by Greg Palast with Dennis J Bernstein
If you believe the Republican hysteria machine, thereâ€™s an unprecedented election crime wave sweeping America involving a staggering 7.2 million suspected double voters. Thousands of these supposed criminals â€” who, if found guilty, have committed a felony punishable by 5-years in the slammer â€” have already lost their right to vote, with 41,000 people in Virginia alone being struck off voter roles. Statistical analysis of the evidence uncovered by investigative reporter Greg Palast shows that one million Americans may lose their vote by November. It also shows that a high proportion of these black, white, and brown voters have one thing in common: they tend to vote blue. In this weekâ€™s Best Democracy Money Can Buy: Election Crimes Bulletin, Palast gives Flashpointsâ€™ Dennis J. Bernstein the skinny on this election crime wave, which in reality is little more than a GOP-generated racist sham designed to filter the blue out of the votes at the polls.
TRANSCRIPT (Originally broadcast on Aug 25, 2016)
Dennis J. Bernstein:Â Greg Palast has got an article that just wentÂ up on Rolling Stone.Â Will an anti-voter fraud program designed by one of Trumpâ€™s advisors deny tens ofÂ thousands their right to vote in November?Â
Greg Palast:Â This week Rolling Stone has a tremendous investigative report, â€œThe GOPâ€™s Secret WarÂ Against Voters.â€Â I know about it because I wrote it. This is an investigation Iâ€™ve now been on â€” I say one year in the article, but itâ€™s really been two and a half years â€” uncovering aÂ system by which the GOP has already removed tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of voters from the voter rolls â€”Â and itâ€™s probablyÂ going to hit a million by November.
DB:Â The 21stÂ century version of Jim Crow,Â the electronic Jim Crow.Â Talk a little bit about itâ€¦
Palast:Â Hereâ€™s the deal:Â 29 Republican Secretaries of State have given their voter rolls over to the Republican Secretary of State for Kansas, Kris Kobach.Â Heâ€™s a right-winger who was just slapped down by the Supreme Court for his racially biased voting tricks. And now he has every RepublicanÂ stateâ€™s voter rolls, including the swing states of Ohio, North Carolina and Arizona.
What is he doing with these?Â He is cross-checking the list.Â What does that mean?Â He has a system called Crosscheck, where heâ€™s lookingÂ for people who are voting in two states at once. For example â€” and this is a real example â€” Maria Christina Hernandez he says hasÂ voted in Virginia and sheâ€™s also voted in Georgia. I want to warn Maria Hernandez, thatâ€™s a go-to-jail, five-year felony to voteÂ twice.Â Except in Georgia sheâ€™s voting as Maria Isabel Hernandez, so Maria Christina Hernandez is supposed to be the same voter as MariaÂ Isabel Hernandez.
Now, believe it or not, the people in Kansas and this Kris Kobach â€” who by the way is the guy whoÂ devised the plan for Donald Trump to force Mexico to pay for his wall.Â According to Kobach, Maria Hernandez is not a common name, at leastÂ not common for Republicans.Â He canâ€™t imagine why those are two different people, Maria Christina Hernandez and Maria Isabel Hernandez.Â Thatâ€™s not an odd example.
DB:Â Other than they have different names.Â Â
Palast:Â They have different names, right?Â â€¦And both Maria Christina Hernandez and Maria Isabel Hernandez stand to lose their votes.
Palast:Â Bothâ€¦Â Why hasnâ€™t this story been all over the press before?Â â€¦The reason it hasnâ€™t been public is because no one has gotten the list.Â In fact, as farÂ as I know, Iâ€™m the only journalist who asked for the list. And they told me flat out, you canâ€™t get them.Â Because, think about itâ€¦ If you voteÂ twice, thatâ€™s committing a felony crime. So these are lists of the criminal suspects, which of course are police confidential.
The thing is, you know how many people are on the suspect list?Â 7.2 million people.Â Now, I wasnâ€™t supposed to get the list, but, if you know me, I do investigative reporting.Â That means â€œnoâ€ is not an answer we appreciate.Â No is where we begin.Â When they said it was confidential, we worked until we got the first list, which was out of Virginia, which immediately sent us a letter saying, â€œWe sentÂ you this list by mistakeâ€¦â€
DB:Â Who is on these lists?Â How did they come about?Â Who controls them?Â
Palast:Â Kobach takes the list of 29 statesâ€™ voter lists, compares the names, and when he finds two names thatÂ are the same, those people are put on the Crosscheck list sent back to their state. They then are reviewed to have their vote taken awayâ€¦ Now, not everyone on the list will have their vote taken away.Â They make it a little complex process, frankly, to hide their steps.
Hereâ€™s how itÂ works. For example, obviously, thereâ€™s a lot of people called Maria Hernandez in this country, and a lot of people called David Lee and David Kim, who areÂ almost all Asian-American, and a lot of people named Mohammed Mohammed â€” the most common name on theÂ planet.Â They are claiming publicly that they checked the first name, middleÂ name, last name, junior, senior, address history, social security number, date of birth â€” theyâ€™ve got to get the right guys.Â But, in fact, when we gotÂ the instructions, it said, if the social security numbers donâ€™t match donâ€™t worry about it. And, by the way, out of 7 million, roughly none of them do.
DB:Â Roughly none?
Palast: Roughly noneâ€¦ So, yes, they have the information, but they ignore it.Â The middle name mismatches,Â out of 7 million names theyâ€™ve collected, 2 million of the voters areÂ mismatched by middle name.Â We have several hundred thousand which are mismatched by a suffix such as junior, senior, or III. In other words, they have listedÂ fathers and sons as the same person, the same voter illegally voting twice or registering twice. Both lose their vote.
Now, what is so dangerous about this? And why would Republicans be doing this?Â Do the Republicans have something against people withÂ common names?Â Hereâ€™s the trickâ€¦ This is where I got into my own background in statistics and brought in a wholeÂ team of experts who do the database management for eBay and for American Express, etc. They were horrified.Â They said this is just a listÂ of first and last name matches.Â Itâ€™s childish.Â Itâ€™s dangerous. Then they did a statistical run and said itâ€™s racially biased.Â Massively racially biased. Because 85 out of the 100 most common names in America are overweighed with minorities:Â Black-Americans, Hispanic-Americans,Â Asian-Americans â€” who, by the way, vote nearly as Democratic as Black-Americans. People donâ€™t realize thatâ€¦Â Itâ€™s looking likeÂ over 80% of Asian-Americans are going to vote Democratic this year…
Yes, there are a few white names, likeÂ John Smith. But even the names like Smith â€” like the African-American actor Will Smith â€” I mean, itâ€™s a very common name.Â So even the white-sounding names are substantially black, but the black and Hispanic namesâ€¦ like Garcia, for example, is 94% Hispanic.
DB:Â There are five Dennis Bernsteins.Â At least three of them are writers.Â Actually one of them is down there with you in LA.Â He writes onÂ hockey.Â Â
Palast:Â Thereâ€™s another ethnic group, by the way, the Jewish population. You have a lot of Levys.Â And you have a lot of ethnicÂ groups that are not in the top 100.Â For example, a lot of Nepali-Tibetans have the last name Sherpa, a lot of IndiansÂ are named Singh. You have these commonalities in ethnic names, which are Democrats, which you donâ€™t have in [Republicans]. For example, Kris Kobach, thereâ€™s one.Â Charles Koch,Â thereâ€™s two. I looked it up.Â David Koch, thereâ€™s three.
DB:Â There you go.Â
Palast:Â And, believe me, theyâ€™re not on these lists.Â So whatâ€™s happening is you end up with basically a hit list of ethnics.Â Theyâ€™ve got a list of 7 million, theyâ€™re not removing all 7 million.Â Thereâ€™s two ways thatÂ they bias the program.Â Itâ€™s already racially poisonous, the list.Â On top of this, they send out postcards to people that look like junk mail.
The junk mail experts we spoke to said this postcard is meant not to be returned.Â Itâ€™s inscrutable small print, doesnâ€™tÂ mean anything. It doesnâ€™t even say youâ€™re accused of voting twice.Â It just says, please confirm your voting address.Â Now, most people say, wellÂ itâ€™s confirmed, you just mailed this to me, schmuck.Â So people throw it away.Â But, which people throw it away?
According to the experts, the chance of someone under 25 (in other words, likely to vote Democratic) throwing away their card is 900% higher than someone over 65.Â White people respond to threatening government notices at twice the rate ofÂ African-Americans and Hispanics.Â So you have an ethnic difference, you have an age difference â€” all, again, prejudicing towards the Republican voter. So, if a few Republicans get caught, theyâ€™re probably elderly, white suburbanites who will return their card and save theirÂ vote.
Now, hereâ€™s the other trick, as our experts told us: The post office doesnâ€™t like to tell you this but they donâ€™t deliver all theÂ mail in low income areas.Â You just donâ€™t get it. Or, if itâ€™s in a building with a bunch of boxes, they donâ€™t care which box they put it in.Â People whoÂ have low incomes, the unemployed, and young people like students move around.Â They may be legal voters, but theyâ€™re not atÂ their mailing address when these cards come in.Â Like students, who are legally registered, get these cards in the summer and theyâ€™ve lost theirÂ chance to vote.
And you donâ€™t know youâ€™ve lost your chance to vote until you show up and find out. They donâ€™t even tell you that youâ€™re listed as a doubleÂ voter.Â They say youâ€™re inactive, whatever that means. Sorry, you canâ€™t vote.
Like I say, they were hidingÂ the names from us.Â I got 2 million out of the 7 million names anyway.Â They will not tell us the names of the people theyâ€™ve actually finally removed, thoughÂ Virginia told us they eliminated 41,000 people already.
Palast:Â And listen to this!Â Kris Kobach, who came up with this system, when I said, â€œLook at your list that you sent to Virginia, these arenâ€™t matches,Â theyâ€™re different people, different middle names.â€ First he said, â€œThose names werenâ€™t on the list.â€Â I said, â€œSorry, but we got this list from yourÂ computer, try again.â€
The other day, when I told him Rolling Stone was rolling with this, he called me up actually and said, â€œYeah, thatâ€™s our list.â€Â And he said, â€œButÂ people donâ€™t have to use the list.â€Â I said, â€œVirginia used your list.Â 41,000 names were removed.â€Â He said, â€œThey canâ€™t have removed them, thatâ€™s a violation of federal law.â€ He said that!!! Heâ€™s a law professor, right?Â Because he told them they had to go through a procedure, and theyÂ said, ah, skip it, just write the names off.
Palast:Â Thatâ€™s what most states are doing. Theyâ€™re not going through some fancy procedure, theyâ€™re just writing the names off.Â Even if they goÂ through a fancy procedure, these are not double voters.Â This is just a racist call.
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Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, which will be released as aÂ feature documentary movieÂ this fall.
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Dennis J. Bernstein is the executive producer of Flashpoints, syndicated on Pacifica Radio, and is the recipient of a 2015Â Pillar AwardÂ for his work as a journalist whistleblower. He is most recently the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom.