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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Why Does the FCC Allow Sinclair to Violate Ownership Rules in Baltimore?
An investigation of FCC, SEC docs in citizen-filed 'Petition to Deny' licensing for three stations controlled by the media giant may help end 'sham' control of our public airwaves...
Law Prof: Dems' One Chance to Fix Our Broken Democracy is to Expand SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 9/22/2020
Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: 200,000+ dead; GOP's Supreme hypocrisy...
'Green News Report' 9/22/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Beta breaks new records as it grinds into Gulf Coast; Smoke from record Western fires causes health crisis; More mega-fires coming; PLUS: RBG's environmental legacy...
Previous GNRs: 9/17/20 - 9/15/20 - Archives...
RBG RIP and the Fight Over What Happens Now:
'BradCast' 9/21/20
Her historic legacy and the unspeakable GOP hypocrisy over her replacement; Also: Callers ring in on what Dems must do next and on expanding the stolen SCOTUS...
Sunday 'Rest in Notorious Peace' Toons
So many cries for Justice in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'RECOUNTED' with Nils Gilman, Mark Joseph Stern: 'BradCast' 9/18/20
On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
Federal Court Blocks 'Politically Motivated' USPS Changes, Orders Sorting Machines Reinstalled
Judge charges Postmaster General mandates undermined integrity of 2020 election...
More Wins in the War Against the War On Voting in PA, OH, SC & USPS: 'BradCast' 9/17/20
Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer plans to vote for Biden; Much more you need to hear...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain, floods; Fires in West behind mass bird die-off; Trump names climate denier to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science issues first-ever endorsement...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/20 - 9/10/20 - Archives...
GA's 'Experts' Flounder in Court Defending State's New Unverifiable Touchscreen Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 9/16/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Sally soaks AL, FL; Results of 2020's final primary in DE...
Mostly Good News in Battle-ground Ballot Battles in WI, OH, NV: 'BradCast' 9/15/20
Also: 175-yr old science mag's first-ever endorsement; Broadcast news outlets failing to inform electorate about worsening climate crisis...
'Green News Report' 9/15/20
Hurricane Sally approaches, with more storms on the way; Deadly West Coast fires break more records; PLUS: Biden blasts 'climate arsonist' Trump and urges swift action...
Fires and Liars and Modems, Oh My!: 'BradCast' 9/14/20
Guest: Jenny Cohn on 2020 hacking fears; Also: Climate-fueled fires breaking records; More storms on way; Trump says climate change, like COVID, to just go away...
Sunday 'Can't Trust the Media' Toons
But you CAN trust PDiddie to post the best of the past week's political toons in his latest collection...
Woodward Goes Wayward in 'Biggest Scandal in Modern Journalism': 'BradCast' 9/10
Guest: Journalist David Sirota; Also: Whistleblower, new report reveal U.S. Intel fully upside-down under Trump...
'Green News Report' 9/10/20
'Unprecedented' wildfires explode across Western U.S., man-made climate change is to blame; PLUS: Trolling for Florida votes, Trump flip-flops on offshore drilling ban...
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...


On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
By Desi Doyen on 9/18/2020 4:22pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • First up is Brad's 8/17/2020 interview with historian NILS GILMAN, Vice President of Programs at the Berggruen Institute and co-founder of the bipartisan Transition Integrity Project (TIP), on their disturbing report [PDF] warning of a potential constitutional crisis over the November 3, 2020 election. Gilman explains the conclusions reached during a series of bipartisan tabletop 'war games' --- conducted by a more than 100 current and former senior government officials, campaign leaders and experts from media to the military --- and their final report warning that the Trump Administration may seek to manipulate, ignore, undermine or disrupt the 2020 Presidential election and the crucial transition process between Election Day on November 3rd and Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.
  • Then, Brad's conversation on 9/9/2020 with ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate, on bona fide, long-overdue (about 150 years overdue!) good news for voting rights in North Carolina, where state court judges recently struck down an 1877 law meant to "secure white supremacy" by forcing former felons to pay all court-ordered fines and fees before regaining the right to vote. They discuss the long, racist history of the statute and the new law adopted last year by Florida which is virtually identical to the one finally struck down in NC!

We'll be back LIVE soon!

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

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Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer endorses Biden; And MUCH more you need to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2020 7:08pm PT  

As my rant near the top of today's BradCast makes clear --- there is a now mountain of madness emanating from the White House. All of it now going on at one time, as Donald Trump and the Republican Party become more desperate with each passing day before this year's election. And while the mountain of unfolding nightmarish stories I quickly cover in that rant are all terrible --- some of them horrific, in fact --- none of them matter, for the moment, as much as making sure that everyone is able to vote this safely this year and have their votes counted as cast in the November 3rd election. That is how we will keep ourselves and this republic alive, as this President and his Administration (and their party) appear to have no interest in that. I hope you'll enjoy the rant nonetheless. [Audio link to today's show follows below the summary.]

Before and after today's rant...

  • We kick off our show with the new ad from Republican Voters Against Trump, featuring Olivia Troye, a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence as his homeland security advisor and his lead staffer on the White House Coronavirus Task Force "from day one". Troye, who left the White House in July, announced today that she is endorsing Joe Biden and explains why in the video ad that excoriates Trump for not wanting to hear about the pandemic back in February "because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year and how was this going to effect his record of success." She goes on to charge that Trump "doesn't care about anyone else but himself" and once described his supporters during a task force meeting as "disgusting people";
  • Then, a bit of testimony from Donald Trump's FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a hearing today before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in which the man Trump hired to replace the fired James Comey explains that Russia is currently undertaking "very active efforts...to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more than malign foreign influence". He testified that the Russian effort underway is meant to denigrate Joe Biden;
  • But, as noted in our rant, ultimately, none of it matters unless American voters can safely vote and have their vote counted as cast. Toward that end, we have several stories of mostly good news for voting rights, beginning with the federal judge in Washington State who issued a nationwide preliminary injunction today to block what he describes as "a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service" before the November election. The injunction was sought in a suit filed by 14 states against the Trump Administration and the U.S. Postal Service. It seeks to block measures implemented by new Postmaster General and major Trump/RNC donor Louis DeJoy which slowed down mail delivery in advance of an election that will see record mail-in voting due to Trump's failure to control the coronavirus pandemic;
  • That is hardly the only effort underway by Trump and his party to make voting by mail more difficult this year. But we've got mostly good news to report today from the Supreme Court in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. The high court approved the use of absentee ballot drop-boxes and is allowing ballots received by elections officials to be tallied if they arrive as late as three days after Election Day and are postmarked by November 3rd. The setback for Team Trump in the state Court's series of rulings on Thursday also included upholding a state requirement that poll watchers must live in the county where they are poll watching (while that's not optimal in most cases, it may be necessary this year to prevent the GOP from bringing in people to intimidate voters. We explain why that is.)

    In more good Keystone State news for Democrats, the state Supremes also ruled that the Green Party failed to qualify for this year's Presidential ballot. In better news for Trump and the GOP --- though not good news for voting rights advocates --- the Court denied a Democratic request for voters to be notified to come in and cure absentee ballot deficiencies --- such as missing or perceived mismatched signatures or missing secrecy envelopes --- before those ballots are rejected. Hopefully this serves as a warning to voters in PA (and everywhere else!) to follow all the rules for absentee voting carefully before mailing --- or, better yet --- dropping off ballots in person this year, where allowed. A lawsuit challenging some of the same issues has been filed by the Trump Campaign in federal court, where the Trump-appointed judge in charge of that case has put it on hold as the state cases moved forward. We'll see what that federal judge does now.

  • The embarrassing battle over absentee ballot drop-boxes continued today in the longtime battleground state of Ohio, leading the Republican Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court to excoriate her own party for attacks they leveled against Democratic Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye after he found in favor of Democrats earlier this week in the state suit they filed against Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose. In that case, Frye found that state law allows Counties to deploy as many secure mail-in ballot drop-boxes as they'd like.

    Longtime "conservative stalwart" and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor issued a blistering rebuke against state Republicans for their response to Frye's finding, calling the GOP's allegations "disgraceful" and "deceitful" and "a blatant and unfounded attack". Nonetheless, even after Frye's finding, LaRose has so far declined to lift his August directive mandating only one drop-box in each of the Buckeye State's 88 counties and has vowed to appeal Frye's ruling. That turns out to be in contradiction of what the Secretary indicated previously, when he told many people --- including a top labor official in the state (via text messages) as well as a federal judge in a parallel federal suit --- that he would be happy to change his order once a Court clarified if it was allowable under state law. But LaRose, apparently, is a liar...or a coward cowed by his own party;

  • In our final War on Voting story for today (yes, there will be many more to come in the days ahead, sadly), South Carolina's Republican Governor signed a law this week that will allow any state voter to vote by absentee ballot this year, no excuse needed, in response to the nation's still-out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic. That's good news. But the legislation adopted this week by the GOP-dominated state legislature failed to include several provisions sought by Democrats, including the use of secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots and the waiving of a requirement for a witness to sign the mail-in ballot. The changes to state election law come as incumbent Republican U.S. Senator and Trump lackey Lindsey Graham is said to be TIED in pre-election polling with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in the Palmetto State in what could be a stunning upset this November...if ALL voters in the state are allowed to vote and to see their votes counted as cast;
  • Finally today, in a brief respite from the War Against the War on Voting, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some of the ongoing brutal news this week in the war against our ever worsening and deadly climate crisis and those who continue to pretend it doesn't exist...even in a week like this one...

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 plaintiff Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Hurricane Sally drenches AL, FL; Results from 2020's final primary in DE...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2020 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last year, a federal judge in Georgia banned the state's 20-year old, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, finding them to be "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated" and, thus, effectively unconstitutional for use in federal elections. This week, that same federal judge held a hearing to determine whether the new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems Georgia has chosen to use this year for the first time are any better, or whether the Peach State should have listened to the cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged the state to move, instead, to a verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, Hurricane Sally slammed ashore near the Alabama / Florida border this morning. As predicted, the very slow moving storm is packing a punch, with rainfall "measured in feet, not inches swamping homes and forcing the rescue of hundreds of people as it pushed inland." Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on that slow moving disaster as water is quickly rising, rescues continue, the storm moves into Georgia, and as more hurricanes are already lining up behind it in an already record breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which still continues until late November!)

Even as that climate change-intensified disaster unfolds on the heels of Hurricane Laura just three weeks ago (with thousands still without power and in shelters in Louisiana), along with the record deadly climate-fueled wildfires out west, Donald Trump has chosen --- amid all of this --- a notorious climate science denier for a top position on "environmental observation and prediction" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

If those stories don't underscore the existential importance of this year's elections, we don't know what would.

On that score, the final state Primary Elections of the 2020 season were held on Tuesday in Joe Biden's adopted home state of Delaware, with most ballots cast by mail, and with both masks and social distancing in place at the polls. Happily, there have been no reported voting problems to come to my attention yet and, as expected, there were few surprises in the reported computer-tallied results. Some of them, however, are either eyebrow raising, historic, or just plain fun. Among those categories is the QAnon conspiracist who is now the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state; the first openly transgender person to (almost certainly) win a seat in a state Senate; and the 12-year, Democratic state legislator who opposed same-sex marriage being beaten soundly on Tuesday --- in a landslide --- by a local, gay, progressive drag queen!

And with the primaries finally (and thankfully!) out of the way, we move straight to the general elections and back to Georgia, which Democrats hope to flip from red to blue in the Presidential election this year for the first time in decades. But it's also a state where not one, but two vulnerable Republican U.S. Senators are facing tough re-election challenges from Democrats.

There is a lot riding politically on the state of Georgia this year, which makes this week's much-anticipated three-day virtual hearing in an Atlanta federal court all the more critical. When the second day of the three-day hearing which wrapped up this week, regarding the security of the state's vulnerable new computer voting, pollbook and tabulation systems was interrupted --- "Zoom bombed" --- with photos of the 9/11 attacks, swastikas and pornography posted by a user calling him or herself "Osama", it would have been impossible for U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg to miss the irony.

"It was a very sobering reminder of just how vulnerable electronics are, and just how targeted the United States and our elections are right now," says MARILYN MARKS, our guest today. She is Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, a lead plaintiff in the long-running case. She says it served as a reminder of the need to "get hand-marked paper ballots that are verifiable and auditable."

The Coalition is suing for a ruling that would find Georgia's new, unverifiable, $100+ million touchscreen voting system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting Systems to be an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. That would be a similar finding to the one Totenberg issued last year, effectively banning and decertifying the state's 20-year use of its previous insecure, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold.

In addition to hoping to see those systems replaced with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, the Coalition is asking the judge to order backup paper pollbooks at every polling place, after the new electronic pollbook systems failed during the state's June primary elections, leading to hours-long lines, largely in minority voting districts. The plaintiffs are also calling for oversight of the state's optical-scan tabulation systems which failed to tally thousands of votes on absentee ballots during the state's recent primaries. (We interviewed Jeanne DuFort, who discovered that problem, and is also a plaintiff in this case on several recent programs.)

Marks shares her observations from this week's hearings, including on the testimony and cross-examination of the Coalition's cybersecurity and voting systems expert witnesses (many of whom have also appeared multiple times on this show, including Univ. of Michigan's Alex Halderman, UC-Berkley's Philip Stark, expert data researcher Kevin Skoglund and legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti). Similarly, Marks offers her thoughts on the state's, um, less-than-expert witnesses and responds to a number of allegations made by the attorney representing Georgia and its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, who selected this new, "Rube Goldberg" computerized voting system despite the urging of experts and voters alike.

Among the stunning points noted by Marks was the testimony from the man who led the certification testing of this system for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Marks reports the witness seemed "quite confused about the technology" and "admitted to having no real security background and not really any long-term established security people on his team." She says his testimony "made it clear that security is really not a top priority for the certification of voting systems" at the federal level, adding, "It was really kind of unbelievable."

While transcripts may be available from the hearing soon (we'll update with a link to them here when they are), Marks noted some portions will be redacted, since the state argued privately in front of the judge on certain issues that even the plaintiffs were not allowed to witness. (Though I wonder whether "Osama" did?)

"The public learned a lot from these expert witnesses about just how seriously vulnerable the Georgia election system is," she tells me. "The expert witnesses gave extremely compelling testimony during the direct examination by our attorneys. But when the state's attorneys got them up on the stand for cross-examination, they were equally strong. Quite frankly, the state was really not able to get in any type of evidence --- because there is none --- that would help get anyone comfortable with their equipment."

When it came to the witnesses from the state and the voting system vendors, she says, her attorneys explained to the court that those "experts have not been able to tell the court just the basic fundamental operational and security details --- the plaintiffs have been the ones who bring all the information. The state basically had no one with any independence. Every expert witness they had had a financial interest in ballot-marking devices. Two of the expert witnesses are [voting system] vendors, three of the expert witnesses are vendors of ballot-marking device suppliers. So they were hardly considered independent, at least by the laymen who were watching."

While Marks says she does not know when Totenberg will issue her ruling, it is likely to be soon. Reports from the virtual courtroom via AP suggest Judge Totenberg appeared concerned by points made by the plaintiffs and may be forced to implement changes --- if she determines there is time to do so with Early Voting beginning in just four weeks in the Peach State. Marks believes there is plenty of time to make the state's elections more secure and overseeable, though the state begs to differ. Soon we'll learn how the Judge feels.

During closing arguments, according to AP's coverage, Robert McGuire, an attorney for the Coalition and individual voter plaintiffs, "recalled Totenberg's prior admonitions to the state" by noting that "Totenberg previously told the state that a new voting system should address the need for 'transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes that guarantee each citizen's fundamental right to cast an accountable vote.'" But the state's new computerized Ballot Marking Device system "satisfies none of these requirements," McGuire said...

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

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Guest: Jenny Cohn, attorney, election security advocate; Also: Climate-fueled West Coast fires keep breaking records; More new hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2020 6:21pm PT  

Today's BradCast in a nutshell: Elected officials lie, corporate media misinforms, people die. We try again to combat all of the above today. Wish us luck. [Audio link to today's show follow below.]

First up today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on the deadly, devastating, climate changed-fueled wildfire infernos wreaking havoc up and down the West Coast and on the new record hurricanes that are heading our way at the same time. With more than 3 million acres now burned, hundreds of structures destroyed in California alone, and at least 35 dead from the record blazes so far, Donald Trump went to the state on Monday and told fire officials not to worry. "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch," the President told California state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, who was urging him to not ignore science and "recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests." Trump's response: "Well, I don't think science knows, actually."

So, don't worry! Just as Trump repeatedly promised COVID would "just go away," (more than 190,000 Americans have been killed by it since he pulled that phony promise out of his ass), apparently the same is true for our climate crisis! Of course, our corporate media have made it much easier for Trump to misinform the nation with his lies because the corporate media have done --- and are still doing --- an horrendous job of educating the electorate about the real reasons the western fires have become so horrific and why we are now up to "V" in the named storms so far this year, with a month and half still to go in the storm season and two and a half months remaining in the wildfire season.

The media have been similarly disastrous in their education of the electorate when it comes to our woeful election system. Sadly, too many top government officials --- Democratic and Republican ones alike --- share in that blame, as we're reminded in our guest today, JENNY COHN's new short #RemoveTheModems video, warning voters about the modems that are present in voting and tabulation systems in key states --- including battlegrounds Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin --- making our entire electoral system vulnerable to hackers.

Citing the comments from officials back in 2016 falsely telling America that our voting and tabulation systems are "never connected to the Internet" (they are), so can't be hacked (they can), Cohn tells me: "I'm very worried that we're going to be gaslit again in 2020. If the electronic totals somehow favor Trump, we're going to be told to pack up and go home there's nothing to see here, he just won, 'he's a legitimate president', period."

That year, even after Democrats promised "hundreds of attorneys" on the ground to assure a legitimate election (exactly as Joe Biden's campaign did again today), the DNC and Clinton Campaign refused to demand the hand-count of ballots in the three key states (MI, WI and PA) which barely flipped to the Republican candidate for the first time in decades. That, despite the fact that had an average of just two votes been recorded for Clinton instead of Trump in each precinct in those states that year, she, not he, would have won.

"What really concerns me is the blind spot that the Democratic Party seems to have for the electronic component of potential for cheating," says Cohn. She believes, however, that at least Clinton has learned her lesson. Based on a conversation she says she had with the 2016 Democratic candidate recently, Cohen tells me: "I do believe that Hillary Clinton understands it now, and I think she understands the importance of the Democrats not boxing themselves into a corner, where they will look like hypocrites if they need to file an election challenge based on the electronic totals, or any other aspect of the election."

Whether Clinton has enough power to convince the Biden Campaign and the rest of the Party of that, Cohn suggests, is a separate question.

Cohn, an attorney, election security advocate and Twitter activist, is calling for the modems cited in her video to be removed from the systems in states which use them before the November election. As journalist Kim Zetter reported last year, many of the election officials in those states don't even realize when their private election vendor has hooked their systems up to the Internet --- some of them she reports researchers discovered, are on the net all year around!

"I have no doubt that what the Trump team wants to do is win the electronic vote on Election Day, and then try to run out the clock or do something else with the [absentee ballot] signature match, so that we don't get all of them counted," she tells Cohn argues. "Or, if it goes to a recount, it gets shut down prematurely," she says, noting correctly that Vote-by-Mail ballots are also "sent to that electronic management system too."

Cohn also discusses some of her worst fears about this year's elections (and I share some of mine, several of which are similar, especially regarding electronic pollbooks which often have no paper backup) before we take a few phone calls from listeners on the topic, with Election Day now just 50 days away. "It's going to be ugly, no matter what the official result is," she says, noting: "My biggest concern --- the overarching concern that I think we both share --- is that there won't be any transparency about the results, and therefore we'll never really know."

Cohn has posted a bunch of helpful "Tips to Mitigate Threats to Our Votes and Voter Registrations Before November" that I'd urge you to check out and share as well, even though we didn't get time to discuss them. Just a good reason to have Jenny back. Please follow her on Twitter until then!...

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: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it was not a good day for those who believe in free, fair, honest, overseeable and safe democracy. On the other hand, it was a great day for Republicans! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We've got a boatload of court rulings from almost half a dozen states to try and make sense of today. A few of them are good. Most of them are not. But we've got some expert help in making sense of several of them, and she tells us the fight is nowhere near over.

We begin today with the breaking news out of Florida, where the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling that had found the state's new "pay-to-vote" law constitutional. Apparently, the five new federal jurists that Donald Trump has added to the court all agreed, in a 6-4 ruling, that poll taxes are just fine by them. They approved the law enacted by the state's GOP legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last year that undermines Amendment 4 of the state constitution. That Amendment was adopted in a bipartisan, 65-35 percent landslide in 2018 to restore voting rights to as many as 1.5 million former felons in the state, including about one quarter of the state's voting age black men.

The law specifically passed to undermine Amendment 4 requires all court-imposed fines and fees to be payed before a former felon may register to vote. So, if you have enough money, you can vote. If you don't, too bad. Also, good luck to former felons even figuring out if they owe any money at all. Florida doesn't keep track. That means many newly eligible voters won't bother to register, rather than risk being sent back to jail for violating this new law. It was passed along partisan lines last year by Florida and is virtually identical to the 150-year old statute struck down just last week by a North Carolina state court. As revealed during the course of the NC suit, the law, according to its legislative champion following post-Civil War Reconstruction, was specifically adopted to "secure White Supremacy" by preventing "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro." Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern derides today's Florida ruling as "one of the most dishonest, misleading, and despicable voting rights opinions I have ever read" and "an affront of the very notion that Americans have a right to vote". The ACLU Voting Rights Project's attorney Julie Ebenstein argues "the gravity of this decision cannot be overstated," describing it as "counter to the foundational principle that Americans do not have to pay to vote" and "an affront to the spirit of democracy".

In another afront to democracy, Wisconsin's rightwing state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state's 1850 separate municipalities to immediately stop sending out absentee ballots to the, so far, about 1 million voters who have requested them. The court's 4 to 3 partisan ruling is meant to allow it's rightwing majority time to decide if the Green Party's Presidential ticket should be added to the ballot, despite the state Election Commission, in a deadlocked 3 to 3 vote, determining that the party's Presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and Vice Presidential Nominee Angela Walker did not receive enough signatures to qualify.

At issue is hundreds of petitions that listed the Milwaukee native Walker's address as a motel in South Carolina. Why the Party used two different addresses for Walker is unclear, but the result was the WI State Election Commission --- which the GOP state legislature recently created to replace the previous non-partisan commission with a partisan one built to create such deadlocks --- followed state law. That prevented the Greens from making the ballot. After a two week delay and 378,000 absentee ballots already mailed out, the Green Party decided to sue, even though election officials from across the state say their will be no time to design, print up, test and mail out out new ballots before both state and federal statutory deadlines require them to do so next week. They also have no idea how to avoid people voting twice with two separate ballots they may receive for the same election. So, chaos reigns yet again in the election in the key battleground state where Donald Trump is said to have won in 2016 by less than one single percentage point, when the Green candidate that year received more votes than Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton.

The voting news out of Texas this week is only slightly better. First, the good news: A federal judge there has ordered state election officials to notify voters within one day after a "perceived signature mismatch" is determined on absentee ballots, and to allow voters a "meaningful opportunity" to correct the issue. Previously, after officials, who are not handwriting experts, decided a signature was not a match to the voter's registration application (often years old), the ballot was simply rejected without notifying voters until 10 days after the election. In other good voting news from the Lone Star state, a state judge has determined that the Clerk in Harris County (Houston) is, in fact, allowed to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the nation's 4th largest city. The state's Republican Attorney General had sued to block the effort. I suspect he'll appeal, but we'll see.

But the war on voting in the Lone Star State doesn't stop with those two victories for democracy, unfortunately. The Mayor of Houston wants to know why more than a dozen local U.S. Post Offices have refused to allow volunteers from the non-partisan League of Women Voters to make multilingual voter registration materials available at those facilities.

And our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan Free Speech For People, joins us to explain the disappointing decision from a federal judge this week in response to a recent lawsuit filed by FSFP on behalf of Mi Familia Vota and the Texas NAACP seeking to address what the groups describe as "unsafe and unequal voting conditions" in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suit seeks a Preliminary Injunction in challenging the state's "insufficient number of polling places"; "its limited and inaccessible early voting locations"; a lack of social distancing requirements; Gov. Greg Abbot's statewide mask mandate which allows an exception for voters and pollworkers; and the dangerous "reliance on repeat-touch voting machines" amid the deadly pandemic, among other concerns. All of which, the complaint argues, "will result in unsafe voting conditions and increased risk of coronavirus transmission, which in turn will result in voter suppression." Moreover, as Hostetler explains today, "the health risks and adverse impact of these policies will place an undue burden on the right to vote and be borne disproportionately by voters of color, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law, and the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment."

Texas has some of the most restrictive absentee voting requirements in the nation, so the dangers at polling places --- in this case, unequal ones --- are no small matter. "The real crux of the Constitutional issues at stake here," Hostetler tells me, "is that people won't show up to vote because they can't risk getting COVID-19 and dying. They can't risk not being able to work for 3 weeks if they get it...This is what's at stake, and the burden is not shared equally in Texas. It's both unconstitutional and it violates the Voting Rights Act." She says the federal judge, rather than deciding the case on its merits, determined that the matter is a political one, rather than an issue to be decided by the courts. While the case is still live, the judge has denied the group's motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which likely pushes the matter back until after the election. But the groups today decided that they will file an appeal.

In Pennsylvania this week, a state court judge also ruled against a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in a similar suit filed by FSFP and the Pennsylvania NAACP "to establish safe and equal voting procedures for the upcoming general election." There too, the groups plan to appeal.

And in North Carolina, where FSFP filed a suit last April to block the use of new "insecure, unreliable, unverifiable, and unsafe" touchscreen voting machines with the NC NAACP, the groups late last week filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court after a lower court denied their original complaint.

The appeal is "alleging imminent risk to voters' right to free elections and equal protection under the laws if they are required to vote on the [ES&S] ExpressVote touch screen ballot marking device this November". The complaint, as we discussed with Hostletler last spring when it was initially filed, "alleges the new [touchscreeen] system is vulnerable to security threats and its results are unverifiable, in violation of the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free and fair elections and equal protection of the law." She says that though this matter will no longer be decided before this year's election, "the case is still live, and we are ready and preparing to litigate this fully and pursue this case through trial, because it does have long term implications for the state of North Carolina, because these machines are utterly unreliable and unverifiable";

So, yeah, a rough week for those who favor voting, voting rights and free, fair and safe democracy. But, as Hostetler argues today: "Every time there's an effort to push back against free and fair elections, there are people who are saying 'No, I'm going to fight you on that." She urges voters to fight like hell to make sure that they cast their ballot this year and vote as safely as they can, while letting her group or others know when and if they run into barriers.

"Know that there are people across the country who are fighting to change these policies," she says. "Nobody is alone in this. There are a lot of people fighting, and we can always use more"...

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Guest: Will Goodwin of VoteVets.org; Also: Record climate change-fueled heat and fires in CA; The ransomware election specter; Barr's election fraud lie; Progressive champion, Kevin Zeese, passes away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/8/2020 6:51pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast, after surviving a long hot holiday weekend here in California (with huge thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) [Audio link to today's show is posted below summary.]

Amid record heat in Southern California --- with one city in L.A. County city topping out at a record 121 degrees on Sunday! --- fires raged and continue to do so, up and down the state. Nearly 300 people stranded by smoke and fires in various parts of the Golden State needed to be rescued by helicopters over the past four days as climate change-fueled blazes have, so far, chewed through a record 2 million acres in the state, destroying more than 3,300 structures in 900 different fires since mid-August. The scariest part: the worst months for California's ever-lengthening fire season are usually September and October. So, even after the worst fire season now on record, the worst may still be yet to come this year, as our climate crisis continues to intensify and a climate change denier is once again heading up the Republican Party's Presidential ticket.

It would be nice if we weren't one of the few media outlets connecting those particular dots. Absentee ballots have now begun to ship out to voters in states like North Carolina which has, itself, been ravaged in recent years by various climate related crises, from hurricanes to toxic coal ash spills to ever-rising sea levels. As voting for the general election finally begins there and in other battleground states, the corporate media would help us all if they focused (or even mentioned!) so many of the very real issues that are at stake in this year's critical Presidential election, including the devastation of climate change!

Speaking of which, a new story today gives me reason once again to cite one of my worst fears for this November's elections, as the Hartford Public School District in Connecticut was forced to cancel its first day of classes today. The cancellation was not due to the continuing COVID crisis, but caused by a ransomware attack that crippled the District's computer networks. That attack echoes a series of attacks against the Miami-Dade County Public School system in Florida last week, and could foreshadow trouble to come on November 3rd. Because so many voting jurisdictions now foolishly rely on computer networks and the Internet to cast, count and even check people in to vote on electronic pollbooks, a ransomware attack before or on Election Day would be devastating.

But don't worry! Your U.S. Dept. of Justice in on the job! Ya know, the one led by Donald Trump's fixer and Attorney General Bill Barr who lied to CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week about massive absentee ballot fraud, claiming a 2017 "indictment" in Texas for the theft of 1,700 mail-in ballots. After the actual state prosecutors called BS on Barr's claim's, the DoJ was forced to admit it was false. Ironically, Barr also claimed that "people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government." That would be more likely, of course, if we didn't have a U.S. Attorney General willing to casually forward two year old false claims about election fraud on major cable news networks.

Then we move to the biggest story over the holiday weekend, the report from The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg that Donald Trump regards members of the military, including those were killed or captured and tortured during their service, as "losers" and "suckers". Goldberg's reporting has now been independently confirmed by multiple other media outlets, including even Fox "News", while Trump and the White House unconvincingly describe the detailed and independently corroborated reporting as "fake news". In his attempt to distract from that story on Monday, Trump attacked his own top military brass, claiming that too much is spent on defense contractors --- even after Trump has spent years citing his own increases to defense spending as one of his Administration's top accomplishments.

We're joined today by WILL GOODWIN, U.S. Army veteran, West Point grad and now Director of Government Relations for VoteVets.org, the nation's largest progressive veterans organization, founded in 2006, and now representing more than 500,000 vets, families and supporters. In the wake of the stunning (if not surprising) reports of Trump's disparagement of military members --- from the captured and tortured Vietnam War prisoner of war John McCain, to the shot down WWII fighter pilot George H.W. Bush, to the 1,800 U.S. Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood during WWI --- as "losers" and "suckers" all, VoteVets has now released several different video ads in response.

In one, family members of those who lost loved ones in recent wars respond to the President's remarks and, in another, a 98-year old WWII veteran, captured and forced into slave labor for 42 months, encourages Americans to vote for Joe Biden and against "other politicians if they continue to support Donald Trump."

For his part, Goodwin shares his thoughts in response to the reported insults by the Commander-in-Chief --- who he regards as "a maniac in the Oval Office" --- and how they are likely to affect the votes cast by members of the nation's armed forces this year. Despite popular belief that the military tends to support the Republican candidate, Goodwin cites polling to suggest the opposite --- polling completed before last week's news from The Atlantic. He says that Goldberg's report "is nothing new from Donald Trump when it comes to his hatred toward the military, towards military families, and towards our veterans, but somehow it's a new low." Goodwin goes on to describe Trump's tenure as "four years of failed leadership as Commander-in-Chief," before detailing a seemingly endless list of ways in which Trump has failed our troops, our veterans, our Gold Star Families, as well as the nation's security and standing on the world stage.

"Our allies have turned away from us --- they do not know how to work with a maniac in the Oval Office like Donald Trump --- and our enemies and adversaries are emboldened. They're emboldened to continue attacking the very integrity of our democracy and going after our elections infrastructure. And, frankly, they have taken more direct actions, escalating military tensions. The Russian buzzing US Navy ships, intercepting our aircraft. The continued expansion of the Chinese footprint in various places around the world," Goodwin argues. "We have seen Democrats across the board, including in [Congressional] seats where Donald Trump may be popular, standing up once again and speaking the truth on how disgusting this is. And we're seeing the same failure from Republicans to speak up at all. Republicans who represent massive military and veteran populations...refusing to condemn the President."

Finally today, we close on a very sad note, with the news that Kevin Zeese, longtime progressive activist, attorney, fighter for universal healthcare, fair elections, racial and economic justice and peace, passed away suddenly on Sunday from what appears to have been a heart attack as he slept. Kevin was also a friend of both The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast, having joined on us on air on many occasions while taking on our nation's worst failures and most insidious corporate oligarchs. We share several thoughts on his passing from a number of other progressive activists today. Zeese was 64 and will be dearly missed...as his good fight for a better and more just world will, and must, continue...

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Foreign and domestic election interference continues. So does our effort to help you make sense of what's actually going on...
By Brad Friedman on 9/1/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a lot to get to on today's BradCast, as voters in Massachusetts go to the polls today with a couple of very interesting primary races (results tomorrow!), and as the rest of us are now counting the days (63 of them), until general Election Day, with both hope and trepidation. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Among the mountains o' stuff covered on today's program...

  • After years of our reporting on the very successful, perhaps irreversible, decades-long effort by the Right to brainwash its followers, we open today with a few thoughts about a similar, if not quite as successful (though it's getting closer), effort to brainwash those on the Left. That effort to brainwash the Left, like the scheme on the Right, is also carried out by folks on the Right or those who support them. (And yes, that means we have a few words today about the still-misreported facts regarding the Hillary/Bernie race from 2016);
  • We have more evidence of attempts to manipulate the Left in today's announcement from Facebook that, based on a tip from the FBI, the social media outlet has shut down several fake accounts created to support a Russia-related propaganda scheme targeting the Left in hopes of undermining Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The operation reportedly included a phony media outlet calling itself "Peace Data", in hopes of appealing to progressives in advance of this year's election;
  • Information of that sort, as we discuss, is --- or should be --- useful to voters. Nonetheless, with just over two months until Election Day, with Donald Trump's top intelligence officers having recently warned that Russia is taking active measures, once again, to undermine the Presidential election in support of Trump, his recently-appointed Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe notified Congress over the weekend that he will no longer offer in-person briefings to lawmakers regarding foreign attempts to interfere in the election. The claim, offered by Trump himself without facts to back it up, is that members of Congress were illegally leaking certain information from the intelligence community, and that the information leaked was also "wrong". No evidence was given to support that charge, and while Trump claimed the decision to end intelligence briefings to Congress was made by him and Ratcliffe, evidence suggests that it was, instead, a directive from Trump himself. For some reason;
  • Speaking of the November 3rd election, the dirty tricks are now underway, as revealed by a new robocall to some Democratic-leaning Michigan voters falsely warning that signing up to vote by mail will result in voters contact information being added to a database for tracking down arrest warrants, credit card debt collection and "mandatory vaccines". None of that is true. Though you should expect much more of it in the weeks ahead;
  • Also in Michigan, the state's Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, recently won a court case filed by rightwingers attempting to prevent her from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's 7.7 million voters. The ruling --- in a state which Trump is said to have won by just over 11,000 votes in 2016 --- comes in the wake of his misfired threat to withhold federal funding from Michigan in a tweet in which he falsely claimed the "rogue Secretary of State" was planning to send out actual ballots (as opposed to applications) to all voters;
  • And while Trump and his minions have been suing in state after state in (usually failed) efforts to make voting more difficult during the global pandemic that he failed to control --- even attempting to block the use of secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in key battleground states like Pennsylvania --- another newly elected Democratic Sec. of State, Jena Griswold in Colorado, announced today that her state will offer "at least 368 mail ballot drop boxes for the General Election, an increase of 49% since I was elected in 2018!";
  • Also today, a somewhat bizarre comment from a reader/listener in response to our coverage yesterday of L.A. County's disastrous, unverifiable new touchscreen voting system, in which the commenters offers several odd allegations amid of my nearly 20 years of critical coverage of e-voting and asks "whose side are you on?";
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report in the wake of catastrophic week for the climate and the Republican National Convention...

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Guests: Lulu Friesdat and Robin Gibson on activist efforts to urge CA Sec. of State to mitigate most dangerous elements of $300M computer voting machines before certification and critical 2020 general election...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We make short work (for now) of several breaking news stories from over the weekend and into today. Then its straight on to our main story today, which you will hear nowhere else in the media. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below summary.]

In January, we broke the news here on The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast that Los Angeles County's brand-new, unverifiable, $300 million, 10-years-in-development touchscreen polling place voting system had failed to meet more than 40 different California Voting System Standards, according to independent certification testers hired by CA's Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Despite critical security issues that alarmed voting system and cybersecurity experts, the machines were nonetheless "conditionally certified" by Padilla just prior to the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary in the state. The new machines (known as Ballot Marking Devices or BMDs) and the electronic pollbooks that are required to work with them, both failed spectacularly. Voters were disenfranchised by the "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system, as many across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction were either turned away or forced to wait for hours in line to vote.

It was well after midnight before all of those still in line finally cast their votes on Super Tuesday. It was, of course, impossible to know if any of those votes were tallied as per any voter's intent, because BMD systems print out a computer-marked paper ballot which may or may not reflect the actual intent of any voter. It's impossible to know if results are accurate in any election that uses BMDs for the majority of voters. Recent studies [PDF] find that more than 90% of voters do not notice when a BMD has misprinted one or more of their votes on the paper printout.

After the March 3rd disaster in L.A. (which we had warned about long in advance, to little interest from media or public officials, even from the L.A. County Supervisors, much less Sec. Padilla) the system's brainchild, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, was allowed a mulligan. He promised to fix what didn't work before the November election and told us all to simply trust him. Next time would be better. Many in the media then lost whatever interest they had as it was just weeks after Super Tuesday that COVID pandemic struck hard.

Well, now Padilla has recently posted the new certification testing results from Logan's mulligan, VSAP 2.1. The results do not inspire confidence, as many of the same problems with the system originally --- such as paper jams and misprinted QR Codes {PDF] --- still exist, according to testers. Now Padilla must decide in the next two weeks whether or not to certify them again. In truth, he has little choice as Early Voting is now just weeks away. While the state's decision to send every active voter a Vote-by-Mail ballot may help to ease many of the potential log jams at the county's new Voting Centers, ballots cast on the new systems --- as opposed to verifiable hand-marked paper absentee ballots --- are still vulnerable to manipulation and can never been known to reflect voter intent after the polls close.

However, there are some things that Padilla could require to be done to mitigate some of the worst dangers of the system if it is to be used for this year's critical November election. Several dozen election integrity and activist groups, along with a number of esteemed cybersecurity and voting systems experts, recently signed on to an excellent public letter led by the California Clean Money Campaign, demanding Padilla implement a number of the mitigations before certifying the updated voting systems.

We're joined today by LULU FRIESDAT, co-founder of SmartElections.us and ROBIN GIBSON, longtime Los Angeles Election Integrity advocate, to discuss those potential mitigations and the one-and-only public comments hearing held today online before Padilla's pending decision to certify. They report that Padilla did not bother to attend, though Logan, apparently, came by near the end of the session to claim that everything is now working fine. "Our registrar got on the call and dismissed two hours of worried voters, and said he had tests that said it was fine," Gibson explained. "It was like 'I win, nah, nah, nah.'"

As Friesdat and Gibson explain, the citizen advocates and experts are asking in their letter for the ballot boxes attached to each touchscreen tablet system to be removed, so that the computer-printed ballots don't have to pass back through the same printer heads after they've been (theoretically) verified by each voter. Experts warn [PDF] that sending the ballot back through the same printer path after verification is a major security risk, allowing the system to change voters votes, without their knowledge, after they have supposedly already approved their printed ballot. Instead, the group is urging that the attached ballot boxes be removed, and that ballots be deposited manually by voters into a separate ballot box at the polling place, for tabulation later.

The group is also asking Padilla to do away with the unverifiable QR Codes that are printed on each ballot. It is that code --- which can't be verified as accurate by any voter --- that is actually read by the optical-scan computer tabulators to tallly each ballot, rather than the human-readable text print out that voters may or may not have verified! "It is not secure to have the vote encoded in a QR code," Friesdat joins cybsersecurity experts in warning.

Moreover, the groups are calling for real, hand-marked paper ballots to be made available to any and all voters at Voting Centers for voters smart enough to want to cast a verifiable vote. "This is basic," Friesdat insists. "Hand-marked paper ballots are the gold standard that security experts recommend. It's not hard to provide them, and voters should be encouraged to use hand-marked paper ballots if they're able to mark by hand."

They also uge Padilla and Logan to finally release the source code to this supposedly County-owned and developed system. The money appropriated by tax-payers was done on the basis, advanced by both Padilla and Logan, that it would be a fully "open source" system, 100% publicly owned. All of that is also important because elections officials in other states and counties across the country have expressed interest in adopting this exact system if it ever actually works in L.A.

Friesdat and Gibson detail many of their own concerns, as well as others who offered public comment today before we open up the phone lines to listener questions about this terrible new system, just 64 days before Election Day and mere weeks before early voting is set to begin in Los Angeles County...

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Guest: Aklima Khondoker of All Voting is Local; Also: Hurricane Laura to slam Gulf Coast; White vigilante arrested for killing Kenosha protesters; Trump's violations of law at RNC Day 2 reveal 'The Audacity of the Grift'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast we head back to Georgia --- yes, again! --- for yet more new evidence highlighting the state as offering arguably the worst --- and most racist --- voting system in the nation. But we begin with breaking news today. Too much of it. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

First up, Hurricane Laura is now a monster storm, currently a Category 4, and headed for landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border. The National Hurricane Center warns it will be "unsurvivable" and could submerge entire towns near the coast, with a storm surge as high as 20 feet and a menace to cities as far as 200 miles inland. A massive evacuation is now under way in both states, though avoiding the COVID pandemic in evacuation shelters may be very tricky, even as some areas in the storm's target zone have recently seen high positive test rates.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests continued for a third straight night following the outrageous police shooting, caught on tape, of African-American father Jacob Blake, two protesters were killed by a gunman on Tuesday. The alleged shooter, according to police, is a white 17-year old police fan boy from across the border in Illinois. Tuesday's shootings were also caught by cell phone video, not long after the suspected gunman was seen on video with a group of armed vigilantes being thanked by local police for their presence. After he had shot at least three protesters and was identified to police by others, the cops reportedly allowed him to walk right past them, assault rifle in hand, as they focused on the victims instead. The man was arrested today in Illinois.

Then --- after still more breaking news that the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks were boycotting their playoff game today to protest the shooting of Blake, leading the NBA to cancel all of tonight's playoff games --- we get to what necessarily became our truncated coverage of Day 2 of the Republican National Convention.

It was a stunning evening, in which one law after another was proudly broken or flaunted as the White House, U.S. Marines, the Acting Sec. of Homeland Security, a tax-payer funded trip by the Sec. of State to Israel, and the Presidential Seal were all used for political purposes, during the convention itself, so that Donald Trump could ironically be declared "the Law and Order President" by one hypocritical speaker after another.

Among the speakers were Trump's daughter Tiffany, his wife Melania and his son Eric who followed former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi making the case --- with a straight face --- that Joe Biden's family members were involved in some sort of criminal nepotism. Trump's son Eric, who serves as Executive Vice President for his father's company, was sued this week by the New York State Attorney General for failing to respond with documents and testimony to a lawful subpoena amid an investigation into bank and tax fraud by his father and the Trump Organization where Eric works. All of that as Trump's senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow pretended that the COVID pandemic --- which has so far killed at least 178,000 Americans, including more than 1,100 on Tuesday alone --- was over, thanks to Donald Trump's quick response.

As usual, all of these nightmares underscore the need to prevent Trump from winning a second term. But it won't be easy, as we learn again today with yet another story of targeted voter suppression out of Georgia. We have spent a disproportionate amount of time in recent years on this program reporting on the disastrous state of voting in Georgia. It is thought possible that the battleground state could finally flip to "blue" for this year's Presidential election and its TWO U.S. Senate races, but it continues to feature arguably offer the worst voting system in the nation.

By way of very quick summary of just a few data points to back up that allegation:

  • In 2016, after a huge purge of voters from the roles, we would learn after the Presidential election that Georgia's then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor, Brian Kemp, left the entire voter database and passwords to its voting systems unprotected online for download by anyone. When caught, he lied about it and wiped the entire server despite an ongoing lawsuit.
  • In 2018, a federal judge found the state's nearly 20-year old, unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems, mandated for use at the polling place in every county, to be outdated, insecure and unverifiable.
  • In that year's election, overseen by Kemp himself, he was narrowly found (by those same failed systems) to have "won" the Governor's race in a contest that his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, regards as illegitimate due to, among other things, the purges and disproportionate rejection of absentee ballots cast by African-Americans.
  • Also in 2018, some 250,000 votes in the Lt. Governor's race inexplicably disappeared in black precincts.
  • In 2019, the federal judge ruled the state's voting system so insecure and unverifiable that they were, in fact, unconstitutional. She banned them from further use and ordered the system to be replaced by a new one.
  • In 2019, the new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger ordered new, similarly unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems to replace the old systems found to be unconstitutional, rather than move to a cheaper, VERIFIABLE, hand-marked paper ballot system recommended by voting and computer experts. The new $130 million systems failed in their first outing late last year and again during primaries this year, leading to hours-long voting lines in the Peach State, once again, largely in minority areas.
  • And we would also later learn that the new digital optical-scan computers used to tally hand-marked absentee ballots in the Peach State had skipped counting unknown thousands of votes during the June primaries, due to a software setting that allows election officials or the private voting system vendor or even hackers to dial up or down the sensitivity setting to determine which votes are counted or not.

All of which brings us to this week, as the Georgia chapter of All Voting Is Local unveiled a new analysis of rejected vote-by-mail ballots from the June primary elections in the state. You'll be shocked to learn that in the three counties they examined, the mail-in ballots from black voters were rejected at disproportionately higher rates than others. For example, in the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, Black voters submitted 24 percent of the absentee ballots requested but accounted for 38 percent of mail-in ballots rejected by the County.

We're joined today by AKLIMA KHONDOKER, former ACLU attorney, now Georgia State Director for All Voting is Local, to explain her group's analysis and why the rates of absentee ballot rejection are so high for black voters in Georgia and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic and Asian voters as well. Khondoker warns that while the group only looked at three counties in Georgia --- finding similarly alarming statistics in each --- the problem likely extends not only to the rest of the state, but likely to many others around the nation.

"I don't think this is unique to Georgia. This is likely something we would see nationwide," she argues, citing the "institutional and structural racism that has led to the wealth of problems that we see in our elections. There is no way to cleave the two. Because we have a clear system that has always worked for one and not the other." She goes on to explain how this new analysis is just one more data point underscoring evidence that institutional racism "undercuts everything in our election systems."

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Also: Courts continue to save nation on COVID dangers, voting, more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2020 6:28pm PT  

I'll be brief in today's BradCast summary, because I've got to head back into Day 2 of the bizarre dystopian nightmare known as Donald Trump's Republican National Convention. We're watching it so you don't have to. You're welcome. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Two nightmare storms slamming the Gulf Coast in the same week as the biggest and more dangerous of the two, Hurricane Laura, is gunning for the Louisiana/Texas border, likely as a Category 3;
  • A Florida judge puts the brakes on Gov. Ron DeSantis' demand that all public schools open five days a week for in-person classes by the end of this month. He says the state's plan "disregards safety" amid a still roiling --- if slightly easing (for now) --- pandemic in the Sunshine State;
  • Highlights (low lights?) from Day 1 of the RNC, in which every speaker sounded as if their remarks were either written by the same person, or simply ripped straight off of Fox "News". As ridiculous as the evening was --- featuring enough dangerous lies about Trump's mishandling of the COVID crisis that MSNBC had to break in with a doctor for some serious fact-checking; a couple of accused felons warned Democrats will "“abolish the suburbs altogether"; a seemingly stoned Don Jr. and his seemingly insane former Fox "News" host girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle --- we determined that ridicule was the best was to cover it. So we called in Stephen Colbert for some assistance.
  • Good news, for now, for voters in Pennsylvania. A Trump-appointed federal judge forced the Trump Campaign to make fools of themselves by demanding they present evidence of voter fraud via secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in Pennsylvania, where they are suing to prevent the use of the convenient devices during this year's general election. The plaintiffs were unable to to present any such evidence.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more on the twin storms pummeling the Gulf Coast and the raging fires in California (both amid a global pandemic making evacuating shelters very tricky for social distancing), the Trump Administration puts a pause on it's approval for the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska after Don Jr. and Fox "News" decide maybe they're against it after all, and a quick review of last week's virtual Democratic National Convention where Joe Biden and many others promised action on climate change...

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Winning the Right to Vote; DeJoy to DeCongress; Repub Led Senate Report on Team Trump Lies About 2016 Russia Interference; Former DHS Official Calls Trump 'Terrifying', Lawless; Highlights from DNC Day 1...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2020 6:25pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, it is what it is. But we're here to cover it. And so we do. In the most information-packed broadcast you're likely to find anywhere. At least for the price. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the MANY stories covered today...

  • It's been 100 years since women won the right to vote, as the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920. They were not granted the right. They fought like hell for generations and won it for themselves. Sadly, thanks to Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, too many are still fighting like hell to keep it;
  • Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned lawmakers back to D.C. to pass a law this Saturday to roll back efforts by Donald Trump's donor and newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, to slow down mail delivery in advance of the November election. On Monday, he and U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chair --- and former RNC Chair --- Robert Duncan, agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next week. Today, DeJoy also agreed to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and, clearly under pressure and facing lawsuits by 20 different state Attorneys General, DeJoy agreed to pause his new directives at the USPS...if you believe him;
  • The Republican-led U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a damning, nearly 1000-page report today on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the Trump Campaign's cooperation with the effort. The bipartisan report, described as more expansive than the one by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, highlights, among many other things: Trump's criminal lies to Mueller about conversations he "did, in fact" have with convicted felon Roger Stone (and multiple other campaign staffers) concerning the publication of stolen emails by WikiLeaks before the 2016 election; convicted Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort's collusion with a Russian intelligence agent described as a "grave counterintelligence threat"; the Russian "influence operation" after the election to claim that it was Ukraine, not Russia, which interfered in 2016 on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump --- a claim for which the Senate Committee found "no reliable evidence" despite more than 200 interviews over three years of fact-finding, including with Trump family members and top campaign officials;
  • Just hours before the Democratic National Committee's Convention was to convene on Monday night, the group Republican Voters Against Trump released a damning video featuring Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff at Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security, who describes Trump's incompetence as "terrifying", detailing frequently "illegal" orders from the President who, he says, often attempted to exploit the DHS for his own political purposes and personal benefit. Taylor said today we should expect more insiders coming forward with similarly disturbing revelations in coming days;
  • Then, we move to the first night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention with a few thoughts about the format (a "convention" without the actual convening part) and the high-profile Republicans --- including Ohio's former Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich --- who spoke in support of Joe Biden on the Dems' opening night. We also share the segment featuring Kristin Urquiza, whose Trump-supporting father believed the coronavirus to be a hoax, until we was killed by it. We then play extended excerpts from former Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' full-throated endorsement of Biden, making the progressive case for his Presidency, and finally an extended portion of the killer keynote remarks by former First Lady Michelle Obama, detailing Trump's irreparable failures as President and why the nation needs to replace him with Biden. Both Sanders and Obama made excellent arguments for why neither progressives nor Democrats nor the country nor the planet could endure four more years under the most inept, corrupt, dishonest, failed President in the history of the nation;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, incredibly jam-packed Green News Report, as extreme weather broils the U.S., Greenland's ice sheet faces its final days, and the Trump Administration opens up the previously pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to commercial oil drilling...even though Donald Trump apparently does not even know what it is.

But, of course, it is what it is...

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

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Guest: Transition Integrity Project co-founder Nils Gilman on recent election 'war games' predicting potential disaster in almost every scenario --- and how we must work to mitigate it...
By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2020 6:40pm PT  

Today's BradCast is a really meaty show and --- at times --- a quite terrifying one. Apologies in advance! [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of summary.]

We're joined today by NILS GILMAN, Vice President of Programs at the Berggruen Institute and co-founder of the Transition Integrity Project (TIP). The bi-partisan group was founded in late 2019 to examine concerns, as Gilman explains today, about whether a Joe Biden victory would result in a reasonably smooth transition with the Trump Administration or whether, as the group's chilling new report [PDF] "Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition" describes, they needed to be concerned "that the Trump Administration may seek to manipulate, ignore, undermine or disrupt the 2020 presidential election and transition process." As TIP would discover, however, those nightmares could be far worse than the group initially expected. An actual transition process of any kind, at this point, might be a welcome response to some of the group's worse fears.

"Already it's certain that if Biden manages to win, he's going to be handed an inbox from hell," Gilman tells me. "There's going to be probably 15% unemployment. There's going to be an ongoing pandemic. There's going to be a lot of social contestation in the country. We'd like for him to at least be handed a functional bureaucracy. But we weren't convinced that was actually going to take place. ... What we learned in that process was it wasn't just the administrative process that could potentially be disrupted, it would be potentially the electoral transition itself that was subject to disruption."

TIP, a group of more than 100 current and former senior government officials, campaign leaders and other experts from media to the military convened to examine these issues and "war gamed" several different potential scenarios for how things might play out from November 3rd (Election Day) through January 20, 2021 (Inauguration Day). Over four different sessions, examining four different potential electoral scenarios, the highly-esteemed panel of former Governors, DoJ officials, campaign chiefs and advisers of both parties role-played as both Team Trump and Team Biden. As their recently published report details, the tabletop "war game" exercises included a scenario that "posited that the winner of the election was not known as of the morning after the election and the outcome of the race was too close to predict with certainty; in another, the exercise began with the premise that Democratic party candidate Joe Biden won the popular vote and the Electoral College by a healthy margin; and in a third, the exercise assumed that President Trump won the Electoral College vote but again lost the popular vote by a healthy margin. The fourth exercise began with the premise that Biden won both the popular vote and the Electoral College by a narrow margin."

Following the exercises, TIP's other co-founder and Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks told Fox "News" (which happens to play a key role on behalf of Trump and the Republican effort in every case), all of the scenarios "ended in both street-level violence and political impasse." Brooks observed that "the law is essentially...almost helpless against a President who's willing to ignore it."

As Gilman warns in his own recent article "Getting from November to January," explaining how the exercises helped to reveal that institutions from government to political organizations to the courts to citizen activists and media could help mitigate the worst possible scenarios: "Wargaming shows that, short of a landslide victory for Joe Biden in the upcoming elections, we may be headed for a severe constitutional crisis." He adds: "in each scenario other than a Biden landslide, we ended up with a constitutional crisis that lasted until the inauguration, featuring violence in the streets and a severely disrupted administrative transition."

Sounds cheery, no? Gilman, who is also an historian, joins us today to discuss the genesis of the project; the comparable historical parallel to our upcoming election (the 1876 election between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, where two different sets of competing electors were sent by states to D.C. before the Constitutional Crisis was finally averted with a comprise that resulted in the end of the Civil War Reconstruction period, launching more than a 100 years of Jim Crow that we are still dealing with today); the specifics findings of the Project (eg. the potential dispute created by Trump's authoritarian use of Presidential powers to, for example, employ the Dept. of Justice to seize ballots and stop the counting) must be met "as a political battle, not just a legal battle"; and that during the exercises, "Team Trump was consistently more ruthless than Team Biden – more willing to ignore existing democratic norms, to make use of disinformation, to deploy federal agencies to promote Trump's personal and electoral interests, and to engage in intimidation campaigns."

As former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, one of the participants in the exercises noted, "The worst news is that, faced with presidential lawlessness, few of the participants at the Transition Integrity Project found effective responses. ... Many of the games turned on who made the first bold move. Time after time, that first mover was Trump."

While Gilman argues that nothing is inevitable, he notes, "the media will have a huge role in this" and the time to talk about it is NOW. "The plea I would make would be to patriots --- particularly people in the government who have taken an oath to the defend Constitution --- that there are some basic principles, which are not partisan at all. Every American citizen that wants to vote should be enabled to do so as easily and safely as possible, and every one of those votes should be counted properly."

His TIP report goes further to note that it is "just as important that the public has confidence in the count." That, as I discuss with Gilman, may require a level of transparency in our voting system that --- despite my best efforts over the past nearly-two decades --- we have long ago been obscured with computer tabulation and voting systems which make it impossible, after an election, to know if many ballots --- at least those that are not hand-marked paper ballots --- actually reflect the intent of each voter.

As mentioned, it's a very meaty show, with a LOT to talk about. Gilman joins us for the full hour, and even that wasn't enough to cover so much of what the group found; what we can all do about it; and whether our mainstream media, the Biden Campaign and the Democratic Party itself are prepared to handle what is very likely to be hurled at them --- and all of us --- as of November 3rd...

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

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President of the United States holds trillions of dollars in emergency relief hostage to prevent Democrats from safely casting ballots in November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2020 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Well, at least he's saying it out loud now. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The President of the United States is rejecting the plea --- from his own personally-appointed, Republican-majority, Postal Board of Governors for $25 billion to save the U.S Postal Service from collapse and a $3.5 billion request from the nation's bi-partisan elections officials to help harden election infrastructure for security purposes and to accommodate a huge Presidential election in the middle of a deadly global pandemic --- because he is trying to steal the election. While he doesn't use the words "steal the election", he and his administration are now making very clear they are trying to do just that. And, of course, ham-fistedly lying about it at the same time by claiming that Democrats, somehow, are hoping to "rig" the election.

The Trump/GOP megadonor, Louis DeJoy, just appointed as Trump's Postmaster General in June, has been busy issuing directives to slow down mail delivery, despite the explosion in Vote-by-Mail expected during this November's election, as necessitated by Trump's own failed coronavirus response. This week we have also learned that DeJoy has removed or reassigned some 23 top USPS officials who manage mail delivery and that 19 huge postal sorting machines, which process some 35,000 pieces of mail an hour, have now been removed or are scheduled to be removed from at least 19 different mail distribution sites across the country. That was confirmed by Motherboard today after initially being reported on NPR by the President of the Iowa Postal Worker's Union.

It is happening in plain sight. On Wednesday at his White House presser, and again on Thursday, Trump conceded that if he doesn't agree to a new COVID-19 emergency relief bill to help the nearly 30 million now-unemployed Americans; cash-strapped states and cities; hospitals; schools; and, yes, elections officials and the U.S. Post Office itself, he believes he will stop voters from successfully casting a ballot through the mail this November.

That works great for him, because he's hoaxed his own GOP supporters into believing absentee voting is fraudulent (except in Florida, where he, himself, does it ILLEGALLY) or unnecessary, because the virus is "disappearing, like a miracle." Many duped Republicans will now needlessly risk infection and death to vote for him at the polling place on Election Day, while huge numbers of NOT-disinformed Democrats are expected to use Vote-by-Mail to avoid potential death from voting in-person. Trump will then declare himself the winner on Election Night, with more Republican votes quickly counted from in-person voting, before declaring the slower-to-tally absentee ballots (which need to be manually authenticated one-by-one before they can be run through computer tabulators --- if they even arrive on time to be counted after the USPS slowdowns) as "fraudulent". Attempts to count all lawfully cast ballots after Election Day will then be characterized as an attempt by Democrats to steal the election. That's the plan. It's simple, evil, anti-American, and its happening right before your eyes.

Even one of Trump's top White House economic advisers admitted on CNBC today that "we don't want to have voting rights." That, said Larry Kudlow, out loud, about the effort by Democrats to include election and USPS funding in their emergency relief proposal is "not our game and the President can't accept that kind of deal."

Voting rights advocates, supporters of democracy, and Democrats in Congress are hopping mad, as they should be. So is one of the nation's largest veterans groups. But, of course, Trump knows that, as a failed President, if he doesn't rig the election to steal it he is very likely to lose it. So, yes, he is attempting to steal a Presidential election right before our eyes.

We break down ALL of that down --- in much more detail --- on today's show, along with at least one bit of good news on elections today coming from the U.S. Supreme Court, of all places, if you can believe it.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen (whose name keeps popping up in the strangest places these days) and our latest Green News Report with a review of presumptive Democratic Veep candidate Kamala Harris' record on environmental justice; the Trump EPA's rollback of Obama-era methane pollution rules at the request of the oil and gas industry; some very good news for the nation's migratory birds; and yet another fossil fuel disaster, this time in Pennsylvania...

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

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala as VEEP; Jeanne Dufort on why the Peach State's new, $100 million digital-scanners failed to count thousands of valid votes and how to fix it before November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2020 7:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two mysteries solved in one single, if hectic, show! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The first is the mystery of who presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden would select as his Vice-Presidential partner. Now we know. Less than an hour before showtime today, it was announced that California's first-term U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will become the first black woman (and first South Asian American woman) to be part of a major party's Presidential ticket. On short notice, we were able to scrounge up the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog to join us for her "top-line, knee-jerk, hot-take" response to the big news and how she thinks it will play both among the electorate at large and the far, FAR more picky progressive electorate.

Parton, a progressive herself, who says she was rooting for Elizabeth Warren to be named for the slot, describes Harris as a "a very skilled politician"; argues that her selection "says something nice about Biden"; discusses the "legitimate concerns that progressives have had about Harris"; and whether she believes "the Left" will be able to "put aside their differences" to get behind the ticket, before "going to fight tooth and nail about the things that we care about" in the event that Biden actually becomes President next January.

Today's other solved mystery is much trickier. And it has to do with Georgia, which is holding primary runoff elections today, along with state primary elections on Tuesday in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (We'll have noteworthy results from all of those states, as available, on tomorrow's BradCast, of course). Naturally, because it's Election Day in Georgia --- a key battleground state which some believe could finally flip from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time in decades --- there are problems at the polls. While hopefully not as terrible as the meltdown caused by the state's new unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks that resulted in hours-long lines in largely Democratic-leaning precincts during the state's June primary, we have early indications that the same, new, overly-complex, computerized voting systems failed voters again today in at least some of the 94 (of 159) counties participating in today's runoffs.

Despite that distressing (if unsurprising) news today in Georgia, there was some good-ish news from the State Elections Board (SEB) there. They met on Monday to adopt new procedures in advance of the November 3rd Presidential election. The SEB unanimously agreed to allow voters to request absentee ballots for November via a new online webpage to go live by the end of the month. That's good news for those who have easy online access. But, shamefully, it comes along with the news that Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, after successfully sending out Vote-by-Mail applications to all of the state's active registered voters before the June primary, will NOT be doing so before this year's Presidential election. Apparently, that plan worked too well and allowed too many to easily vote from home, when they might otherwise have had to struggle with long lines and Raffensperger's failed electronic voting systems at the polling place in the middle of an ongoing global pandemic.

Also at Georgia's SEB meeting on Monday, the Board agreed to make a change to the state's new computer-tabulation systems that scan and count those hand-marked paper absentee ballots. (Voters at the polls are forced to use unverifiable touchscreen systems.) The SEB's change to a software setting on the systems came about, thanks in no small part, to our guest today, JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance.

Following the June primaries, Dufort was on a bi-partisan citizens' panel reviewing digital images of hand-marked paper absentee ballots on which the computerized digital-scanners believed there were over-votes with, for example, more than one oval in a single race seen by the computer as being filled in. State law requires manual examination of such ballots to determine if the voter's intent is discernible or not. While reviewing those ballots, Dufort and the other panelists in Morgan County noticed that the tabulation system had marked some clearly discernible votes on many of those same ballots as containing "no vote". Why were those votes not counted by the new, $100 million tabulation system made by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting? And would elections officials manually examine ALL of the hand-marked ballots to count those "lost" votes? As Dufort told us on this program at the time she discovered the problem after the June primary, there were potentially tens of thousands of perfectly legitimate votes that had gone uncounted.

Well, today we finally have the answer to the mystery of why the system had failed to count some of those votes. It has to do with a sensitivity setting on the digital optical-scan tabulators that the Secretary of State's office claims they did not originally know about when they initially dismissed Dufort's concerns back in June. That setting, apparently, directs the computer to ignore votes in which less than 12% of the bubble was filled in. (Often, instead of inking in the entire bubble, voters will use a check-mark or an X. While the voter's intent is easily discernible to the human eye, the new computers that tabulate votes were set to record such marks --- that filled less than 12% of the bubble --- as a "no vote".)

"It assigns it a 'percentage of fill'," Dufort tells me. "In our case in Georgia, what we later found out was that these Dominion factory settings said if a vote was deemed to cover more than 35% of that area...if the threshold percentage hit 35% or above, the system said, 'Yep, that's a vote! It counts!' If the threshold was between 12-35%, it said, 'that's ambiguous, I'm not sure something is there, better get a human to look at it.' If it fell below 12%, it said, 'I see that, but it's not a vote, so I'm going to label it unvoted, and I'm not even going to call it to the attention of the humans.'"

While Dufort says that it is good news that the SEB has now agreed to lower the bottom of the software sensitivity range setting to 10%, the longtime Election Integrity advocate says that she and others in the state believe it should be set lower still, to avoid more lost votes, in advance of the Presidential Election. "We think 10% is still too high," she says. "So we're going to be out talking to them. This rule is out for 30 days of public comment. We'll be saying thank you, but you really need to take it down to 5, which we have learned is what Colorado uses. And they've been doing hand-marked paper ballots statewide for a very long time. We think that's a good benchmark for Georgia."

She also observes that the the old settings, less sensitive settings, are still being used to tally today's runoff elections, which could be a problem in the event of close races. Moreover, she explains, "the color of the ink [and] the brand of the ink in your pen can change how the computer measures it." We discuss all of that, how the changes may affect results this November, and whether we should be worried that such a software setting could be abused by ill-intentioned election insiders (or hackers) in the critical battleground state (or others that use similar systems) during the Presidential election.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more deadly fossil fuel disasters, a warning about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season, and some very disturbing climate change news out of Canada, where the last intact ice shelf has finally collapsed and broken away...

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

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Plus 'back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: This is not a drill. In my nearly-two decades of covering elections, I've never been as concerned about attempts to undermine an election than I now am regarding this year's Presidential election on November 3rd. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last Friday's BradCast interview with American Postal Worker Union President Mark Dimondstein, regarding the mandates by Louis DeJoy, Trump's newly-appointed Postmaster General, to slow down the mail "everywhere" --- and DeJoy's Friday Night Massacre that took place moments after we got off air --- are just some of the huge reasons for my concern. Please make sure that you are prepared, well in advance, for this year's election, and that you know how to not only receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot, as necessary for many due to the pandemic, but that you know what the deadlines are for registering to vote, requesting a VBM ballot, and where and how to drop it off IN PERSON, so your ballot doesn't get lost in Trump's USPS slowdown. Once you've learned all of that, please make sure everyone you know does the same. Ernie Canning has written a helpful article at Bradblog.com with some important related tips, and 2020VotersCalendar.org is a very helpful new website resource with specific information along these lines for voters in each of the 50 states.

Over the weekend, Puerto Rico's primary was a disaster, as ballots did not arrive at all --- or far too late for many to vote --- in 50 out of 110 voting centers across the island. A second make-up election is now being planned, hopefully, for next Sunday. If something like that happens on November 3rd, of course, all may be lost.

In the meantime, just days after Donald Trump falsely claimed that children were "almost immune" to the coronavirus, a new report finds that nearly 100,000 children in the US tested positive for it in just the last two weeks of July alone. That's a 40% increase in child coronavirus cases during those two weeks in the U.s. jurisdictions researchers examined. At least 86 children have died from COVID-19 since May, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association also finds, including a 7-year old with no pre-existing conditions in Georgia last week.

This coincides with the mind-boggling push by Trump to reopen schools for in-person classes immediately, as a number of states run by Trumpy Governors press forward with plans to do so. One such state is Georgia, where some schools opened for the new term already last week and saw photos of crowded hallways and maskless children go viral on social media almost immediately (before suspending the student who posted them). Now that same school is returning to distance learning this week after six students and three staff members at the school tested positive. Other school districts in the state reported even worse numbers.

In Florida, where two teenagers have died so far this month, at least 12 counties are reopening schools this week, more than 17% of tests are now coming back positive. The CDC recommends schools only reopen where the positive test rate is lower than 5%, yet at least 9 of the 12 school districts planning to open in the Sunshine State are currently seeing rates much higher than that. That, as nearly 165,000 are confirmed to have died from COVID in the U.S. and new data from the CDC finds 200,000 more deaths since mid-March than would normally be expected at this time of year, based on recent trends before the pandemic.

As bad as its all getting, the White House appears unwilling to compromise with Democrats on a new COVID emergency relief bill, despite tens of millions of Americans who saw their expanded federal unemployment benefits from an earlier relief bill expire at the end of July. In response, rather than negotiate or demonstrate the art of his pretend deal-making prowess, Trump spent the weekend playing golf and signed one Executive Order and three Executive Memos that pretend to do a whole bunch of stuff that they actually don't and are most likely unconstitutional to boot. One of his executive actions, to temporarily defer payroll taxes for those who are working (the taxes will have to paid at the end of the year instead), would actually cut funding to Social Security and Medicare. Another would take money from FEMA to restore some of the expanded unemployment benefits, but slash them by a third, prevent them from being paid to the lowest-income earners, and require cash-strapped states pay 25% percent of the expanded payments.

Yet, there is no effort in his executive actions to bailout states and cities who are now completely out of money due to their COVID-related crash in revenues. Many couldn't help fund the expanded unemployment even if they wanted to. Similarly, there is no effort to fund the Post Office with the $25 billion that its GOP-dominated Board of Governors has requested to keep the USPS running. And no effort to give $4 billion to election officials around the country to help upgrade their systems to help manage the huge influx of absentee voting due to COVID or even to help make in-person voting safer, as election officials across the country have long sought.

In short, the weekend's news was terrible and the news ahead is likely to get nothing but worse for a while. But we thought you should know it, since the President of the United States --- who said his executive actions this weekend "will take care of pretty much this entire situation, as we know it" --- continues lying to the nation in hopes that it will somehow help him get reelected. It won't. But stealing the election remains completely on the table and actively under way.

Finally, we open up the phones to callers on all of the above. And, though I specifically asked several times, I couldn't seem to find one listener willing to call in and explain why they would be happy to send their kids back to in-person classes right now. Go figure.

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