GREG PALAST: GOP Wrongly Purged More Than 1 Million Votes, Changing Election Outcome

Posted Nov. 23, 2016

MP3 Interview with Greg Palast, investigative journalist and author, conducted by Scott Harris

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The victory of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. election was a shock to his supporters and opponents alike due to the critical mass of statewide and national polls that had confidently predicted a win for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Exit polls, too, had forecast that Clinton would be the next president, but discrepancies between exit polling and actual vote totals led many observers to suspect that the election outcome was somehow rigged in favor of the GOP.

Civil rights advocates had long charged that the Republican party had effectively instituted voter suppression laws in 21 states after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2013 gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These new laws included restrictive voter ID regulations, reduction in the days and hours of early voting, obstacles placed on registering new voters and accessing absentee ballots – all designed critics charged, to make it more difficult for minority and young citizens to vote. While some of these laws were challenged and overturned, opponents charge that the chaotic changes in election rules led to confusion and lower voter turnout.

Greg Palast is an investigative reporter and award-winning author who uncovered the 2000 Republican voter purge in Florida that led to what many charge was a stolen election, where the U.S. Supreme Court intervened in the disputed vote count, and appointed George W. Bush as president. In his new documentary film titled, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits," Palast investigates a multi-state system known as Crosscheck, supposedly designed to check for voters who had registered more than once, and to prevent fraudulent multiple voting. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Palast, who explains why he believes that the Crosscheck system was employed to wrongly purge some 1.1 million Americans of color from the voter rolls, many in crucial GOP-controlled battleground states that could have changed the outcome of the election. [Rush transcript]

GREG PALAST: One of the biggest factors and the loss of Hillary Clinton – and remember, it's not a loss – this is one of the things we have to understand: While Clinton not only won the popular vote, she won those exit polls in everyone of the swing states. Which is odd, because our State Department considers exit polls the gold standard of a measure of whether an election is honest. So, if the official numbers, as they did in Peru, in Ukraine, and in Serbia disagree with the exit polls, the official vote is discounted as fraudulent. So what happened here? Do we have a fraudulent vote? And the answer is yes. And here's why. How could it be different? How could people walk out and have a different count? We have about five million votes, six million votes in America which are never counted. And you go, "What?" "Yes!"

People go in and something: Their names are missing from the voter rolls, so they're given something called a provisional ballot. And then the ballot is thrown out because they're not on the voter rolls, they're not on the voter rolls. We have ballots which are invalidated and thrown out. And then absentee ballots, invalidated and thrown out or what they call spoilage. There's about five million of these votes. And the chance your vote will "spoil" or be invalidated," according to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, is about 900 percent higher if you are black than if you're white. This is the core.

So when people walk out to the exit pollsters, they answer honestly who they voted for. What they can't answer is, "Did your vote count?" About six million votes didn't count. Overwhelmingly, those are minority voters who voted for Hillary Clinton. Now, how does that happen? How do these votes get invalidated?

That's where we get to this new game called Crosscheck that's in the film, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." Actually all these games are, but this is the center of the investigation in the film. A lot of discussion in the papers today and yesterday, about a guy called Kris Kobach, who is the probable Homeland Security chief for Trump, one of his earlier and most stalwart allies. Quite a brilliant guy, currently the secretary of state of Kansas, which has put him in charge of voter rolls there. Who cares about Kansas, except that he was able to convince the other Republican voting officials – 30 other secretaries of state – to give him their entire voter rolls so he could hunt for the "double voters." And he stuck them all in the computer and he literally took all the names of American voters in Republican states, ran them through a computer and did nothing more than – NOTHING MORE – than match their first name and their last name. And completely ignore the fact, that for example, it was a Maria Christina Hernandez and Maria Isabelle Hernandez, that was meant to be one single voter. And you'd say, "Well, they can't be one voter, they're two different names." It doesn't matter, they both stood to lose their vote.

And so the result is that they knocked off about 12 percent of the people, about 1.1 million voters showed up on Tuesday, and their names are not on the voter rolls. So they either went away discouraged, or they filled out these provisional ballots. And if you're name's not on the voter rolls, even if it's removed for the wrong reason, you can't have your ballot counted. You lose your vote.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Well, Greg, what are the prospects that there'll be some kind of investigation given the evidence you've accumulated of this Crosscheck system and the millions of votes that were expunged from the rolls that had a profound effect on the results of the 2016 election? Is there interest in Congress on investigating this? Any other third party organization stepping up to take a good look at what you've found here?

GREG PALAST: The Congressional Black Caucus has demanded an investigation by the Justice Department. (Rep.) Alcee Hastings (of Florida) actually handed my documentation copy of the film "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and a copy of my Rolling Stone articles to the attorney general, put it in her hands, and said, "Not you got it. You can't say you didn't get it. I want indictments." He said that before the election, by the way. And (Rep.) Keith Ellison has signed on to maybe become chairman of the Democratic Party; we could say maybe that will blast things open. ACLU is preparing litigation. The NAACP in North Carolina under Rev. William Barber has already filed a suit citing Crosscheck. Suits are being formulated in Ohio. And I hope that there will be congressional hearings.

But I gotta tell you, the problem is the U.S. press really, really hates this subject. You can't get a word of this in the New York Times or the Washington Post, the vestige of the American elite. They are literally afraid to touch the subject.

Greg Palast's new documentary film is titled, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits." For more information, visit Greg Palast's journalism website at gregpalast.com.

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