Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Schiff's powerful plea; CA Sec. of State 'conditionally certifies' VSAP touchscreens, adds curious 'hand-marked paper ballot' provision, Beverly Hills sues over system's critical flaw...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2020, 6:17pm PT  

Our special coverage of Donald John's Trump Senate Impeachment trial continues on today's BradCast, but we interrupt that coverage briefly at the top of today's show with some breaking news out of California, on a story we've been covering closely. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

After we revealed last week that Los Angeles County's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems were found by the Secretary of State's independent testers to have failed to meet more than 40 requirements of the California Voting System Standards, we called on Sec. of State Alex Padilla to deny certification of these horrific systems and to require a verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot system instead for all voters in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. We called on listeners to send Public Comment to the SoS before the Public Comment period for certification ended this past Monday for L.A.'s new $300,00,000 touchscreen "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system.

I sent my own comment and, in doing so, cited a comment from the brainchild behind L.A. County's new voting system, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan. As we noted in that comment, Logan promised me a year ago, in January of 2019 via email, that "The equipment/system components [for VSAP] are/will be … in compliance with California's voting systems standards that exceed the federal voluntary system standards."

That vow from the County's top election official now turns out to have been untrue. Today, incredibly, Sec. Padilla "conditionally" certified [PDF] the VSAP system for first-time countywide use in the March 3rd Super Tuesday primaries, despite all of its many flaws.

He did, however, include a very curious --- and, for now, confusing --- condition, stating that "Los Angeles County shall make available in each vote center a sufficient number of blank write-in paper ballots for any voter that requests to cast a hand-marked paper ballot"...

What that means exactly, and whether this now means that every voter will be able to vote in any party's primary with a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot simply by requesting one at one of the 1,000 new Voting Centers (which replace the 5,000 community precincts we've always used in L.A. in previous years) remains to be seen. I have queries out to both the Secretary and Registrar and will report back whatever I can learn when I do.

In related news, the City of Beverly Hills announced Thursday they will sue the County, due to the fact that the VSAP system, as we explained last week, only shows four candidates in each race, before a voter is required to hit a "MORE" button if they wish to see additional candidates in the same contest. That "MORE" button, however, is very close to the "NEXT" button on the touchscreen, and takes voters to the next race without ever showing them all candidates in the previous one.

Padilla's conditional certification calls for mitigation to this enormous design flaw, but not until five months from now when "a plan" must be presented to the SoS regarding redesigned "functionality and usability". That means this flaw --- and the others --will be there for the critical March 3rd primaries and potentially changed before the crucial Presidential election in November. Whether that design change will actually be independently tested to ensure it has not introduced other problems also remains to be seen. But Beverly Hills, which has an upcoming election for City Council with five candidates on the ballot (one who will be hidden on Page 2 of the touchscreen for this race) has now filed a legal complaint, announcing they "are deeply troubled that voters will be disenfranchised by the new VSAP system."

Then, it's back to the ongoing mess on the East Coast in Trump's Impeachment Trial. We share the powerful and impassioned closing remarks from Thursday night's session from Rep. Adam Schiff. The lead Democratic House Manager spoke directly to Republican Senators about the internal dilemma that many are almost certainly facing in realizing the necessity of removing Trump before he cheats again on the 2020 election as he did in 2016 and, as Democrats have proven beyond a shadow of doubt, that he attempted to do in his unlawful pressure scheme with Ukraine to force them to announce an investigation seeking dirt on Joe Biden and an evidence-free claim about the 2016 election. Sadly, despite the power of those remarks, nobody who watches Fox "News" saw them because, as Media Matters found, the pretend "news" outlet showed live coverage of the actual, historic Senate trial "during its evening programming (between 7 p.m and 11 p.m. EST) for a total of just 22 seconds."

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to help us make sense of the past week of the trial as Democrats wrap up their opening (and perhaps closing) argument; what we can expect from the President's attorneys who begin their own presentation in response on Saturday; our best analysis of what comes next; and why Parton predicts "jury nullification" and believes "shamelessness is their superpower"...

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

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