It's that time of year. I've been doing a lot of talking lately, on a bunch of media outlets. That means I haven't been able to write and report here as much as I might like of late. In any case, below is one of those appearances, from earlier today, on RT America with anchor Kristine Frazao, in reference to a Christian Science Monitor article from last Friday, by Mark Clayton, accurately headlined: "Could e-voting machines in Election 2012 be hacked? Yes."
It's nice to see stories we reported here at The BRAD BLOG as long as six years ago, many of them exclusively, finally covered in mainstream media outlets, as the CS Monitor piece does. It's also fun to see them quoting the term "sleepover" --- in regard to vulnerable voting machines being sent home with poll workers for days or weeks before Election Day --- a phrase that this blog has been credited with coining about six years ago as well.
I realize that sounds sarcastic, but I don't actually mean it that way. If it all leads to more public discussion and awareness of these concerns, even six years late and six days before a Presidential Election, when it is, by and large, too late to do a damned thing about any of it before the election, I'll take it --- no matter how late it comes...
One week until Election Day, so imagine what we'll be talking about on the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show as I guest host while Mike and Kathy take another rare night off.
As usual, we're BradCasting LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open, at the bottom of this item, a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
Scheduled tonight (so far):
ARI BERMANof The Nation, on the voter suppression we'll be facing next Tuesday. (Weather and power permitting!)
VICTORIA COLLIER, author of Harper's November cover story: "How to Rig an Election" on the fight against corporations and their proprietary electronic voting systems having taken over our once-public elections. (And the pushback against her article from the left since it's publication.)
MATT PASCARELLA, Project Director at VideoTheVote.org on how you and your cell phone camera just might save Election 2012!
PLUS! Breaking Hurricane Sandy news, lots of updates from the War on Democracy, and as many of your calls as we can possible get to over your public airwaves at 877-520-1150 and your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates across the country and also on SiriusXM Ch. 127. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at our Sante Fe affiliate KTRC 1260, or our Minnesota affiliate KTNF 950 (tell them you're from "Minnesota" when asked). Also, you should be able to listen live at WhiteRose Society if the radio gods are with us.
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POST-SHOW UPDATE: Tonight's show flew by! Lots of good stuff (and a few rants) as Election Day, theoretically, is exactly one week away! Commercial free archives are below for your listening pleasure, as well as the chat room archives. Enjoy!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:HURRICANE SANDY SPECIAL REPORT: The storm, the aftermath, and the impacts of climate change; PLUS: A reminder of one Presidential candidate's position on federal disaster relief --- Mitt Romney has called for privatizing it ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Chevron: $2.5 Million To GOP Super PAC. Single Largest Corporate Donation; BP Oil Spill: Researchers Take a Deep Look at Gulf Seafood Safety; BP returns to profitability; WY coal art dispute rages on; There Is No 'Simple Fix' for Commodity Farming; Protests Against Expansion of China Chemical Plant Turn Violent; Sand Mine Riches Are Tough to Refuse ... PLUS: Hurricane Sandy: Haiti in emergency aid plea as disaster piles upon disaster ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Hurricane Sandy hit Pennsylvania just as the state's voters faced deadlines for acquiring and submitting absentee ballots, a situation that could affect thousands of votes in the close presidential election.
Gov. Corbett [R] announced Monday night that he was extending the deadline for voters to request absentee ballots - originally 5 p.m. Tuesday - by up to two days, depending on how many days county offices were forced to close because of the storm.
That will give registered voters in Philadelphia, where offices were to be closed Monday and Tuesday, until Thursday at 5 p.m. to show up in person at county election offices, fill out an absentee ballot request, mark the ballot, and vote on the spot. The new deadline would be Wednesday for government offices closed only one day.
... It will be too late to use that extended deadline to send an absentee ballot through the mail, because Corbett said he was not extending the Friday deadline for completed absentee ballots to arrive at county election offices.
Any use of the mail could be problematic because the storm has curtailed mail service in Philadelphia and the suburbs. Further cutbacks are likely throughout the state, depending on the course of the storm the remainder of the week.
The article was called to our attention on Twitter by MN's Sec. of State Mark Ritchie who asks: "Maybe other states will follow" in extending their absentee deadlines? But, again, please note that extended deadline only works for those showing up in person to cast their absentee ballot.
And then the Inquirer article also adds this troubling tidbit...
The Oct. 23, 2012 Third Party Presidential Debate between four candidates vying, along with President Obama and Mitt Romney, for the office of the U.S. Presidency, provided a rare, yet valuable glimpse at what a genuine, representative American democracy might look like. The worthy discussion, at the very least, should be read via text transcript, exclusively available here at The BRAD BLOG, for those who lack the time to watch the ninety minute video, embedded below.
Unlike Democracy Now's three expanded debates, which presented third party candidate responses to the questions posed at the three "official" Presidential debates and one Vice-Presidential debate sponsored by the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates, the Oct. 23 debate provided a forum that was not tethered to what co-moderator Christina Tobin of the Free and Equal Foundation, the organizers, described as "the private interests who control our beliefs, our opinions and our lives." Here, questions were neither posed directly by, nor filtered through corporate media-controlled moderators. Rather, they were presented, word-for-word, as submitted by citizens through social media.
With the single exception of the failure of Libertarian Candidate and former New Mexico Republican Governor Gary Johnson to say where he stood on "top-two" primaries (aka "Cajun primaries"), it was a debate in which all candidates left no room for doubt as to where they stood. It was a debate that included in-depth discussion on a wide variety of issues of vital importance, many of which were understandably evaded not only by the two major party Presidential candidates, but by the corporate media in the official debates, because those issues conflict with corporate wealth and power, including the wealth of the corporate-owned media.
It was a debate that began with Tobin's promise of future debates between "more candidates at every level of government" and ended with her surprise announcement of a final, foreign policy debate, next Tuesday, Oct. 30, commencing at 9:00 p.m. ET, broadcast via RT America, between two of the four candidates to be selected via an [ugh] online, instant run-off vote...
I remember the moment very well, being on the radio at "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX, where Cindy Sheehan was making her heroic call to meet face to face with George W. Bush, in late Summer of 2005. We were the only broadcast outfit doing regular daily broadcasts from on the ground there, as someone emailed me a warning from the National Weather Service about Hurricane Katrina on the night of Sunday, August 28, as the protest was wrapping up, and as the storm was gaining power and barreling towards New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico.
The complete bulletin from the NWS was so alarming I wouldn't read it on air, at first, believing that surely it was a hoax. Only after going to commercial break, and checking it out for myself, did I then share it with listeners. It was shocking for such an announcement --- the NWS bulletins are usually rather straight, dry reads, as you probably know --- and included phrases such as "MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER."
Last night, the National Weather Service issued an equally remarkable bulletin in regard to Hurricane Sandy. That announcement, which includes this plea to those who may not wish to evacuate as instructed by authorities --- "IF YOU ARE RELUCTANT, THINK ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONES, THINK ABOUT THE EMERGENCY RESPONDERS WHO WILL BE UNABLE TO REACH YOU WHEN YOU MAKE THE PANICKED PHONE CALL TO BE RESCUED, THINK ABOUT THE RESCUE/RECOVERY TEAMS WHO WILL RESCUE YOU IF YOU ARE INJURED OR RECOVER YOUR REMAINS IF YOU DO NOT SURVIVE" --- follows in full below...
"History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States," the Weather Channel's Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro is warning. "This is an extraordinary situation, and I am not prone to hyperbole."
The National Weather Service has been telling us over the past several days that the serious impact of the super storm which is Hurricane Sandy is not to be underestimated. But there is another concern that has been keeping me awake over the past week or so.
NBC's Al Roker spelled out that concern briefly on Sunday's Meet the Press, explaining what I've been worrying about since it became clear that the storm could have serious ramifications on Election Day.
I'm not talking about the political ramifications about its effect on planned campaign events between now and Election Day, on Early Voting turnout, or even how it's handled by President Obama and FEMA, etc. I'm talking about the serious question of whether voters will be able to vote on Election Day at all, particularly in states which force voters to use electronic voting systems at the precincts.
"We expect massive power outages throughout the area," Roker told NBC's David Gregory (before Gregory hurried to ignore the comment entirely.) "As the system moves on shore it's going to be a long term effect. It's going to last for about 72 hours. And so we're talking about people who could be without power for at least 10 days. That, as you know, will take it right into Election Day. So what will people do if they can't get to the voting booth, or the voting booths don't have power?"
Good question, Al. And one we've warned about here for a number of years.
There are about a half a dozen states (listed below) directly in harm's way where voters are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems on Election Day. In those locations, unless they have enough emergency paper ballots printed up to accommodate the entire electorate at precincts where power remains disrupted on Election Day, there could be very serious and unprecedented problems...
I think the two items below --- one graphic and one video, both from late last week --- sum up the state of the Romney campaign, at this date in time, as well as anything else I've seen. Neither have anything to do, either way, with whether they'll win (legitimately or otherwise), but both strike me as representative of the state of his campaign and, more broadly, the Republican Party as a whole at this moment in history...
President Barack Obama may have voted for Mitt Romney yesterday when he cast his Early Vote at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Chicago's 4th Ward. Nobody knows for sure. Even him.
He cast his vote on a 100% unverifiable touch-screen e-voting system made by Sequoia Voting Systems (which is now owned by a Canadian firm named Dominion Voting.) It is scientifically impossible to ever know if his vote was recorded accurately, as per his itent, or not on that type of voting system.
"I can't tell you who I voted for," the President joked, as noted by our colleague Mark Crispin Miller in a short blog item today wryly headlined "Obama votes for Romney". The President's joke may not have been nearly as funny as he had intended it.
We confirmed with the Chicago Board of Elections that Early Voters in the Windy City must do so on the oft-failed, incredibly-vulnerable, and easily-hacked (see below for details) Sequoia AVC Edge touch-screen voting system which is still used according to VerifiedVoting.org's database for Early, Disabled-Accessible or Standard polling place voting in some 234 jurisdictions across all or part of some 13 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The Intellectual Property of those Sequoia systems is still a proprietary trade secret owned by a Venezuelan firm named Smartmatic, which has been tied to the country's long-time President Hugo Chavez. That point was lied about by Sequoia's then CEO Jack Blaine when he was asked directly about it by a Chicago Alderman some years ago, as The BRAD BLOG detailed exclusively back in 2008.
A few other quick points of note which should deeply concern every voter in the nation --- of any party, or none at all --- about the 100% unverifiable Sequoia touch-screen voting systems that the President foolishly entrusted yesterday to accurately record his vote...
A new conspiracy theory being floated by apparatchik bloggers funded by Democratic Party bosses claims that a private equity firm that has invested in ship building companies, and is tied to a Mitt Romney adviser, is the sole reason why the GOP candidate has been pushing for a larger Navy in recent weeks. The theory, circulated by Think Progress, suggests that Romney is calling for a larger Navy expressly in hopes of padding the pockets of adviser John Lehman, a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan who is now an investment banker with stakes in several ship building companies. Based on that connection, the theorists at Think Progress are alleging Romney will fulfill a direct quid pro quo promised to Lehman in exchange for his serving as one of Romney's top military advisers in the campaign.
Of course, much of what I've just written in the paragraph above is complete bullshit...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Sandy threatens East Coast, as new study shows increase in big U.S. hurricanes; Koch Bros, Big Oil trying to kill wind industry; Judge rules: no mutants in national forests (for now); Plastic pollution, now in the Arctic; Ozone hole shrinks; PLUS: Time is running out for the Great Barrier Reef - half has been lost in just 30 years ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): US gov downplayed effect of Deepwater oil spill on whales; Cute Solar Charging Canopies charge while parked; Did the climate deniers win?; US politicians duck climate change because of cost; US to study cancer risks near nuclear sites; Methane destabilizing off East coast? ... PLUS: Renewable energy: Mandate it in the constitution? ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Once again, as they're coming in too fast for us to fully dig in to most of these, but you should know about them, so here's our quick round-up, for now, of the latest...
• Maricopa County, AZ Gives Wrong Election Date to Hispanic Voters. Again.: The largest county in AZ, the one with Phoenix in it, admitted last week that materials for Hispanic voters had incorrectly given the date of the November 6 election as November 8. They said it was a small error that didn't affect a lot of voters. This week, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Elections Department admits that they did it again: "Yvonne Reed confirms to ABC15 that bookmarks distributed by the elections department incorrectly listed the date of the general election in Spanish as November 8. The flip side of the bookmark correctly lists the date in English as November 6. Reed tells ABC15 the bookmarks were distributed at the three election counters throughout Maricopa County and that the department has no way of knowing exactly how many people received the bookmarks."
• Fake Voter Purge Letters Sent to Florida Voters: The phony letters have shown up in 23 counties, so far, warning voters they have 15 days to show up at the local Supervisor of Elections office and prove their citizenship, or they'll be removed from the rolls. Unlike the very real letters sent in FL Gov. Rick Scott and Sec. of State Ken Detzner's failed "non-citizen" voter purge earlier this year, these letters are forgeries meant to look real. "The letters mimic notices that local election officials did send out to voters this past spring and summer when the state began a process of trying to purge the voter rolls of noncitizens who were illegally registered to vote. The original process, which identified 2,600 voters as noncitizens, was fraught with problems and incorrectly targeted hundreds of naturalized citizens. ... [FL State Dept. Spokesman Chris] Cate said that the department was still collecting information and has notified all the election supervisors of the problem. He urged Florida voters who receive anything similar to contact election officials immediately." On Wednesday, the FBI joined in the investigation.
As we've yet to see a copy of the fake letter or email warning about it sent to FL's county Supervisors of Elections on Monday posted online, we've posted both of them here, since we received a copy from a source earlier this week.
• Touch-Screen Vote-flipping in VA: And so it begins again. Expect many more of these in the days ahead, as usual, particularly in states like VA which continue to have so little respect for voters that most are forced to cast their votes on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems. An email sent to Fairfax County, VA Democrats on Wednesday warns: "We have received several reports of touch screen voting machines switching the names on the ballot before the vote is cast." It goes on to advise voters who experience the problem to "Stop and alert the Election Officer - don't vote on that machine; Record the number of the voting machine; Record the name and phone number of the voter affected" and then to notify the local Democratic office immediately. We'd also add you should notify the Sec. of State, the local media and call 866-OUR-VOTE if this should happen to you.
The Fairfax Dems also offer this very sage advice: "Also, we encourage voters to use paper ballots (optical scan machine) where available." But good luck finding paper ballots in VA. (If you can still vote absentee there, please do, but deliver the paper ballot in person on Election Day, if possible!)
When touch-screen machines flip votes, they should be taken out of service immediately and quarantined. Unfortunately, most election officials allow technicians to try and re-calibrate the machines while they are in "Election Mode" and most vulnerable to manipulation. It's insane. We've been saying the same thing for years now, but few election officials seem to give a damn.
• Kochs team up with religious groups to target voters: Our friend journalist Zach Roberts, part of Greg Palast's intrepid team, obtained audio recordings from a fundraiser at a Focus on the Family-related group in Alaska where the man who runs the Rightwing outfit there boasted of their new affiliation with the Koch Brothers, the million-dollar voter targeting database they'd acquired from them, and the fact that, in the wake of Citizens United, political and religious groups may now work together more seamlessly than ever. Said the Alaska Family Council and Alaska Family Action President Jim Minnery at the event: "And so, the organization Alaska Family Action has the same board; I'm still the person in charge of that organization. We literally have to switch the light switch off and on when [laughter from crowd] we have a board meeting, because we have to be a separate nonprofit corporation according to IRS regulations." Also in attendance at the event: former Alaska Lt. Gov. Loren Leman (R) and Alaskan Gov. Sean Parnell (R). Roberts also reports that "Thirty-eight states with 'family healthy councils' across the country are in the midst of forming action groups and working with the Koch brothers' Themis database to target voters." Minnery also told the crowd, when explaining how the Kochs pitched the database to him: "So, they introduced this project to us by basically saying, 'Listen, we know more about you guys than you could ever hope to know, but the good side is, we're going to be able to use this for the glory of God and to get conservatives in power'".
•Davidson County (Nashville), TN Poll Workers Being Trained to Turn Away Voters?: "'Poll workers have been trained by the election commission to judge them (voters) by how they sound and how they look to determine their citizenship,' explained Eben Cathy of the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition. Cathy's claims are based on a Powerpoint slide shown to poll workers who were trained in Davidson County earlier this month. On the slide, one bullet point states that only US Citizens who are Tennessee residents may vote. Below that are the words 'naturalized citizenship require reading, writing, speaking basic English.'"
Davidson County is also the place where the Republican official in charge of the Board of Elections once told us to our face that "paper ballots are the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Funny. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) keeps saying it's Global Warming. These guys should have more meetings.
• TX AG Threatens to Arrest U.N. Observers: We previously told you that U.N. monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] were planning to observe this year's election, following a request last March by the NAACP and other groups who were (justifiably) concerned about voter suppression. Texas AG Greg Abbot has another idea: "'The OSCE representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE's representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance,' he said. 'Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE's representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.'" --- Um, "may be"? Isn't he the AG? The OSCE responded Wednesday in a letter to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton: "'The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections,' it said. 'The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable.'"
• VA County Registrar Incredible Dishonest or Just Stupid: The Washington Post joins the ranks of us "conspiracy theorists" by reporting on concerns about Mitt Romney's business associates and major supporters and their takeover of Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machine company. But it was the last line of the piece we found the most amusing: "Falls Church [,VA] registrar David Bjerke said that he was aware of the discussion surrounding Hart but that he regarded the system as completely secure. 'There’s no way for the count to be manipulated,' he said."