At the same time that more and more Americans across the United States are getting fired up to engage in the 2020 election, efforts intensify to make sure that as few of them as possible can, with voter suppression efforts going on across the country.
In this edition of Damage Report, host John Iadarola and investigative reporter Greg Palast discuss vote theft and how it intersects with social issues such as homelessness and mass shootings. In this Damage Report segment, they also premiere the video for “Still Holing On” by hip hop artist Jevin Lamar, whose cousin, Tee Jay McNichols, was gunned down in the August 4 massacre at a Dayton, Ohio bar.
Greg Palast: Jevon Lamar, a great hip-hop artist from Dayton, his cousin Tee Jay was massacred, he was one of the nine people in the Dayton shooting. And I do want to relate this to voting. It is.
Jevin is my assistant producer and point man down in Dayton and in Ohio. He worked on my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, much of which was what there. If you go to JevinLamar.com, you can download his new song, Still Holding On, which is about the shooting. And you can donate to Daybreak Dayton, which is a homeless shelter for kids dealing with violence in Dayton. Jevin himself was at that homeless shelter. The reason we did this was to support Jevin and his family and remind people why you’re voting.
In the video, you see Dayton. The town is destroyed. It’s one of the reasons why people picked up guns. It’s an absolutely desperate place. It’s lost half of its population. About 50% of the homes are in foreclosure or are simply abandoned. It’s a war zone. Why is that important? The answer is because when people don’t have homes, when people have no place to be, they can’t vote.
I caught the GOP in Michigan challenging the right of people living in their foreclosed homes to vote, because it’s supposedly not a legitimate address. And the GOP Secretary of State in Ohio just removed half a million voters from the rolls. You have to understand, the Democrats really did win it in 2016, but there was a mass erasure of black voters from the voter rolls in Ohio. We uncovered some of these tricks in our film.
We uncovered something called Interstate Crosscheck. Remember Kirs Kobach of Kansas? If you can’t, always think K, K, K. He’s the guy who came up with this system of saying people are voting twice. He targeted over half a million people in the state of Ohio saying that they were registered or voting twice. There was no such instances, and yet they removed half of a million people from the voter rolls.
In Ohio, they use something called purge by postcard. They don’t just remove everyone on Kris Kobach’s racist hit list. They send you postcards. Or, in Ohio, if you skip a couple of elections, then you also get a postcard. If you don’t answer the postcard, you lose your vote. We call it purge by postcard on the grounds that supposedly not answering that postcard means you’ve left the state. But they haven’t left the state. They’ve been pushed out of the economy.
My investigative team actually went through a similar list of people purged in Georgia, for Stacey Abrams’ organization Fair Fight. We literally went through all the names of people purged by postcard to see if they’d actually left the state… And we found that 340,134 people exactly — we have the names and addresses — never left their voting address, and they removed them from the voter rolls anyway for having moved. This is the game they’re playing in the swing states. Georgia is a swing state. It is the first Deep South minority-majority state. Stacey Abrams, as she says, won that race, she just wasn’t inaugurated as governor.
We’re not just working in Georgia, we are also working in Ohio. We are suing the state of Ohio to get all the names and addresses of people they’ve purged by this a postcard method. And by the way, sending out postcards is itself, you may not realize this, is kind of a racist little trick. Because they know that postcards sent to people in urban areas and renters and students who move about, they don’t get returned the way they do from the suburbs.
In fact, the Census Bureau has said that if you’re black, if you’re urban, if you’re young, if you’re a renter, you’re 600% less likely to return a government postcard than if you’re a white suburban homeowner. So they know the postcard trick, they knock off people who by definition, like renters, move. You don’t lose your vote cause you moved. You don’t lose your vote cause you’ve been foreclosed.
People in Dayton are always doubling up and tripling up because they’re losing their houses. They know who they’re removing and that’s the trickery that’s being played. That’s one of the reasons that we did the video about the massacre, it segues into our reporting about voting in Dayton — or the attempt to take away the vote of people in Dayton.
You can watch the video for Still Holding On by Jevin Lamar and download the track at JevinLamar.com. While you’re there, please make a donation to Daybreak Dayton, an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth.
Interview has been edited for clarity and length.