On today's BradCast: It often feels like we're fighting to save whatever little is left of representative American democracy. Today is certainly one of those days. [Audio link to full show follows below.]
First up today, Associated Press reports that the computer server at Kennesaw State University's Center for Elections in Georgia was "wiped clean" in early July, just days after the state's contentious June 20 Special Election Runoff for the U.S. House Seat in GA's 6th Congressional District, and as a federal lawsuit [PDF] was filed to challenge the results of that election.
Kennesaw's Center has been contracted by the state for some 15 years to program virtually all aspects of Georgia's elections, including their electronic pollbook voter registration databases and the highly hackable and 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting systems and electronic tabulators used across the entire state.
The complete deletion of information on the server in July --- and, reportedly, two backups of that server in August --- is particularly disturbing given questions about the accuracy of the reported results in the race, said to have been won by Georgia's former Republican Sec. of State Karen Handel over Democrat Jon Ossoff. Some of the concerns were detailed in the ongoing lawsuit filed by a number of plaintiffs, including Republican election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks of the Coalition of Good Governance. (We discussed that suit with Marks on The BradCast in July and concerns revealed about the results of the April Primary with VoterGA's Garland Favorito in May. We hope to speak with both of them on the show again very soon.)
The federal complaint had sought a forensic analysis of the Kennesaw server to determine whether it may have been manipulated in some way. AP reports: "Wiping the server clean 'forestalls any forensic investigation at all,' said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist who has closely followed the case. 'People who have nothing to hide don't behave this way.'" Marks is quoted in the same report noting: "I don't think you could find a voting systems expert who would think the deletion of the server data was anything less than insidious and highly suspicious."
The server was discovered by a data security researcher to have been left online and unprotected --- exposing personal voter records, voting system programming files and administrative system passwords --- in August of 2016. Yet, GA's Secretary of State, Republican Brian Kemp (who is running for Governor in 2018), claims to have not been notified, and the server was left unprotected through both the 2016 Presidential election, as well as this year's special U.S. House race. The personal information of some 6.7 million voters, ballot definition files used on voting machines and tabulators, as well as system passwords used by election officials to access those systems were reportedly left vulnerable to manipulation for at least six months, if not longer. (We reported on that aspect of this mess in June of this year.)
Today we discuss the alarming new AP report and what it means, following our own months of coverage of related concerns about the GA-06 special election, failures during tabulation, many questions from Election Integrity advocates about its reported results and, of course, our years (nearly 15 of them) warning about exactly such a situation as this.
Then, speaking of a "rigged" democracy, we're joined by Maplight's Dark Money Watch journalists MARGARET SESSA-HAWKINS and ANDREW PEREZ to discuss their new reporting on federal 'disclosure' documents revealing that millions of dollars were spent to support the Republican U.S. Senate effort to block President Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, and the subsequent effort to confirm the nomination of President Trump's nominee to that same seat, Neil Gorsuch. The two reporters detail their findings including that, of the $17 million in "dark money" raised and spent on both efforts, a single donation for $17.9 million, from an unknown source to the rightwing Judicial Crisis Network, may have accounted for most, if not all of that effort.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on concerns about two dodgy contracts for $500 million to purportedly help rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid; a new report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the $350 BILLION U.S. tax-payer dollars spent on climate-related disasters over the past decade, and much MUCH more!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)