(Visit the HuffingtonPost.com article to listen to exclusive audio interviews with Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)
The perennial issues of vote fraud and voter suppression are becoming front-page news as several states conduct early voting and as Election Day itself nears. The candidates themselves will continue to stump, trying to win votes in contested states, but after tonight’s final debate, the parties will focus less on persuading undecided voters and instead put more and more energy into “get out the vote” or “GOTV” efforts or, more ominously, into “voter suppression” efforts, which discourage or bar the other side’s likely voters from casting ballots.
GOTV includes simple acts like helping homebound voters obtain and cast absentee ballots or driving voters who don’t have cars to the polls on Election Day. More broadly, the concept also can include all kinds of efforts to increase voter turnout: voter registration drives, websites that help voters confirm that they’re still registered in time to fix any problems (one good, nonpartisan example is the National Association of Secretaries of State’s CanIVote.org), and public service announcements reminding voters that Election Day is approaching.
Voter suppression practices are the flip side of such efforts. Suppression efforts can appear innocuous, such as requiring voters to show photo I.D.s – a requirement that excludes a surprising number of poor, minority, very young and very old voters and kept several elderly nuns from voting in Indiana’s Democratic primary this year. Suppression can pose as false righteousness, such as Fox News’s 342 negative mentions of a single voter-registration group in just four days (casting the group’s efforts to register underrepresented demographics as a threat to democracy, and frightening voters registered by that group into thinking that their registrations might be unlawful), or the past Republican practice of stationing armed, uniformed “Ballot Integrity” personnel in minority polling places (again, tamping down turnout).
Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. believe that the 2008 elections have already been stolen. What’s an American to do given these circumstances? They suggest: “Steal it back”.
Palast, an investigative journalist, and Kennedy, a voting rights attorney, paired up to create a nonpartisan voter guide that illustrates the six ways that American votes will be stolen this election and seven ways to steal them back.
You may ask who’s stealing your votes. Palast and Kennedy believe that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), created in 2002, is one of the main reasons votes are systematically being stolen. Secretaries of state attempting to comply with HAVA are purging voters from the registration rolls and blocking new ones from registering. The purging occurs if a voter’s name does not match a government database.
Those who are at most risk for having their vote stolen are new voters, people of color, low-income, elderly and swing state voters, Palast told Truthout.
In 2006, Palast says that 40 percent of citizens who were purged from the voter rolls in California had Islamic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic names. These names were at most risk for misspellings.
The Steal Back Your Vote Guidelines promote the importance of going to the secretary of state Web site for your state to confirm that you are registered ahead of the election.
The New York Times appeared to confirm Palast and Kennedy’s findings on mass voter purges in its report last week titled “States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal”. The newspaper found that tens of thousands of eligible voters were being illegally purged ahead of the 2008 elections.
In the crucial swing states of Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, The New York Times reported that Social Security databases are being used to verify voters, as opposed to more accurate state databases. Federal law requires Social Security databases to be used for verification only as a last resort.
The swing states of Michigan and Colorado are also violating federal law, according to The New York Times, because they are removing voters from the registration rolls within 90 days of the presidential election.
When a name has been purged from the voter rolls, election workers will hand out a provisional ballot. However, Palast points to 1.1 million provisional ballots that went uncounted in the 2004 elections as proof that provisional ballots often go uncounted.
“Once you sign that provisional ballot, the chances are officially one in three that your ballot will be thrown in the garbage can,” said Palast.
In their guide, Palast and Kennedy write that a provisional ballot will most often render a vote uncounted. They suggest seeking adjudication on the spot, by calling a voter’s rights hotline instead of accepting and signing the provisional ballot.
“Don’t go postal,” says Palast, urging voters not to mail in their ballot.
Palast told Truthout: “All you need is the most minor error, like you didn’t use your middle initial in your registration; not enough postage cost a third of a million votes in the US the last time around because most ballots are two stamps, not one. There’s a million ways to not count your vote on a mail-in; don’t do it.”
The other suggestions in the “Steal Back Your Vote” guide include voting early, getting involved in voter-registration and get-out-the-vote organizations, and pursuing legal action if disenfranchised.
Palast and Kennedy will be following the 2008 elections as they unfold, including publishing reports in Rolling Stone and BBC news.
“However, the Republican cry of ‘Vote Fraud!’ has become the cover for purges and challenges to legal voters by the millions. I even tracked down and filmed some of these so-called fraudulent voters handed me from a GOP list. Every one was a legal voter.”
— Greg Palast, Intrepid Investigative Reporter and Author
* * *
Greg Palast and BuzzFlash go back to the election of 2000. At that time, large progressive political news sites were hard to come by â€“ and there was only one investigative reporter who was able to unravel the theft of the Florida election: Greg Palast.
Greg didnâ€™t just expose the mugging of democracy. As a University of Chicago trained researcher, he was able to detail how Katherine Harris used an outside vendor to create caging lists that prevented legitimate voters from casting their ballots. In fact, Greg has a laptop presentation that actually shows you the lists that Harrisâ€™s office worked from in keeping minorities from voting.
Of course, Gregâ€™s investigation on vote theft â€“ which has branched out widely in the intervening years â€“ is persuasive and thorough enough for the BBC and British newspapers, but not for the corporate press in America! We kid you not.
To this day, Palast is effectively banned from reaching the mainstream American voter because television stations and big papers are owned by companies that donâ€™t want to rock the vote. It might hurt their tax cuts or efforts to deregulate media ownership.
BuzzFlash thought that now would be a good time to revisit with our most interviewed expert on BuzzFlash, Greg Palast. After all, we have an election coming up.
* * *
BuzzFlash: You have been investigating the coordinated and vigorous GOP effort to suppress and steal votes since the theft of the election in 2000. You and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just did a BBC Documentary on what nefarious voter suppression tactics the Republicans have in store for us in 2008. Can you summarize some of the methods that the GOP are using to disenfranchise non-Republican voters prior to the election, to prevent them from voting during the election, and to keep their votes from being counted after the polls close?
Greg Palast: It’s ugly. Consider:
– In the swing state of Colorado, we found that the Republican Secretary of State wiped out 19.4% – one in five – voter names in an unnoticed mass purge.
– In swing-state New Mexico, in the February caucus, one in nine Democrats found their names missing from the voter rolls supplied by the State. The elections supervisor of San Miguel County – whose own name was missing from the rolls – has no confidence the state contractors will fix it. Our statistical analysis showed there was a direct relationship between your name and your race and income. The poor and the dark were disappeared.
– In Indiana, you heard about 10 nuns who lost their vote because their ID – drivers’ licenses – had expired (they were all over eighty). But what about the others? We’ve calculated that 143,000 others were turned away – disproportionately Blacks and new voters.
And so on and so on.
BuzzFlash: BuzzFlash has been covering one public relations effort by the Republican National Committee to create a false context for claiming voter fraud. In short, they have been attacking a national community organizing group called ACORN with news releases, lawsuits, surrogate assaults, etc., falsely claiming (as they did in 2004 and 2006) that ACORN is engaged in the massive illegal registration of primarily minority voters. Can you explain the significance of the ACORN slander by the RNC?
Greg Palast: As RFK and I report, there are only about SIX voters found guilty of federal voting fraud in a year. SiX! Out of 178 million registered voters.
So the GOP (and Fox and CNN) are running stories about ACORN signing up zillions of illegal voters. Yep, there are a handful of phony names – but ‘Mary Poppins’ has never shown up to vote.
However, the Republican cry of ‘Vote Fraud!’ has become the cover for purges and challenges to legal voters by the millions.
I even tracked down and filmed some of these so-called fraudulent voters handed me from a GOP list. Every one was a legal voter.
Tell us a bit about the site and downloadable comic book that you launched with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on how to prevent the theft of millions of votes by the Republicans, yet again in 2008. The website is: http://www.stealbackyourvote.com.
Greg Palast: Our Rolling Stone report that’s out this week is all about how they’ve stolen so many legitimate votes. The comic book, which includes the Rolling Stone findings also includes the SEVEN WAYS TO STEAL IT BACK.
And the whole thing is illustrated brilliantly by comic crazies Ted Rall, Lukas Ketner and Troubletown’s Lloyd Dangle. I loved doing it.
You can download the whole comic book for a penny or more (donate more please) at StealBackYourVote.org. And better yet, you can order bunches of the comic book there as well (and see the short movies). Cool eh?
BuzzFlash: Can you briefly explain the role of ProsecutorGate at the DOJ in efforts to suppress the Democratic vote in 2006? How did this fit in with Karl Roveâ€™s grand voter suppression and theft plan?
Greg Palast: You betcha! Fired prosecutor David Iglesias told us something astonishing: He said that he was fired because he refused to arrest innocent citizens for voter fraud that didnâ€™t happen. That’s obstruction of justice. It was all about creating a hysteria over fraudulent voters that didnâ€™t exist.
This is what Iglesias basically said: “They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments [Rove and the RNC] that would scare these alleged hordes of illegal voters away.” Only the voters were legal.
BuzzFlash: Isnâ€™t there one bright spot? You cut your teeth on GOP voter disenfranchisement with brilliant reporting on how the Bush campaign team, Jeb Bush, and Katherine Harris prevented tens of thousands of valid minority voters from voting through a scheme to use an outside vendor, ChoicePoint, to create an inaccurate list of felons who could not vote in 2000 in Florida. Hasnâ€™t the current GOP governor, Charlie Crist, had the right to vote of ex-felons restored?
Greg Palast: Crist is a duplicitous phony. On the one hand, he pretends they’ll let ex-cons vote as in almost every state. On the other hand less than a handful of the half million ex-cons in the state have been able to get through the insane rigamarole required to actually register. In most states ex-cons can vote like anyone else.
BuzzFlash: As a follow up, from a practical matter, donâ€™t the Republicans have to be within a certain striking distance to steal the election. If Obama keeps trending up, or ends up with a double-digit popular vote victory, how could the GOP steal the election? After all, if Nader werenâ€™t on the ballot in Florida â€“ despite all the nefarious Republican voter suppression and theft â€“ Al Gore would be president, right?
Greg Palast: That’s what RFK and I say: you can’t steal ALL the votes ALL the time.
BuzzFlash: Okay, itâ€™s less than a month before the election, what can anyone do to halt another theft of the White House?
Greg Palast: Go to STEALBACKYOURVOTE.ORG. Get the comic book. Now was that so difficult?*
BuzzFlash: For 8 years, youâ€™ve been covering this issue. Some others have joined you over time and itâ€™s a bit of a movement, albeit still relatively small. But, as in 2000, not much has changed with the corporate media. They are still pretty much ignoring the clear evidence of a coordinated GOP effort to keep non-Republicans from voting and to steal votes wherever they can. Is there any reason to think that they might awaken to their journalistic responsibility to report on the mugging of democracy?
Greg Palast: Zero. That’s why we have BuzzFlash. Bless you.
[*In brief, Palast advises voters to vote early; do not mail in your ballot; check on your registration in advance to make sure there is not a glitch; don’t vote a provisional ballot; volunteer on election day; go to the polls with someone for mutual support; and use the resources that you can get at stealbackyourvote.org.]
[BuzzFlash Afternote: The GOP assault on the right of every American to vote is so widespread that we can barely touch upon it in one interview.Â Of course, there is the whole additional issue of electronic voting theft, for example.Â The Republican effort to disenfranchise legitimate voters is a vast criminal enterprise.]
It’s Bobby Kennedy and Greg Palast releasing the flaming hot full-color investigative comic book, STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE!
Pow! Zap! No more joking with our rights, Mr. Rove!
Click here and get the 24-page investigative comic book by Greg Palast and Bobby Kennedy: Â STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE.
With the full story of the investigation you’ll soon see Rolling Stone magazine – illustrated by razor-sharp pencils of Ted Rall, Lukas Ketner and Lloyd Dangle.
SIX ways they’re STEALING your vote – and SEVEN ways to STEAL IT BACK.
(C’mon – ‘fess up – do you really know what to do if they hand you a ‘provisional’ ballot?)
Make a $100 tax deductible donation at StealBackYourVote.org and we’ll send you 25 to pass out to troublemakers of your choice.
And, for every $100 donation, we will give away another 400Â to voters to vulnerable voters in swing states. Â We just sent eight cases to Santiago Juarez. Â Santiago’s working with young Hispanic voters of New Mexico. Â Can you help us send him more?
Thanks to your prior generosity, we’re offering the printing plates FREE of any fee to us to any magazine or weekly that wants to insert comic. Â (You want to reproduce the guide on a mass scale – you got it. Â Contact zach (at) gregpalast.com
WHAT’S THAT UP IN THE SKY?! Â It’s our Super Sponsors! Â Voto Latino, Operation Rainbow Push, Air America Radio, Juan Gonzales of Democracy Now! and other crusaders for Truth, Justice and the American Way.
Contact us at interviews (at) StealBackYourVote.org.
“AÂ lot of Europeans wonder:Â Why are Americans so crazy, they keep reelecting this guy?â€Â Well the answer is, we donâ€™t!Â They keep stealing these elections!Â And they stole it in 2000, they stole it in 2004, and theyâ€™re all set up to steal it again!” – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on BBC Television Newsnight.
On Friday at 6pm Â and 10pm Eastern Time, BBC America will bust open the story of the systematic attack on US voters that could easily cost Barack Obama the White House. (Watch the promo below)
Or watch it, beginning Friday night, at www.Gregpalast.com.
Newsnight investigative reporter Greg Palast travels from the Native pueblos of New Mexico to the war-zone of the 8 Mile neighborhood of Detroit to meet some of the three millionÂ voters …more
Bobby Kennedy Jr. and I have had it UP TO HERE. They stole 2000.Â They stole 2004. Now, theyâ€™re snatching it again.Â So Bobby and I are doing the most important thing we can do in a crisis of democracy:Â write an investigative comic book.
Here it is:Â Steal Back Your Voteis out today.Â Download it right now at StealBackYourVote.ORG
Its 24 full-color pages cut open the Rove-arian cancer on our ballot box:Â the Six Ways Theyâ€™re Stealing Your Vote â€“ plus a two-page pull-out guide â€“ 7 Ways to Steal it Back.
Print it out.Â Pass it out.Â Right now.
Illustrations from the rapier-sharp pencils of Ted Rall, Troubletownâ€™s Lloyd Dangle and Lukas Ketner.
To cover costs, weâ€™re asking you to make a donation â€“ it can be a buck, ten bucks, a penny, a grand.Â This will pay for print copies weâ€™re sending to vulnerable voters.Â (Weâ€™ll send them gratis to churches designated by our co-sponsor, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Operation Rainbow/PUSH.)
“This is Reverend Jesse Jackson from the Rainbow/Push Coalition. Your vote must count and not be stolen. This time protect that vote, download it and fight back contact GregPalast.com – for the vote, for Dr. King, for Mandela, for Medgar Evers, for Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney. We’ve marched to long, worked to hard, we’ve died to young don’t let them steal your vote. Vote in big numbers and fight back and through it all keep hope alive we can and must win this election.”
â€“ Rev. Jesse Jackson
Support the Palast Investigative fund and save this election, download the comic book voter guide right now. Send it to your friends and spread the word – “Don’t let them steal your vote!”
Excerpted from the Greg Palast, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Robert F. Kennedy’s comic book voter guide Steal Back Your Vote.
In 2002, George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act.
When a Bush tells you heâ€™s going to â€œhelpâ€ you vote – look out!
The result: in the 2004 presidential election, over three million votes – 3,006,080 – were cast and not counted. Like, what the !@#!?
Thatâ€™s from the official data from an agency created by George Bush called the â€œElections Assistance Commission.â€Â When a Bush tells you heâ€™s going to â€œassistâ€ our elections… (well, you get it).
Three MILLION ballots disappeared – Pfft!
And not just anyoneâ€™s ballots.Â U.S. government experts reported, for example, that a black voterâ€™s ballot is 900% more likely than a white voterâ€™s ballot to get â€œlostâ€ in the machine. Bush fired the experts.
Three million voters went missing in â€˜04 – but that ainâ€™t nuthinâ€™!
Law professor and voting law expert Robert F. Kennedy Jr. warns that itâ€™s about to get a whole lot worse.Â Nasty new spores of the â€œHelpâ€ America Vote Act went into effect since the last election that have turned the process into a vicious game of â€œChutes and Ladders,â€ with traps and tricks between you and your vote…
Example: the Republican Secretary of State of Colorado â€œhelpedâ€ her state vote by eliminating 19.4% of the voters from the voter rolls.Â Thatâ€™s one in five !@#$#@ voters!
Over three million missing ballots â€“ and now the voters themselves are disappearing by the millions.Â Where the hell did they go?
The Rev. Jesse Jackson last night headlined a panel that encouraged people to battle voter fraud and disenfranchisement by casting early ballots and registering multiple times to vote.
Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and a presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988, was joined by investigative journalist Greg Palast and author Jonathan Simon at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The discussion was moderated by radio host Marc Steiner.
All panelists criticized what they said were rigged presidential elections in 2000 and 2004.
“I would urge you not to allow these voter schemes to break our spirit,” Jackson said. “In spite of these schemes, we can still win.” …more
In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color.
In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives â€“ overwhelming Black voters.
In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.
In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.
My investigations partner spoke directly to Barack Obama about it. (When your partner is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., candidates take your phone call.) The cool, cool Senator Obama told Kennedy he was â€œconcernedâ€ about the integrity of the vote in the Southwest in particular. …more
This year another hurricane passed over the crescent city. Gustav left New Orleans with a tremendous amount of damage but none of the horrors that his sister Katrina did.
The media will discuss the effects of the hurricane on the Republican Convention and will report the big numbers, 800k without power, 2 million evacuated. But one thing will be certain there will be little or no discussion of why there was no evacuation plan in 2005, why the White House never did tell the locals about the levee breaches or why up until this year people were still living in Guantanamo-like camps. We can be sure that the words ‘right to return‘ won’t pass the lips of the talking heads. We certainly won’t here about the 89,000 names pulled from the voter rolls after the storm.
It’s stories like that that get reporters in trouble, you lose access, you lose your precious seat in the press conference. Well we find press conferences boring, and we never get called on anyway. The last time we were in Louisiana, Homeland Security was called on us… so we figure we must be doing something right.
You can read a full review of Palast’s writings on New Orleans and Katrina here. Also you can see a clip from the film Big Easy to Big Empty, listen to podcasts and read excerpts from Armed Madhouse.
August 27, 2008 â€” Robert Kennedy Jr. had a pretty good excuse for skipping his scheduled appearance with investigative journalist Greg Palast to promote their latest project, â€œSteal Back Your Voteâ€ â€” a report on voting irregularities and fraud in the 2008 election.
Palast, speaking at the Progressive Democrats of America gathering at a downtown Denver church during the DNC Tuesday, excused Kennedyâ€™s absence to be with his uncle, Mondayâ€™s inspirational surprise speaker Sen. Ted Kennedy, and introduced a surprise replacement of his own, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Progressive investigative journalist Goodman asked a delegate to hold up a goody bag with sponsor logo from AT&T on one side and decried the influence of big corporate money on the modern American political process.
She talked about trying to get into a delegate gathering at Mile High Stadium Monday and being denied access by towering security guards. Goodman said delegates at a corporate party are in training for just how skewed by campaign contributions politics in America have become, and added that there can be no good reasons to keep the press out, only bad ones.
â€œWhen youâ€™ve got money saturating politics, and even if you care deeply about the public good, youâ€™ve got to see where the money is and thatâ€™s what this is about every four years,â€ Goodman said. â€œItâ€™s about teaching (budding politicians) big-money politics.â€ …more
Lhasa, Tibet – China’s secret police are just terrible at keeping themselves secret.
The detective, dressed in her business suit and pumps appropriate to urban Lhasa, did not expect to be trailing my wife and me up the steep hillside to a monastery 15,000 feet up an ice-crusted ridge. Even at 200 yards behind us, I could see her shivering in the thin, frozen air, trying, absurdly, to look like just another hiker on the barren slope.
But then, she really wasn’t trying to hide. Her presence was meant to send a message of fear and intimidation.
I got the point earlier when a photographer we’d helped sneak into Tibet was arrested, her film of protesting Tibetans seized and her camera smashed as she was hustled onto the first plane leaving the country.
When my police shadow looked away, I snapped a photo of the long boxes below me, roofs of the prison complex. It housed more Buddhist monks than any monastery.
At a hermitage carved into the summit rock I found my host sitting cross-legged under an ancient tapestry depicting a monster ready to devour quiet souls.
The holy man had questions for us:
Does Christianity have a god? (Answer: “Sometimes.”)
What is a â€˜President‘?
It was 1993. I told the monk the new President, …more
We need to learn the issues. People are unarmed. That is, people know that theyâ€™re getting shafted, but they donâ€™t really know exactly how.
The American press corps has finally begun to report on illegal activities of the Bush administration. However, the subject of election theft remains largely ignored. In recent years, the Republican Party has used an array of tactics to subtract votes from opposing candidates. These include sending defective voting machines to strongly Democratic precincts and removing low-income and minority voters from electoral rolls.
Reporter Greg Palast has been covering this issue since 2000, when he revealed that Florida officials ensured the election of George W. Bush by illegally suppressing the African-American and Democratic vote. (Learn more about that subject here.) In this interview, I asked Palast about his reports on the GOPâ€™s dirty electoral tricks since 2000 and the possibility that the â€™08 election will be stolen. He explained how the Help America Vote Act actually helps crooked …more