An excerpt from
How Trump Stole 2020: The Hunt for America’s Vanished Voters
…It was the Supreme Court—or, more accurately, the Supreme Republican Five—that, only five months before Kemp’s election, blessed Kemp’s Big Purge.
The ruling in June 2018, Husted v. APRI, is likely to determine control of the White House and Congress in 2020. But it was barely noted by the press, and when mentioned, was universally misreported.
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Large-scale ethnic cleansing of voter rolls, purging those who supposedly “moved,” was not a Kemp invention. Kemp’s not the sharpest chainsaw in the tool shed. The Georgian was merely following behind his fellow Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted of Ohio.
Like Kemp, Husted had removed half a million voters from the rolls in the 2016 election cycle because they’d supposedly moved their residence based on the “evidence” that they did not vote in two federal elections.
For ten years, I’ve been tracking Husted. The Ohio vote chief until recently, he is a master at finding creative ways to block non-white voters (we’ll review a few other Husted tricks later). But this was something new: Husted was trying out a truly ballsy, breathtaking method of wiping out the rights of hundreds of thousands of voters with one blow.
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But Husted (and fellow GOP purgers like Kemp) had a problem: his method of purging voter rolls is a stonecold, in-your-face violation of the National Voting Registration Act of 1993. The NVRA states, explicitly, that
a purge program shall not result in the removal of the name of any person from the [rolls] by reason of the person’s failure to vote.
It’s known as the Failure-to-Vote Clause. Simple, clear. Surely, someone would bust Husted’s scam.
And he was busted, by the lawyers for the A. Philip Randolph Institute.
In 1925, with Jim Crow at its most virulent, it took unimaginable courage for a Black man, A. Philip Randolph, to organize a union of servers on passenger trains, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Serving fine dinners on fine china to America’s ruling class was one of the highest paid, most prestigious jobs to which an African-American could then aspire. But while they smiled and bowed to the wealthy white men in First Class, The Brotherhood’s members, working unsupervised, crisscrossing the nation, North and South, secretly spread the word of the growing civil rights movement, a literal underground railroad of information and complex organizing.
The Brotherhood organized and paid for Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington.
In later years, as Black men won the right to trade serving towels for law degrees, the progeny of the union on steel wheels continues the fight through the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI).
APRI thought they’d get a quick knockout against Husted’s clear violation of The National Voter Registration Act. (APRI itself helped write the law.)
The NVRA begins with this assurance:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote is a fundamental right.
Furthermore, the obligation falls on Husted, Kemp and every official to not only protect voting, but extend its reach:
It is the duty of the Federal, State, and local governments to promote the exercise of that right.
The NVRA was specifically designed to force resistant states to expand registration to prevent ploys that remove legitimate voters from the rolls.
The law targeted an old Jim Crow trick: make it hard for Black people to vote, then remove them from the voter rolls for not voting. Therefore, the explicit prohibition on purges, “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.”
What could be more straightforward?
But Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State brilliantly used an innocuous and reasonable exception to the no-purge rule in the NVRA: if you move out of Ohio, you can be removed from the rolls. Fair enough. And if you moved from one county to the next, you had to re-register— and give up your original registration. No issue there.
Husted purged 426,781 voters in the year leading up to the 2016 election. This followed an earlier purge of over half a million voters right after Obama’s re-election. Husted’s bleaching of the voter rolls totaled a brobdingnagian 1,035,000 voters—whom he claimed had moved out of their county or out of Ohio altogether.
How did Husted know about this previously unnoticed mass exodus from his state?
Join me, Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky and LaTosha Brown of Black Voters Matter to discuss How Trump Stole 2020, a virtual town hall meeting, on Thursday, July 16 at 7pm ET on our Facebook page.
Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman
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