It’s November 5 and the nation is in shock. Media blame it on the "Bradley effect": Americans supposedly turned into Klansmen inside the voting booth, and Barack Obama turned up with 6 million votes less than calculated from the exit polls.
That’s the nightmare. Here’s the cold reality.
And so on through swing states controlled by Republican secretaries of state.
The Ugly Secret
Here’s an ugly little secret about American democracy: We don’t count all the votes. In 2004, based on the data from the US Elections Assistance Commission, 3,006,080 votes were not counted: "spoiled," unreadable and blank ballots; "provisional" ballots rejected; mail-in ballots disqualified.
This Tuesday, it will be worse. Much worse.
That’s what I found while traveling the nation over the last year for BBC Television and Rolling Stone Magazine, working with voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. This we guarantee: there will be far more votes disappeared by Tuesday night than the three million lost in 2004. A six-million vote swipe, quite likely, shifts 4 percent of the ballots, within the margin of error of the tightest polls.
Begin with this harsh statistic: since the last election, more than ten million voters have been purged from the nation’s vote registries. And that’s just the start of the steal.
If the noncount were random, it wouldn’t matter. But it’s not random. A US Civil Rights Commission analysis shows that the chance a black voter’s ballot will "spoil" or be blank is 900 percent higher than a white voter’s.
Does that mean the election’s stolen and you should forget voting and just go back to bed for four years? Hell, no. It means you vote and vote smart, learn how to pry their filthy little hands off your ballot (there’s a link at the end).
How to Steal an Election in Five Easy Steps
Here’s how they can pull off the steal. Take out your calculator and add it up.
Step One: The "Dumpster" Vote – Purge Voters, Provisional Ballots
Ten million voters purged? What the hell is going on here? Why are we removing millions from the voter rolls?
The answer is the GOP’s secret weapon, the Help America Vote Act, signed by George Bush in 2002. When Bush tells us he’s going to help us vote, look out. But Democrats didn’t. They signed on to the GOP bill, believing this "reform" law would prevent "another
Here’s how: Help America Vote empowered secretaries of state to remove fraudulent and suspicious voters from the voter registries. It was the trick used by Katherine Harris in
For BBC TV and Rolling Stone, I asked the current Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman, "Why all the purging?" No answer, not a word, stonewalled even when I flew into
So, where are the Democrats? That’s the really scary part. I spoke with Paul Hultin, appointed by
Well, don’t worry. Hultin’s official committee will be holding hearings on the voting debacle in
The company and state choose the purging "algorithms," those mathematical formulae that, depending on how you tweak them, can go through a voter roll like a hot knife through cream cheese.
So, what happens to the purged voters? They’re told to scram when they arrive to vote or, if they squawk, they get a "provisional" ballot on which they can pretend to vote.
Now, here are the facts about provisionals: they don’t get counted. And there are lots of them. The great unreported story of the 2004 election was that there were more than three million voters shunted to provisional ballots. Over a million (1,090,000) were never counted, just chucked in the dumpster. That’s what caused Kerry to lose
Whatever keeps you from getting a real ballot – purged name, for example – keeps you from having the provisional counted as well. That’s because Democrats won the right of every voter to get a provisional ballot, but not the right to have that ballot counted. And how many will go uncounted? Double the 1.1 million loss in 2004 – not just because of the GOP’s purge-mania, but because of a vicious little codicil in Help America Vote that went into effect since the last election …
Step Two: "Verification" (and Elimination) of New Voters
For the first time in
So, the Republican game plan is simple: don’t let new voters vote. There are three steps to this block-and-steal tactic. First, under the new law, states can deny new voters registration on the grounds their names can’t be verified against government data files. Sounds reasonable, but it’s not, because we don’t have Soviet-style citizenship files in the
New voter verification losses are huge. In
It used to be that you filled out a registration card and, bingo, you were registered. Not any more. That’s also what happened in
Step Three: New ID Laws
Karl Rove said, "I go to the grocery store and I wanna cash a check to pay for my groceries I gotta show a little bit of ID. Why should it not be reasonable … at the voting place they ought to be able to prove who they are by showing some form of ID." And so, while buying his Pampers, Rove came up with a game-winner for the GOP.
Karl, let me answer your question. The reason, according to several studies by the Bush administration itself, is that lots of folks don’t have government ID. Some are nuns, some are poor, lots are brown or old. I was on Fox TV with Lady Rothschild a couple of weeks ago. The lady, a McCain supporter, approved of the ID requirement – and was truly surprised to find out that some poorer Americans don’t have passports. "Why don’t they?" her Fox-mates asked, incredulous. Well, not every barrio kid has just returned from his estate outside
Rove knows that. He certainly knows that, for example, Professor Matthew Barreto of the
Step Four: Spoiling Ballots
Your chad gets hung. The touch screen doesn’t like your touch. Or, your paper ballot had that extra mark that made the machine spit out your ballot like day-old beer with a cigarette floating in it.
In the last election, 1,389,231 ballots were zeroed-out, "spoiled," because the machines lost them, couldn’t read them, mangled them or simply didn’t register them. But it’s not random, not by a long shot. In New Mexico in 2004, I found that 89 percent of blank and spoiled ballots were cast in minority precincts – a sum of uncounted ballots way over the Republican "victory" margin in that state.
Another study shows that Hispanics’ vote choices are six times as likely to fail to be recorded when they vote on computers versus paper ballots.
In the primaries and in 2006, the "spoilage" and blank ("undervote") totals were horrific. There is every reason to believe the "spoilage" total will be as high as in the 2004 election. That is, no less than one million votes, overwhelmingly in minority districts, will just vanish. ("Spoilage" is not the same as vote tampering. There is a the concern that "black-box" computers will switch your vote via an evil software hack job. That’s another matter completely – and more votes lost if it happens, a sum I’m not including here.)
Step Five: Rejecting Mail-In Ballots
You’ve mailed in your ballot. Last time around, over half a million mail-in ballots were junked: everything from postage due to not liking your signature to a circle checked, not filled in. Mailing in a ballot is playing Russian roulette with it. About a tenth get junked.
This time, the GOP has a new game for trashing your absentee vote. In states like
You may get it right, but historic data suggest that, when combining the FTF games with the usual mail-in cock-ups, Obama will lose another million votes to mail-in disqualifications.
Exit Polls and Exit Stratagems
These millions of uncounted ballots – spoiled ballots, provisional ballots rejected, absentee ballots disqualified – fully explain the difference between exit polls (which, for example, gave Kerry Ohio in 2004 and Gore a win in
How would they get away with it? Well, they begin explaining away how the "pollsters" get it wrong, how pollsters didn’t figure the "Bradley Effect" of lying, racist voters. They’ll tell us the new, young and Black Obamaniacs gave money, went to rallies – but never bothered to vote. But the real reason will never be whispered: They cast votes that just weren’t counted.
Will the election be stolen on Tuesday? No, it’s already been stolen. That is, several million voters are doomed to lose their ballots; most won’t even know it. Overwhelmingly, they are the poor, minorities, new voters – Obama voters. Does that mean McCain’s got it in the bag and you’re helpless? Not at all.
Don’t Steal Your Own Vote
In 2004, I and other investigators wrote, long before Election Day, "
It’s happening again. For six years, the Democratic Party has been snoozing through a quiet, brilliantly executed Republican operation to block, stop and purge voters by the millions. As
Karl Rove once said, "We have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored glasses." He wasn’t complaining; he was boasting.
I know that the Obama campaign is not happy that I bring up the issue of a possible theft of the election. They fear voters will be "discouraged" by the possibility that the election is fixed.
Well, frankly, if you’re too bummed out by this recitation of facts and statistics to vote, then maybe you don’t deserve to vote, or to drive or to reproduce. Did Martin Luther King say, "I have a dream … so I’m going back to sleep"?
Votes can’t be saved by "hope" alone. There are simple ways to protect your own vote, from walking in your "mail-in" to refusing a provisional ballot. (You can download the list at StealBackYourVote.org, written with Bobby Kennedy, a professor of law.)
It comes down to this: Can the margin of trickery, vote suppression and ballot destruction – three to six million votes – be overcome? Yes. Because they can’t steal all the votes all the time. Two days before the election, John McCain is down by only 4 percent in some polls. But these are polls of "likely" voters. They exclude first-time and many low-income voters.
So, the answer to vote suppression is for something unlikely to happen – for the "unlikely" voters to simply overwhelm the statistical assumption of their laziness. As I’m sure Mr. Obama, a professor of constitutional law, could tell you: the best legal response to systematic vote suppression is to get off yo’ ass!
Greg Palast is the co-author of "Block the Vote," in this month’s Rolling Stone Magazine, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Palast and Kennedy are also co-authors of the investigative comic book, "Steal Back Your Vote." Palast, who reports on election fraud for BBC Television, is a Nation Institute/Puffin Foundation fellow for investigative reporting. Prior to his becoming a journalist, Palast was a forensic economist, fraud investigator and taught economics and statistics at