Voter Registries Face Purges in Republican-Controlled States
Investigative reporter Greg Palast says Republicans are raising alarm over multiple-voting in order to purge millions of minority voters from voter registries
GREG WILPERT, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Gregory Wilpert coming to you from Quito, Ecuador.
Recently Donald Trump made ways when he claimed that if he loses in November in a state like Pennsylvania it will be because of vote rigging whereby some voters vote more than once. Last august though, investigative journalist Greg Palast published an article in Rolling Stone Magazine in which he presented his latest chiming’s about how Republicans are working to suppress the votes of minority voters in the US.
Joining us to talk about the ways in which the vote might be manipulated is Greg Palast. Greg is an investigative reported for the BBC and the Guardian and he is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy Armed Madhouse, and Vulture’s Picnic. Thanks for being on the Real News Greg.
GREG PALAST: Glad to be with you again.
WILPERT: So let’s start with a brief summary with what you found with regard to the purging of voters from voter registries throughout the country.
PALAST: Well for Rolling Stone and that investigation’s been filmed for my upcoming film the Best Democracy Money Can Buy. What we discovered was that yes, the election’s being rigged and Donald Trump should know that because his buddies are doing it. You have 30 republican secretaries of state. Those are the characters, the political hacks that sadly run American elections. There are about 20 democrats, 30 republicans, but the 30 republicans have gotten together and created something called interstate cross check. Now what are they doing? They’re following down Donald Trump’s claim that there are people voting many, many times.
Now I have to tell you. There are people who do that. They arrest about 1 a year. And keep in mind that about a billion votes a year are cast in the United States. About one person a year gets arrested for voting in 2 states in a single election. That’s a 5-year penalty. So how many people have they found that voted twice? The answer is according to the republican documents; 7.2 million people are on the suspect list. The interstate crosscheck suspect list.
Now if they’re not arresting anyone, who cares? The answer is you care as an American voter because what’s happening is that they’re slowly removing those 7 million voters from the voter rolls. We figure by November they will have removed about a million voters, maybe a little less. A million voters will be removed because they have been accused of voting in a single election or registering to vote in 2 states in a single election. There’s no proof.
I ask them for the list. They said it was confidential. But if you know me, people know Greg Palast, I’m an investigative reporter. So when they said it was confidential, I got the list anyway. I have 2 million of their names. 2 million Greg. And I went through the list with experts. With computer experts, demographic experts and here’s the type of people they say are voting twice.
This is an actual example. Maria Isabelle Hernandez voted in 1 state but she again in another state as Maria Christina Hernandez. Now they’re saying that Maria Hernandez despite having two different middle names in two states is the same voter. As opposed to Maria Hernandez, a common Hispanic name, and that’s what the list is made up of. It’s James Brown. It’s Jesse Jackson. It’s David Ho. It’s David Lee. It’s Maria Hernandez and Jorge Rodriguez.
That’s who’s on this list. We have the experts go through it when you use just come names. The people who get it in the neck, who get wiped off the voter rolls are Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans. And why? Because not because of the color of their skin but the color of their ballot which is blue. They’re democrats. Asian Americans by the way used to be republican oriented. Now they vote over 75% democratic, Asian Americans.
So you have like the Asian American organizations I spoke to for Rolling Stone said, we’re getting wiped out because there are only four basic names that come out Korea. Kim, Park, Ho, and Lee. They’re getting killed by this system and it’s secretive. They won’t tell you if you’re on the list. I’ll tell you if you go to GregPalast.com. I’m going to have the whole list and you can look up your name and see if you’re there.
But I only have 2 million names. So I am asking people to go to GregPalast.com and sign a petition started by the professional black caucus in America to demand that the Justice Department open the list is that you can see all the 7 million names to see whether they’re going after you and to then of course stop this program. It’s nothing but a cheap racial purge. It’s a dumb trick Donald. People aren’t voting twice just because their name is Juan Gonzales.
WILPERT: But aren’t there rules governing about who you can remove from the voting rolls? I mean, wouldn’t it be totally illegal to more or less arbitrarily under the claim that they’re registered twice without real proof, wouldn’t that be illegal?
PALAST: Well, it should be. I mean Alcee Hastings caught the congressman who was a federal judge by the way. Told me last night that he believes this is a criminal action by these people under the voting rights act and the civil rights act. They consider this a serious crime against voters because they know these people–when someone is named okay for example, James Edward Brown is supposed to be the same guy as James Edward Brown Jr. So they mixed Jr. and Sr. They have over 2 million names where the middle names don’t match. And they have social security numbers. In the obstructions it says if the social security numbers don’t match, and none of them do, if the social securities don’t match, ignore it anyway. Take away these people’s votes.
So they’re doing it in steps. They’re doing it quietly. They’re doing it secretly. They’re doing it and it’s very effective. This is really powerful in the swing states of Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, Missouri. These are states where it could determine not just the presidency which may not be in question. But what’s really at stake here is the US senate in states that are very, very close senate races. This crosscheck scam by the republican party could make the difference. I’m not a friend of the democratic party as any means as you well know. But this is a racial attack. It’s lynching by laptop and that’s why urging people to go to GregPalast.com, sign the congressional black caucus petition to get the Justice Department to basically put these people in handcuffs who are doing this.
WILPERT: I know that you’ve been working on this issue actually for quite a while. I mean not just this particular one but the suppression of voters from voter registrations and some of our measures that have been taken. In fact, one of your previous books I think from 2012 talks about how to steal an election in 90 steps. So what kinds of other–and one of the things that people always say that if you show up at the voting booth and you’re not on the registry then you can just cast a provisional ballot.
PALAST: Yea provisional ballot. In the movie and the–by the way I have a new book coming out, the Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits. And it goes through all those voter games as you’ll see. In the book I call it the placebo ballot. They hand you a provisional ballot.
Now what does that mean? If your name is not on the voter roll and you fill out a provisional ballot, all they’re doing is checking to see if they made a local mistake. If your name has been removed from the central registry because you’re on the crosscheck list, it’s too bad. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never voted twice, it doesn’t matter if you never voted once before. You’re off. Too bad, your vote is thrown away. It’s rejected.
By the way there’s other problems with provisional ballots. If you’re not registered and you get a provisional ballot, your vote doesn’t count. You get to feel like you voted but you haven’t. That’s why I call it a placebo ballot. So that’s–the placebo ballot’s just another one of their cheap tricks. By the way, it’s not small. We think there are about 3 or 4 million people are going to get provisional ballots in this election. And a good million of them, a million of a million provisional ballots without any evidence these are illegal voters. A million ballots will be rejected. By the way, a chance your ballot will be rejected is 900% higher if you’re black than if you’re white.
WILPERT: You mean the actual ballot or the provisional ballot.
PALAST: Both. Now you get to another way that they take the vote. It’s called spoilage. Now votes as we say in the film, don’t spoil because you need them out of the refrigerator. Votes spoil because they say it’s an unreadable vote or it’s disqualified in some way. For example, if you have a machine reader, paper ballot is verified by machine and you make a wrong mark on it and especially in poorer areas with cheaper machines, the machine doesn’t record your vote, you just lost your vote because it didn’t record it. Or two because you have a stray mark or you bent the corner or there’s fly poop on it, that vote is also disqualified. The whole ballot is thrown out. The same with–the other type of vote that isn’t counted is absentee ballots.
So I tell people, don’t go postal. Don’t mail in your ballot if you can avoid it. 3 million ballots are going to be mailed in. You can figure that off of 30 million ballots, about 2 million will be not counted. Last election it was 1 million not counted. That could double because there are more mail in ballots. Because in most states, for example, if you are registered as Gregory Wilpert and then you send in an absentee ballot and you add your middle initial or you’re registered with your middle initial and you forget your middle initial when you sign it, your ballot’s gone. Your absentee ballots toast. And you don’t even know it.
Only the state of Oregon tells you whether your absentee ballot was counted or not. And whether your mail in ballot was counted. Most states they say okay, thank you we got your ballot. At most they’ll tell you that they received it. But they don’t tell you whether it was counted. I want to repeat, over a million absentee ballots were not counted in the last election if you’re black, Hispanic, or Asian, or American Native, the chance of your ballot being rejected is extremely high. 900% higher if you’re white.
WILPERT: I don’t know if you’ve been following the stories that are coming out of North Carolina, National Public Radio recently had a report about how the law that was basically restricting voters in that state which is a swing state now, were reversed. But now they’re trying to reintroduce it through the back door. That this voter ID’s and the reduction in number of polling places in [inaud.] countries. Can you say anything about these other measures that are being used to prevent people from voting?
Absolutely, I was just speaking with North Carolina state representative Pricy Harrison and number 1 North Carolina is using crosscheck like crazy as a backdoor method of removing voters. Second, they are also–when you’re talking about IB and the rest, yes the court said oh, we’re that the state officials that the republican state officials were targeting black people “with almost surgical precision”. Now the National Petroleum Radio that you quoted doesn’t go further into the story because what they’re not saying is the massive number of African Americans who have already lost their votes and in addition, this is very important that young people are getting crushed in North Carolina.
It used to be, for example, when you graduated high school in North Carolina they would hand you a voter registration form. If you’re going to be 18 within by the time the vote comes out. The vote occurs. Now not only don’t they give you voter registration form, it’s illegal. You can go to jail in North Carolina for handing out a voter registration form. As if you’re handing out marijuana joints. I kid you not. So they’re making registration, in some cases a crime, let alone make it difficult.
So North Carolina is just about the worst in the nation. They’re worst with the crosscheck list. I went down there, confronted those officials. You’ll see it in the films. I show them their so called secret list because I got the list and I got to tell you, these guys froze. They were falling all over their own tongues because they’d been caught but they don’t care. And that’s the problem. That’s what you’ll see in the film and read in the book. But they don’t care. This is Jim Crow all over again. It’s just more sophisticated.
WILPERT: Well we’re almost out of time. I just have one more question which has to do with what can be done about this or what needs to happen in order to fix this problem? Do you have any concrete proposals or anything that’s happening on a legislative level or in congress perhaps?
PALAST: Well that’s why Alcee Hastings, the congressman, the dean of the profession black caucus has created a petition which right now is at GregPalast.com. It will be at other places which demands that the Justice Department open the lists form and have an investigation of the criminal purge of minority voters from the voter rolls. But there’s things you can do yourself. Get informed. If you know someone’s sticking your pockets, you can stop it if you know it. But get informed.
Second we have at GregPalast.com 7 ways to beat the ballot bandits. It’s free. Download it. One of the first things is reregister. I don’t care if you’ve been voting at the same place for 20 years. They can remove your name and you don’t know it till you get there. Then it’s too late baby.
So right now, everyone watching this should check their registration because here’s the funny weird thing. If you’ve been crosschecked and crossed out, you can get back on the list simply by reregistering and they don’t take you off a second time. You can save your own vote and inform others and take part in this fight which never ends to stop Jim Crow. That’s why I actually make a movie to inform people and entertain them while they’re getting information on how to protect the American vote.
WILPERT: Okay well thanks so much Greg for telling us about this. We’ve been talking to Greg Palast. The author of the Best Democracy Money Can Buy: Tales of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits. Thanks again for being on the program. Your book is coming out, I should mention, at the beginning of the October.
PALAST: End of September now. We’ve moved it up to try to save America from itself.
WILPERT: Great. Well thanks again for being on the program.
PALAST: You’re welcome. Bye.
WILPERT: And thank you for watching the Real News Network.
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