Journalist Greg Palast details how Brian Kemp, Georgia’s current Secretary of State who is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, allegedly pulled off this mass purge, including identifying voters who were thought to have moved out of state or moved out of their congressional district…
My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished.
This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).
It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.
Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they’re out of luck — and so is Georgia’s democracy.
I brought in one of the nation’s top mailing database experts, Mark Swedlund, and his team to go through the list, name by name. Among the voters purged are thousands who supposedly left the state but remain in Georgia. Thousands more are people who moved from one end of town to another and lost their vote — and we even found one who simply moved from one apartment to another in the same building.
These registration cancellations are therefore dead wrong and, say voting law experts, coldly break the law.
That is why Gerald Griggs, counsel for the Atlanta NAACP, and voting rights attorney Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project (a nonpartisan voter registration initiative), are joining in my suit against Kemp.
We’ll be hauling Kemp into federal court to force him to open the records to which the public is entitled under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — provisions meant to prevent just this type of voter roll shenanigan. In particular, we’re forcing him to disclose the complete detailed process that led to each voter’s removal.
I don’t file federal suits on a whim. Kemp has continually turned down legitimate Open Records Act requests over my five years of investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone.
Griggs and Ufot made their announcement about the suit at a press conference October 2 in Atlanta at the national headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights group that traces its origins to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The location was meant to make a point. The racial stench from the computerized torching of the Georgia voter files has motivated prominent civil rights leaders from Georgia to add their names to the lawsuit: Axel Adams, executive editor of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition that grew out of two nonprofit organizations founded by Jesse Jackson; Joe Beasley, the former southern regional director for Rainbow PUSH; and SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele Jr., who currently holds the post held by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. until his assassination.
Steele told the gathered media and rights leaders, “Many people have died and paid the supreme sacrifice for people to have the right to vote. What is taking place here in Georgia is an insult to all these efforts and accomplishments.”
Why did I wait to release endangered voters’ names until days before the last day of registration? Because Kemp dragged his feet on my request for the purge lists until literally the last hours before of the 90-day deadline imposed by the law.
I tried to get Kemp’s answers to the NAACP’s and SCLC’s charges that the mass purge of 1 in 10 Georgia voters was aimed at decimating the Black electorate so he could steal the governorship from Abrams.
Technically, Kemp removed voters after they had skipped voting — and failed to return a postcard that, according to Morgan County Elections Board member Helen Butler, “Looks like junk mail. You’d throw it away.” Butler, who also serves as executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, is wary of Kemp’s purge methods. Just last year, her group settled a suit against Kemp that forced him to return over 40,000 voters to the rolls.
The National Voter Registration Act specifically prohibits cancelling voter registrations for not voting. But the failure to vote, in combination with not returning a postcard or other information, can be used to justify a cancellation if there is legitimate belief this is evidence the voter has moved.
“But they have not moved,” notes Swedlund, who says not returning a postcard is an “absurd, dangerous” way to determine if voters have moved — especially if their rights are at stake. And basing cancellations on non-responses to postcards is, Swedlund notes, endemically biased against voters who move often, including the poor, students, and Black and Latino voters — in other words, Democrats.
Notably, Swedlund’s analysts found that 108,000 of the names on Kemp’s hit list were also on the notorious “Interstate Crosscheck” list, which my investigations team had obtained from an insider in Kemp’s office as part of my investigations for Rolling Stone.
The lists were created for Georgia by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, President Donald Trump’s “fraudulent voter hunter.” Kobach himself, interviewed in Kansas, told me the list was sent to Kemp and others to indicate a voter had moved out of state. In fact, we went through each and every Crosscheck-tagged voter’s name — and only 2,000 of the 108,000 Crosschecked voters who were purged have left the state. And the majority of others purged had not moved from their original registration address. In simple terms, most of those whose registrations have been cancelled are legitimate Georgia voters.
Representatives from Kemp’s office issued a statement this week denying they used the Crosscheck list, but they did not know we had obtained the list despite Kemp’s resistance. Furthermore, Kemp’s former deputy and his predecessor as Secretary of State both confirmed Georgia participated in Crosscheck.
Meanwhile, Kemp had no clear response as to why the others were removed.
So, I thought it important to get the answers about the purges from the horse’s mouth. But Kemp has weaved and ducked all my interview requests in my several trips to Georgia beginning in 2014.
So, this time, I decided to track down his campaign bus. On Tuesday, I located the candidate in the parking lot of a BBQ joint in Newnan, 38 miles outside Atlanta. You could smell the pigs roasting.
I asked Kemp, bluntly, “Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?”
Kemp’s answer was to turn his back as I was physically body-blocked, then grabbed and hauled away by Georgia “smokies,” the local county deputy sheriffs. (They claimed that Sprayberry’s Barbecue ordered me off the property, but the owner said otherwise.) It was later reported that his handlers had clocked me before the bus pulled in.
The civil rights leaders are dissatisfied with Kemp’s response and will press our litigation. “Georgia,” said the SCLC’s Steele, “needs to know that we’re not going to take it anymore.”
The dark art of dynamic psychometric manipulation in politics was not pioneered by Cambridge Analytica for Donald Trump, but by organizations such as i360 Themis, founded by the Koch brothers, and Data Trust, Karl Rove’s data mining operation.
Have Progressives lost their tiny minds? We protested in Seattle against a tariff-free world in which workers in every nation are pitted in a contest to see who will work for lowest wages. The majority of Democratic senators voted against NAFTA.
In 2016, the Democrats lost Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin by theft for sure, but it would not have been close enough to steal except that Obama was pushing the TPP and Hillary free trade.
The idea of free trade with a slave state like China is a terrible joke played on America’s working class.
Do we hate Trump so much that we are obliged to attack when he does the right thing for the American worker?
Obama slapped heavy tariffs on Chinese auto parts before the 2012 election, and didn’t start a trade war. But he did win Ohio.
Will tariffs raise the price of steel? Yes, it is the price of keeping Pennsylvania alive. Pollution controls also raise the price of steel — but it is the price of keeping our planet alive.
Sometimes, principles must trump politics. (Pun intended.)
Dennis J. Bernstein: In Berkeley I’m Dennis Bernstein. You’re listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. We’re delighted to welcome back Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now a film, updated and released on Amazon. So congratulations Greg, welcome back to Flashpoints.
Greg Palast: Yes, in fact it’s free if you’ve got that Amazon Prime. It’s out this week. We updated it because unfortunately America has been updated with Trump. The film originally warned you that a guy named Kris Kobach of Kansas — if you can’t remember that name just think KKK — Trump’s Vote-Thief-in-Chief, I said he was going to be the mastermind behind Trump stealing the election, and he did it. So we updated the film to show you how he did it. And now he’s back in the news, and that’s why I’m happy to speak with you.
This week, or last week I should say, Trump disbanded his so-called Vote Fraud Commission, which was headed by Kris Kobach of Kansas, and officially known as the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity. It was disbanded because Kris Kobach of Kansas was being bombarded with lawsuits by the Brennan Center, by every civil rights organization you could think of with a lawyer, and even the single Democrat who was foolish enough to join his commission and found out he was being denied access to even such things as the meeting dates of the commission. So, they were operating in secret. Kris Kobach, forgetting that the Soviet Union no longer exists and has not moved to America, thought he could operate in secret. But now he has disbanded it because there’s so much public criticism. The President has issued an Executive Order, Trump just said the commission is disbanded…
Bernstein: But Trump said that, despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information. That’s why they had to give it to Homeland Security, to bring the investigators in.
Palast: Yes, well, two things… Number one: the Commission was formed and Trump was just tweeting and bleating that there is massive vote fraud. As you know… they’ve claimed that three million people voted twice. That’s Kris Kobach who created something called Interstate Crosscheck, a system to reveal these three million double voters, people voting illegally twice in the same election in two different states. He couldn’t produce any actual double voters, but he did have a list of three million, which I obtained, of these illegal voters. And it was just people with names like José Rodríguez and James Brown. Believe it or not, they found two people named James Brown voting in two different states. They had different middle names, but, hey, it doesn’t matter. As far as Republicans are concerned, that was a double voter. That’s the type of fraud and fraudulent voter that they were looking for.
And so yes, a lot of states refused — or appeared to refuse. By the way, most of those states were lying. Almost every Republican state turned over their voter rolls to Donald Trump and Kris Kobach. They lied and said that they didn’t, but enough states — including the state of California — simply refused to turn over their voter rolls for those guys to go tromping through to find more people named José Rodríguez that they could claim voted in another state. So you had resistance, you had lawsuits.
So what are they doing now? They’re putting it in Homeland Security. So they’ve closed it down. That you could look at as a victory. Because they recognized they can’t operate in public and get away with their shenanigans. So they put it in Homeland Security for two purposes. Number one is secrecy. They believe that by saying this is an anti-terrorism effort, that they somehow have the cloak of secrecy afforded them by working with Homeland Security. Well, you can’t just call a hunt for black Democrats a hunt for “terrorists” and make it secret. I’ve just been on the phone with Jesse Jackson and several lawyers who said you can call it whatever you want, but if it’s a racial purge of voters they still better make those records public. So, there’s still going to be a fight, that’s number one.
Number two — and it is dangerous — they’re going to try to use the power of Homeland Security. And I’m not guessing. Kris Kobach did say this on Fox, that they will use the police powers of Homeland Security to seize the voter rolls of California and New York and other States that are refusing to turn over their voter rolls so they can tromp through and find “double voters”. And Homeland Security is going to be saying that it’s looking for illegal alien voters — that’s the other big claim that they’ve made, that there are literally one to three million aliens, who swam the Rio Grande just so they could vote in our school board elections. It may be laughable, except it’s no joke when they start purging people whose crime is having a Hispanic last name.
Bernstein: You know Greg, we spent most of the show today talking about the Administration’s decision to abruptly end temporary protected status for some 200,000 Salvadorans [listen to the complete show here]. He did this for Haitians just a little bit ago. It seems it’s sort of part of a piece, in a way. It’s an attack on black and brown people, and it’s an attempt to cleanse black and brown people from the voter rolls — and some from the country.
Palast: Well, in fact, don’t discount this. Kris Kobach of Kansas — Mr. KKK as I mention in my film and my work for Rolling Stone — he not only is Secretary of the State of Kansas (and he’s running for governor of Kansas, by the way), he not only is heading Trump’s Commission, or I don’t know what his position now will be in Homeland Security, but he remains the lawyer for a group called FAIR. And FAIR’s founder says its entire purpose is to maintain a European America. And I have a suspicion he doesn’t mean a European-Haitian America, okay? This guy is a white supremacist… and I don’t throw that term around easily.
He is a declared white supremacist, Kris Kobach. And he is in charge of the politics behind these Trumpian racist deportation moves. And it’s of a piece with cleansing the voter rolls. Because, understand, when they talk about deporting people, if they find someone again named José Rodríguez, which there are hundreds of people named José Rodríguez on those voter rolls that they were attempting to purge — and did purge, by the way, in the last election. When they create these lists of illegal aliens and they start deporting aliens, they’re also going to be attacking the voting rights of anyone with a similar name.
So you can’t disconnect the attack on voter rolls from the attack on legitimate alien Americans who want to become citizens. They’re going after the ones who’ve become citizens already, or who’ve been citizens for generations. Let’s not forget that in New Mexico and California for a lot of Hispanics the border crossed them, it’s not that they crossed the border.
Bernstein: Talk a little bit about what you’re preparing for. We’re seeing this unfold now, we’re seeing this Commission being moved into Homeland Security. We’ve got the 2018 elections coming up. These are going to be highly contested. How are you making preparations? What are you going to do, Greg, to stop them from stealing these elections?
Palast: Well, number one, I’d better keep reporting the story because we’re not getting it on the mainstream media. They laugh at Kris Kobach and the claims of voter fraud. But what they’re not doing is investigating… It’s not a joke. They’re using this absurdity that millions of illegal alien voters, double voters, and others [as an excuse to purge legal voters.] And the double voters almost in all cases that they’ve identified are voters of color. So the first thing is exposure, which is very difficult to do in an America which believes that, as Hilary Clinton put it, we have the most wonderful electoral system in the world, which means she’s only been to Kazakhstan.
By the way, I just came back from Switzerland… where they do read my reports and my work is popular there. And they’re stunned. It’s so hard for them to get [their heads] around the idea that we don’t count all the votes or let everyone vote. This is in a nation, Switzerland, where everyone is required by law to vote. Like, they don’t even understand this idea that someone wouldn’t vote or wouldn’t get their vote counted. Or that you can get away with taking away someone’s vote by saying they don’t have the right ID or something like that. They’re absolutely stunned that this is still happening. And that’s true in other nations in Europe who are just stunned at the US system. So number one: it’s exposure.
Number two: political action. And we’ve seen Jesse Jackson and Rainbow PUSH are doing a national campaign which is starting with Interstate Crosscheck, Kris Kobach’s game saying that millions of people voted twice, just as a way to remove every guy named James Brown from the list; and every guy named Jesse Jackson, by the way, from the voter rolls as well.
And then there’s legal action. The great class action lawyer Jeanne Mirer in fact was just calling a moment to go to my office because she’s about to file open records requests on the states that are working with Kobach on his scheme to remove so-called double voters, demanding that they release their hit lists, release their racist purge lists. Because if they release the lists, and we go through them, our experts already know what are on those lists because we have about a third of the names. And, like I say, this is an attack on voters of color.
So there’s a political attack, a legal attack, a journalistic attack, meaning journalism’s job is exposure. Hard to do. It’s hard to get editors and producers in America to do any story about anything but America being a wonderful democracy. You’re the guy who is passing gas at the debutante ball of American democracy. It’s not done. So it’s a very difficult thing to accomplish.
So those are the three things; exposure, political action, and legal action. And obviously it would be nice to see legislative action as well, but that would require the Democrats.
Bernstein: Well the Democrats, yeah, I was going to say the Democrats. But they’ve been deadbeats on all this stuff, haven’t they? I mean, they have not been willing from Gore in 2000… They’re just cowards to take this on.
Palast: Well some of it is cowardice. In my investigations of what is politely called vote suppression, unfortunately, Democrats have taken part in this too. Not on the kind of industrial, computerized scale that Republicans have done. But you’d have a very different Democratic Party if every voter of color was allowed to vote and have their votes counted. A very different Democratic Party.
And I saw this particularly in New Mexico, where I saw brutal vote suppression where machines simply did not work in the pueblos. Machines simply did not work, and therefore recorded no votes — zero votes for President in certain precincts that were heavily Hispanic Democrat. And who is in charge or running the vote? Hispanic Democrats under the direction of Bill Richardson. You had kind of elite Hispanic Democrats fearful of the votes in primaries of poor Mexicanos.
Remember, vote theft is kind of class war by other means. So, therefore, you would expect it from Republicans, but you still have the problem of Democrats being involved and they don’t want to give up those tools either.
Bernstein: Well that’s a problem for all of us. You can learn a lot more if you have an opportunity to connect with some of the work of Greg Palast. You can go to gregpalast.com, find out all about his film, about the latest release. Find out all about a lot more in terms of how to defend your vote.
But this, it really isn’t taken seriously. And I’m not sure how to read the killing of the Kobach Commission. [It] may be a good thing, may be a bad thing, or it may be irrelevant because these folks are going to do this at the grassroots [level]. They’re going to steal the vote and it’s going to be continuing to target people of color because they don’t have the resources to fight back.
Palast: Well I think it does matter. Number one: it is a political victory. That is the Kobach Commission was roundly dismissed as a joke. It shouldn’t be a joke because these guys ain’t foolin’ around. You know, it’s not a circus act, these guys are serious. It is dangerous because there’s been so much crowing by the liberals and the MSDNC reporting, you would think that they’ve just saved the nation by driving Kris Kobach underground. But driving Kris Kobach into Homeland Security and his operation… into basically the Secret Service of the United States, now to use police powers and conducting operations in the dark, that’s extremely dangerous.
But, again, most of this activity happens at the state level. And, you know, most of the Flashpoints listeners are in California. There’s a lot of cleanup there and that’s in a one party, Democratic state. If you remember Alex Padilla oversaw a primary in June of 2016 in which nearly one million ballots were never counted, disqualified through cockamamie manipulation of the vote, forcing people to use provisional ballots or having their ballots disqualified because they used the wrong ballot.
It’s games that I saw in Alabama, games that I saw in Mississippi, and here we’re having this kind of José Crow operation in California. So it’s up to activists, it’s up to an informed public; Don’t depend on the parties to save your vote.
Bernstein: All right… I’m looking forward, Greg, as it comes a little bit closer to the elections that we strike up our Election Crimes Bulletin, because we know we’re going to need it. We’re going to need the great work that you’ve been doing for so many years, Greg. And we appreciate this ongoing collaboration. Again, people can check you out at gregpalast.com, the film is available, a great deal of information is available. And we thank you, Greg, for always making yourself available to our listeners and to the Flashpoints show.
Palast: Terrific. Thank you, Dennis.
When we were at Francis Polytechnic High in Sun Valley, Steve Paddock and I were required to take electrical shop class. At Poly and our junior high, we were required to take metal shop so we could work the drill presses at the GM plant. We took drafting. Drafting like in “blueprint drawing.”
Paddock. Palast. We sat next to each other at those drafting tables with our triangular rulers and #2 pencils so we could get jobs at Lockheed as draftsman drawing blueprints of fighter jets. Or do tool-and-dye cutting to make refrigerator handles at GM where they assembled Frigidaire refrigerators and Chevys.
But we weren’t going to fly the fighter jets. Somewhere at Phillips Andover Academy, a dumbbell with an oil well for a daddy was going to go to Yale and then fly our fighter jets over Texas. We weren’t going to go to Yale. We were going to go to Vietnam. Then, when we came back, if we still had two hands, we went to GM or Lockheed.
(It’s no coincidence that much of the student population at our school was Hispanic.)
But if you went to “Bevvie” – Beverly Hills High – or Hollywood High, you didn’t take metal shop. You took Advanced Placement French. You took Advanced Placement Calculus. We didn’t have Advanced Placement French. We didn’t have French anything. We weren’t Placed, and we didn’t Advance.
Steve was a math wizard. He should have gone to UCLA, to Stanford. But our classes didn’t qualify him for anything other than LA Valley College and Cal State Northridge. Any dumbbell could get in. And it was nearly free. That’s where Steve was expected to go, and he went with his big math-whiz brain.
And then Steve went to Lockheed, like we were supposed to. Until Lockheed shut down plants in 1988. Steve left, took the buy-out.
And after NAFTA, GM closed too.
Land of Opportunity? Well, tell me: who gets those opportunities?
Some of you can and some of you can’t imagine a life where you just weren’t give a fair chance. Where the smarter you are, the more painful it gets, because you have your face pressed against the window, watching THEM. THEY got the connections to Stanford. THEY get the gold mine. WE get the shaft.
This is where Paddock and Palast were bred: Sun Valley, the anus of Los Angeles. Literally. It’s where the sewerage plant is. It’s in a trench below the Hollywood Hills, where the smog settles into a kind of puke yellow soup. Here’s where LA dumps its urine and the losers they only remember when they need cheap labor and cheap soldiers when the gusanos don’t supply enough from Mexico.
I’ll take you to Sun Valley. It’s in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. In the movie, a kind of dream scene, the actress Shailene Woodley takes me back to my family’s old busted home in the weeds and then down San Fernando Road, near Steve’s place. Take a look, America. Along the tracks that once led in to the GM plant, you see a bunch of campers that the union men bought for vacations. Now they live in them.
No, Steve’s brain was too big to end up on the tracks. He lived in empty apartments in crappy buildings he bought, then in a barren tract house outside Reno. I laugh when they say he was “rich.” He wanted to be THEM, to have their stuff. He got close.
It’s reported that Steve was a “professional gambler.” That’s another laugh. He was addicted to numbing his big brain by sitting 14 hours a day in the dark in front of video poker machines. He was a loser. Have you ever met a gambler who said they were a Professional Loser?
It’s fair to ask me: Why didn’t I end up in a hotel room with a bump-stock AR-15 and 5,000 rounds of high velocity bullets?
Because I have a job, a career, an OBSESSION: to hunt down THEM, the daddy-pampered pricks who did this to us, the grinning billionaire jackals that make a profit off the slow decomposition of the lives I grew up with.
But I’m telling you, that I know it’s a very fine line, and lots of crazy luck, that divided my path from Paddock’s.
Dear Reader: The publication that pulled this story at the last moment was plain scared–that they’d be accused of approving murder.
Paddock slaughtered good people, coldly, with intense cruelty, destroying lives and hundreds of families forever. If you think I’m making up some excuse for him, then I give up.
But also this: The editor of the Beverly Hills-based publication, a Stanford grad, could not understand that, just like veterans of the Vietnam war who suffer from PTSD even today, so too, losers of the class war can be driven mad by a PTSD that lingers, that gnaws away, their whole lives.
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it …fester like a sore? Does it stink like rotten meat? Sag…like a heavy load?
Or does it explode?
Steve, you created more horrors than your cornered life could ever justify.
But, I just have to tell you, Steve: I get it.
Excerpt from ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy‘…
Michigan officials declared in late November that Trump won the state’s count by 10,704 votes. But hold on — a record 75,355 ballots were not counted.
The uncounted ballots came mostly from Detroit and Flint, majority-Black cities that vote Democratic.
According to the machines that read their ballots, these voters waited in line, sometimes for hours, yet did not choose a president. Really?
This week, I drove through a snowstorm to Lansing to hear the official explanation from Ruth Johnson, the Republican secretary of state. I was directed to official flack-catcher Fred Woodhams who told me, “You know, I think when you look at the unfavorability ratings that were reported for both major-party candidates, it’s probably not that surprising.”
Sleuthing about in Detroit, I found another explanation: bubbles.
Michigan votes on paper ballots. If you don’t fill the bubble completely, the machine records that you didn’t vote for president.
Susan, a systems analyst who took part in the hand recount initiated by Jill Stein, told me, “I saw a lot of red ink. I saw a lot of checkmarks. We saw a lot of ballots that weren’t originally counted, because those don’t scan into the machine.” (I can only use her first name because she’s terrified of retribution from Trump followers in the white suburb where she lives.)
Other ballots were not counted because the machines thought the voter chose two presidential candidates.
How come more ballots were uncounted in Detroit and Flint than in the white ‘burbs and rural counties? Are the machines themselves racist?
No, but they are old, and in some cases, busted. An astonishing 87 machines broke down in Detroit, responsible for counting tens of thousands of ballots. Many more were simply faulty and uncalibrated.
I met with Carlos Garcia, University of Michigan multimedia specialist, who, on Election Day, joined a crowd waiting over two hours for the busted machine to be fixed.
Some voters left; others filled out ballots that were chucked, uncounted, into the bottom of machine. When the machine was fixed, Carlos explained, “Any new scanned ballots were falling in on top of the old ones.” It would not be possible to recount those dumped ballots.
This is not an unheard of phenomenon: I know two voters who lost their vote in another state (California) because they didn’t fill in the bubble — my parents! Meet mom and dad in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
How did Detroit end up with the crap machines?
Detroit is bankrupt, so every expenditure must be approved by “emergency” overlords appointed by the Republican governor. The GOP operatives refused the city’s pre-election pleas to fix and replace the busted machines.
“We had the rollout [of new machines] in our budget,” Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey said. “No money was appropriated by the state.”
Same in Flint. GOP state officials cut the budget for water service there, resulting in the contamination of the city’s water supply with lead. The budget cuts also poisoned the presidential race.
The Human Eye Count
There is, however, an extraordinary machine that can read the ballots, whether the bubbles are filled or checked, whether in black ink or red, to determine the voters’ intent: the human eye.
That’s why Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, paid millions of dollars for a human eyeball count of the uncounted votes. While labeled a “recount,” its real purpose is to count the 75,355 votes never counted in the first place.
Count those ballots, mostly in Detroit and Flint, and Trump’s victory could vanish.
Adding to the pile of uncounted ballots are the large numbers of invalidated straight-ticket votes in Detroit. In Michigan, you can choose to make one mark that casts your vote for every Democrat (or Republican) for every office. Voters know that they can vote the Democratic ballot but write in a protest name — popular were “Bernie Sanders” and “Mickey Mouse” — but their ballot, they knew, would count for Clinton.
However, the Detroit machines simply invalidated the ballots with protest write-ins because the old Opti-Scans wrongly tallied these as “over-votes” (i.e., voting for two candidates). The human eye would catch this mistake.
But Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stymied Stein’s human eye count. The Republican pol issued an order saying that no one could look at the ballots cast in precincts where the number of votes and voters did not match — exactly the places where you’d want to look for the missing votes. He also ordered a ban on counting ballots from precincts where the seals on the machines had been broken — in other words, where there is evidence of tampering. Again, those are the machines that most need investigating. The result: The recount crews were denied access to more than half of all Detroit precincts (59 percent).
I met with Stein, who told me she was stunned by this overt sabotage of the recount. “It’s shocking to think that the discounting of these votes may be making the critical difference in the outcome of the election,” she said.
This story was repeated in Wisconsin, which uses the same Opti-Scan system as Michigan. There, the uncounted votes, sometimes called “spoiled” or “invalidated” ballots, were concentrated in Black-majority Milwaukee. Stein put up over $3 million of donated funds for the human eye review in Wisconsin, but GOP state officials authorized Milwaukee County to recount simply by running the ballots through the same blind machines. Not surprisingly, this instant replay produced the same questionable result.
Adding Un-Votes to the Uncounted
Stein was also disturbed by the number of voters who never got to cast ballots. “Whether it’s because of the chaos [because] some polling centers are closed, and then some are moved, and there’s all kinds of mix-ups,” she said. “So, a lot of people are filling out provisional ballots, or they were being tossed off the voter rolls by Interstate Crosscheck.”
Interstate Crosscheck is a list that was created by Donald Trump supporter and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to hunt down and imprison voters who illegally voted or registered in two states in one election.
An eye-popping 499,092 Michiganders are on the Crosscheck suspect list. The list, which my team uncovered in an investigation for Rolling Stone, cost approximately 50,000 of the state’s voters their registrations. Disproportionately, the purged voters were Blacks, Latinos and that other solid Democratic demographic, Muslim Americans. (Dearborn, Michigan, has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the US.)
The Michigan Secretary of State’s spokesman Woodhams told me the purpose of the mass purge was, “to clean our voter lists and ensure that there’s no vulnerability for fraud. We’ve been very aggressive in closing vulnerabilities and loopholes to fraud.”
While Woodhams did not know of a single conviction for double-voting in Michigan, the “aggression” in purging the lists was clear. I showed him part of the Michigan purge list that he thought was confidential. The “double voters” are found by simply matching first and last names. Michael Bernard Brown is supposed to be the same voter as Michael Anthony Brown. Michael Timothy Brown is supposed to be the same voter as Michael Johnnie Brown.
Woodhams assured me the GOP used the Trump-Kobach list with care, more or less. He said, “I’m sure that there are some false positives. But we go through it thoroughly, and we’re not just canceling people.”
As to the racial profiling inherent in the list? Did he agree with our experts that by tagging thousands of voters named Jose Garcia and Michael Brown there would be a bias in his purge list?
The GOP spokesman replied, “I’ve known a lot of white Browns.”
Jill Stein didn’t buy it. Responding to both Michigan’s and Trump’s claim that voter rolls are loaded with fraudulent double voters, Stein said, “It’s the opposite of what he is saying: not people who are voting fraudulently and illegally, but actually legitimate voters who have had their right to vote taken away from them by Kris Kobach and by Donald Trump.”
Crosscheck likely cost tens of thousands their vote in Pennsylvania as well.
“It is a Jim Crow system, and it all needs to be fixed,” Stein concluded. “It’s not rocket science. This is just plain, basic democracy.”