Guest: Election integrity advocate John Brakey; Also: Conyers resigns, Farenthold skates, RNC and Trump go all-in for Roy Moore...
On today's BradCast: If Donald Trump and fellow Republicans have their way, an accused child molester will become the next U.S. Senator from Alabama. But, in advance of next Tuesday's election, election integrity advocates are fighting to assure the possibility of oversight of the state's computerized election results. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
But first up today, new wildfires exploded across parts of Southern California on Tuesday, in Ventura County and near Los Angeles, mirroring some of record fires that engulfed Northern California win country in October. Those fires killed more than 40 people and destroyed thousands of structures. While no deaths have yet been reported in the new blazes, tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee in the middle of the night and scores of houses have burned with thousands remaining threatened, as dry conditions and record winds are predicted to continue for several days.
Meanwhile, in Congress, allegations of sexual harassment continue to take a toll, as civil rights champion Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the longest serving member in the U.S. House, announced his resignation on Tuesday, following multiple allegations against him. On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) says he will repay the $84,000 Congress paid out to settle a 2014 sexual harassment claim against him. Unlike in Conyers' case, no members of Farenthold's own party caucus have publicly called on him to resign.
And, following Donald Trump's full-throated endorsement of Alabama's Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore on Monday, the Republican National Committee has now restored funding and other resources for Moore, after previously pulling support in response to well-sourced allegations of sexual impropriety with a number of teenage girls, as young as 14, when he was a prosecutor in his 30s. Sitting GOP Senators -- like Utah's Orrin Hatch and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- have also walked back their initial condemnations of Moore, particularly as final passage of a massive Republican redistribution of wealth from the middle-class to the rich still relies on a thin partisan majority in the U.S. Senate. That, even as new evidence emerges to buttress the allegations against Moore.
Then, in advance of that December 12th U.S. Senate Special Election between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones next Tuesday in Alabama, election integrity advocates are eying concerns about the state's paper ballot computer tabulators.
I'm joined today by longtime election integrity champion JOHN BRAKEY of AUDIT-AZ to discuss his lawsuit and other efforts to force Alabama election officials to turn on digital "ballot imaging" functionality for all ballots on the state's computer ballot scanners, most of which offer the feature. Brakey explains how such images, in lieu of actual human examination of hand-marked paper ballots, can be helpful for public attempts at oversight of results following next week's race, particularly given the historic obstacles citizens have been met with in attempting to verify computer tabulated results.
(See, by way of just one example, my recent interview with Wisconsin's Karen McKim, whose public records request finally allowed, just weeks ago, a multi-partisan group of observers to examine paper ballots from the 2016 President election. That audit of several precincts in Racine County, paid for by the residents themselves, revealed up to 6% of perfectly valid Presidential votes went untallied, thanks to flawed optical scan systems used across the state on Election Night and, in much of the state, even during even during Green Party candidate Jill Stein's attempted "recount". Other wards which tallied by hand instead during that "recount" discovered as many as 30% of valid votes went untallied originally!)
Brakey explains that some 80% of Alabama counties now use newer digital scanners which would allow ballot images to be retained and shared with citizens to examine after the election, to help ensure an accurate count. But, he tells me, relaying his recent conversations with the state's Election Director, "the reality is that it doesn't work unless you turn that feature on." Right now, he says, it is only turned on for write-in votes only. Brakey charges, however, that automatically deleting images that are taken of every ballot as they are tallied by the digital systems, is a violation of federal law. "It's a federal election, and under federal law, you must save everything for 22 months," he says. He is heading to Alabama today and says he will file suit to force the state to retain all such images.
Why not just fight to view the actual paper ballots? Brakey explains: "You cannot get at the original ballots. They will not let you touch them. In order to get to them, you have to prove fraud first. And how are you going to prove fraud if you can't get to the ballots? That's the Catch-22. The ballot images are a tool to get us to the originals."
You can watch the colorful and inspirational Brakey in the film Fatally Flawed, documenting his years-long transpartisan fight in Tucson, Arizona, in hopes of examining the ballots from and verifying results of a controversial 2006 election.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Trump's unprecedented (and Orwellian) roll back of protected national monument designations by former Presidents, and much more...
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[Cross-posted from The BRAD BLOG...]