On today's BradCast: Tuesday's horrific election meltdown in Georgia didn't have to happen. We have been reporting and warning about exactly the disaster that occurred during the state's primary elections for well over a year on this program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the non-partisan, non-profit Coalition for Good Governance, has been filing both state and federal litigation for years in hopes of blocking the use of the new, unverifiable, touchscreen voting system implemented by GA's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for this year's critical Presidential election. For years, she has been joining us on the show --- as she does again today --- to warn about the now-failed systems, month after month, as the Secretary moved forward with his Big Government mandate to force all counties in the state to switch to the new, dangerous, computerized voting systems.
One county (Athens-Clarke), whose County Board of Elections voted in March to use hand-marked paper ballots instead of Raffensperger's $104 million touchscreens, was threatened with fines and legal action by the Secretary if they refused to use his new systems made by Dominion Voting, a Canadian company whose lobbyist in Georgia was the Chief of Staff for the former Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp. Raffensperger's strong-arming did the trick. The County used the disease-vector touchscreens on Tuesday along with all of the others.
The multiple failures of the electronic pollbook computers and computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices and optical-scan computers used at every polling place in the state resulted in hours-long lines for voters throughout the day. Precincts in 20 counties were ordered by courts to remain open for hours past their scheduled closing time, with the last voter reportedly casting a vote at 12:37am on Wednesday.
The shameful story in Georgia is very similar to the disaster that occurred here in Los Angeles County during the March 3rd Super Tuesday election this year, after County officials failed to heed our warnings about their new $300 million touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system that similarly crashed and burned on Election Day and resulted in the disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters.
"Maybe it is the nature of the beast," Marks laments today. "It seems like in all matters of civil rights, things have to get to such an extreme that disaster has to happen, maybe multiple times, before society can pay attention." While there has been quite a bit of media coverage of Georgia's disaster today, where were they when their coverage might have made a difference before voters lost their right to vote?
As to who is to blame, Raffensperger still refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever. He blames county poll workers for being poorly trained to operate his needlessly complex systems. Like Donald Trump, Raffensperger takes no responsibility for what went wrong, despite being responsible for forcing all counties to use the new system. In fact, he told Georgia Public Radio yesterday, as voters were lined up for blocks and blocks (and blocks) in the blazing Georgia heat and humidity and thunderstorms to try and cast their vote, that it was "a good day for Georgia". He actually described the primary as "a great success."
Marks sees it differently, as does most of the world. "Ninety percent of this problem was caused by Raffensperger and the State Election Board, because they insisted that the state and the counties use the very complex, Rube Goldberg systems that nobody had been trained on, that hadn't been properly tested, shoving them in during pandemic conditions when they could have simply used the scanner and hand-marked paper ballots, and a paper pollbook, and had a simple election during pandemic conditions," she says. "The Secretary of State insisted on this roll-out. And gave the counties almost no choice. They could have defied him, and he would likely have fined them. He set them up for failure."
Marks, whose earlier lawsuit resulted in Georgia's previous touchscreen voting system being found unconstitutional in federal court, with the judge ordering that they could never be used against in the Peach State, has a continuing federal complaint against the new system. She tells me she expects to be back in court soon. "Before, the State was claiming that all of our claims were just speculative. Well, you know what? They're not speculative anymore. We have fabulous evidence --- horrendous evidence --- that this system does not create an accountable election."
A registered Republican, Marks says it is not too late for Georgia to change course before November, though the court may have to force them to do so. She also cautions about similar unnecessarily complex and already-failed new computer voting systems being used in other states --- including battleground states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina --- instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots for this year's critical Presidential election. Since the corporate media are unlikely to make the necessarily noise before the next election disaster --- when it might be preventable --- Marks suggests voters can take action on their own to demand hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (as backup to the e-pollbooks).
"Write a letter to your Secretary of State and State Election Board, and demand it," she advises. "Something that is likely to be more effective, even though it's harder --- it's going to take some effort for voters to actually protect their elections --- is call every member of your county's bipartisan election board. You can find them because they're local citizens. Say 'You've got authority, County Election Board! We want an auditable election! We want it done with hand-marked paper ballots, and we want audits afterward. Don't wait for the state to tell you that you have to audit. Don't wait for a judge to tell you that you have to have accountable ballots. Do it on your own. Do it now, while you have time to do it!'" She argues "these counties need the pressure from the citizens, and the citizens need to put pressure on the county boards as well as the local Democratic Party and local Republican Party."
As we've said many times, this democracy ain't gonna save itself!
Next --- speaking of things that take years of disaster before they are ever reformed --- Philonise Floyd, the younger brother of George Floyd, the unarmed African-American killed by cops in Minneapolis two weeks ago, testified to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today. We share his emotional opening statement calling on Congress to help "stop the pain" at a hearing meant to discuss a Democratic initiative in Congress for sweeping change to the nation's policing policies. As you might imagine, they are meeting Republican resistance in both chambers of Congress.
Finally today, more change in the wake of Floyd's killing: NASCAR announced today that it will ban the Confederate Flag from its events, and Donald Trump ends up firmly on the wrong side of history --- again --- as he declared he would "not even consider" renaming U.S. military bases, such as Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, which are named for Confederate Army officers. That, despite their namesake's support of slavery and their treason in launching a war against the United States, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Americans. While Pentagon officials, including Trump's own Defense Secretary, have said they are open to the idea, and a host of retired generals --- including the commanders of some of the 10 bases named for Confederate traitors --- favor renaming the military posts, Trump insisted on Twitter today, without any apparent irony, that the bases are a part of "a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom."
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)