On today's BradCast: The chaos continues...along with our efforts to try and bring common sense to the madness. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]
Rates of COVID-19 infections are still getting worse, not better, in much of the country, particularly in rural areas and states not currently under statewide stay-at-home orders. At the same time, the President of the United States is citing those very areas as places that should be viewed as a model for ending stay-at-home restrictions as soon as the end of the month or earlier.
Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, on Monday afternoon, announced plans to do exactly that, with theaters and restaurant set to be opened back up in the Peach State as soon as this coming Monday. According to medical experts, however, opening up the country without much more testing and contact tracing in place is a recipe for disaster, even as there appear to be no such plan in place, and testing remains vanishingly rare in much of the nation.
Meanwhile, the results of the first major antibody test in the nation on Friday, revealed that hundreds of thousands if not millions of more people may have actually contracted the virus without even realizing it. Nonetheless, Rightwingers, egged on by Fox "News" and Donald Trump and funded by the same Rightwing outfits that fomented the so-called "Tea Party" protests against Barack Obama years ago, have now been protesting against state closures in recent days around the country --- largely in states controlled by Democratic Governors. On Sunday, front-line healthworkers in Denver were forced to clash with protesters who told them, as the nurses stood up to the protesters cars in their masks and scrubs: "Go to China if you want communism!"
Amid all of this, we are somehow supposed to hold safe and inclusive elections this year, with more than 20 states set to hold primary elections in coming weeks (Ohio will hold its previously postponed primary next Tuesday) and all 50 set to hold the critical Presidential general election on November 3rd. Many Democrats and voting rights advocates are calling for Vote-by-Mail ballots to be sent to all registered voters without restrictions. Many Republicans around the country are going to extraordinary measures to make it harder, not easier, to vote during the pandemic.
In New Mexico last week, the state's Supreme Court rejected the proposal by all 27 County Election Directors and NM's Secretary of State to send absentee ballots to all registered voters. Republicans opposed the plan and the court split the difference by mandating that absentee ballot applications be sent to all registered voters instead.
SmartElections.us, a "non-partisan project dedicated to elevating the issue of election reform to an urgent national priority," recently released an open letter signed by more than 50 election integrity groups and voting rights advocates calling on restrictions to be included with any federal funding that may be offered to states to help them manage elections amid the pandemic. While some of the larger voting rights groups across the country are calling for as much as 4 or 5 billion dollars to be allocated by Congress to the states, Smart Elections' co-founder LULU FRIESDAT joins us today to remind us --- as does the group's letter to Congressional lawmakers --- about the disastrous consequences of the last time Congress appropriated nearly $4 billion for "upgrading" elections
That was the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, which allowed private electronic voting system vendors to swoop in and essentially privatize our public elections with voting systems that were vulnerable to manipulation and prone to failure. The group's open letter produced by Friesdat and the other election experts, calls for specific restrictions to be placed on the use of any federal funding sent to states and counties to help them move to more accessible absentee ballot-based elections this year, including requirements that allow for voters to be notified and cure ballots rejected by officials (for any of various reasons) and to make the request for absentee ballots easier for voters. At the same time, it also calls for restrictions that prevent the process from being opened up to potential fraud. In other words, they are calling for sensible processes that allow more access for voters without procedures that allow for easy voter fraud or that hand over hundreds of millions to private companies to further bar public oversight of elections.
The letter is a common sense reaction to the chaos that is currently underway...even if common sense and measured responses are not normally what one expects from talk radio and cable news in the middle of highly-partisan election made even more chaotic due to a deadly global pandemic.
Finally, today, we open the phones to listeners --- many of whom in our Southern California listening area, have been following stay-at-home orders as long or longer than most in the rest of the country --- to see how they're doing, and if they agree that it's time to open the country back up for business....no matter how many Americans will end up being unnecessarily killed in the bargain...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)