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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 21, 2019
GOP's Amash Declares Trump 'Impeachable'; Gerrymanders Allowed Radical Abortion Bills: 'BradCast' 5/20/19
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley: Also: Tornado swarms amid climate crisis; Ford to fire 1000s...
Sunday CSA* Toons
(* Coathanger States of America) As usual, 'PDiddie' flags the very best political toons of the week in his latest collection...
Time to Impeach Yet?: 'BradCast' 5/17/19
Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with Senate Judiciary Committee vet Lisa Graves and Tweeter 'GottaLaff'...
The Republican Party is a Culture of Corruption: 'BradCast' 5/16/19
Spate of GOP pol scams, indictments, corrupt pardons; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
PG&E caused deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 level hits milestone, exactly as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: The Impossible Whopper goes national...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/19 - 5/7/19 - Archives...
FL's Sancho: 'No Confidence' 2020 Will Be Secure After New 2016 FBI Disclosures: 'BradCast' 5/15/19
30-yr elexn chief says FBI lied in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL unverifiable in 2020...
22 Candidates, 2020 Visions:
'BradCast' 5/14/2019
Bad news CO2 landmark; Biden booed on climate, pushes back; MT's Bullock jumps in to 2020 as Dem Gov from 'red state'; Warren says no to FNC's 'hate-for-profit racket'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/19
Trump trade war hits U.S. NatGas; Admin ices Arctic Council; Houston floods as U.S. sees wettest year on record; PLUS: UK, Scotland declare 'climate emergency'...
GA Supremes Hear Case of 125k 'Missing' 2018 Lt. Gov. Votes: 'BradCast' 5/13/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's trade war, Congress'l war; FL voting news; NC-9 do-over primary...
Sunday Billion Dollar Loser Toons
Once again, lots of losers from which to choose in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
House All Action Against Trump, with Help from Repubs: 'BradCast' 5/10/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt on what's next for abortion laws...
Trump Uses Exec Privilege to Block Mueller Report; Judiciary Finds Barr in Contempt: 'BradCast' 5/8/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Comm...
'Green News Report' 5/7/19
U.N. report warns humans pushing 1 million species to extinction; Trump repeals post-BP spill safety rules; PLUS: Midwest flooding breaks all-time records...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Steven Rosenfeld; Also: School kids strike for climate action around globe; Trumpers against unverifiable touchscreen voting...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're sending up a warning flare, a red flag, hoping to raise your attention to the very troubling plans by Democrats to begin the use of online voting, in some form, along with their 2020 Presidential caucuses next year! [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But first, It was a very dark day in New Zealand on Friday, as a white supremacist unleashed a terror attack on two Muslim mosques in Christchurch, killing at least 49 in the massacre, with dozens still in the hospital, many in critical condition. But it was a much brighter day elsewhere around the globe as inspiring "school strikes" took place in more than 100 cities, with children walking out of class to march in protest for action on climate change from the South Pacific to the edge of the arctic circle, from San Francisco to D.C., from Spain to Berlin, from Africa to Poland and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands of young protesters inspired by 16-year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg --- who began her own solitary school strike last year and is now nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize --- took to the streets, demanding immediate action from politicians to help save all of our futures by curbing man-made fossil fuel emissions which, as scientists have warned for decades, are dangerously warming the global climate and speeding the planet toward catastrophic danger.

Then --- in hopes of replacing ineffective politicians and climate science deniers --- we move to U.S. elections, where even Rightwingers (at least some of them) in Georgia now understand the perils of touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices. The rightwing group FreedomWorks has joined the fight against BMDs in the Peach State, where vote-suppressing Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp has lobbied state legislators hard to replace the state's 17-year old, easily-hacked, oft-failed 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen voting system with all new unverifiable touchscreen BMD systems at a cost of at least $150 million.

The bill to enact this boondoggle, HR316, will see one more vote for approval in Georgia's House before it's sent to the Governor's desk. Today, we share some of the lobbying efforts against the measure by Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer who is, believe it or not, a cybersecurity expert and National Security Advisor for Trump 2020. He is calling for hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia and in other states --- such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Texas, Kansas and California --- where county election officials are handing millions to private voting system vendors for unverifiable, unnecessary systems that cybersecurity and voting system experts strongly warn against.

Finally --- speaking of unheeded warnings --- we are joined today by STEVEN ROSENFELD of the Independent Media Foundation's Voting Booth project, to sound the alarm about the Democratic National Committee's new requirement for caucus states to implement some form of remote voting during their 2020 nomination contests.

The new mandate is part of DNC reforms adopted last year, following the disastrous 2016 Presidential election when cyberattacks and the release of stolen emails undermined both Party leadership and Hillary Clinton's campaign. While last year's Party reforms urge states to move from caucus systems run by private state parties to primary elections managed instead by state and county election officials, the new requirement to allow access to caucuses for those who cannot attend in person has left state Democratic Parties looking toward various forms of online, telephonic and smartphone voting options to enact in conjunction with in-person caucusing.

Rosenfeld is currently one of the very few journalist reporting on the disturbing potential plans by Democrats in Iowa, Nevada and elsewhere to contract with private companies for some form of online caucus voting. "It's part of having the party be more inclusive and participatory," he tells me, cautioning "It's not clear how it's going to be done. This is all being developed right now." And, he warns, "vendors themselves will do this stuff for next to nothing to try to show proof of concept."

Of course, that proof of concept will be in a live, Presidential caucus election! He details just some of the many disastrous and chaotic past efforts at such schemes that "didn't go so well" --- colossal online voting failures by the Utah GOP in 2016 and 2018, stolen or corrupted online party elections in Canada, for example --- in hopes of warning about what could very well be a looming disaster waiting for Democrats in caucus states next year.

Rosenfeld says he's been speaking with Democratic officials "trying to let people know what they're headed into," and says, "I don't think they were aware --- the Democrats that I talked to on the DNC --- of these other examples" of failed elections using this new, largely untested technology.

But with already-complicated caucus systems, 20 or so candidates who could be on the ballot, and the most important election of our lives hanging in the balance, what could possibly go wrong with the addition of new, untested remote voting schemes added to the mix? Now might be a very good time to start paying attention to some of the disturbing answers to that troubling question...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Prof. Richard DeMillo of Georgia Tech; Also: Trump 2020 budget slashes Medicare, Medicaid, increases defense, wall funding, deficit spending; Bernie Sanders' 1987 climate change warnings unearthed...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2019 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're experiencing a sense of deja vu from this very same fight the last time Congress allocated hundreds of millions for new electronic voting systems in the U.S. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

A serious "design flaw" in a previously certified computer voting system is finally acknowledged on Friday by New York State's top election official, after several different warnings on the matter were issued in recent months by computer security and voting systems experts at Princeton and Georgia Tech.

The vulnerability has resulted in Douglas Kellner, the co-chair of the NYS Board of Elections, calling for a reexamination of the ImageCast Evolution (ICE) computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD), which both prints ballot selection on a paper and then scans that ballot to record results after it, theoretically, has already been verified by the voter. "After you mark your ballot, after you review your ballot, the voting machine can print more votes on it!," [emphasis in original], Princeton's computer science professor Andrew Appel warned about the Dominion ImageCast Evolution system in October of last year.

Kellner cites that "ballot stuffing attack" vector first identified by Appel and then confirmed by Georgia Tech's former Dean of computing at Georgia Tech and director of its Information Security Center, professor RICHARD DEMILLO who joins us on today's show to explain the vulnerabilities. The very same design flaw appears to be present in systems currently in use or set for use before 2020 in parts of Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, Delaware and elsewhere, as jurisdictions scramble to spend federal dollars to "upgrade" their voting systems to new equipment in advance of the next, crucial Presidential election.

A similar system made by ES&S, currently being pushed for use across the entire state of Georgia by Republicans, vendors and elections officials, also appears to have the same flaw and even one that Appel describes as a disturbing "Permission to Cheat" feature (first observed by Election Integrity advocate Jenny Cohn in Kansas last September) that allows the machine to submit a ballot to the scanner without the voter ever verifying what the computer has printed on it. That, DeMillo explains today, allows ballots to be marked and printed by the computer and then scanned without any examination by the voter at all. Both "design flaws" make any post-election hand audit of those ballots "meaningless" [PDF] .

As Kellner explains in his letter to fellow Elections Board members in NY --- effectively decertifying the systems, for now, thanks to Dominion's failure to document these vulnerabilities before certification --- "If it was possible for the machine to add a voting mark to the ballot without verification by the voter, the audit is not meaningful because it cannot confirm that the ballot was counted in the manner intended by the voter."

"What they have is a single device that marks the ballot and scans the ballot. Just because of the way that they've designed this thing, there's a single path that the paper ballot travels --- under the print heads, and over scanning heads," DeMillo tells me. "What I think is a real issue is the design flaw that makes it possible to have the paper ballot printed out, verified by the reader, and then scanned, but in that scanning process, travel a second time undetected through the print heads. The voter could have chosen to vote for no one. But the machine could decide well, we really like the Democratic candidate for Public Service Commissioner, so we're just going to add that to every ten blank Public Service Commissioner choices that we see."

DeMillo breaks down what all of this means for New York and other states now using or set to use these systems, and how the vendor in question, Dominion, has responded [PDF] by attempting to marginalize the concerns and dismiss critics like DeMillo and Appel as "security maximalists."

DeMillo has been joining other cybersecurity experts in issuing similar warnings [PDF] to officials in his home-state of Georgia, where lawmakers are in the midst of rushing to approve at least $150 million for the purchase of similar devices from ES&S for use across the entire state before 2020 --- and not just for disabled voters who may require such a system to vote independently, but for all voters in the precincts. That, despite the systems appearing to have similar "design flaws" to those which have now served to effectively decertify the Dominion systems in NY.

All of this, of course, is of a piece with the warnings we've been loudly issuing for years at The BRAD BLOG and on The BradCast about the use of this type of unverifiable computer-marked "paper ballot" voting systems, rather than verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballots.

Also on today's program: Donald Trump publishes his Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal, including hundreds of billion in cuts to domestic programs such as Medicaid and Medicare (which he vowed, while a candidate in 2016, to protect), as well as to the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. At the same time, the proposal includes record increases in defense spending and $8.6 billion more for his southern border wall (which Mexico is still not paying for). The result, if the aspirational proposal were to be adopted by Congress, would ensure annual budget deficits of at least $1 trillion over the next four years. That, on the heels of the Trump/GOP's $1.5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy and corporations which has ballooned the deficit and national debt to go with it.

And, finally today, after WA Governor Jay Inslee entered the Democratic President Primary last week race based largely on his decades of raising the alarm about climate change, we share a few recently unearthed clips from Inslee's fellow Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders warning about "the greenhouse effect" and the dangers of a warming climate as long ago as 1989 on C-SPAN and in 1987 with a class of middle-school children while then still serving as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: McConnell's Election Day holiday lie; Schumer's Trump 'intervention'; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some encouraging news for democracy (at least in Georgia), some predictable lies from the Senate Majority leader, a gentle rebuke for Trump from both parties, and a call for intervention from the Senate Minority Leader, among other things.

Just some of the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Georgia Democrat and potential U.S. Senate candidate Stacey Abrams, who will be giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, is set to run a television ad during Sunday's Super Bowl in Atlanta with a north Georgia Republican County Commissioner calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots in the state!

    The ad is sponsored by Abrams' non-partisan voting rights organization Fair Fight, formed after Abrams is said to have very narrowly lost her contest to become the nation's first African-American female governor last November to Republican Secretary of State and champion vote suppressor Brian Kemp. Both he and his GOP successor are now calling for the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to be replaced with new, very expensive and also 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems that produce computer-marked, human-unreadable barcoded ballot summary cards, rather than hand-marked paper ballots which computer science and voting systems experts all agree [PDF] to be the most secure, auditable and overseeable way to carry out elections;
  • In the U.S. Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a huge lie about the Democrats' "For the People Act" (HR-1), recently introduced in the U.S. House to call for a series of major election reforms. Among the many provisions in the measure --- such as universal automatic voter registration, expanded early voting, ending partisan gerrymandering and yes, ensuring a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter --- it also seeks to declare Election Day as a federal holiday. Naturally, McConnell lied about what the bill calls for on that point, and absurdly describes the measure as a "Democrat power-grab". We respond;
  • Also in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Trump's Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats calling for him and the other Administration Intelligence Chiefs to "stage an intervention" with the Commander-in-Chief, after Donald Trump described his own top intel officials on Wednesday as "wrong", "naive" and needing to "go back to school!" on a host of foreign policy issues. Trump's remarks came in response to the Intelligence Community's new annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" PDF. The report, and Senate testimony from the chiefs about it on Tuesday, argues that Trump is essentially wrong on everything from North Korea, to Iran, to ISIS to Syria and Afghanistan, and on his claims about an imagined "national emergency" at the U.S. -Mexico board.
  • But if Schumer really wants to "stage an intervention" with this President, his Democrats in the Senate and House could be calling for an immediate Impeachment inquiry. As detailed by Ernest Canning at BradBlog.com this week, the Nixon impeachment process reveals that it is both unnecessary and, arguably, unwise for Dems to wait for a report from the Special Counsel investigation before exercising their Constitutional duty;
  • Also today, Republicans and about half of Senate Democrats passed an amendment that (gently) rebukes the President by calling for U.S. troops to remain in both Syria and Afghanistan, in contrast to Trump's recent military directives;
  • An upside to the recent federal government shutdown? A beach in Northern California that had been closed will remain closed, because elephant seals have taken it over;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with updates on the record bone-chilling --- and deadly --- Polar Vortex cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast, evidence that Trump's intervention in Venezuela is, of course, all about oil, and some good news out of Germany which is now on its way to quitting coal entirely...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Election expert Marilyn Marks on GA 2018 Lt. Gov. election contest as state moves to unverifiable barcoded ballots; Also: FL 2020 GOP power-grab update; IA Repubs vote to NOT count absentee ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2019 6:50pm PT  

No, we're still not done with the 2018 elections on The BradCast, even as we begin to turn towards the hell that awaits in 2020...because someone's got to. We've got several follow-up stories today, and some new ones. All of them maddening for those of us who believe in fair and overseeable public elections. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First today, an update to a story we covered in detail yesterday. Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently suspended the elected Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, falsely charging the 10-year elections official --- one of the most knowledgeable and respected in the nation --- with "incompetence". Her suspension followed on another by Rick Scott, the previous Republican Governor, of the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County. In both cases, the officials in two of the most Democratic counties in the closely-divided swing-state have now been replaced with Republicans in advance of 2020. These are extraordinary partisan power grabs.

While Bucher had vowed last week to fight her suspension, about an hour after we got off air yesterday she decided to resign rather than challenge her case to the partisan GOP-controlled Florida state Senate, her only option under state law. Here's the full statement [PDF] on her decision to resign that Bucher sent me earlier today.

An outrageous decision by Republicans in Iowa's state legislature on Monday illustrates a similar concern in the Hawkeye State. There, Republicans in the state House of Representatives won a party-line vote to reject 29 absentee ballots cast in an Iowa state House race last November that was reportedly won by the Republican candidate by just 9 votes out of more than 14,000 cast. The unopened ballots in question were missing a postmark --- the Postal Service acknowledges they don't always postmark absentee ballots --- but had barcodes on the envelopes confirming that the ballots were sent and received by the Post Office in time to be included in the tally. Nonetheless, GOP state lawmakers refused to open the ballots and include them in the count, denying the voters their right to vote and ensuring the 9 vote "victory" by the incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Bergan, The Democratic candidate who filed the election challenge, Kayla Koether, says she's considering a lawsuit with some of the voters in response.

Speaking of rejected challenges, we're joined once again today by MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance for several maddening updates to at least two election cases that her organization has filed in Georgia. One, which we initially covered with her when it was filed last year, is an election contest to the results of November's Lt. Governor's race. That contest featured an inexplicably huge undervote rate, but only in that race (not in any other races much farther down the ballot) and only on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems (the undervote rate was as expected, in line with other contests, on hand-marked paper ballots sent via mail or at the polls during early voting in the some race.)

That contest, however, was recently dismissed in an remarkable ruling by Cobb County Judge Adele Grubbs. She found the plaintiffs offered no evidence that votes were cast illegally or that legal votes were rejected, after refusing to allow discovery that would have permitted an expert forensic investigation of the state's unverifiable, easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems. Marks' organization is now appealing Grubbs' ruling to the state Supreme Court and is hopeful the higher court will allow the discovery investigation that was denied, but that voting systems experts say is warranted.

Marks says the Secretary of State's office refused access the systems and the judge "forced us to go trial without the first shred of discovery, which is our legal right to have. She also denied our right to a jury trial. So the state and the court has nailed the doors shut to make sure that we don't get to find out what is behind this clear machine misprogramming, defect, malfunction, whatever it is."

At the same time, Marks has also been leading the charge in an uphill battle against former GOP Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and his Republican successor Brad Raffensberger to replace the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with hand-marked paper ballots. Computer scientists and voting systems experts strongly recommend such systems [PDF], along with voters in the Peach State who have spoken out loudly and clearly in favor of hand-marked paper ballots.

And yet, the private voting system vendor lobbyists, elections officials and elected state Republicans continue to call for newly designed and expensive unverifiable touchscreen systems which produce a barcoded ballot summary card instead of a verifiable record of voter intent. It's impossible to carry out legitimate post-election audits of computer-marked ballot summaries. Nonetheless, jurisdictions around the nation --- counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and even Los Angeles County, not to mention the the entire state of Georgia --- may soon be voting on such unauditable, unverifiable systems in the 2020 Presidential election, unless they can be stopped.

"There is just no reason that such machines should be legal in this country, given what we know now about the dangers of electronic voting," Marks tells me, while noting that computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) cost about three times as much as hand-marked paper ballots systems. "There's too much money involved, and therefore a lot of people are not looking at what's best for the state. I'll just say it that way. Too many people have probably received too many favors."

"Unfortunately, for some of the decision-makers, having an unauditable system is a feature, not a bug," she opines, while remaining hopeful that "people are catching on" that a barcoded ballot system is not the same as a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system, despite how elections officials are misleading voters around the country.

Finally today, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report as Democratic candidates begin taking positions on a "green new deal", as hundreds are dead or missing in a mining dam collapse in Brazil, and as a powerfully frigid Arctic polar vortex descends on much of the U.S. (thanks, in no small part, to climate change)...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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The fight to count every vote in FL and GA gets messier still, as Dems pick up yet another U.S. House seat; Also: Ernest A. Canning on CNN's lawsuit against the Trump White House...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2018 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The electoral dysfunction --- and the fight to count every vote anyway --- continues today in Florida and Georgia, along with some new good news for Democrats elsewhere. At the same time, of course, the dysfunction of Donald Trump's White House never ends. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

After a quick update today on several thousand newly tabulated votes in Georgia (most of which were for Democrat Stacey Abrams in her uphill battle for Governor against Republican vote suppressor Brian Kemp), we start today with news that another U.S. House seat has flipped from "red" to "blue" in California. As the counting continues in the Golden State, the AP and others declared first-time Democratic candidate Josh Harder the winner over four-term Republican U.S. Rep Jeff Denham in the previously GOP-leaning Central Valley.

That brings Dems to a 33-seat pickup, so far, in U.S. House contests this year. A number of other races in previously very Republican areas of California, such as Orange County, have already been declared as flipped to Democrats, with several others still undecided but trending towards Democrats. Those remaining undecided House races and a few in other states could ultimately result in a massive "Blue Wave" as large as 39 new seats in Congress, by my count, as votes from the November 6th midterms continue to be tallied.

In Florida, however, as the state's 67 counties scramble to complete an unprecedented three statewide computer "recounts" in the U.S. Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner races (not to mention several other state legislative and local races) by this Thursday at 3pm, dozens of lawsuits are being filed in state and federal courts.

We cover some of the most notable today, including incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson's suit to extend the arbitrary "recount" deadline set for Thursday. At least one county, Democratic-leaning Palm Beach, has already said that it will be physically impossible to complete all of the machine rescans there in time, thanks to their aging computer tabulation system which can only scan one single race on 300 ballots at a time. Making matters still worse in the state's third most-populous county, those scanners reportedly overheated this week, leading to mismatched tabulations for the first batch of 174,000 ballots scanned (of some 700,000 total). That means that batch will need to be re-rescanned.

And all of that before a similarly absurd statutory Sunday deadline to complete any subsequent so-called "manual recounts" in races such as Nelson's U.S. Senate contest against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, where the margin is less than 0.25 percent. (It's currently reported to be just 0.13%, or 12,562 votes out of more than 8 million cast.)

Nelson has asked a federal court to extend the deadlines in all 67 Florida counties and, in separate filings, seeks to force a review of tens of thousands of absentee vote-by-mail ballots rejected across the state due to claims of signature mismatches and other unspecified "voter-caused error". Scott's hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner is opposing those suits, and Scott has filed several of his own to try and halt the ongoing tabulation.

But not all Republicans oppose extending the deadlines and counting of all ballots, as we also note today, even as most of them, including the President of the United States, are calling for "recounts" to end and incomplete tallies reported from last weekend --- just days after the Tuesday midterms --- to be certified instead. (Friendly reminder here that Republicans held up a statewide hand-count in the 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota for eight months in order to keep Al Franken from being seated in the Senate until July of 2009!)

Then, we're joined by BradBlog.com legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING for the latest on the lawsuit filed by CNN this week (and supported by Fox "News" of all outlets!) against the White House for their removal of press credentials for White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. Not only is the White House in violation of the Constitution's First and Fifth Amendments, the complaint alleges, but the White House and Secret Service also reportedly blocked Acosta from a planned interview with French President Emmanuel Macron last weekend at an event marking the centennial of the WWI Armistice. That, even though the interview was approved by France...and Trump failed to even show up at the event!...

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Guest: 28-year Leon County, FL Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: Deadly CA wildfires; Dems unseat Rohrabacher in CA; Sinema to take U.S. Senate race in AZ; Legal battle grows in GA Guv race...
By Brad Friedman on 11/12/2018 6:39pm PT  

The Florida election official so well-respected by Republicans and Democrats alike in 2000 that he was tapped to oversee that year's historic Presidential "recount" between George W. Bush and Al Gore in Florida (until it was stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court), tells us today that it is likely impossible for the state to complete three statewide recounts --- for U.S. Senate, Governor and Agriculture Commissioner --- in time to meet the state's ridiculously arbitrary statutory deadlines. Run by Republicans for decades, the state "puts a premium on speed", rather than accuracy, ION SANCHO, the 28-year former Leon County (Tallahassee) Supervisor of Elections tells me on today's BradCast. "This is, by no means, a system geared toward finding the truth." [Audio link to show follow below.]

Sancho explains how it is currently unlawful to add any vote to the totals as based on a hand examination of ballots by human beings, as he details the process now officially under way in the Sunshine State for a machine "recount" in the gubernatorial race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis (who, the computers report, leads by about 0.41%) and a supposed "manual" count in the U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and term-limited FL Gov. Rick Scott (which Scott is said to be leading by 0.15%, or less than 15,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast.) Sancho details how even in a "manual" count in FL, ballots are first fed through tabulation computers and only ballots determined by the computers to be over- or undervotes are then re-examined. But, even those ballots are, yes, "remade" by officials onto a fresh ballot paper so that it can can then be run through a computer tabulator.

Given the limitations on the so-called high-speed tabulation systems made by companies like ES&S, still used across the state --- which only accept "300 ballots at a time" --- the scanners used in counties like heavily Democratic-leaning Palm Beach "cannot physically do this job" before statutory deadlines run out. All ballots must be "recounted" by Thursday (even though overseas and military votes aren't due until this coming Saturday!) It's a system, Sancho describes, that was put in place before the very popular no-excuse absentee Vote-by-Mail system was allowed in Florida, along with provisional voting and other election practices that require time-consuming ballot-by-ballot evaluation to determine whether it's eligible for tabulation in the first place.

As noted on today's program, Florida will have "counted" and "recounted" its ballots (correctly or incorrectly, we will never know) less than a week and a half after last week's midterms, several weeks before California even announces completion of its initial count in early December.

All of this, as Scott and even the President of the United States are falsely charging election fraud is ongoing in the state's two largest counties (Broward and Palm Beach), despite a complete lack of evidence to support any such claims. Scott's own Secretary of State and Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement --- who Scott oversees and who both have authority to oversee elections and election crimes in all 67 Florida counties --- concede they have no evidence to support the GOP claims. Sancho also responds to the "laughable" charges of "fraud" being made by Scott and the "truth-free statement" tweeted by Trump on Monday morning, which falsely claims that "ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged" in Florida.

A couple of points worth underscoring here, as the Republicans have been busy dusting off their 2000 playbook to lie about "fraud" occurring in Palm Beach and particularly in Broward, in hopes of shutting down the tabulation of legitimate ballots altogether, once again, in Florida: 1) Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor of Elections in Democratic-leaning Broward County, which has had a number of election failures over the years, was appointed by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003; 2) Current Republican Gov. Rick Scott appointed his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner, who has tasked officials from his own office to oversee Broward's election office this year; 3) Nobody from Detzner's office or Florida Law Enforcement has seen or alleged any criminal wrong doing in the county. None of that, however, has prevented GOPers from claiming otherwise.

"Everybody's vote needs to be given the same weight," Sancho, a longtime election integrity champion who has taken on both the state and the voting machine companies argues during today's conversation. "It shouldn't depend upon whether you're in a competent or incompetent jurisdiction. Your vote should count if you cast them properly and you've made no errors."

Also today: Desi Doyen on California's horrific, deadly wildfires which have, to date, killed 31 across the state with hundreds more still unaccounted for; Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, in a still too-close-to-call race against GOP Sec. of State and notorious vote-suppressor Brian Kemp filed a new lawsuit over discarded absentee and provisional ballots on Sunday; Democrat Kyrsten Sinema appears to have defeated Republican Martha McSally to win the the U.S. Senate being vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona; And 15-term Orange County, CA Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has reportedly been unseated by Harley Rouda in one of the state's most GOP districts. That would bring the net pickup for Democrats in the U.S. House to 32, with results for more than ten seats in CA and elsewhere still said to be too close to call...

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Hours long lines, failed voting systems leave voters, ballots, stranded; Also, journalist Lulu Friesdat reports on tabulation mysteries, unlawful Wi-Fi computer hook-ups in Dallas County, TX counting room...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2018 5:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have foreseen it? Oh, yeah, we did. For months. Years, actually. At this point, even decades. [Audio link to show follows below.]

American voters finally had their chance on Tuesday to respond to the ongoing, two-year national emergency precipitated by the 2016 election of Donald Trump and full Republican control of Congress. Control of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and dozens of governorships were up for grabs today. But Election Day 2018 was --- yet again --- marred by completely predictable disasters for voters, including hours-long lines and failing voting and registration computers at polling places across the country.

Today we cover just some of the worst reported messes (there are still more to come to light and many more that we simply couldn't get to)...

  • In New York City, where paper ballot computer scanners failed leading to hours-long lines across city;
  • In Georgia, where many voters in African-American precincts stood in line for hours due to failing electronic pollbook systems and too few 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting machines (amid the tight race between the vote-suppressing GOP Sec. of State and Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp and his African-American Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams);
  • In South Carolina, where oft-failed, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by ES&S were reportedly flipping votes and officials were (outrageously) said to be making calibration adjustments to them in the middle of Election Day (a very dangerous idea!);
  • In Kansas and Missouri where voters also reportedly fought with many problems, incluing long lines, voting systems that failed and poll workers unlawfully demanding Photo IDs to vote. In Kansas, Sec. of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach is overseeing his own very tight race for Governor, and in Missouri, Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is fighting for her life as Democrats hope to claw back a majority in the U.S. Senate or keep Republicans from expanding their current one.

Then, we're joined by Emmy award-winning journalist and documentarian LULU FRIESDAT with a troubling exclusive report for us out of Dallas County, Texas, amid the reportedly close contest for U.S. Senate between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and his popular upstart Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.

Friesdat reports on two different serious concerns out of the Long Star State's second-most populous county, where numbers reported by the County's ES&S tabulators from the state's March primary are still not adding up correctly (yes, months later, questions are still emerging), and from the County's counting room, where a Texas election integrity group is reporting today that a computer in the tabulation facility appears to be hooked up to WiFi. That Friesdat tells me, is highly unlawful and potentially very troubling for a number of reasons.

"It is not okay for it to be around voting machines and tabulators, because that is one of the easiest ways for election results to be hacked," says Friesdat, who has been covering concerns about voting systems for many years now. "So there are usually very, very clear laws regarding internet connectivity or Wi-Fi in a tabulating area. And that is the case in Texas. They have laws that forbid Wi-Fi or connectivity." That, in a county where their vendor is ES&S, the nation's largest voting machine vendor, which recently lied to the New York Times about whether their systems include remote access software. (Turns out many of them do, but that's not what they initially told the Times, even as it still remains unclear which counties use ES&S systems with such capabilities, and even with cellular modems.)

Friesdat does close on a positive note, however, noting that many in the public are becoming aware of these concerns and that observations by the public are helping. "The more people get involved and keep looking, down to the nitty gritty, what's going on in your elections --- it's helping, folks! Keep it up!"

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with some bad news about plastic and the air we breathe, but some good news from the U.S. Supreme Court (believe it or not) and from the World Bank, which has now said it will no longer help finance coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world, because renewables are now cheaper than coal.

Results --- as reported...probably --- tomorrow...

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Guest: Oliver 'OJ' Semans of Four Directions: Also: Kemp denied again in GA; Tough re-election fight for OR's Dem Guv; KMOX, 'The Voice of St. Louis', misinforms voters in MO about 'tamper-proof' voting machines...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2018 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is no small amount of irony in the fact that the first people of this country, Native Americans, are now being forced in North Dakota to go through extraordinary measures to prove their residency in order to vote in America in next Tuesday's crucial midterm elections. [Audio link is posted at bottom of article.]

But, first up today, a small measure of good news from a federal court in Georgia regarding Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp's continuing legal battle to throw out Vote-by-Mail ballots based on dubious hand-writing analysis made by partisan election officials. Kemp insists he has the right to toss out ballots without offering Constitutional due process to voters and continues to appeal the U.S. District Court judge's ruling, meant to avoid the disproportionate rejection of votes cast by African-Americans in Kemp's deadlocked race against African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams.

But while that race, which could turn the state "blue", has received a good deal of attention this year, the "toss-up" gubernatorial contest between Oregon's Democratic incumbent Gov. Kate Brown and her GOP challenger, Knute Buehler, has received far less notice. Despite an expected increase in Democratic turnout this year, the progressive Brown is facing a surprisingly close re-election contest in what is otherwise considered to be a very "blue" state, as the GOP and its corporate supporters are pouring millions into the effort to defeat Brown.

Next, we head to North Dakota, where an astonishing effort by state Republicans to disenfranchise Native Americans was recently approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. The effort to prevent the state's tribal members from voting began almost immediately after Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's razor-thin election by fewer than 3,000 votes back in 2012. Now that she's running for re-election against Republican Kevin Cramer, state Republicans have changed the state's Voter ID law to require physical street addresses rather than the P.O. Box addresses used by many Native American voters living on reservations. In early October, SCOTUS allowed the new requirement to stand, even though the restriction was not in place during primaries last June, giving tribal members less than a month to figure out how to assign addresses to thousands of eligible voters and help prevent chaos and confusion.

Chaos has reportedly reigned, however, even as the state's tribes have been banding together to assign street addresses and create new tribal IDs as quickly as they can, vowing to create such IDs outside polling places even on Election Day on November 6th. On Tuesday, a new lawsuit [PDF] was filed charging that election officials have been rejecting addresses on absentee ballot requests, since newly assigned addresses do not exist in some state databases, and the state's Secretary of State refuses to say whether IDs with new street addresses assigned by Native American voting rights groups will be allowed for use on Election Day.

We're joined today by longtime Native American voting rights advocate OLIVER "OJ" SEMANS, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and co-founder of the non-partisan Four Directions, which focuses on Native American voter engagement and access. He explains his group's extraordinary (and expensive) efforts being taken to help organize against the suppression of ND's shameful new law, why he believes it was enacted, and whether he feels that indigenous Americans in the state will be able to overcome it.

"The rulings by the 8th Circuit and by the [U.S.] Supreme Court was basically severe spinal damage to the backbone of democracy," he tells me. "The backbone of democracy, which is voting, can only take so many kicks in the back like that before it's broken. Native Americans, who have basically enlisted in the United States services, percentage-wise, more than any other race, and have fought for freedoms for the country, have decided that we're going to fight for our own country for awhile and stop this madness."

Semans explains how claims of "voter fraud" used to justify these restrictions by the GOP, in a very Republican state, have no evidence to support them. "More than likely there is fraud --- but it's not by the Native American Indian," he says. "How can you have one party being re-elected, ten years, sixteen years, twenty years, over and over, without some type of fraud being committed. So, yeah, there's probably fraud, but it's not in Indian Country."

He also details how this new voting restriction would never have been allowed to stand at all, had not the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2013, gutted the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 which previously had protected tribal members and other racial minorities from this sort of disenfranchisement. Semans has testified several times in D.C. on behalf of the VRA, going back more than a decade now.

I hope you'll tune in for this, at times, heart-breaking conversation.

Finally today, some listener mail and a bit of a rant against a laughably misleading report on voting systems in St. Louis County, MO, where the most powerful radio station in the state, the 50,000 clear-channel watt blowtorch, KMOX NewsRadio 1120, has misinformed voters that the County's oft-failed and easily-hackable 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting machines and optical scanners are "tamper-proof" and never connected to the Internet. Both assertions --- made by election officials and their private vendor, ES&S, and passed on this week by KMOX (the station I group up listening to) and reporter Kevin Killeen --- are patently false and wildly misleading. As I mentioned on Twitter today, it's a terrible disservice to Show Me State voters that the once-great KMOX would credulously echo such long-ago debunked misinformation to their millions of listeners and readers. I discuss both that, and the woeful response I received from Killeen on Twitter today, to his irresponsible "reporting"...

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Guests: AUDIT-USA's Emily Levy and attorney Chris Sautter; Also: Reports of FBI ignoring dozens of Kavanaugh witnesses persist, Trump mocks accuser, Americans can't wait to vote...
By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2018 6:56pm PT  

We work hard on today's BradCast to stay focused on the crucial upcoming elections, even as Brett Kavanaugh's cavalcade of shame continues in D.C. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

Senate Republicans intensified their push for a floor vote as soon as possible, even as reports persist that the FBI is either refusing or failing to interview dozens of witnesses in their supplemental background probe of Kavanaugh following sexual assault against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee. At the same time, former classmates and clerks of Kavanaugh are retracting previous support for him, and three key Republican Senators (Flake, Collins and Murkowski) gently rebuked Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night.

Amidst that circus, it's no easy feat to stay focused on the crucial upcoming midterm elections. But we try. And so are an extraordinary number of Americans. Today we learn that last week, on National Voter Registration Day, more than 800,000 signed up to vote, stunning organizers and smashing the previous record of 771,000 who registered on National Voter Registration Day in 2016, before the Presidential election.

But, even with all of the apparent enthusiasm, will all of those new and previous voters be allowed to vote this year? If so, will their votes be counted, tallied accurately, and in a way that the public can know they have been tallied accurately? In recent days, corporate media --- right on schedule --- has suddenly begun to churn out articles questioning the accuracy and security of our wildly insecure and frequently inaccurate electronic voting and tabulation systems...once its largely too late to do much about any of it, just weeks before an election. (That, of course, is why we have been trying to do so year 'round over the past 15 years!)

The corporate election vendors who have been allowed to privatize our public elections with systems that have long ago (over a decade ago) been found to be easily hacked --- and which have failed in election after election --- continue to sell their flawed systems to officials and offer false claims about security to the public.

One of those companies, Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S), the nation's largest voting system vendor, has now threatened a lawsuit against a small, non-profit election transparency organization which has been fighting to encourage election officials to take advantage of a security setting available on newer models of paper ballot scanners made by ES&S and others. The group, AUDIT-USA, has been sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] by ES&S corporate attorneys objecting to the organization posting user manuals for their scanners that capture digital images of ballots when they are scanned. The group has been working to encourage states and counties to make sure those which use the newer systems have them set to retain all such ballot images so they can potentially be reviewed by the public after an election. That, in lieu of the public being allowed to examine paper ballots themselves in order to assure unverified computer-tabulated results are accurate.

We're joined today by long-time election integrity champion EMILY LEVY of AUDIT-USA and their long-time election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER of American University, to discuss the ES&S threat letter sent to the group last week, charging copyright infringement for making their instruction manuals available to the public. The letter, as we discuss, fails to even cite security concerns. Levy notes the irony in this case, given that AUDIT-USA is actually supporting the newer ES&S systems for their security feature that many election officials appear unaware of.

"What we've found from talking to election officials around the country is that a lot of them don't really understand the systems that they're using in their own counties," Levy tells me. "They don't understand why they need ballot images when they have the paper ballots. And they don't understand that, in order to preserve the ballot images, all they need to do is not change the settings that the machines come with. The default settings on the machines are to preserve the ballot images, and it's only by having someone --- whether a vendor working for them or elections officials themselves --- changing those settings that the ballot images get destroyed.

"So we want people to understand both the importance of the ballot images and preserving them --- that it's legally required to preserve them, just as it is to preserve all election materials. And that's it's not a difficult thing to do."

Sautter argues the information in question, as posted to their website, is in the public interest and, therefore, falls under the Fair Use Doctrine. "Cease and desist letters like the one that ES&S sent AUDIT-USA are a common form of intimidation," he says. "These companies have a lot of money, and sometimes they figure, well, we can overpower them, we'll file this lawsuit and we'll try to break this little non-profit in attorneys fees and we'll set an example."

As we also discuss, threats of lawsuits by voting system vendors against voting system experts and computer scientists have been going on for years (here's The BRAD BLOG exclusive from 2008 that I cite on the show), even as tax payers continue dolling out billions of dollars to these shameless and irresponsible private companies...

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Guest: Attorney, election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2018 6:20pm PT  

Well, it was one of those days again on today's BradCast, with an avalanche of huge, incoming breaking news which we do our best to cover --- even as we keep our eyes on the November prize on what may officially have been the worst day of Donald Trump's Presidency, to date. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Our first piece of breaking news: Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was convicted on 8 felony counts related to bank and tax fraud in his Virginia trial. The jury couldn't agree on 10 other counts brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, so the judge declared a mistrial on those counts. Manafort now faces another federal trial on felony charges, also brought by Mueller, in Washington D.C. next month, related to his undeclared work with a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party.

Also, in arguably bigger and worse breaking news for Trump, his longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 federal felonies related to bank and tax fraud, as well as campaign finance law violations related to a hush-money payoff of $130,000 made to porn actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, Cohen admitted in a NY federal courtroom on Tuesday, was carried out "at the direction of" Trump "for the principal purpose of influencing the election". Now facing 4 to 5 years in federal prison, he may be inclined to cooperate with Mueller to receive a shorter sentence. With Cohen's plea deal ending that particular investigation in NY, it may also mean that Trump will now be forced to sit for an under-oath deposition in the lawsuit filed against Trump by Daniels.

All of that, after Microsoft announced last night it had discovered and shut down several fake Russian websites said to have targeted U.S. Senate offices and two conservative think tanks in advance of the November primary.

Then, as voters head to the primary polls in Alaska and Wyoming today, we're still working to make sense of two still-unexplained election night tabulation failures in both Michigan and Kansas during their August 7th primaries. We're joined today by JENNIFER COHN, attorney turned election integrity advocate and journalist, following her recent trip to Kansas to investigate the reported "computer glitch" in Johnson County, KS which crippled election night tabulation in the state's most populous county.

That "glitch" resulted in GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, Secretary of State, reportedly defeating KS Gov. Jeff Colyer to secure the GOP nomination for Governor by just over 100 votes out of 311,00 cast on Election Day. The still-unexplained failure occurred on the county's brand new, unverifiable ES&S ExpressVote touchscreen voting and tabulation system, approved just months ago by the county's election chief who was appointed by Kobach. The same unverifiable voting system will be used by voters in some 16 states and D.C. this November. (For the record, they will be used in AZ, D.C., FL, IA, ID, ME, MI, MO, MS, NV, OH, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI and WV.)

Her must-read article published by The BRAD BLOG in March on the dangers of such systems --- which produce barcoded "paper ballots" that can't be verified by voters after an election --- foretells many of the problems that occurred in Kansas on August 7. "All the problems that I predicted came to fruition, with the long lines, and machines failing, and then not having paper ballot backups," Cohn reports, noting that some voters were disenfranchised and others were given confusion instructions about whether or not they should try "to even verify those computer-marked, so-called paper ballot summary cards" produced by the systems.

During her short visit to Kansas, Cohn was denied an interview with the Kobach-appointed JoCo Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker and blocked from viewing the ES&S voting systems as well as the tabulation of provisional ballots. "We were just stonewalled, really, all day long, about everything," she tells me. "On the tabulating, they wouldn't even tell me if they were tabulating in the building."

She goes on to explain why we should all be very concerned about all of this, and what can possibly be done to try and oversee the validity of computer-marked paper ballots and electronically tabulated results on similar systems in use across the country this November.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the story which was supposed to have be Trump's great triumph today, the announcement of his EPA's new plan to replace Barack Obama's 'Clean Power Plan' with a scheme that will allow coal plants to keep polluting, global warming to worsen, and, as the documentation of the plan admits, result in the avoidable deaths and illness of tens of thousands of Americans each year...

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Guest: Journalist, documentarian Lulu Friesdat...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2018 6:15pm PT  

After a quick report on Saturday's primary elections in Hawaii (moderate Democrats did well, more progressive candidates less so), we head straight out to Las Vegas for today's BradCast, where the 26th annual hackers convention, DEF CON, held its 2nd annual Vote Hacking Village. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After every voting system on display at last year's event was hacked within minutes by conference attendees, organizers tried to make it a bit more difficult this year. They made unverifiable electronic voting systems, optical-scan paper ballot tabulators and electronic pollbooks from a number of companies --- almost all of which will be in wide use across the country once again for this November's crucial midterms --- available for investigation and penetration. Once again, the hackers in attendance made short order of pretty much all of them.

Stunning vulnerabilities [PDF] were discovered, including some that officials have known about (and ignored or tried to keep secret for years) while others were revealed for the first time. Things like Chinese pop song files were found on one system used in actual elections recently, along with a host of other disturbing findings, which we summarize today.

Other disturbing findings regard the ES&S m650, an optical scanner used to tabulate paper absentee ballots in more than half of the country. Hackers discovered several severe vulnerabilities (some of which have been known for more than a decade, and others which election officials hoped to withhold from the public), including the ease with which the machine's entire operating system can be overwritten by inserting a zipdrive with a file named "update" before powering it on. Also, electronic pollbooks were found to be corruptible in seconds and found to store unencrypted administrative passwords --- in plain text format! --- on their removable memory cards (one of which was simply "password".)

There was also a mock election run on the systems still used in states like Georgia. In that election, a candidate not even on the ballot ending up winning. In another case which officials should take note of, a ballot cast via email was intercepted and changed. "The selection of the candidate was changed so that when it was received it was different from what was sent," the organizers note. "This is a big deal for the real world because we already allow for email balloting, in special cases for Americans living overseas [such as active military]. This is allowed in 30 states plus DC."

Moreover, the Voting Village organizers also offered replicas of swing-state Sec. of State website available to some 50 children from ages 6 to 17. You'll be shocked to learn that most were able to hack the mock SoS websites in some fashion, including changing candidates names and parties, and tampering with reported elections results to show, for example, 12 billion votes cast. The fastest exploit of a Sec. of State replica site (Florida's) was by an 11-year old who did it in 10 minutes!

We're joined today to discuss all of this by Emmy-award winning journalist and documentarian LULU FRIESDAT whose video from last year's DEF CON Voting Village went viral (several times) since then, and who was on hand to document this past weekend's conference once again. She details the extraordinary "sea change" since last year's event, as many elections officials and U.S. Intelligence Community representatives were on hand for this year's festivities.

"What's really great about this year's Def Con is that we are starting to see a collaboration and communication between three groups that really have been working more as silos previously, and that is election officials, security experts, and hackers," Friesdat reports. "It was very deliberate on the part of the organizers, Jake Braun, Harri Hursti and Matt Blaze, to really try to bring those three groups together... Because we're not going to make progress on this issue unless these three groups start communicating with each other."

"We don't have a one-size-fits-all solution for this. Every county is going to have to have some different solutions. What we have are principles. And I think the principles remain the same. The principles are yes, every voter who can mark a ballot by hand, needs to mark a ballot by hand. And security experts across the board are really starting to say that, openly publicly."

"There is a sea change happening. You really could feel it. This year, there was an entire panel of election officials, whereas last year almost none of them actually came," Friesdat tells me, adding cautiously: "There are thousands of election officials all over the country who are still dragging their feet. You look at states like Georgia, and they are doing everything they can to stay in basically an unauthenticated election protocol. So it is a wide spectrum."

Among the noteworthy accounts from Friesdat, we discuss California Sec. of State Alex Padilla's call for more federal funding for election systems (meaning, more money for more computers) and Colorado Elections Manager Dwight Shellman who, though a fan of electronic tabulation, calls for routine post-election audits everywhere (which almost no states do at all.)

We also discuss the remarks at the conference by DHS Asst. Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Jeanette Manfra, who admitted last summer during U.S. Senate Hearings that the agency never found evidence that votes were changed in the 2016 Presidential election, in no small part, because nobody ever bothered to look! DHS never carried out any forensic investigations of voting systems, nor even bothered to count ballots to make sure they were accurately tabulated by counting computers in the election, despite the ongoing warnings by the Intelligence Community of Russian cyberattacks and interference. "Could it be done?," Friesdat asks rhetorically, "The answer, over and over and over again, is yes, it could be done. Election results could be manipulated. And is it difficult? No. It is a piece of cake."

While this year's DEF CON Voting Village was another huge leap forward in bringing concerns about all of these systems to the public, it appears we have a long way to go until American figures out the solution. I'd suggest that solution is public oversight of tabulation of hand-marked paper ballots (Not computers, but people! I call it "Democracy's Gold Standard".) But, hey, computers --- all of which are obviously wildly hackable --- could work too, right?

Speaking of which, we close today with an email from a listener who turned one of my recent rants on this issue into a poem...

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Guest: Michael Hiltzik of L.A. Times; Also: KS GOP gubernatorial primary fight worsens; Very good news for NC voters; Very bad news for Monsanto; And why Trump wants to 'Make Asbestos Great Again'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2018 6:20pm PT  

It's yet another wild ride on today's BradCast! Climb aboard and buckle up! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, the saga of Kansas' wildly close primary election for the GOP gubernatorial nomination between current Gov. Jeff Colyer and the oft-disgraced Sec. of State Kris Kobach grows more acrimonious by the hour. The fight over Kobach's refusal then agreement to recuse himself from the counting and canvassing process now includes Colyer charging Kobach is giving counties advice on counting provisional and mail-in ballots that is "inconsistent with Kansas law" and that Colyer's new "voter integrity" hotline has received hundreds of calls, including claims that voters were "turned away" from the polls on Tuesday and had trouble finding Colyer's name on the ballot. (The latter complaint, as I explain, could be a result of new ES&S ExpressVote touchscreen voting machines now used in several KS counties. Those machines, in crowded races, fail to show all candidates on a single screen, requiring the voter to hit a "More" button.) A recount and/or litigation between the two Republicans may lie ahead, in what couldn't be a better result for Democrats if they'd designed it themselves.

Then, a followup on the Trump EPA's recent announcement that they intend to bring asbestos back and about the Russian company which mines and sells most of the world's supply of the deadly mineral. The firm, according to their own Facebook page recently, is now actually stamping Donald Trump's face on their packaging!

Next, we're joined by the L.A. Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist MICHAEL HILTZIK to discuss the real story behind Trump's recent tweets on California's ongoing record wildfires and the President's bizarre suggestion that the out-of-control blazes are due to "bad environmental laws" and mismanagement of the state's water system. He claims the firses are happening because California allows water to be "foolishly diverted into the Pacific Ocean". While none of those things are actually anywhere close to the truth or the reason for the global warming-fueled fires, Hiltzik explains how Trump's misinformed claims actually appear part of an effort by the Interior and Commerce Departments to exploit the ongoing catastrophes as a way to strip away the state's control of its own water system and, believe it or not, as a pretext for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hopes of hollowing out the Endangered Species Act.

Hiltzik describes Trump as the "Drought Denier in Chief" while explaining that the state of California has said they have plenty of water to fight the fires. "The diversion of water" in the state is not to the ocean, as Trump charges, but "for growers in the Central Valley of California who live in one of the very few Republican zones in the state and are basically supported by the very few Republican office-holders we have in Congress."

"Under federal law," he explains, "water has to be kept flowing through a lot of our rivers so that fish, and fishermen, and fisheries are supported, and we don't let those species go extinct. And when I say 'going extinct', it's not only fish at risk of going extinct but, as I've reported, there are salmon fishermen on the coast whose livelihoods are at risk of going extinct because the salmon are being stressed by federal policies that don't allow enough water to flow down the rivers they use."

"So growers have been on the warpath, saying 'Oh, we're not getting water, we're drying up because of these biological opinions that say the fish need the water'. These are biological opinions that were issued in accordance with the federal Endangered Species Act. So, Trump has been out for the ESA since the get-go."

But why do Trump and the Republicans favor the farming industry over the state's billion dollar fishing industry? Hiltzik explains that and much more, as the Administration ups their efforts to avoid letting a good catastrophe go to waste.

Finally, some good news for voters in North Carolina, where a federal court has blocked the state from purging voters without notice or in the 90 days before an election; A jury verdict out of San Francisco awards $290 million to a school groundskeeper after finding Monsanto liable for his terminal cancer tied to the use of their toxic weed killer RoundUp; And we close out with Jimmy Kimmel's clever idea for trying to convince Trump to give a damn about our ever-worsening climate crisis...

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Also: Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-Trump) indicted for insider trading...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2018 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Election Administrator's (and Election Integrity journalist's) Prayer was decidedly not answered on Tuesday, based on reported results in at least two key races, and problems in the four states (Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington) which held midterm primaries and the one (Ohio) which held the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

But, first up today, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York, the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's candidacy, was indicted Wednesday morning, along with his son and the father of his son's fiancee, for an insider trading scheme, after he had tipped off his son to failed testing for a multiple sclerosis treatment by an Australian company in which Collins was the top shareholder and a member of its board. According to the indictment by the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, it sure looks like they've caught Collins red-handed. Though he vows to fight the charges and remain on the ballot this November, his once-safe seat is now believed to be in danger.

Then, onto yesterday's Election Day and the very long night that followed.

In the OH-12 special election, Democrat Danny O'Connor trails Republican Troy Balderson by about 1,700 votes out of some 200,000 cast, mostly on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems across seven Ohio counties. About 3,500 uncounted provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots could change the outcome in the days ahead, or at least lead to a state-mandated "recount" in the district that, for decades --- until Tuesday --- had been solidly "red". In 2016, Trump carried the district by 11 points and the now-resigned House GOP incumbent had carried it by 36 points. That has clearly changed with a virtual dead heat contest on Tuesday, leading to growing confidence in a "blue wave" this November by many Democrats and, yes, a "RED WAVE" in the same crucial midterms, as predicted today by Donald Trump.

In Detroit, where voters cast hand-marked paper ballots, they were able to continue voting even during power outages at more than a dozen polling places on Tuesday, following storms the night before. We have results from MICHIGAN's closely-watched Gubernatorial primaries and the somewhat bizarre, two separate Democratic primary races (one normal, one special) to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant last year by Rep. John Conyers resignation. State Dems will now host an historic, all-female slate at the top of the ticket for Governor, U.S. Senator, Attorney General and Sec. of State, and Rashida Tlaib will become the first Muslim woman in Congress.

In KANSAS, $10 million wasted on new, unverifiable touch-screen voting systems didn't help voters as some of the brand new ES&S ExpressVote ballot marking devices failed to work at all on Tuesday morning, and electronic tabulation grounded to a halt all together in Johnson County, the state's most populous, due to a problem that remains unclear at this hour. All of it resulted in another "too close to call" race today, in the GOP's gubernatorial primary between current Gov. Jeff Colyer and the controversial Trump-endorsed Sec. of State Kris Kobach. He leads, according to unverifiable touch-screen results finally reported on Wednesday morning, by just 191 votes(!) out of some 300,000 cast. A "recount" (overseen by Kobach himself) almost certainly awaits, as do future failures on the ExpressVote systems which produce unverifiable barcoded "paper trails" instead of hand-marked paper ballots. Sadly, the same systems are also being adopted by many other jurisdictions around the country as well.

In MISSOURI, a few Republicans came up with a novel new way to stop voters from voting. But that didn't deter the state which voted for Trump by double digits in 2016 from soundly rejecting a GOP anti-union (so-called "Right-to-Work") measure by a 2 to 1 margin. And, in St. Louis County, in a triumph of democracy, Bill McCulloch, the 7-term Democratic prosecutor who failed to bring charges in the 2014 police killing of Ferguson's Michael Brown, was defeated by Wesley Bell, one of the African-American leaders of the 2014 protests there. Bell had become a City Council member in Ferguson in 2015 and he will now be St. Louis County's Prosecuting Attorney.

And finally today, in WASHINGTON state, results of several U.S. House primaries suggest incumbent Republicans previously thought to be in safe "red" districts --- including Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest ranking female in Congress --- may not be quite as safe in this November's midterms as they had thought...

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Important U.S. House Special Election next Tuesday in Columbus, OH; Trump, GOP Congress lying about election security; Admin announces deadly scheme to rollback mileage, air quality standards; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2018 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, if you're waiting for the government to save us by protecting elections --- or anything else --- that's not going to happen. But you can save us, as I explain today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, voters in Tennessee head to the polls for their midterm primaries (yes, on a Thursday! --- perhaps that's one of the reasons the state has among the lowest turnout rates in the country?), as voters elsewhere are preparing for next Tuesday's primaries in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington.

Also next Tuesday will be the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year before the midterms. The race is in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, a normally very "red" district centered in Columbus, where Republican Troy Balderson had, as recently as last month, been favored by some 10 points over Democrat Danny O'Connor. The race, however, has now become a dead heat, according to new polling from Monmouth and others. So, we have a few very specific and important thoughts for our friends and listeners in Columbus (on WGRN 94.1FM!) today regarding that contest. In short, as I explain: this long-held Republican seat --- in a district which both Romney and Trump reportedly won by some 10 points --- is now flippable, but it will require all hands on deck to do it next week (yes, including independent and Green Party voters!)

In the meantime, Donald Trump's White House paraded out a bunch of their top intelligence community officials to try and convince us all that they give a damn about election security before the November midterms. Don't believe them for a second. I explain why. Similarly, do not believe the Republicans in Congress who now pretend that they give a damn about election security, since, on Wednesday, they proved once again they do not. Every Republican Senator present, with the exception of TN's Bob Corker, voted against an appropriations amendment to give $250 million for additional election security to states. All Democrats voted in favor of the amendment, which received a majority 50-47 vote. But that wasn't enough to overcome the 60 vote filibuster threshold (which Republicans could have waived). That, on the same day the GOP-majority Senate easily approved a $717 billion defense authorization package --- in case you're wondering where their priorities really are.

As explained in an impassioned rant today, in response to all of the above, it's unclear that more money thrown at our computerized election systems would even result in more secure elections or those that Americans can have confidence in. When it comes to our elections and our democracy, and so much more, one thing is clear: "We are not going to be protected by Congress, or the White House, no matter who is in charge of either. The government is not going to save us here. We are going to save us here. We are the only chance that we have."

I offer a number of ways for folks to do exactly that on today's show, which I hope you'll share loudly and broadly. [Update: Desi has transcribed a bit of today's rant for easier sharing right here.]

Speaking of, as we warned on a recent BradCast, the Trump Administration has now formally announced their new scheme today to roll back automobile fuel-efficiency standards that had previously been worked out in an agreement between the Obama Administration, automakers and states like California who have stricter air quality standards than the federal government's. Trump's EPA, however, is hoping to block those new standards --- which experts say will save 40,000 lives per year thanks to cleaner air --- in favor of dirtier air more costly gas mileage for consumers. The Administration justifies the change with a dubious assertion that 1,000 lives per year will be saved, because it will be cheaper for Americans to purchase newer, safer cars --- never mind the higher fuel costs (approximately $170 billion over all) they'll have to pay.

The Administration which pretends to believe in "states' rights" is also moving with their newly proposed regulation to block California's legal right under the federal Clean Air Act to determine their own air quality and mileage standards. The state, and 16 others, have already filed suit against the proposed regulation. A public comment period is now open in response to the measure at this Regulations.gov docket page.

Our own Desi Doyen has a few words about all of that. And then she joins us for our latest Green News Report, with 2017 now officially found to have smashed global heat records, deadly global warming-fueled wildfires continuing to devastate Northern California, and the U.S. Supreme Court (surprisingly) giving their unanimous go-ahead for a landmark climate change lawsuit against the federal government, as filed by children, to move ahead!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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