On today's BradCast: Good news for Democrats out of Maine, a mixed bag (at best) out of the Florida "recounts", and more shameful news from Georgia's illegitimate Governor's race...
First up, a federal judge in Maine allowed computer vote counting to continue today under the state's new Ranked Choice Voting scheme, denying a Constitutional challenge, for now, by an incumbent Republican Congressman. With the computer tally allowed to move forward based on the RCV algorithm, two-term GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who won the first tally (but without receiving a majority of first choice votes), is said to have been defeated by Democrat Jared Golden after the second choices of voters who had selected other candidates for the first choice were then added to the totals until one candidate, the Dem in this case, received a majority of votes.
If you're confused by that, it's just one reason why I've long been no fan of Ranked Choice Voting (sometimes called Instant Runoff Voting). Nonetheless, Golden's reported win results in a total pick-up, so far, of 35 U.S. House seats for Democrats, with several more undecided races pending that is likely to boost their "blue wave" to as many as 39 new seats in Congress.
A federal judge in Florida on Thursday observed that the state's elections have become a "laughingstock" which state officials "choose not to fix". He's right. In fact, the Republicans who have run the state for years now have chosen to make voting and counting ballots accurately --- and in a way that the public can know they've been counted accurately --- just about as difficult as humanly possible. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker issued an order today finding Florida's absentee ballot "signature matching" scheme to be unconstitutional. The order allows some 4,000 voters whose Vote-by-Mail or provisional ballots had been rejected due to certain signature issues a few more days to try and cure those problems in their counties by Saturday at 5pm.
Sen. Bill Nelson's campaign, however, in his razor-thin re-election contest with Gov. Rick Scott, had wanted those ballots added to the count sight unseen. (Scott is appealing the ruling nonetheless.) With the explosion of Vote-by-Mail across the country, signature matching problems are becoming a big concern, particularly with votes cast by younger voters who use computers and don't develop personal signatures and for older voters whose signatures have changed over time. Add to that the problem of the awful computer touchscreens used to record those signatures at DMVs and polling places.
In a separate case today also brought by Nelson's campaign, Judge Walker denied an extension for statewide "machine recounts" in the U.S. Senate and Governors races across the state, despite the absurdly short statutory deadline to complete them by today. That, even after Palm Beach County --- one of the state's largest Democratic strongholds --- explained that they were physically unable to complete their "recount" even for only the U.S. Senate race due to their aging and failing computer tabulators which overheated during the process and can only tally one race at a time.
Immediately following the end of the "machine recount," Scott's Secretary of State ordered what suffices for a "manual hand-count" in Florida to begin in the U.S. Senate race, where the margin remains less than 0.25% percent. That limited hand-count of ballots for which the computer scanners reported no vote in the U.S. Senate race must be completed by Sunday --- another arbitrarily short deadline that seems designed to stymie a real hand-count of votes.
The reported 0.41% margin of Republican Ron DeSantis over Democrat Andrew Gillum in FL's Governor's race remains too large to merit an automatic hand count. But, given the "systematic machine failure during the machine recount" in Palm Beach, Democrats filed a new lawsuit today seeking a full hand count of all votes cast in the County.
In Georgia, meanwhile, more counting of absentee and provisional ballots ordered by federal courts to be included in the tallies continued, as Republican Gubernatorial candidate and vote suppressor Brian Kemp called again for counting to end. He remains just 0.22% above the mark that would trigger a December runoff with Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams. Her campaign continues to decry Kemp's horrific administration of the election while Secretary of State, and many outside the state --- including Ohio's Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown --- now see a Kemp victory, if it happens, as illegitimate. Brown went so far as to say: "If Stacey Abrams doesn’t win in Georgia, they stole it. I say that publicly, it’s clear."
The maddening story of 92-year old African-American voter Christine Jordan's fight to even cast a provisional ballot this year in Georgia (after voting in the same place for the last 50 years!), underscores that argument, as we discuss today.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with grim news on the rising death toll in California's record wildfires, some accountability for a top EPA official who was arrested today, and new Democrats in the U.S. House are already moving for bold action on climate change...
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