Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Investigative Reporter Greg Palast: GOP Stole 2016 Election Using Voter Suppression, Purging Ploys

Posted on Nov 16, 2016
By Kasia Anderson

  Donald Trump on election night with Vice President-elect Mike Pence (right) and Reince Priebus, then-chair of the Republican National Committee (center). Investigative reporter Greg Palast questions the validity of the voting results that led to Trump’s win. (Julie Jacobson / AP)
Editor’s note: On Thursday, Truthdig will be sitting down with Greg Palast to discuss the 2016 election—tune in here.

Americans who think the 2016 presidential election was far too reminiscent of the 2000 edition might be on to something. What’s more, like a busted clock, President-elect Donald Trump could actually be right twice: that the “swamp” of Washington, D.C., needs draining, and that U.S. elections can be stolen. In fact, investigative reporter Greg Palast thinks Trump and his party may have just made off with this one.

In the turbulent days since last Tuesday’s shocker brought roiling national tensions and divisions out in the open, politicians and pundits have lurched about in an effort to explain the results. Everything from woefully flawed polling models to a complacent electorate, intolerable nominees and third-party “spoiler” candidates has been trotted out in explanation, amounting to a confusing and jumbled picture. What for some constituted an earth-shattering national disaster appeared to others as the dawn of a welcome new era. As anyone with a social media account knows, there hasn’t been much gray area in between. (Among many other things, this campaign season was marred by extremes.)

For Palast, all that speculation misses the point. According to his research, which he’s been conducting since the last time Florida hogged the spotlight on Election Day, there are many ways in which the U.S. voting apparatus can be manipulated to produce a desired result.

In other words, in Palast’s view, Trump was right about the system being “rigged.” Or at least that’s what the president-elect vigorously insisted—until he won.

READ: From White Sheets to Spreadsheets
Back in 2012, Palast helpfully boiled down his data to warn citizens about the imminent failure of the American democratic experiment, and he included that data in his book, “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps.” (Watch this clip for a comprehensive rundown.) Since then, the list of steps has grown because of the Supreme Court’s catastrophic gutting in 2013 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The 2013 decision removed crucial safeguards that had prevented balloting practices from being gamed in ways that would discriminate against minority voters.

But the stakes were jacked up even higher by the introduction in 2014 of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. That scheme was spearheaded by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (whose name has been floated as a short-list possibility for Trump’s administration), and involves the cooperation of his counterparts in 27 other states. Their stated mission is to remedy a nationwide epidemic of voter fraud that some analysts say doesn’t actually exist. (Click here to read and watch Truthdig’s earlier interview with Palast about the Crosscheck program.)

What they’ve really accomplished, according to Palast’s calculations, is the systematic purging of tens of thousands of voters from the rolls in this latest presidential election. Many of them are people of color, who have been deemed more likely to cast ballots for Democrats—and scores of them live in the swing states that Trump claimed by razor-thin margins on Election Day.

In short, Palast believes Americans have just witnessed a hugely consequential heist on a national scale. He’s been on the trail of alleged voter suppressors and election poachers for years; he landed a cover story in Rolling Stone’s September issue; and he released a documentary this fall, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.” But he says the fix was in on Nov. 8 despite all these efforts.

Palast talked with Truthdig’s Kasia Anderson just after the election to offer his take on how the voting tallies added up as they did.

Editor’s note: Interview transcript was edited for clarity.

Greg Palast: I want to follow up on key things—obviously, you saw the report on Democracy Now! from Ohio. And even more important, of course, our film spends a lot of time in North Carolina. But here’s the story … My film talks, and my book talks, about 10 ways to steal the vote.—basically, 10 methods of voter suppression. The number one thing to remember: This is the very first election, presidential election, following the gutting of theVoting Rights Act.

Kasia Anderson: Right.

Greg Palast: ... by The Supreme Court. That has made an intense difference, believe me. Let me just give you some numbers here. So what we have is, for example, we have a Trump margin of victory in Michigan of 13,107. The crosscheck purge list in Michigan was 449,922. Now, I want to be careful—when you go through that list, there’s a lot of people who have actually moved or something … in fact, most people on this list were not removed. I figure about, from my experience, the absolute minimum number of removals is only about 12 percent. But only 12 percent of 449-450,000—you’re talking 50,000 people [removed from the Michigan voter rolls], almost all voters of color, overwhelmingly.

So, the Trump margin of victory—any application of the crosscheck list whatsoever—that’s it, that’s the margin of victory in Michigan. Arizona: 85,000 is his margin—85,257. The crosscheck list: 270,000.

Crosscheck purge list is—I’m looking at … the 2014 summary from crosscheck itself, and then we apply ... Obviously, in Michigan you’re talking a crosscheck list of 449,922 suspected double-voters or double-registered [voters], conservatively based on the Virginia purge, which is a very … it’s the most conservative method of all. There’s a competitor to crosscheck called ERIC [Electronic Registration Information Center], and that pretty much cleaned up the people who have moved.

So, a lot of states only use crosscheck or use crosscheck first, and their crosscheck eliminations are much bigger. But I want to take out the ones that ERIC did, because the ERIC list, I’d say, is 90 percent reliable. I mean, they take out people that shouldn’t be taken out, but they’re fairly reliable. So, if you’ve cleaned out the people who are on the ERIC list ... [If] crosscheck has someone on the list that wasn’t on ERIC, they’re not a double-voter – they haven’t moved. Then you’re getting into the pure first-name, last-name match.

Now, you’ve seen the movie and heard this a couple times, so you know that the crosscheck list is basically a match of people with [the same] first and last names, and they purge those people. Or, they send them postcards, and those who don’t return those postcards can be purged, either in one election cycle or in the second election cycle.

Kasia Anderson: Right.

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