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Can Voter Suppression Hand
The 2024 Election to Trump?

  • by Thom Hartmann
  • for The Hartmann Report

New York Times bestselling investigative reporter Greg Palast, on my radio/TV program, laid out the dimensions of the problem, particularly since Clarence Thomas was the tie-breaking vote in Shelby County v Holder to gut the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Palast started in Georgia, looking into 2018 voter purges done by then-Secretary of State (the state’s top elections official) Brian Kemp in the runup to his challenge to Stacey Abrams for that state’s governorship. Kemp purged roughly a half-million Georgia voters from the rolls that year, and Palast obtained the complete list.

The Palast Investigative Fund hired a contractor that verifies names and addresses for Amazon — which has a multi-billion-dollar interest in making sure their delivery lists are clean — to examine each and every one of those roughly half-million voters.

While over 150,000 of them were people who’d legitimately moved out of state in recent years, fully 340,134 were mostly Black people who lived in the state and had not moved from their voting address.

On Election Day that year, Palast was with his film crew at the Atlanta precinct where Martin Luther King Jr. used to vote. The crew noticed an elderly Black woman with a walker who’d just been thrown out of the polling place into the rain because her name had been purged.

Palast learned her name was Christine Jordan and this would have been her 50th year voting in the same place. She invited Palast and his crew to her home, where he saw a picture of King on the wall; it turned out she was King’s cousin, and he used to come to her house regularly after Church for Sunday dinners.

Kemp won that election by 54,723 votes, a fraction of the number of Black people he’d just purged from the rolls.

In the two years leading up to 2020, Kemp’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger (pronounced Raff-ens-Purger), purged another massive 309,000 voters from the rolls. So, Palast hired the same company to check the list 198,351 had been wrongly purged.

Palast, along with the Georgia ACLU, Black Voters Matter Fund, and the Georgia NAACP, were successful in getting about half of them put back on the rolls, which is why Joe Biden won that state by a mere, as Trump complained, “11,780 votes.”

These purges have since spread out of Georgia and are now accelerating around the country. Keep in mind that, just 44,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin separated Biden and Trump from a tie in the Electoral College.

Palast did a similar analysis in 2020 in then-GOP-controlled Wisconsin where 135,000 voters were about to be removed before the election. Using that Amazon contractor’s name-by-name analysis, he found that about a third of the list, “almost entirely Black people in Milwaukee and students in Madison,” were on the purge list incorrectly. Luckily, the Palast Investigative Fund and Black Voters Matter filed that information with a bipartisan elections commission and they stopped the purge. As a result Biden was able to win that state by about 10,000 votes.

“Now,” Palast told me, “we have at least 20 states using this same purge system.”

The New Vigilante Threat

Most recently, Republicans rolled out a new strategy to get around legal challenges to Red states purging millions of voters: voter vigilantes.

While most states allow whistleblower citizens to challenge the vote of an individual they know and believe is voting illegally, Georgia’s SB202 was the first law in the country to allow “unlimited” challenges to voters by people who aren’t government officials.

States are banned by law from purging people via “list maintenance” within 90 days of an election, but a citizen vigilante can submit voter purge lists right up to and on election day, when it’s far too late for purged voters to re-register and vote.

“In 2022, 149,000 voters were challenged in Georgia,” Palast told me, “not by the government, but by vigilante vote fraud hunters using specious data. Unfortunately, there have been two federal court rulings thus far that have allowed this to continue, so it’s now spreading to other states.”

Palast told me about one Georgian, Marjorie Taylor Greene ally Pam Reardon, who challenged 32,000 voters, heavily focused on Black people and college students, using a list from the group True The Vote. This is the group that produced the movie 2000 Mules (premiered at Mar-a-Lago by Trump himself) that falsely claimed millions of votes were “stuffed” into drop boxes by Black people across the nation.

Another voter vigilante Palast identified, Chairman of the Ft. Benning area GOP Alton Russell, challenged over 4,000 voters, “capturing a substantial number of Black soldiers.” Russell sees himself as a vigilante, wearing Georgia native Doc Holliday style clothes with a loaded six-shooter on his hip.

The Palast Investigative Fund, Black Voters Matter, Georgia NAACP, and Georgia ACLU found that not one single voter challenged by Reardon, Russell, or any of the other vigilantes who challenged tens of thousands of Georgia voters, was a fraudulent voter. They were able to stop the Reardon purge, but Russell’s challenge was sustained and 4,000-plus voters were removed from the rolls.

This, Palast told me, “is what election attorney Mark Elias calls the ‘Big new unseen threat.’”

Palast notes:

“Georgia and Texas are not red states: if people were allowed to vote they’d be Blue states.

“Georgia’s brand of voter vigilantism has now legally spread to Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. They’re now mass challenging literally hundreds of thousands of voters, and True The Vote has put out the call to get 100,000 volunteers to submit these challenges. They’re probably the most effective vote suppression organization since the Ku Klux Klan.”


If We Don’t Expose It, This Old Klan Scam Will Pick Your President

The Trump plan for 2024 is taken from the KKK plan of 1946, when the Klan incorporated itself in Georgia as “Vigilantes Inc.” specifically to eliminate every Black citizen from the voter rolls. And now, a new Vigilantes Inc. operation is back — for Trump. The exact same plan as the KKK 1940’s scheme — now powered by billionaires’ loot.

Look out! Right wing groups have launched new “vigilante” challenge operations in swing states Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas and (again in) Georgia — and are signing up over 100,000 “volunteers” to challenge a million – yes, a million – voters of color.

That is why we are making “Vigilantes Inc.” into a national film — to expose the scam, and hunt down the “Klan-Lite” operatives in Phoenix, Houston, Milwaukee, Detroit and again in Atlanta.

 

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Thom Hartmann is the nation’s Number One progressive radio talk show host and bestselling author. His national and internationally syndicated shows are available in over a half-billion homes worldwide. He's the New York Times bestselling, 4-times Project Censored Award winning author of 24 books in print in 17 languages on five continents. Leonardo DiCaprio was inspired by Thom's book "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" to make the movie "The 11th Hour" (in which Thom appears), and Warner Brothers is making a movie starring DiCaprio and Robert De Niro from the book Thom co-authored with Lamar Waldron, "Legacy of Secrecy."

Talkers Magazine named Thom Hartmann as the 8th most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in their “Heavy Hundred” ranking. His radio show is syndicated on for-profit radio stations nationwide by Westwood One, on non-profit and community stations nationwide by Pacifica, across the entire North American continent on SiriusXM Satellite radio (The Progress, Channel 127), on cable systems nationwide by Cable Radio Network (CRN), on its own YouTube channel, via Livestream on its own Livestream channel, via subscription podcasts, worldwide through the US Armed Forces Network, and through the Thom Hartmann App in the App Store. The radio show is also simulcast as TV in realtime into nearly 40 million US and Canadian homes by the Free Speech TV Network on Dish Network, DirectTV, and cable TV systems nationwide.

He was born and grew up in Michigan, and retains strong ties to the Midwest, although he and Louise have lived in New Hampshire, Vermont, Georgia, Germany, and Oregon...and now live with a small menagerie in Portland, Oregon.

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