farther down the ballot (eg. Sec. of State, Insurance Commissioner, etc.)

Moreover, the missing votes only appear to have occurred on ballots cast at the polling place, where voters are forcced to use GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Hand-marked absentee paper ballots revealed no similar drop-off in voting rates for Lt. Governor and, according to our guest today, plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, the unusually large residual vote rate was also inexplicably highest in predominately African-American precincts.

"It wasn't just our speculation that something went wrong with the machines," Marks tells me. "We had the premiere election statisticians in the United States look at this, and they basically said it would be a one-in-ten thousand chance that something wasn't happening in the machines that would have caused this kind of result."

Last January, as the Coalition sought a forensic analysis of the state's voting systems and other materials needed to carry out their lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the Lt. Governor election, they were blocked by the state. Leading that fight was Republican Gov. Brian Kemp who is said to have narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams last year on the same day, in a race where then-Sec. of State Kemp oversaw his own election and was found by several court challenges to have been suppressing the vote in predominately African-American areas. Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court heard the plaintiffs' appeal in the case, after a lower state court judge dismissed it --- without even allowing discovery --- earlier this year. Marks and the other plaintiffs seek to have the lower court's ruling by Senior Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs reversed, so they may proceed with discovery, including forensic analysis by cybersecurity and voting systems experts, and a full trial.

"The dynamics of [the lower court] trial were extremely strange," she explains. "We told the Supreme Court several times that during the trial, when we were begging for discovery, begging for a jury trial, begging for a continuance because they had been blocking everything we were doing, the judge said, 'Look, I'm getting pressure to get this resolved. So, no --- you cannot have the documents, you can't have a continuance, and you can't have a jury trial.'

"Getting pressure"? From whom? "We don't know. She didn't disclose that," Marks says, "but that alone is reason to reverse her."

Marks joins us to detail how things went at the high court last week, and for an update on Kemp's new effort to move the voting systems in Georgia from its current 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen system, installed in 2002, to an all-new 100% unverifiable touchscreen system that prints equally unverifiable computer-marked paper ballot summary cards. On that front, Marks has been loudly opposing the move --- advocating instead ofr hand-marked paper ballots --- and offers some interesting news as well...

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Guest: Author, election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Notre Dame Cathedral burns; Trump flouts the law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg makes it official; GOPers in AR and TN move to game elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2019 6:22pm PT  

Among the many stories we cover, before getting to our guest on today's BradCast --- as one institution after another feels as if they are burning to the ground, either literally or metaphorically [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • The historic, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames today during renovations, with its famous spire and two-thirds of its roof collapsed, but its famous bell towers and Rose Windows hopefully spared;
  • The Dept. of Justice confirmed that, almost a month after Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned over his report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with the effort, and obstruction of justice by Donald Trump himself, a redacted version of the 400-page report would be given to both Congress and the public this Thursday;
  • Congressional Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have agreed, for some reason, to extend their deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of Trump's tax returns until April 23, as the Administration continues to blatantly flaunt the decades-old federal law requiring the requested materials be given to Congress;
  • Death threats continued against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after the President of the United States posted a video on his Twitter feed which repeatedly used an out-of-context remark from the Somali-American Muslim Congresswoman to tie her, incredibly enough, to the 9/11 attacks, even after a Trump supporter last month was charged for calling her office to describe her as an "fucking terrorist" and vowing to "put a bullet in her fucking skull";
  • The 21-year old son of a white sheriff's deputy in Louisiana was officially charged with hate crimes after an arson spree which recently burned down three African-American churches in the state over 10 days;
  • And, on a far more more hopeful note, the 37-year old, openly gay, Afghanistan war vet and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially announced his run for the Democratic nomination for President over the weekend.

Next, speaking of elections, and before we are joined by our guest today, University of Kentucky College of Law election Professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, a story of GOPers making it more difficult to register voters in Tennessee, and another on Republican state lawmakers working to make it next to impossible for progressives in Arkansas to place citizen initiatives on the ballot, after the state voted to increase the minimum wage via a ballot measure in 2018.

Douglas, author of the brand new book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, details a few of the stories from his book revealing how regular citizens in recent years have succeeded in pushing for local and state measures that have resulted in the expansion of the franchise, even in the face of the dark forces hoping to restrict access to the voting booth.

He shares, for example, the story of the Kentucky man who lost his right to vote for life in the state for stealing a car as a teenager decades ago, who was able to encourage his state's legislature to change the law to re-enfranchise those who have completed their sentences. And the story of the woman in Michigan whose anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative was adopted by voters last November. Both stories are told in more detail in his book. With so many stories in the news (and our program!) of voting rights being taken away or otherwise restricted, its important for folks to understand they can actually change that equation without relying on Congress or even major civil rights groups, often by taking action themselves.

"What I like to focus on, in addition to the doom and gloom that seems to invade our psyche with respect to the right to vote, are the positive stories of progress and success," Douglas tells me. "There's power in these inspiring stories that I tell in the book about ways to make our voting process more convenient and inclusive. We can quibble about some of the details, but hopefully the overarching message that we need to take back our elections through local grassroots work can really take hold."

With those hopeful notes, Douglas offers a list of groups and initiatives in his book who readers can contact and be inspired by to take action in their own home towns and states. We also discuss several emerging initiatives to expand access to voting, such as restoring voting rights to the incarcerated and even lowering the voting age to 16 (which is already being done for local elections in several jurisdictions!), as well as a number of initiatives on which we do not agree. That, of course, underscores the beauty of democracy...when we can actually find it. (Oh, and here's the link to where you can buy the book and a ticket to Josh's June 20 appearance at The Last Bookstore appearance here in L.A., as mentioned on the show!)

All of that, and even a quick --- rhyming --- listener call on today's program!...

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

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