On today's BradCast: If you think the coronavirus is worrisome now, just wait until voters in jurisdictions where they are forced to vote on unverifiable --- and germy --- TOUCHSCREEN computers start putting two and two together before Election Day. Not that the election officials who insisted on such an idiotic idea ever gave much of a damn about their voters, as our guest today makes abundantly clear. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
First today, however, another sign that Republicans should almost certainly be in very big trouble this November. But, of course, that requires voters be able to vote in a way that the public can know their votes were tabulated as per voter intent (not possible on a touchscreen voting system of ANY type.) The trouble for the GOP could get even worse, however, depending on the Administration's handling of the expanding coronavirus crisis. That response does not seem to be going well, so far. The Dow plummeted another 1,200 points on Thursday, due to investor fears of a global pandemic, resulting in the sixth straight day of losses and the worst week for the markets since October, 2008 --- the height of that year's global financial crisis.
But Donald Trump is finally on the job! He surprised the man who had been in charge of the government's response to the epidemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, by announcing that Vice President Mike Pence would now be the Administration's point man on the matter. Azar was informed at the same time as the rest of us, when Trump announced the news at a press conference on Wednesday evening as Azar was standing next to him.
As to Pence having "a certain talent for this", as Trump announced at the presser, Pence's record as Indiana Governor in 2015, when he presided over the worst HIV outbreak in state history, strongly suggests otherwise. Still, as Desi Doyen joins us to point out today, none of this is reason to panic. It is reason, however, to take a few simple measures to keep you and your family safe, and Desi offers some helpful tips toward that goal.
All of this is also just one more reminder as to why this dangerous menace of an Administration must be replaced as soon as legally possible. To that end, there are reasons to be concerned about the integrity of several upcoming primary elections, not to mention this November's critical general election. Saturday's crucial South Carolina primary will require all state voters to use brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreens made by a company with a long history of election failures. The March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, just three days later, will see voters in California, Texas, and North Carolina, among other states, forced to use new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen voting systems for the first time.
Meanwhile, in the battleground state of Georgia, where a federal judge last year ordered the state's nearly twenty-year old, failed, unsecure Diebold touchscreen systems to be scrapped and replaced, the Republican Sec. of State has now mandated that every county use all-new, unverifiable touchscreens made by the Canadian firm, Dominion Voting, for the upcoming March 24 primaries in the Peach State. That, instead of a simpler, safer, cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems.
We're joined today for a long-overdue visit from MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the invaluable Coalition for Good Governance, the lead plaintiff in the federal case that resulted in the decertification of GA's old touchscreen systems. And we've got a LOT of NEWS to catch up on with her today! Her group is also suing in federal court to block the new systems as well and filed this week, in state court, to block their use in a runoff election on March 3rd, given that the huge, brightly-lit touchscreens, as Marks explains, violate voter privacy by allowing others, from all the way across the precinct, to see the "secret ballot" of every voter!
She says "the outrageous way people are being required to vote in Georgia" is "disgusting" and "insidious". The new lawsuit [PDF] notes the new touchscreens (pictured above) are 22 inches high and 14 inches across. "It's very, very brightly lit with incredibly huge fonts. You can see across the room --- from thirty feet away --- you can see what candidate someone is voting for. So there is absolutely no ballot secrecy at all. Anybody in the room, you can see their ballot choices. The press can see it, the public can see it, the pollworkers can see it, their neighbors can see it, their minister, their doctor, their landlord, their boss. Everybody is voting essentially in public!," Marks says.
Marks watched "hundreds of people vote on this" while poll watching at last November's trial first run of the systems during a small municipal election and says, "we just turned our eyes when they get to the place that they're pressing the choice for their candidate, because we can see it from thirty, forty feet away. Everybody talks about it!" The mind-boggling design flaw, she explains, violates state law, and she details what the state court is expected to do about it.
But that's not all we catch up on today regarding the fight to vote verifiably (and secretly) in the state. Marks reports on the current state investigation underway by the GA Sec. of State into both her and Georgia Tech computer professor and voting systems expert Rich DeMillo (also a recurring BradCast guest) for, essentially, having the temerity to investigate concerns about the voting systems in Georgia. Marks explains the ongoing probe and what Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office is accusing her and DeMillo of doing. She calls it "completely absurd", adding "of course it is all retaliation. ... It is nothing but an attempt to try to marginalize the efforts of experts and successful activists. And to discourage others."
But, while all of that may be mind-blowing, it may be nothing compared to the new revelations recently uncovered by the expert hired by the Coalition to carry out a forensic investigation of GA's central computer server for its old system. As listeners may recall, data researcher Logan Lamb discovered before the 2016 Presidential election that GA's main election server for the entire state --- including the state's voter registration database, programming for all ballots statewide, and administrative passwords to its voting system --- were discovered to have been sitting on a web server for download by anyone, no password necessary, for at least six months (and probably much longer) before the 2016 Presidential election in which it was thought possible that Georgia might finally flip to "blue".
That researcher, Logan Lamb, alerted authorities about the data's vulnerability. As thanks, he was reported to the FBI by then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp, as a potential hacker. He wasn't. But he has now been hired by the Coalition as an expert to examine the now-retired server in question. And, last month, according to AP, he made a startling discovery while examining a mirror image of the 2016 server, which was finally turned over by the state in December of 2019. Lamb found evidence that the server may have been hacked by someone who took advantage of a bug that provided full control of the server. Moreover, he found that all of the system's log files --- which would detail all actions taken on the server --- had been wiped out up until November 10, 2016, two days after that year's Presidential election...for some reason. Now why would that be?
We discuss all of that and MUCH more in another jaw-dropping, must-listen segment today with Marks, including our shared embarrassment that in both of our own home counties (she's in Mecklenburg County, NC, the state's most populous and diverse, and I'm in L.A. County, the largest in CA and even the country) elections officials have instituted new, unverifiable touchscreens for the 2020 elections, set for first time use in both counties next week on Super Tuesday!
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report after CBS ignored climate change in Tuesday night's Democratic Presidential Debate in South Carolina; a major bank determines that climate change threatens human survival; and another huge oil refinery blows up, this time in Southern California...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)