I’d just stepped out of my black helicopter to read that one of my favorite journalists, David Corn, had attacked my analysis of the vote in Ohio as the stuff of “grassy knoll conspiracy theorists.” (“A Stolen Election,” The Nation, November 29 issue.)
Oh, my! And all because I wrote that the uncounted ballots in Ohio — more than a quarter million designated “spoiled” or “provisional” — undoubtedly contain enough votes to overturn George Bush’s “victory” margin of 136,000.
Corn says, “Palast wrongly assumes that an overwhelming majority of these ballots contain votes for Kerry.” Now why would I think such a thing? Maybe because the precinct-by-precinct analysis of “spoiled” votes (those which machines can’t count) by Professor Mark Salling of Cleveland State University, the unchallengeable expert on Ohio voting demographics, concludes that “spoiled” punch cards in Ohio cities come “overwhelmingly” from African-American neighborhoods.
The Republican Secretary of State of Ohio does not disagree, by the way; he intends to fix the Jim Crow vote-counting problem in Ohio — sometime after the next inaugural ball.
The second group of uncounted ballots, “provisionals,” were also generated substantially in African-American areas, the direct result of a Republican program to hunt down, challenge and suppress the votes cast in black-majority precincts.
What happened in Ohio is one-fiftieth of a nationwide phenomenon: the non-count of African-American votes, about a million of them marked as unreadable in a typical presidential race. (See, Palast, “Vanishing Votes,” The Nation, March 17, 2004.)
I will admit, David, I can’t tell you exactly how each of those disenfranchised voters would have cast their ballots. Indeed, one Republican statistician claims these uncounted ballots are cast mostly by African-American supporters of George Bush.
Nevertheless, most of us conspiracy nuts on the Grassy Knoll hold to our wild belief that most black citizens whose ballots were spoiled or rejected tried to vote for the tall guy from Massachusetts.
Greg Palast is the author of, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.” His investigation of race and voting in America was partly funded by The Nation Institute.