Almost 2 million ballots were cast but not counted in the 2016 presidential race. And not just anyone’s ballot gets tossed. The chance of having your vote simply go uncounted, “spoiled,” is 900% higher if you’re Black than if you’re white.
Votes get challenged and discounted for a multitude of reasons. You used the wrong color pen, you put an “X” instead of filling in a bubble, you didn’t use the correct envelope, or you mailed it with one stamp, when the ballot required two, resulting in postage due. But one of the most egregious reasons your vote can get trashed is that your signature doesn’t match the one on file — the one you signed on the form when you first registered to vote perhaps several decades ago.
And since mail-in ballots are far easier to challenge than in-person votes, and with a vastly increased reliance on vote-by-mail due to problems caused by COVID-19, many more ballots are likely to be tossed in the electoral dumpster in 2020 than the staggering 1,913,369 “spoiled” ballots that ended up on the proverbial garbage heap in 2016.
“We must outlaw challenges to signatures unless there is a report filed that the ballot has been stolen,” writes investigative journalist and author Greg Palast, in his new book, How Trump Stole 2020. Palast is greatly concerned that signatures on mail-in ballots will prove to be “an easy target for nitpickers with a partisan agenda to challenge” and could help Republicans steal the election for Trump.
In this interview with Ralph Nader, Steve Skrovan and David Feldman for the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Palast breaks down all the ways the vote challenge system can be used and abused by partisan hacks to fix the election, and lays out how we can fight back and un-fix it so the person who actually wins ends up in the Oval Office.
Steve Skrovan: Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. I’m Steve Skrovan along with David Feldman and Ralph. In 2016 Donald Trump apparently won Michigan by 10,700 votes. But in Detroit over 75,000 ballots were never counted. The barriers to voting are enormous and yet even when people make it through those barriers, their vote isn’t always counted. Our next guest is going to tell us what we can do to help protect the vote this fall.
David Feldman: Greg Palast is an economist and financial investigator turned journalist. He is known for his investigative reports for the BBC, The Guardian and Rolling Stone. Mr. Palast was instrumental in exposing historic controversies, such as the Shoreham Nuclear Power station project, Exxon Valdez, the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and Deepwater Horizon. He is the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and his latest book is How Trump’s Stole 2020: The Hunt for America’s Vanished Voters. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour Greg Palast.
Greg Palast: Glad to be with you.
Ralph Nader: Welcome indeed Greg. I’d like to have you indulge me with the following ground rules. I want to spend just 20% of the time in this interview with you describing the horrific categories and deeds on the ground obstructing voters in America like no other country that presumes to be a democracy would even dare to do. And then I want you to tell our listeners what they can do in various states that are going to be swing states.
Let’s start with your crisp summary of all the various ways voters are obstructed from even being allowed to vote, registered, and having their votes counted. You can’t get into all the ways, because they are innumerable, but let’s be candid with our listeners. Most of the obstruction comes from the Republican party, but not all of it. Some of it came from the Democrats [for example] in California against Bernie Sanders. So what are the ways people are obstructed and what kind of people are usually the ones who are blocked?
Palast: Here’s how they get you. Number one, they don’t let you vote because they’ve taken you off the voter rolls. 16.7 million people in the last two years of record keeping, according to the federal government, 16.7 million people are purged, erased, blocked from the voter rolls — overwhelmingly young people and voters of color.
Ballots rejected – one of the secrets of American democracy — our nasty little secrets — we don’t count all the votes. According to the Election Assistance Commission, that’s that little agency that tracks our votes and non-votes, 1,913,369 ballots were cast in 2016 and were not counted. Whose ballots don’t get counted? These are so called spoiled ballots. You put an “X” instead of filling in a bubble, they didn’t like your signature, whatever it is, they rejected almost 2 million ballots. Whose? You’re asking again. The U. S. Civil Rights Commission did a study. The chance your vote will be invalidated, that is someone will challenge it and say don’t count that vote, is 900% higher if you’re black than if you’re white. 900% higher, if you’re black than if you’re white. 500% more if you are Hispanic. And if you’re a Native American, or an American Native, you’re talking about 1200% more likely than a white person to have your vote disqualified. We literally don’t count the votes.
And then we had two and a half million people shifted to provisional ballots. This is a kind of back of the bus ballot, what I call a placebo ballot. You fill them out, think you voted… The official number is 925,000 of these were never counted. So about a million provisional ballots, almost half, were never counted. Who gets them? Well, if you’re Hispanic, the chance you’ll get shoved to provisional ballot is 300% more likely than if you’re a white voter, et cetera, et cetera.
Then we have voter ID challenges. That’s exactly how Trump shoplifted Wisconsin back in 2016. They changed the law so that two weeks before the 2016 election, two weeks, the courts approved a Republican plan, signed by Governor Walker, which required photo voter ID to vote. The thing is that 182,000 University of Wisconsin students with state photo ID, that ID was disqualified — but your concealed carry gun permit that was qualified. As a result 182,000 students were suddenly disenfranchised before the election.
In addition, according to a University of Wisconsin study, 50,000 African-Americans lost their vote, because guess who doesn’t have driver’s licenses? People who don’t have cars, who don’t drive. And while that may include you Ralph, in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin that’s mostly African-Americans and Hispanics who live in Milwaukee. 50,000 lost their vote. So you have 182,000 students losing their vote in Wisconsin, 50,000 African Americans, minimum, and Trump supposedly wins Wisconsin by 22,000 votes?
This game continues… And finally, the most dangerous thing… I’m not going to go through every way that they can getya, but the most dangerous thing of all is that according to MIT, 22% of all mail-in ballots are never counted… One in five mail-in ballots never get counted. And once again, overwhelmingly in communities of color. They know what they’re doing.
Nader: People listening to this program are going to say these are crimes. How do they get away with it? Why aren’t they prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned? There’s only been one prosecution recently in North Carolina. In Georgia, Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State, stole the election from Stacy Abrams, and he’s now the governor, stealing other elections in the process. How do these people get away with it? Are the laws not criminal statutes with penalties? The prosecutors don’t want to prosecute these matters? These are first class felonies, wouldn’t you say?
Palast: They are indeed. Read the Voting Rights Act, which is still there. They’ve gutted it, but it’s still there. The National Voter Registration Act, other acts, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act… Yeah, these are crimes. But vote theft is the perfect crime because you’ve stolen the police department as well, that is the enforcement mechanism. So when you say why isn’t there prosecution, I guess you should ask Bill Barr why there is no prosecution of the Trumpetas that stole the election?
Nader: The Attorney General?
Palast: Yes, our so-called Attorney General. We have a Justice Department which is an In-Justice Department now. An as an attorney, you know how unusual this is, and it’s never happened before, the Justice Department lawyers literally picked up their briefcases from the plaintiff’s table where the ACLU and other organizations were suing on several voting rights cases, and they literally moved to the defendant’s table, defending the states that are basically blocking you from voting.
Nader: Well, criminal enterprises pervade the whole Trump regime, obviously. What I think our listeners are interested in, Greg, is the following… Trump is falling further and further behind in the polls, even in some of the swing states, behind Joe Biden, but that’s not any guarantee. And the Republicans are working overtime. They don’t even make a secret of it. Trump said if more people vote, then Republicans would never get elected. And people like Brian Kemp, who should have been prosecuted as Governor of Georgia, is at it again in recent primary elections. So how can the people at the grassroots level, looking over their own election registrars and election machinery in towns and cities, how can they fight back on this? How can they be monitors? Give people a lot to do here in a very short time. Because if Trump steals the election again, apart from the impeachment authority, he’s going to destroy the country.
Palast: Okay, there’s two tracks here. There’s the frontline public attack, we have to take on the vote thieving and expose it right? So take the comic book at the back of How Trump Stole 2020, it’s something called “Greg & Ted’s New & Improved Ballot Condom for Safe Voting”, and pass it around… I want you to protect your vote and tell people how to do it.
But here’s the real serious things you must do. Number one: please check your registration. I just told you 16.7 million people have been purged from the voter rolls. Half of those at least will be stunned and shocked when they try to get a mail-in ballot and it never arrives. That’s why you saw those giant lines in Atlanta and Milwaukee. I spoke with the head of the ACLU down in Georgia and they were saying every one of those lines were full of people saying we asked for a ballot, but we never got our ballot.
In fact the head of the ACLU asked for her ballot 45 days before the election. Her husband didn’t receive his till June 10 — the election was June 9. Check your registration and if you don’t get a mail-in ballot, demand a mail-in ballot. It’s not just a question of pick and lick you. You don’t just pick a candidate and lick a stamp. Mail-in voting is complex. If you don’t get that request for mail-in ballot, call your county Board of Elections, your County Clerk, demand that ballot. Don’t wait until two days before to find out that they’re not mailing you that ballot.
And when you do fill it out, for God’s sake, don’t skip a line. Be very careful. Follow the instructions to a T. And if you’re in Alabama, you’re going to have to get that thing notarized. If you’re in Missouri, you’re going to have to get that thing notarized. If you are in Wisconsin, once again, the Swing State of Swing States, and you’re a first time voter by mail, you better include a photocopy of your ID. And if it’s that student ID, and you have the right one, you better also have proof that you are enrolled in good standing at your school. So don’t flunk algebra or you lose your vote for president.
Nader: This is criminal harassment, obviously. We know what the motive is. I understand in Florida you don’t have to have a stamp to send it in. They’re going to make it stamp free. Cause that’s a real obstruction. A lot of people don’t use stamps anymore, obviously, and it’s just enough to often tip someone to say, oh, the heck with it… What proportion of the overall recorded vote in America in 2020 for the presidential race will be mail-in votes and absentee votes?
Palast: I figured that it will be close to 80 million ballots, which means we could lose 16 or 18 million ballots to challenges. That’s the problem. It’s not a secret ballot anymore, once you mail it in, and the problem is mass challenging.
And by the way, that stamp is no joke. Over 100,000 people lost their vote for postage due in 2016. Imagine what’s coming up. And when you talk about having to do a notary, you’re talking about a serious poll tax, but the U.S. Supreme Court, three weeks ago said Alabama can make you notarize your ballot. And there Doug Jones is fighting for his life for reelection, it’s a tight battle.
And in states like Georgia and Ohio and in several other states — and Georgia is a swing state this year, it’s now a white minority state, so it’s a swing state — they’re not going to mail your mail-in ballot if you are on the so-called inactive list, that is you skipped an election, you didn’t vote in one or two elections. They’re not going to send you that ballot. But you can get it still, under the federal law, by calling your county office and demanding it.
The state of Ohio in 2016 denied 1,039,000 Ohio residents — citizens who were on the voter rolls — denied them the card asking if you want to mail in ballot. This is the games that they’re playing. How do you think Ohio switched from Obama to Trump? That was a key part of it, literally not sending ballots to people — a million ballots — mostly to low income people.
Nader: Speaking of Ohio, one of the most vicious obstructions is comparing signatures over time of the people who signed petitions. For example, a woman in Toledo got 5,000 signatures on a petition to put me on the ballot in the presidential race in 2004. She brought them to the official agency to deposit them and they looked at her signature, she had to sign off, and he said your signature now at age 52 is different from your signature when you registered to vote at age 21. All your signatures are invalidated as a result. Five thousand!
Palast: That was 2004 Ohio, which I do have in How Trump Stole 2020, because that’s where you had the Republican Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, who basically fixed the election for George Bush.
And the signature game… We’ve had over half a million ballots, and I’m not even counting the hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots, but half a million other ballots have been rejected because someone says that signature doesn’t match your signature from 10 years ago. I spoke to a court appointed signature expert who said these people are crazy. There’s no illegal voters out there signing that stuff there. They’re not experts. They’re simply guys with Blackberrys who knew which ballots they want to challenge. It’s, oh, you left out your middle initial? You used to sign with your middle initial so obviously that’s not you. It’s a gotcha game.
Nader: And in Ohio it spelled the difference between Bush and Kerry. If Kerry had carried Ohio, he would have been president.ow do people who listen to you, who say yeah, I want to do this. Who do they contact?
Palast: So what you want to do is contact organizations like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, others that I’ve been working with. You can say, I want to act as a poll monitor. I would like to act as someone working at the polls.
Nader: Does your website give them guidance here?
Palast: We are going to give you guidance, especially on how to do mail-in voting, how to check your registration. As you see in How Trump Stole 2020, I actually sued Brian Kemp and won in federal court to have him release his documents, like the names and address of every person he’s purged off the voter rolls. That court case win has opened up files all over America. So we’re going to be putting up these hit lists of people that they’ve removed from the rolls — and we’re talking millions — so you can reregister and protect your vote.
Nader: Let’s ask you some macro questions. One way to deal with all his obstruction is just to have a universal duty of voting like Australia. They wouldn’t even know what we’re talking about the Australians. Because in Australia, voting in federal elections is a civic duty and they get like a 97% turnout. No politician has to beg and spend money advertising, urging people to come out to vote. Do you favor that?
Palast: Well, yeah. My wife is a Swiss citizen. There is no registration, there’s no games. Voting is as easy as pie. And the have actually a bigger foreign-born population proportionally than the United States. They’re not worried that illegal voters are going to show up and steal their elections. What they’re worried about is people not voting. And it is required in Switzerland to vote, but they don’t then say you must get the proper student ID. No, that one doesn’t count. And how are your grades in algebra? And you should have put two stamps on that. No, no. This is a unique American game and it’s got to stop.
Nader: Another question for you… Stacey Abrams, you’ve worked with her in Georgia and she gets a lot of press and is an imposing political figure. She ran for governor and would have been the first black woman governor, obviously, of Georgia.
Palast: Or in America.
Nader: The election was overwhelmingly stolen from her by Brian Kemp, but you know what surprised me? That he’s at it again and it’s so entrenched, this criminal obstruction and discrimination against certain people and certain age groups, it’s so entrenched that she couldn’t even make a difference and block him in the recent primary. How do you explain that?
Palast: When they get away with it, it encourages them. Look, Brian Kemp, I’ve been investigating him for Rolling Stone for seven years. This didn’t just start. And I’ve been working with Stacey Abrams for years and her organization hired my expert team. What’s happened is that Brian Kemp [pioneered] the main way that they’ve stolen this election. Again, we can steal it back. He came up with a new way of purging voter rolls, that is erasing voters. He removed half a million voters saying that they had moved, that they left Georgia or left their city. I had the experts from Amazon and eBay, these are the people that know where you were last Tuesday at 2 p.m., they went through every single name of every person purged by Brian Kemp, the GOP Secretary of State. He’s purging these people while he’s running for office. He’s eliminating Black voters, he’s bleaching voter rolls, because these people supposedly moved? But you know what, Ralph? We went through and we found out that a third of a million people on that list had never moved anywhere. Never! 340,134 people to be exact, were removed from the voter rolls, who had never moved anywhere.
I was at the polling station watching this woman in hysterical tears because her great aunt, 92-years old, was just thrown out of a voting station in Atlanta — the place she’d been voting for 50 years, since the year her cousin Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. This is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s cousin. This 92 year old woman, she was going to be voting for the 50th year, she had dressed up for the occasion and they threw her out. They threw her out. I was there with Rahiem Shabazz, they threw him out. I was there when they threw out Yasmin Bakhtiari, you can guess from their names, their color. It’s blue, Democrats.
Nader: People like LeBron James are not waiting… I don’t know if you know this, Greg, LeBron James and I, and a group of other professional athletes have persuaded owners of big arenas in downtown cities like Cincinnati and Boston and elsewhere — baseball, football, basketball — to open up the arenas as voting precincts, and they’re getting the election officials to approve it. Isn’t that a great thing?
Palast: It’s excellent because it gives a lot of social distancing space… the only trouble is that when we have these big stadium votes, like in Lexington, you’re still going to have to have people drive for hours. They’re going to have to find a car. We’re talking about maybe one stadium, everyone votes in Los Angeles at one place. It’s going to be madness.
Nader: No, this is in addition to existing voting precincts.
Palast: We’re going to have to vote by mail, but you’re gonna have to fight for that vote by mail. I should tell you, those who know my history, and it’s also in the book, about what happened in Florida in 2000, that’s where they took these new Jim Crow techniques for a test drive. I’m the reporter who uncovered that Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush had removed 58,000 black men from the voter rolls saying that they are ex-cons who couldn’t vote in Florida. In fact, not one — not a single one of the men that they removed, and some women, were guilty of any crime but voting while black. And I gotta tell you, I wasn’t guessing about their race cause it said “BLA” next to their names on the list of people that they were removing. And I got to tell you Florida records on ex-cons, et cetera, are a complete mess. You don’t even know what your fines are or aren’t, so a lot of people are afraid of registering. 1.4 million ex-felons have the right to vote and they’re afraid…
Nader: On your website, Greg, do you have a description of mail-in ballots so they can get familiar with it, people who’ve never used it before? So when they get the ballot sent, after they apply for it, they have a base of familiarity.
Palast: As we are speaking, my team is putting up a state by state description of exactly what you have to do to get your ballot and get it counted. In addition, I’m having some people here in Hollywood help me create videos and PSAs which we’ll be putting out as well to show you how to get your ballot, protect your ballot, protect your vote, get it counted.
Nader: We’ve got a few minutes for questions or comments from Steve Skrovan and David Feldman, who has his own program in Los Angeles…
Skrovan: Greg, Trump is making a big deal about how fraudulent mail-in balloting is. How does this square with everything you’ve just said about what’s going on with mail-in balloting? What is he afraid of?
Palast: I think people have got this wrong… Trump isn’t actually against mail-in balloting. He mailed in his own ballot. Listen carefully to what he says. He says if we follow the Democrats’ suggestion, they will never lose, because what the Democrats are proposing is making voting easy. What a concept! Literally let Americans vote. And he knows that if you let Americans vote, of all colors and of all ages — he’s kind of right — the GOP is toast. I think he’s correct, that democracy is not going to work too well for the red team.
Skrovan: He’s got a substantial elderly voting block, wouldn’t blocking mail-in balloting actually hurt him on that end of the process?
Palast: Again, he’s not really talking about ending mail-in voting. He likes the really complex, crazy rules that make it difficult, expensive to carry out, and also make all those ballots subject to challenge. So right now, one in 10 people who ask for ballots never get them. He likes that because the one in 10 happen to be of a certain color. And again, people who moved. For example, students who move dorm room to dorm room. In the inner cities you have renters, we found people lost their right to vote cause they moved their apartment within their building. That’s a violation of federal law, but who’s going to bust them, right? So what he’s saying is, if we make it easy for people to vote, and fair, and send everyone a ballot… which the best democratic proposals, the best proposals out there by nonpartisan groups is everyone should get a ballot. I do in California. I don’t have to ask for a ballot. It comes to my house unless I say don’t send it. You don’t see massive scoop ups of ballots and the ballots being sent across the border and sent back from Mexico. It’s ridiculous. It has not happened.
And you know, I’ve challenged these guys… Like Kris Kobach of Kansas, who’s one of the characters, Trump’s Vote Thief-in-Chief, he’s the brains behind most of this vote thieving that Trump does. I’ve challenged him, asked him, so where exactly are these illegal voters? Kris Kobach of Kansas, he actually had the right to arrest people. Where are these illegal double voters? These alien voters? He doesn’t have a fraudulent mail in ballot and he tried for years to find people.
You know that North Carolina Republicans hired an FBI agent, gave him a million dollar budget and six months to uncover illegal voters. They said there were 35,000 illegal voters, but 100%, almost all of them, were Black, Hispanic and Asian-American, all these illegal voters. So they hired an FBI agent to arrest them. After a year, he determined that not one was an illegal voter. They were just guilty of voting while no-white,
Nader: It’s the big lie, which of course Trump has replicated thousands of times in the compilation by the Washington Post. Given what you know, given your convictions, Greg, what’s the single demand you’d like to make on Donald Trump right now? Never mind its political probability, what would you like Donald Trump to do right now?
Palast: Let our people vote. Everyone gets a mail-in ballot so no one has to die to vote.
Nader: I thought you’d say resign.
Palast: You know what? Here’s my thing, I’m a big fan of democracy and if Trump wins — wins the vote, not shoplifts the vote — then I’m ready to live with the results of democracy, but I know he isn’t.
Nader: But you say he stole the election in 2016. So why are you willing to let a thief, an electoral thief?
Palast: Well, if I could wave a magic wand, I would say that the person who won the election should be in office. I mean, call me crazy Ralph, yeah. I think the winner ought to take office.
Nader: But he never was elected. He was selected by this antiquated crazy electoral college.
Palast: And, don’t forget, as I said, he didn’t win Wisconsin by 22,000 votes, cause he took away 200,000 voters’ ID and said you can’t vote. And in Michigan, yeah, he won Michigan by 10,000 votes, but 75,000 ballots — that’s official — 75,000 ballots were never counted in Detroit. Now tell me whose votes those were? I was there in Detroit. I actually talked to one of the voters who lost their ballot, Jose Garcia, and you know, everyone in his precinct was a Garcia or Rodriguez, so you get the idea.
Nader: Yeah. Have you been on national media, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN? Have you been on PBS, NPR? You have an important subject matter here.
Palast: Dream on Ralph. I mean, you know, once in a while they sneak me out on the weekends on MSNBC… Once in a while, but it’s very, very difficult to get national attention to a very difficult subject no one wants to talk about.
Nader: Well, you see, this is a reflection. It’s not just the media. I just read the other day an article in the Washington Post, in the last year a 16-year old in Southern Connecticut developed certain dances on TikTok. She has 60 million followers. Wouldn’t you like 60 million followers for something as important as what you’re doing, Greg?
Palast: Yes. Well, I do have the followers and don’t forget, I am mainstream. That is The Guardian, BBC Television, in the rest of the world, these are the mainstream outlets, not little backwaters of American media.
Nader: Greg, can’t you learn to do a certain dance so you can get several million followers on TikTok?
Palast: Whatever it takes. I actually once set my hat on fire and that got a lot of attention on the media. But I have a Facebook following which is pretty large, but that’s what we need. We need people to get the word out through social media. We have to accept that the new media is Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, all the rest. Please take the “Ballot Condom for Safe Voting”— the ways to save your vote – and put it out through your socials. I’m encouraging everyone to do this. They can’t steal all the votes all the time. We just have to steal the election back. That’s the number one thing. We can do it. You can overwhelm the steal and you can stop the steal if we really work at it.
This is the week of John Lewis burial. When they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, when they began the march to Montgomery, they were told there’s no chance in the world that the president or that Congress will ever pass the blanket Voting Rights Act. By the time they got to Montgomery, Lyndon Johnson was in front of Congress saying here’s the Voting Rights Act, we shall overcome.
Nader: What else can people do? What else can they pressure their legislators to do? Anything more Congress can do in time?
Palast: Well, there’s a lot Congress can do. I don’t know if they’re going to do it under obstructionist McConnell, but absolutely. Number one, obviously, there should be no postage required to either request mail-in ballot or otherwise. And it should be like Oregon, California, Washington, Colorado, other states, every person should get a mail-in ballot. It’s your choice, whether you want to use it or drop it off so you don’t have to wait in line.
Nader: That’s happening in California. Everybody’s getting a ballot.
Palast: Yeah. Everyone in several states will be getting the ballot. Period. The biggest problem is that you have to know what the rules are. And that’s why at GregPalast.com we’re going to have all the rules for the states. Some of these rules for mailing in your ballot are nuts.
Stacey Abrams almost lost her vote because her return envelope had been sealed shut in the Georgia humidity. She has a Yale law degree so she knew that if she ripped open that envelope or tried to use it and tape it or use a different envelope, she’d lose her vote. But thousands of Georgians lost their vote that way. Be super careful with your ballot and make sure you get it.
But again, what can Congress do? Number one, let’s end this challenge game. Donald Trump is talking about a vigilante force of 50,000. People are worried that this will be a group of people to intimidate voters. I can tell you a bunch of slobs in Hawaiian shirts with their little pop guns are not going intimidate the voters I’ve seen waiting in line five hours. They’re not going to be intimidated. What I am concerned about it is a mass challenge of the mail-in vote. We don’t like that signature, wrong postage due, they didn’t properly fill out the outside of the form, they used a red pen.
My sister, who’s a lawyer, lost her vote in California because she didn’t properly fill in a bubble on her absentee ballot. In California you can check. So while they mostly challenge African-American votes, because they know the color of the vote, blue, I’m very concerned about mass challenges. We should say no challenges to votes, unless you have absolute stone-cold expert evidence that it’s a stolen vote.
Nader: Let’s get down to the voting precincts. One of the techniques you pointed out in your book is they closed the precincts, a number of them. Like Louisville, Kentucky, in the primary a few days ago just had one arena in downtown Louisville. The only place you could actually vote in person was one place and they closed down dozens of others. So let’s get down to the precinct level. Sojourners, which as you know is a very good group of pastors, they are going to have a lawyer and a clergy person at hundreds of precincts in key states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina to deal with the intimidation problem. People are scared coming down there and they see these people glaring at them, so they want to do that, that’s good. But you know, if you do have citizen monitors outside the precinct, it may have an effect on the shenanigans going on inside,
Palast: 100%. By the way, in Milwaukee, they went from 180 polling stations to five because the courts would not let the governor delay the primary to avoid the virus. They couldn’t get poll workers. So we’ve got a big problem, if you don’t get your ballot, you’re going to have to wait in that line. So please sign up to work as a poll worker, because we’ve lost about 80% of our poll workers because they’re over 60 and they are not crazy and are not going to sit at that table. We need young people to volunteer as poll workers, second as poll watchers, and third, something that Democrats have rarely done… The Republicans sit there during the count and they challenge ballots. Everyone has to participate, whether you’re green, blue, red, white, I don’t care… We need people to watch the actual count of the vote.
I remember in New Mexico in 2004, Ralph, the Republicans took New Mexico because they challenged enough Democratic ballots, especially mail-in ballots, to flip New Mexico. And the only party challenging the challenge was the Green Party. The Democrats didn’t even show up. So when the Republicans said, don’t count that ballot, it was only Green Party people who said, no, you gotta count that ballot. So we need people who are prepared for the mass challenge of votes.
Nader: Canadian listeners must wonder what kind of chaos the USA has descended into. In Canada. the census produces the registered voter rolls. If you’re counted in the census, you’re registered. In Canada, I’m told, they have so many precincts because they restrict each precinct to 500 voters. So you don’t have to go far from your house or wherever you work to go to a precinct. In the U.S. sometimes you’re going to get into a car and travel five, six, ten miles in a rural area. And they’re cutting the number of voting precincts as Greg Palast points out in his book, How Trump Stole 2020…
Palast:. It’s about protecting your vote and then being active to protect everyone’s vote. I’m very, very concerned… while the book is called How Trump Stole 2020, we can seal it back, that as we can bust the burglary. Ralph, they can’t steal all the votes all the time. 7.8 million voters and votes were blocked in 2016. That’s the official numbers from the EAC, from the government… but you can overcome that. You can’t win with 51%. That’s the other thing don’t steal your own vote. Do what you can to vote.
Nader: To what extent, Greg, are your revelations going to backfire and discourage people from voting in a COVID-19 period? As you say, almost half of the votes in the country in the presidential election are going to be absentee or mail-in votes. Are you worried about discouraging people? If you don’t put tools in their hand, go down to the precinct, be monitors, volunteer inside the building. How do you address that?
Palast: Real easy… A lot of Democrats, the white Democrats, have been saying you can’t talk about vote suppression, can’t talk about how they’re stealing your vote. People won’t vote. Stacey Abrams proved that wrong. She shouted it from the rooftops before the election night. “They’re stealing this vote. They’re stealing this election. They’re stealing this election.” And the massive turnout that resulted from people saying you’re not going to steal my vote. They steal votes because they’re valuable. That’s why they steal them. And if someone’s going to steal your car, you don’t throw them the keys. No, you say that’s it!
Nader: Actually, to prove your point, that’s what happened in the recent primary in Milwaukee. People stood in line for five hours, sometimes under the rain, basically saying they’re not going to obstruct me from voting.
Palast: You remember, I was in Milwaukee just before the COVID-19 shutdown and I was having my teams talk to the people in those lines. That’s exactly it. They are stealing my vote. They never mailed me my ballot. They took me off the voter rolls. All of these things. Those people were going to stand in line and nothing was going to pull them out. You actually motivate people.
I saw this in Mexico, with AMLO, the current president… I was there in 2006 and met with him when the election was just brutally stolen from him. That was orchestrated by the Bush administration, the vote theft in Mexico. AMLO made that his number one campaign theme when he ran again in 2018. He had five points, his number one is we will count every vote, period, and we will stay in the streets until the votes are counted. And he won that time. Cause they can’t steal all the votes all the time. They steal about 6%. That’s what it is, a 6% steal, Ralph.
Nader: Just to encourage people listening, there are a lot of citizen groups working alongside what Greg is talking about. For example, there’s the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition that’s dealing with the blockage by the governor of ex-felons from voting if they still own some court costs. In Florida, they charge ex-felons for health insurance, for a public defender, for food, for the telephone, and what’s just happened is that LeBron James, he has 60 million followers on his Twitter account, he has started a nonprofit group called More Than a Vote, and he’s put a first down payment of a $100,000.00 to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to pay off the debts of these ex-felons so they can exercise their right to vote. As you know, the U.S. District Court in Florida said that’s a poll tax. Get rid of it. You can’t block ex-felons who’ve done their time from voting because they owe 50 bucks or 100 bucks or 300 bucks for court fines or costs. And then the Circuit Court reversed it, then the dodging 5/4 Supreme Court sent it back without making a decision, so it’s in limbo now. By the way, the Republicans have one explanation for obstructing votes: it’s called voter fraud. But the allegation itself is a fraud. Explain…
Palast: Yeah. In fact in my book I did a calculation… I spoke to Professor Lorraine Minnite, who’s the number one expert on fraudulent voting, and we calculated that the chance of getting hit by lightning is about 520% more likely than you’re casting a fraudulent vote. That is, you’re five times more likely to be hit by lightening. It just doesn’t happen. Cause it’s easy to catch you and you will go to prison. In Wisconsin, there was the issue of impersonation fraud, right? That’s why they said they needed to have a voter ID… And you have to prove you’re a properly enrolled student, crazy stuff again to stop fraud. I looked at their records and in a hundred years of record keeping there is not one case of voter impersonation fraud in Wisconsin. However, almost 200,000 students and people of color lost their right to vote, to prevent the fraud, which doesn’t happen.
It’s grim. I’m sorry that voting is going to be more complicated than pick the president and lick the stamp. No, you’re going to have to work at it. But you know what? It’s worth it. Because if the leaders pick you, instead of you picking the leaders, what is that? When you don’t pick the people who control you, you’re a slave. So, what we’re suggesting here is basically a slave uprising. Check your registration.
The Palast Investigative Fund, which is a not-for-profit foundation, is going to back this idea of low cost bulk sales so we can get the word out. If you want to donate, we’ll pass out books in your name. I just want you to get the book and pass it around. Photocopy whatever you want, I’m not worried about copyrights here. I’m trying to get democracy saved, not to see how many copies I can sell. So pick up the book. And by the way, pick up the book this week, send us a copy of your receipt, and we’ll get you the audiobook at no cost…
I want to get the word out. It’s about saving this democracy. I don’t want people to be discouraged when it says How Trump Stole 2020. It’s not over. Yeah, that’s a fact, they erased all these voters, they changed the rules… The election’s fixed, but we can unfix it. We really can. That’s the only way it happens is action.
Nader: We’re out of time unfortunately. Those of you who belong to large membership groups, civil rights groups, voting rights groups, consumer environmental worker groups, unions, all your interests are at stake in the coming election. And I’m not urging people to vote one way or another. I think people should vote their conscience, and if their conscience is Green Party, go for it. But what’s going on in this country is the most serious challenge to a democratic society in its history, apart from wars. And we’ve got to play a role, all of us. We’ve got to do our homework, and you can start by reading this book, How Trump’s Stole 2020.