“The American voting system is busted. It’s shattered. They’re trying to take away your vote by saying you’re not a citizen, by saying you voted in another state, by giving you provisional ballots for some cockamamie reason, by purging you from the voter rolls. These obstacles are put in the way of mostly voters of color — that’s the real issue. We have an apartheid election system in the United States.” — Greg Palast, Free Speech TV, May 10, 2018
On May 10, 2018, I participated in a broadcast and companion Twitter chat hosted by Free Speech TV and MNN entitled, “Elections 2018 — Voting Rights Under Attack.” The opening featured an interview with me and clips from the updated edition of my movie, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of The Stolen Election, which served as a springboard for a panel discussion on voting rights — and the lack thereof — with Arthur Eisenberg (Legal Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union – NYCLU), Donita Judge (Senior Attorney and Co-Program Director, Advancement Project (DC)’s Power and Democracy Program) and Deuel Ross (Assistant Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund). The panel was expertly moderated by Laura Flanders of The Laura Flanders Show. You can view the entire show here or in the player above. Questions and answers from the companion Twitter conversation — which took place under the #ProgressivePath18 hashtag — have been collated below.
Q: Interesting way to put it, Greg. Apartheid at the polls.
A: Yes, I’m very concerned that some groups and politicians are talking about vote suppression but seem to avoid the issue of race.
Q: Do you think that’s out of fear, obliviousness, or something more sinister?
A: The Democratic Party was the party of Jim Crow. It’s in its DNA. If everyone got to vote, the party’s elite would be out on its ass — right, Bernie?
Q: What can we do about gerrymandering?
A: The U.S. Supreme Court just decided that it’s perfectly OK to gerrymander districts for strictly political purposes — destroying the 14th Amendment’s promise of one-person one-vote. That decision was a Trump-court evil. If you didn’t vote in 2016, you have a lot to answer for.
Q: Would restoring the Voting Rights Act help?
A: One reason the Voting Rights Act “pre-clearance” provisions were killed by the courts is that the Obama Justice Department refused to extend the VRA to ALL states — and insisted it only apply to the South — which they knew it would not survive. So Obama went to the mat. Sorry to break that to you.
Q: The courts have had problems ruling against gerrymandering because they’ve had problems legally defining it. Is there is clear standard to determine if there is gerrymandering?
A: Yes. Statisticians have now come up with a simple, unassailable mathematical method of measuring it. That’s what moved the Pennsylvania judge to throw out the GOP’s gerrymander.
Q: How likely do you think it is that other cases will have the same outcome is the one in PA?
A: No question that other federal district and state courts will overturn gerrymanders — but the Supreme Court will quash these pro-democracy actions. Sorry. However, some STATE constitutions prohibit gerrymanders, i.e. California.
Q: Given the current composition of Congress (and SCOTUS), what hope do you have for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act?
A: No damn chance with this court or Congress. So, we have to change the Congress.
Q: If the courts can’t see a legislative fix, then what methods remain open to voters who want their democracy to be representative?
A: First, stop the spread of Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck — at least two states have pulled out this year. But 29 states — three of them Democratic! — still use this nasty trick.
Q: Kris Kobach has been quiet lately. What swamp is he swimming in as he takes away votes?
A: Kobach has not been quiet, it’s just that the lame-stream media is letting him work in the dark. His latest trick is to demand proof of citizenship… but we aren’t Red China, we don’t have citizenship cards — only passports and original birth certificates. The result of this rule is to knock off 1 in 7 new (young) voters!
Q: Weren’t other methods used in the 2016 Election? Like vote flipping, which can be done with electronic voting by a Governor or Secretary of State. Also ballot stuffing or misreporting final vote tallies, right?
A: In The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, we go over 10 ways the vote was stolen in 2016. In Michigan, machines didn’t have to ‘flip’ votes. 75,355 ballots were simply NOT COUNTED because the machines broke down in Detroit and Flint — Black (i.e. Blue) cities. That’s how it’s done.
Q: What about vote tampering?
A: The real way vote tampering works is called “spoilage.” A vote is cast and not counted — for some bullshit technical reason. In other words, the vote is not changed from one candidate to another, it simply isn’t counted at all. A Black voter is 900% more likely to have their ballot “spoiled” than a white voter.
Q: Do you think our national “electoral dysfunction” is built on the assumption that voters aren’t smart enough to know what’s being done to suppress the vote?
A: Yes. Exactly. And the media amplifies the sound of stupid.
Q: Does vote suppression and the media’s coverage of it serve to further alienate voters and make people feel like “voting doesn’t matter?” — something many voters claimed they felt around the 2016 elections.
A: Yes, the Lazy Idiot Party in America is huge. If someone steals your car, do you call the cops or just say, “Shit, I just won’t drive anymore”? No sympathy for those who give up.
Q: How can we convince people to get out and vote when often their votes don’t count? Do you think the 2016 election outcome will deter people from voting this year?
A: 2016 should get asses off couches and into voting voting booths. If Agent Orange doesn’t scare you, what will? A University of Wisconsin study said 50,000 in that state (which Trump “won” by 29,000) didn’t vote because Bernie wasn’t on the ballot. “Bernie or bust.” So, how’s “bust” working for you?
Q: With regards to felon voters — who can vote in many states but often don’t realize it — is this a question of education? Letting people who think they can’t vote know that they CAN?
A: Yes, it’s a failure of education for our elite. For example, Hillary Clinton called for restoration of felon voting rights in states where they already have the right! So, stay away from the Ivy League… Most politicians are ignorant of the law (except the weasels working on suppression). Mitt Romney said he wouldn’t allow felons in the presidential debate. Yet, his own state of Massachusetts allows felon voting — even many in prison. This is why I’m concerned that the discussion of “restoring” felon votes misleads the overwhelming number of ex-cons (in 40+ states) who CAN vote despite records. They hear discussion of “restoration” and assume that they can’t vote, so they don’t.
Q: What can voters do to fight back?
A: We do need legal action against this voter-snatching voter-trickery. [Next week I’ll have an announcement on that.] But the truth is that the people can win by OVERWHELMING THE STEAL.
Q: Can you say more about what you mean by “overwhelming the steal.”
A: You can’t win with 51% of the vote… you need 56%. Just out-vote ’em. Don’t expect fairness. In 2008, 5.9 million votes were stolen from Obama (see my book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits). He just got millions more than that.
Q: In a town in PA where I used to live my new neighbor (who was Black) had to get registered in her new location. I took her to get registered. On the day of voting she and us (hubby and I) had to fight to get her the proper ballot. She voted and it counted.
A: You bring up a vital point: when they try to deny you a ballot, or try to give you a provisional “placebo” ballot, RAISE HELL, demand adjudication by a polling judge. It really works.
Q: Some states do have automatic voter registration, a la “Motor Voter” laws, like Laura Flanders is discussing in the UK, where she received voter ID on her 18th birthday. Is this a path forward?
A: Yes. In Oregon, you are registered when you get a Driver’s License unless you opt out. Also, many states have same-day registration. That’s just as good. California has same-day registration in the law, but the Secretary of State blocked its implementation to prevent Sanders from winning the primary in June 2016.
Q: Would making Election Day a public holiday help?
A: We DO have a day off for voting: it’s called Early Voting. The problem is the GOP to cut it back.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
A: The weekend’s coming. Get drunk, get laid — and get informed. My recommendation, sign up at GregPalast.com/subscribe for latest info on the fight for the vote.
(NB: Some questions have been edited for length and clarity.)
Before turning to journalism as an investigative reporter for The Guardian and BBC Television, Greg Palast was an investigator of fraud and racketeering for governments and labor unions worldwide. Known as the reporter who exposed how Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush purged thousands of Black voters from Florida rolls to steal the 2000 election for George Bush, Palast has written four New York Times bestsellers, including Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now a major non-fiction movie. The post-election update of the movie, subtitled The Case of the Stole Election, has just been released on Amazon — and can be streamed for FREE by Prime members!
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