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We Don’t Have a Working Democracy
What happened, how we can fix it

Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, the dark art of vote stealing is on steroids. Voters are being removed from rolls more aggressively — especially in the preclearance states that previously had additional protections under the VRA. As a result, last year alone, 14 million Americans were purged from voter rolls. This changes elections, because it’s not just anyone’s vote that gets stolen. Overwhelmingly, these are voters of color, young voters, and low income voters — voters who tend to vote blue. The result, we have a president and a Senate that wasn’t elected democratically — and this corruption goes all the way down the ballot to your local dog catcher and sheriff.


Jacqueline Luqman interviews Palast for the Real News Network

The End of the Voting Rights Era & The Start of Suppression on Steroids

Since the Civil Rights era, since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, about 16 states and jurisdictions were under special orders that if they were going to mess around with the way people voted, they had to get it precleared, pre-approved by the Justice Department, to make sure that they weren’t wiping out voters of color, Puerto Rican voters, etc. You remove the guts of that act — as happened in 2013, with the Supreme Court ruling on Shelby v. Holder — and now the party’s started. They’ve started removing voters of color from voter rolls all over America, especially in those former preclearance states — without a review to make sure it’s not discriminatory, that we don’t have a return to Jim Crow.
As a result, last year alone, 14 million voters were purged from the voter rolls. That’s according to the Election Assistance Commission — the federal government itself. And according to our investigations, most of those people are legitimate voters who’ve lost their right to vote… This changes elections, because it’s not just anyone’s vote that gets expunged. Overwhelmingly, these are voters of color, these are young voters, and these are low income voters — in other words, they’re Democratic voters.

Georgia: A Case Study

For example, in 2018 Brian Kemp, who was the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia running against Stacey Abrams for governor — she was the first Black woman ever in American history to run for governor. Kemp as Secretary of State removed over half a million voters in Georgia alone from the voter rolls. I took a team of experts from Silicon Valley, I sued Kemp in federal court, got the names and addresses of all the voters who’d been removed. He said these voters had left the state, or moved away. Our experts went through the names, and we proved 340,134 voters had never moved from their registration address, and yet they were removed by Kemp for supposedly leaving the state or moving. On that basis, as Abrams said, she won the governorship, she just wasn’t inaugurated.
These Jim Crow methods are more sophisticated, they’re worse than ever. We’re back to 1964, if not worse… So we’ve teamed up with Abrams and her new non-partisan organization called Fair Fight, suing to get these third of a million voters back on the rolls in Georgia… I did an investigation for Rolling Stone which became my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, going state by state showing you how Donald Trump only won because of the mass purge of Black voters and other games… We don’t have a full working democracy right now — especially because after the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court, basically there’s no cops on the beat to watch these guys stealing the vote…

So what about Russian interference?

The Russians did not remove 1.1 million voters under this phony, racist system called Crosscheck. The Russians did not fail to count 75,355 ballots in Detroit, Michigan, handing that state to Donald Trump. The Russians did not illegally purge a third of a million voters in Georgia. Whatever the Russians did… No, no one should be messing in our elections. That’s wrong, that’s illegal, that’s bad. But that was not what elected Trump. What elected Trump was a massive, racist vote purge system and a system of blocking people from voter rolls with gimmicks like ‘Where’s your Voter ID?’ It’s not Russia that did this to us.

How do we fix our election system?

Just like in Alcoholics Anonymous, the first thing you have to do is admit the problem… We have to admit that we as Americans, and our officials, are purging legitimate voters from the voter rolls and blocking Americans from voting. I just returned from Switzerland, where, by law you’re required to vote. You don’t register, you don’t have any games about your ID, they don’t have any games about removing people from the voter rolls.
A lot of the world is stunned that the font of democracy, the United States, has become the font of democratic voter suppression. And I don’t like that phrase — “voter suppression” — because it’s very polite. When someone steals your car, you don’t say, “My car has been suppressed.” They’re stealing our votes and we have to say it out loud. It ain’t the Russians. Americans are doing this to Americans…

Who’s funding this giant vote heist?

And vote thievery, mass purges, all these games, changes to the law, do not come cheap. There are very rich guys, these billionaires, who are funding the theft of our democracy. For example, with Shelby v. Holder in the Supreme Court, Shelby has no money. It’s a little Alabama county. How did they get the millions to go to the Supreme Court? From a billionaire named Paul Singer. I called him The Vulture. He’s a GOP guy, who has been destroying Third World countries, destroying corporations in America. He’s one of those vultures that attacks poor and dying nations, people, and corporations. The guy is responsible, personally, for putting a million people out of work. To keep his position, to keep his money, to not pay taxes on his gains, he funded that lawsuit. And the congressional push on Shelby v. Holder was directed and funded by a front group funded by the Brothers Koch. These are billionaires who make money off stealing your vote. They name the politicians they like, they get the tax breaks, they get the destruction of regulations — all this comes from vote suppression.
And it’s going to be even worse in 2020. Find out how you can fight to make your vote count, sign up for our newsletter at:

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman

Palast is currently working on a new documentary Long Knife, exposing the Koch Brothers' theft of Osage oil, to be released in 2024.

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