I might have headlined this show "See? I told ya so!", except Rush Limbaugh ruined that phrase for all of us years ago. On today's BradCast: The Administration's persistent lies about coronavirus and Trump's pressure to "open" the country long before we should (since he's failed to marshal any national plan whatsoever for broad testing and contact tracing) will result in tens of thousands of more deaths than necessary. But we told you so long ago. Meanwhile, more evidence is in to prove Los Angeles County's new, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting systems was a disaster for voters (but we told you so there as well, long ago) even though Bernie Sanders was finally, officially, announced the winner of the California Presidential Primary --- two months after it was held on Super Tuesday. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]
As we have been warning, there is currently no good reason to throw open the doors for business amid the coronavirus pandemic, other than Donald Trump really thinks that doing so will improve the economy and his chances of winning re-election. But Trump's Fantasy World beliefs that it is safe to do so are belied by more and more evidence in both this country and around the world --- and even from his own Administration's unreleased figures. The New York Times today reports on private projections by FEMA and the CDC that the daily death rate in the U.S. could reach as high as 3,000 deaths by June 1, particularly with the loosening of restrictions around the country by mostly Republican Governors. Perhaps that's one reason Trump, on Sunday, conceded that the death rate could reach 100,000 in the coming weeks after telling us just two weeks ago that he excepted about half that many deaths, around 50,000.
But, as health and science experts have been at pains to try and tell us, nothing has actually changed to make opening up any safer now that it was back in March, when the epidemic caught fire in the U.S. In fact, infection rates have been spiking in many areas, particularly in rural regions of the country. The newly unearthed FEMA/CDC docs forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of this month in the U.S., as compared to the current rate of about 25,000 confirmed new infections per day.
New statistics coming in from countries around the world which have begun opening up their economies again, show the number of infections and deaths beginning to spike there again. And today, the model at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has been revised. Their previous projections of an estimated 70,000 U.S. deaths by August has now been doubled to nearly twice number that at 135,000, due, they announced, to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility. The IHME model has long been used by the White House and others, and we have long told you that it was extremely conservative in its projections. (So, again, yeah, told ya so.) Even a Republican Governor, Mississippi's Tate Reeves, wisely decided late Friday to hold back for the moment on the further loosening of restrictions in his state. The announcement cane during a press conference where he had originally planned to do so. That, due to a spike in the state's infection and death rate after he lifted some restrictions prematurely on April 24.
All told, that's a helluva lotta dead Americans piling up all so that Trump and Republicans can try to stay in power.
In related news, we have a quick follow-up today on a new poll we covered last week that found Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in Texas(!) by 1 point, essentially a tie. As we mentioned last week, that poll from Public Policy Polling could simply be an outlier. But, over the weekend a second poll, this one from the Dallas Morning News/University of Texas, also finds Biden and Trump deadlocked in the Lone Star state with 43% a piece among registered voters. Maybe those polls are not outliers and Texas could finally be a battleground state that could flip "blue" this year for the first time since 1976. November is a thousand years away of course, but, once again, it all underscores that every vote in every state will count this year. Thus, the fight now playing out over how people will be able to vote in both upcoming primary elections around the country and in this November's critical Presidential election.
We've been reporting in recent weeks on a spate of lawsuits around the country and both good and bad news --- depending on the state and county --- regarding moving away from dangerous, disease vector touchscreen voting systems and towards much safer absentee ballots. Another new lawsuit toward that end was filed in Tennessee over the weekend by the National Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, challenging what they describe as "some of the most restrictive absentee voting rules in the nation".
But here in Los Angeles, the County's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to require that a Vote-by-Mail ballot be automatically sent to every registered voter in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction this November. That is encouraging news, given that the County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has been clinging to his new, failed $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system that crashed and burned so spectacularly during the March 3 Super Tuesday Primary in the state.
On that score, we have the "breaking" news late Friday from CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, certifying that Bernie Sanders defeated Joe Biden by 8 points (36 to 28%) on March 3rd, after the Golden State's already 30-day long counting and certification period was extended to two months due to the COVID crisis. In Los Angeles County, Sanders enjoyed an 11 point win over the former Vice President and now presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee. So, no, despite what some in the media had irresponsibly told you, California was not stealing the election from Bernie (nor does any evidence persuasively show that they did so in 2016 either.)
We do, however, have more information today on the boondoggle "VSAP" (or Voting Solutions for All People) voting system that Logan forced on L.A. voters for the first time --- and, hopefully, the last --- on March 3rd. We're joined today by DOUG ECKS, a private attorney who, with Katherine McNenny, filed a public records request with Logan's office after the election to learn the number of new touchscreen voting systems that failed and the number of new electronic pollbooks that did the same, leading to hours-long voting lines in Los Angeles. They also sought copies of problem report records from poll workers.
While the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office failed to respond with any hard numbers on system failures (Ecks says he may sue to get that information), they did provide hundreds of page of problem reports from poll workers that Ecks and McNenny recently wrote about at Medium. Ecks joins us to detail some of those findings today and to discuss the importance of public oversight of our elections.
Among the news from their records request: the systems failed all across the county, often spectacularly. One problem report he notes, for example, found that 11 of 30 voting machines failed at a single voting location. That's an extraordinary failure rate for the brand-new tablet-style systems, developed over 10 years at extraordinary expense to tax-payers by Logan. When I asked Ecks today if, based on his findings, he thought the systems should be used again in the future, he answered with his own question: "If you bought 30 gallons of milk and 11 were spoiled, would you go back to that store?"
We finish up today with a few quick thoughts from callers...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)