On today's BradCast: Another U.S. House race flips (unexpectedly) from "red" to "blue" as California continues to bother to count ballots, and two lawsuits are filed in Georgia following the November 6th midterm elections, including one that seeks to overturn a major statewide race due to a seemingly inexplicable failure of the state's touchscreen voting machines. [Audio link to full posted at bottom of article.]
First up: Shortly after we got off air on Monday, AP and a host of other news outlets began retracting their previous calls for the incumbent Republican Rep. David Valadao in California's 21st Congressional District election after Democrat T.J. Cox took the lead for the first time since vote-counting began on the night of the November 6th midterms. Cox is now reportedly up by just 436 votes over Valadao with more than 110,000 tallied so far, in a district easily won by the Republican with a wide margin in 2016. If Cox' lead holds, as appears likely, the Democratic midterm "blue wave" is now on track to pick up a full 40 seats in the U.S. House this January.
In the meantime, Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia gave up her hopes of defeating Republican Secretary of State and champion vote suppressor Brian Kemp over a week ago. But today, her new organization, Fair Fight Georgia, filed a federal lawsuit against the state over suppressive tactics and for paper ballots for all voters in future elections. She was then hectored by CNN's Jake Tapper about whether she believed Kemp's victory as Governor-elect was "legitimate". (It wasn't, as she suggests in her answers.)
While Abrams' complaint does not seek to overturn the Governor's race in Georgia, a separate lawsuit was filed on Friday -- the last day possible for a 2018 election contest in the state --- by the Coalition for Good Governance seeking to toss out the results of the Lieutenant Governor's contest. The central basis for the suit is the virtually inexplicable residual vote count (ballots where no vote was recorded) in the race. The anomaly occurs only in the Lt. Governor race, and only on votes cast via the state's 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems. Residual vote counts are as expected from hand-marked paper absentee and provisional ballots in the same race.
We're joined by plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, the Coalition's Executive Director, who explains how the undervote rate for Lieutenant Governor is far higher --- almost twice the rate --- than in contests that were much lower on the ballot, such as for Agriculture or Insurance Commissioner. The residual vote rate was also much higher than it was in the Lt. Governor's race during the 2014 election, when it was roughly along the lines of all the other races on the ballot that year.
"There was no meaningful drop-off at all if we just look at paper ballots. If you look at the mail-in ballots and provisional ballots, there was virtually no drop-off," Marks says. "So what this tells us is that the undervote is related only to the machine. Now please explain that!"
Marks, who says her group has obtained affidavits from voters who charge that a problem with the touchscreens prevented them from voting in the Lt. Governor's race, describes the potential explanations for this anomaly and suggests the suit may lead to an unprecedented forensic examination of Georgia's easily-hacked, oft-failed, unverifiable, Diebold touchscreen voting machines. Moreover, she notes, thanks to an earlier suit filed in federal court before the election, seeking to replace the state's touchscreens with hand-marked paper ballot systems --- the judge found the Diebold touchscreens unverifiable and dangerously insecure, but allowed their use for one more election anyway --- will be very helpful in illuminating the concerns outlined by the new complaint.
"There were innumerable reports of voters who didn't have this race show up on their electronic ballot," she tells me. "Some people in fact did find it on their review screen. For many voters, apparently, that's the first time they saw the Lt. Gov. race. In many cases, apparently, when they got to the review screen, staring at it, trying to get ready to make a correction --- without even touching the screen --- it automatically cast the vote and the message came up 'Thank you for voting, your vote was cast.'"
The state recently certified Republican Geoff Duncan as the winner over Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by nearly 3.5 points in the race for Lt. Governor. In Georgia, the state's second highest executive official also serves as President of the state Senate, determining which initiatives are to be taken up for debate and possible passage by state lawmakers. Marks, a Republican who runs the non-partisan organization, also details her concerns that evidence of programming failure or manipulation from November 6th may have been destroyed, in apparent violation of Georgia's own election rules, when the machines were recently reprogrammed for the state's December 4th runoff elections for Secretary of State and Public Service Commissioner.
"They are absolutely violating their own law," says Marks. "Not only did we need those machines preserved for our court case --- the [separate] election security case that's in federal court --- but also we certainly need them in this new case that challenges the election results for the Lt. Governor's race. [We] said to the Sec. of State: 'Your rule, your own election code, says they cannot touch these machines, the internal memory, for one month if there is no election contest pending. Now there is an election contest pending. Obviously they are needed as evidence and the Secretary is continuing to take the position that over-writing the data, uploading new ballot programming for the Dec. 4th runoff, and putting these machines in unsecured voting places somehow does not make the internal memory data at risk."
On the topic of the GA SoS runoff next week, Marks also notes that the Democratic candidate John Barrow is strongly in favor of hand-marked paper ballots, where the Republican, Brad Raffensperger, is calling for unverifiable computer-marked/barcoded ballots instead.
All of these matters, including Abrams own lawsuit filed today, offer a chance for us to discuss the necessity of challenging insecure, non-overseeable voting systems before elections rather than after, which Democrats, she charges, failed to do this year in Georgia.
Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of the federal government's landmark National Climate Assessment released by the Trump Administration on Friday after Thanksgiving in hopes that few would notice its devastating warnings about the climate change threat to both the environment and the nation's economy...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)