Like it or not, we're back on today's BradCast! But we've got plenty of trouble-making and muckraking for you today, and even some contentious listener calls for your listening pleasure! [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
First up, some long overdue good news. Though we've been warning, in great detail, over the years (nearly 20 of them, at this point) about the risks of voting on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, we now have some good(ish) company. Last Friday, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) issued a public security advisory regarding nine serious vulnerabilities discovered in touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) made by Dominion.
The alert comes after the federal agency's review of a sealed report, which a federal court in Georgia allowed CISA to access, created by the University of Michigan's J. Alex Halderman, a longtime cybersecurity and voting systems expert who is serving as an expert witness in the Coalition for Good Governance's long-running lawsuit to block the use of those systems in the state. The Coalition, founded and headed up by frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks, filed suit in 2017 against Georgia's use of touchscreen systems made by Diebold. After the court found those systems to be unverifiable, insecure and, therefore, unconstitutional, the state defied expert advice to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system. Instead, GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger forced all counties in the state to switch to a newer touchscreen BMD system made by Dominion, which has many if not all of the same vulnerabilities as the older systems that were banned by the court.
As part of the Coalition's lawsuit, Halderman was granted access to the Dominion systems and found vulnerabilities so alarming that his report was sealed by the federal judge and even blocked from review by the plaintiffs. Only their attorneys could view the report, until CISA asked to see it in February. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg allowed them access and, after studying the report and notifying the 16 states where Dominion BMDs are used, CISA issued their public alert last week.
"One of the most serious vulnerabilities could allow malicious code to be spread from the election management system to machines throughout a jurisdiction," according to Kate Brumback's excellent coverage at AP. "The vulnerability could be exploited by someone with physical access or by someone who is able to remotely infect other systems that are connected to the internet if election workers then use USB sticks to bring data from an infected system into the election management system."
In the wake of Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 Presidential election being stolen (when, in fact, it was he who was attempting to do so), has led to a rash of election insiders --- the County Clerk in Mesa County, CO, the Board of Elections in Coffee County, GA, to name just two cases --- making secret copies of proprietary voting system software and releasing it to members of the public in an extraordinary security risk for future elections.
The vulnerabilities, according to CISA, could allow manipulation of results in a way that would not necessarily be discovered by most security provisions employed by most jurisdictions which use these terrible types of voting systems. Halderman told AP that he believes it is not only the systems made by Dominion that are vulnerable. Similar touchscreen systems made by ES&S, the nation's largest vendor, are used in many more states across the country, or by Smartmatic, whose touchscreen BMDs are now forced on voters at the polling place here in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest single voting jurisdiction. They all have many of the same design flaws, such as the use of barcodes/QRCodes to tally ballots printed out by the systems, ignoring the human-readable selections printed on the same ballot paper that may or may not have been correctly verified by the voter.
"There are systemic problems with the way election equipment is developed, tested and certified," Halderman told AP, "and I think it’s more likely than not that serious problems would be found in equipment from other vendors if they were subjected to the same kind of testing."
We dive into the details of this long overdue story today, along with recommendations for how voters can maximize the odds are their votes being tallied as per their intent in this year's critical midterm elections. (One key suggestion: Vote on a hand-marked paper ballot if possible! Even if it means using an absentee ballot. Deliver it in person to a dropbox or polling place, if you can!)
Next up, we try to open the phones to callers regarding their hopes for the the upcoming U.S. House select Committee's public hearings, beginning this Thursday, on Donald Trump's January 6, 2021 insurrection and his attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. As it turns out, however, some callers want to discuss election concerns. And, among them, at least one of whom is a terribly disinformed rightwinger who actually believes the 2020 election was stolen. Much fun ensues thereafter! Enjoy!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)