And get a stack of print copies before we run out. Hand’m out on the voting line – non-partisan, so it’s OK. We’ll send them out via priority mail in time for the election. (Donate $100 and get a free copy of The Election Files DVD)
1. Don’t don’t don’t Mail In Your Ballot–unless…
For those of you who mailed in your ballot, please tell me, what happened to it? You don’t know, do you? I can tell you that officially, three-fourths of a million absentee ballots were never counted last time, on the weakest of technical excuses. And you won’t even know it. Furthermore, tens of thousands of ballots are not mailed out to voters in time to return them – in which case you’re out of luck. Most states won’t let you vote in-precinct once you’ve applied to vote absentee. Every time I hear of a voter going “absentee” to avoid computer screens, I want to “go postal” myself.
But for gosh sakes–don’t throw out your ballot if you have a mail-in. Either mail it in, making sure to include ID if required (you first-time voters) or, better, WALK it into your county clerk’s office. …more
Virtually the entire mainstream electronic media drank ACORN Kool-Aid this month brewed up by the Republican National Committee. Almost no one seriously challenged John McCain’s comical assertions that ACORN, a grassroots voter registration group, “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”
While the Republicans had the distracted media searching for links between Obama and ACORN, RNC operatives were busily completing one of the most massive voter suppression and purging efforts in American history, stealing hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes across the embattled swing states and striving to arrange chaos and endless lines at the voting booths next week.
First the facts about ACORN. Months ago, we obtained, as part of our investigation for Rolling Stone magazine, the Republican’s list the GOP alleged were the very worst cases of vote and registration fraud by ACORN and similar groups. We went through the names the GOP asserted were “obviously, undeniably and clearly fraudulent” voter registrations.
First, there was Melissa Tais, a dubious ACORN registrant. Her two voter registration forms show, admittedly, suspiciously different signatures. Republicans suggested Melissa was part of a massive fraud to allow Democrats to vote twice.
They were wrong. Ms. Tais, a Cerrillos, New Mexico, waitress, told us she had signed one form on a table and one form holding the paper in her hand. Hence, a second, wobbly signature.
Then there was Patricia White, who Republicans claimed was a fictitious voter. When we filmed her at home in Albuquerque, she seemed real enough.
And so on, through the entire GOP list — not one fraud. And these were their best cases out of the five million “illegal voters” who Republican leaders claim have infiltrated America’s voting rolls.
The overblown histrionics about ACORN do not surprise those of us who have been watching the RNC’s election manipulation antics. For eight years White House operatives have been trying to gin up press stories about voter fraud. David Iglesias of New Mexico was one of seven U.S. Attorneys fired by the White House for their refusal to bring voter fraud prosecutions. “We took over 100 complaints,” from the GOP, he told us, “We investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case in the entire state of New Mexico.”
Iglesias, a McCain supporter, has, for the first time, leveled a new and serious charge: Despite finding none of the 200 voters guilty, he says the White House nevertheless ordered him to illegally prosecute baseless cases against innocent citizens, just to gin up voter fraud publicity. His refusal, he says, cost him his job. “They were looking for politicized — for improperly politicized US attorneys to file bogus voter fraud cases.”
Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are authors of an investigation of vote suppression in the current Rolling Stone, and a comic book voter guide, “Steal Back Your Vote,” both available for download at StealBackYourVote.org.…more
Excerpted from Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s “Steal Back Your Vote” investigative comic. You can download all 24 pages at www.StealBackYourVote.org.
Odd thing about the 207 voters of precinct 999 in Dona Ana County, New Mexico.
Not a single one could choose between George Bush and John Kerry in 2004.
Or at least that’s what their ballots said.
The Secretary of State at the time told me, “Some of those people just can’t make up their minds.” Dirt-poor Dona Ana is 63% Hispanic and the precinct is made up entirely of overseas voters, mostly the Chicano soldiers in Iraq or on duty. The machines say that Hispanic soldiers don’t care who becomes their commander-in-chief.
Or maybe, the machines failed to register their votes.
Few Americans realize that in 2004, 1,389,231 ballots were never counted because they were “spoiled.” How do ballots spoil? They get left out of the fridge? No, they’re supposedly unreadable, blank, or just somehow lost in the machines.
Here’s an unfun fact: not everyone’s vote spoils the same.
The U.S. Civil Rights Commission found that the chances of an African-American voter losing their vote is 900% higher than a white voter. Hispanic votes vanished at a rate 500% higher than Anglo votes.
Go to www.StealBackYourVote.org to download the guide for free or pick up print copies of the investigative comic book by Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Every donation you make for copies of the comic allows us to send more out to low income groups in states like Ohio, New Mexico and Colorado.
Get the guide now – all copies will be sent out via priority mail. If your group would like to distribute the Steal Back Your Vote guide please contact keri (at) gregpalast.com for special rates.
An excerpt from the Steal Back Your Vote! investigative comic
Voter suppression is real. It’s a crime. And it’s happening to YOU.
But there’s something that you can do to prevent it. That’s what this guide is about. Start with page 19: 7 Easy Steps to Steal Back Your Vote.
For many years, top investigative reporter Greg Palast and I have been exposing voter suppression.
This is a deliberate strategy to keep minorities from voting, senior citizens from voting, young people from voting in an effort to suppress the vote and maintain their hold on power.
Our concern is not partisan. We need every American to vote: Democrats and Republicans. You can do all the campaigning you want in a battleground state like Ohio or New Mexico, but if your voters aren’t counted, you’re going to lose the Presidency”“and our democracy.
Maybe it’s not a free nation anymore – but at least it’s a free comic book.
STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE, the investigative comic book voter guide by Bobby Kennedy and me is now available to download for free free free at StealBackYourVote.org. (That’s thanks to your generous donations to date.)
And now you can get packs of the full-color print edition for the cost of printing and shipping. Less than a buck a book. And we’ll shoot it to you right now by priority mail.
Officially, 2.7 million voters have been purged from the voter rolls since the last election. And those voters weren’t vanished by ACORN or Mickey Mouse. ‘The Purge’n General,” “Nuns on the Run” and “Votes Gone Rotten.” What’s so funny about the death of Democracy? Would you rather CRY?
Based on my investigation with Kennedy in the current issue of Rolling Stone. Featuring art by the graphic gonzo’s Ted Rall, Lukas Ketner and Troubletown’s Lloyd Dangle. Download the guide and find out what really is happening in the scary world of election theft, and …more
“The new registrations thrown out, the existing registrations scrubbed, the spoiled ballots, the provisional ballots that were never counted – and what you have is millions of voters, more than enough to swing the presidential election, quietly being detached from the electorate by subterfuge.
“Jim Crow was laid to rest, but his cousins were not,” says Donna Brazile. “We got rid of poll taxes and literacy tests but now have a second generation of schemes to deny our citizens their franchise.” Come November, the most crucial demographic may prove to be Americans who have been denied the right to vote. If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat John McCain at the polls – they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering.
These days, the old west rail hub of Las Vegas, New Mexico, is little more than a dusty economic dead zone amid a boneyard of bare mesas. In national elections, the town overwhelmingly votes Democratic: More than 80 percent of all residents are Hispanic, and one in four lives below the poverty line. On February 5th, the day of the Super Tuesday caucus, a school-bus driver named Paul Maez arrived at his local polling station to cast his ballot. To his surprise, Maez found that his name had vanished from the list of registered voters, thanks to a statewide effort to deter fraudulent voting. For Maez, the shock was especially acute: He is the supervisor of elections in Las Vegas.
Maez was not alone in being denied his right to vote. On Super Tuesday, one in nine Democrats who tried to cast ballots in New Mexico found their names missing from the registration lists. The numbers were even higher in precincts like Las Vegas, where nearly 20 percent of the county’s voters were absent from the rolls. With their status in limbo, the voters were forced to cast “provisional” ballots, …more
Don’t worry about Mickey Mouse or ACORN stealing the election. According to an investigative report out today in Rolling Stone magazine, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast, after a year-long investigation, reveal a systematic program of “GOP vote tampering” on a massive scale.
– Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.
Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge – ten times the average state’s rate of removal.
– While Obama dreams of riding to the White House on a wave of new voters, more then 2.7 million …more
(Visit the HuffingtonPost.com article to listen to exclusive audio interviews with Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)
The perennial issues of vote fraud and voter suppression are becoming front-page news as several states conduct early voting and as Election Day itself nears. The candidates themselves will continue to stump, trying to win votes in contested states, but after tonight’s final debate, the parties will focus less on persuading undecided voters and instead put more and more energy into “get out the vote” or “GOTV” efforts or, more ominously, into “voter suppression” efforts, which discourage or bar the other side’s likely voters from casting ballots.
GOTV includes simple acts like helping homebound voters obtain and cast absentee ballots or driving voters who don’t have cars to the polls on Election Day. More broadly, the concept also can include all kinds of efforts to increase voter turnout: voter registration drives, websites that help voters confirm that they’re still registered in time to fix any problems (one good, nonpartisan example is the National Association of Secretaries of State’s CanIVote.org), and public service announcements reminding voters that Election Day is approaching.
Voter suppression practices are the flip side of such efforts. Suppression efforts can appear innocuous, such as requiring voters to show photo I.D.s – a requirement that excludes a surprising number of poor, minority, very young and very old voters and kept several elderly nuns from voting in Indiana’s Democratic primary this year. Suppression can pose as false righteousness, such as Fox News’s 342 negative mentions of a single voter-registration group in just four days (casting the group’s efforts to register underrepresented demographics as a threat to democracy, and frightening voters registered by that group into thinking that their registrations might be unlawful), or the past Republican practice of stationing armed, uniformed “Ballot Integrity” personnel in minority polling places (again, tamping down turnout).
Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. believe that the 2008 elections have already been stolen. What’s an American to do given these circumstances? They suggest: “Steal it back”.
Palast, an investigative journalist, and Kennedy, a voting rights attorney, paired up to create a nonpartisan voter guide that illustrates the six ways that American votes will be stolen this election and seven ways to steal them back.
You may ask who’s stealing your votes. Palast and Kennedy believe that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), created in 2002, is one of the main reasons votes are systematically being stolen. Secretaries of state attempting to comply with HAVA are purging voters from the registration rolls and blocking new ones from registering. The purging occurs if a voter’s name does not match a government database.
Those who are at most risk for having their vote stolen are new voters, people of color, low-income, elderly and swing state voters, Palast told Truthout.
In 2006, Palast says that 40 percent of citizens who were purged from the voter rolls in California had Islamic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic names. These names were at most risk for misspellings.
The Steal Back Your Vote Guidelines promote the importance of going to the secretary of state Web site for your state to confirm that you are registered ahead of the election.
The New York Times appeared to confirm Palast and Kennedy’s findings on mass voter purges in its report last week titled “States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal”. The newspaper found that tens of thousands of eligible voters were being illegally purged ahead of the 2008 elections.
In the crucial swing states of Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, The New York Times reported that Social Security databases are being used to verify voters, as opposed to more accurate state databases. Federal law requires Social Security databases to be used for verification only as a last resort.
The swing states of Michigan and Colorado are also violating federal law, according to The New York Times, because they are removing voters from the registration rolls within 90 days of the presidential election.
When a name has been purged from the voter rolls, election workers will hand out a provisional ballot. However, Palast points to 1.1 million provisional ballots that went uncounted in the 2004 elections as proof that provisional ballots often go uncounted.
“Once you sign that provisional ballot, the chances are officially one in three that your ballot will be thrown in the garbage can,” said Palast.
In their guide, Palast and Kennedy write that a provisional ballot will most often render a vote uncounted. They suggest seeking adjudication on the spot, by calling a voter’s rights hotline instead of accepting and signing the provisional ballot.
“Don’t go postal,” says Palast, urging voters not to mail in their ballot.
Palast told Truthout: “All you need is the most minor error, like you didn’t use your middle initial in your registration; not enough postage cost a third of a million votes in the US the last time around because most ballots are two stamps, not one. There’s a million ways to not count your vote on a mail-in; don’t do it.”
The other suggestions in the “Steal Back Your Vote” guide include voting early, getting involved in voter-registration and get-out-the-vote organizations, and pursuing legal action if disenfranchised.
Palast and Kennedy will be following the 2008 elections as they unfold, including publishing reports in Rolling Stone and BBC news.
“However, the Republican cry of ‘Vote Fraud!’ has become the cover for purges and challenges to legal voters by the millions. I even tracked down and filmed some of these so-called fraudulent voters handed me from a GOP list. Every one was a legal voter.”
— Greg Palast, Intrepid Investigative Reporter and Author
* * *
Greg Palast and BuzzFlash go back to the election of 2000. At that time, large progressive political news sites were hard to come by – and there was only one investigative reporter who was able to unravel the theft of the Florida election: Greg Palast.
Greg didn’t just expose the mugging of democracy. As a University of Chicago trained researcher, he was able to detail how Katherine Harris used an outside vendor to create caging lists that prevented legitimate voters from casting their ballots. In fact, Greg has a laptop presentation that actually shows you the lists that Harris’s office worked from in keeping minorities from voting.
Of course, Greg’s investigation on vote theft – which has branched out widely in the intervening years – is persuasive and thorough enough for the BBC and British newspapers, but not for the corporate press in America! We kid you not.
To this day, Palast is effectively banned from reaching the mainstream American voter because television stations and big papers are owned by companies that don’t want to rock the vote. It might hurt their tax cuts or efforts to deregulate media ownership.
BuzzFlash thought that now would be a good time to revisit with our most interviewed expert on BuzzFlash, Greg Palast. After all, we have an election coming up.
* * *
BuzzFlash: You have been investigating the coordinated and vigorous GOP effort to suppress and steal votes since the theft of the election in 2000. You and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just did a BBC Documentary on what nefarious voter suppression tactics the Republicans have in store for us in 2008. Can you summarize some of the methods that the GOP are using to disenfranchise non-Republican voters prior to the election, to prevent them from voting during the election, and to keep their votes from being counted after the polls close?
Greg Palast: It’s ugly. Consider:
– In the swing state of Colorado, we found that the Republican Secretary of State wiped out 19.4% – one in five – voter names in an unnoticed mass purge.
– In swing-state New Mexico, in the February caucus, one in nine Democrats found their names missing from the voter rolls supplied by the State. The elections supervisor of San Miguel County – whose own name was missing from the rolls – has no confidence the state contractors will fix it. Our statistical analysis showed there was a direct relationship between your name and your race and income. The poor and the dark were disappeared.
– In Indiana, you heard about 10 nuns who lost their vote because their ID – drivers’ licenses – had expired (they were all over eighty). But what about the others? We’ve calculated that 143,000 others were turned away – disproportionately Blacks and new voters.
And so on and so on.
BuzzFlash: BuzzFlash has been covering one public relations effort by the Republican National Committee to create a false context for claiming voter fraud. In short, they have been attacking a national community organizing group called ACORN with news releases, lawsuits, surrogate assaults, etc., falsely claiming (as they did in 2004 and 2006) that ACORN is engaged in the massive illegal registration of primarily minority voters. Can you explain the significance of the ACORN slander by the RNC?
Greg Palast: As RFK and I report, there are only about SIX voters found guilty of federal voting fraud in a year. SiX! Out of 178 million registered voters.
So the GOP (and Fox and CNN) are running stories about ACORN signing up zillions of illegal voters. Yep, there are a handful of phony names – but ‘Mary Poppins’ has never shown up to vote.
However, the Republican cry of ‘Vote Fraud!’ has become the cover for purges and challenges to legal voters by the millions.
I even tracked down and filmed some of these so-called fraudulent voters handed me from a GOP list. Every one was a legal voter.
Tell us a bit about the site and downloadable comic book that you launched with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on how to prevent the theft of millions of votes by the Republicans, yet again in 2008. The website is: http://www.stealbackyourvote.com.
Greg Palast: Our Rolling Stone report that’s out this week is all about how they’ve stolen so many legitimate votes. The comic book, which includes the Rolling Stone findings also includes the SEVEN WAYS TO STEAL IT BACK.
And the whole thing is illustrated brilliantly by comic crazies Ted Rall, Lukas Ketner and Troubletown’s Lloyd Dangle. I loved doing it.
You can download the whole comic book for a penny or more (donate more please) at StealBackYourVote.org. And better yet, you can order bunches of the comic book there as well (and see the short movies). Cool eh?
BuzzFlash: Can you briefly explain the role of ProsecutorGate at the DOJ in efforts to suppress the Democratic vote in 2006? How did this fit in with Karl Rove’s grand voter suppression and theft plan?
Greg Palast: You betcha! Fired prosecutor David Iglesias told us something astonishing: He said that he was fired because he refused to arrest innocent citizens for voter fraud that didn’t happen. That’s obstruction of justice. It was all about creating a hysteria over fraudulent voters that didn’t exist.
This is what Iglesias basically said: “They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments [Rove and the RNC] that would scare these alleged hordes of illegal voters away.” Only the voters were legal.
BuzzFlash: Isn’t there one bright spot? You cut your teeth on GOP voter disenfranchisement with brilliant reporting on how the Bush campaign team, Jeb Bush, and Katherine Harris prevented tens of thousands of valid minority voters from voting through a scheme to use an outside vendor, ChoicePoint, to create an inaccurate list of felons who could not vote in 2000 in Florida. Hasn’t the current GOP governor, Charlie Crist, had the right to vote of ex-felons restored?
Greg Palast: Crist is a duplicitous phony. On the one hand, he pretends they’ll let ex-cons vote as in almost every state. On the other hand less than a handful of the half million ex-cons in the state have been able to get through the insane rigamarole required to actually register. In most states ex-cons can vote like anyone else.
BuzzFlash: As a follow up, from a practical matter, don’t the Republicans have to be within a certain striking distance to steal the election. If Obama keeps trending up, or ends up with a double-digit popular vote victory, how could the GOP steal the election? After all, if Nader weren’t on the ballot in Florida – despite all the nefarious Republican voter suppression and theft – Al Gore would be president, right?
Greg Palast: That’s what RFK and I say: you can’t steal ALL the votes ALL the time.
BuzzFlash: Okay, it’s less than a month before the election, what can anyone do to halt another theft of the White House?
Greg Palast: Go to STEALBACKYOURVOTE.ORG. Get the comic book. Now was that so difficult?*
BuzzFlash: For 8 years, you’ve been covering this issue. Some others have joined you over time and it’s a bit of a movement, albeit still relatively small. But, as in 2000, not much has changed with the corporate media. They are still pretty much ignoring the clear evidence of a coordinated GOP effort to keep non-Republicans from voting and to steal votes wherever they can. Is there any reason to think that they might awaken to their journalistic responsibility to report on the mugging of democracy?
Greg Palast: Zero. That’s why we have BuzzFlash. Bless you.
[*In brief, Palast advises voters to vote early; do not mail in your ballot; check on your registration in advance to make sure there is not a glitch; don’t vote a provisional ballot; volunteer on election day; go to the polls with someone for mutual support; and use the resources that you can get at stealbackyourvote.org.]
[BuzzFlash Afternote: The GOP assault on the right of every American to vote is so widespread that we can barely touch upon it in one interview. Of course, there is the whole additional issue of electronic voting theft, for example. The Republican effort to disenfranchise legitimate voters is a vast criminal enterprise.]