Palast has spent years studying and reporting on election complications across the country. He contends on his website that the election was “stolen” by the “GOP and Trump operatives.”
This summer, Palast penned a piece for Rolling Stone that predicted voting problems in the general election. “What's far more likely to undermine democracy in November is the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud,” he wrote at the time. “Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state -- thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots -- and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.”
On Election Day, Palast reported on electronic difficulties with voting machines in Ohio. In fact, he uncovered three ways in which votes were allegedly “rigged” to benefit the GOP. Watch his interview below on Democracy Now!
You can also check out past editions of “Live at Truthdig” on our YouTube page.
—Posted by Emma Niles
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Sarah Wesley: Hello everyone, and welcome to another one of our Live at Truthdigs. I’m Sarah Wesley, your host, Communications Coordinator here at Truthdig. We’re also joined by a very special guest in this timely climate of the political election 2016. Greg Palast has joined us today. He’s an investigative journalist; he’s worked with the BBC, The Guardian, and has a new book out, actually, called The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. It’s accompanied by a nice little film also, and he’s done a bunch of research on elections, and especially this election, and in 2000 with that crazy election. And so he has a lot of research, maybe alluding to widespread election rigging. So we’re going to get into all of that. We’re also joined by Kasia Anderson, our Deputy Editor; and Emma Niles, Staff Writer, will be tuning in to all of your Facebook comments and questions.
Greg Palast: Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fool; America’s been made a fool of. This election was, as Donald Trump says, “this election is rigged”; this election was rigged, and it was his cronies who rigged it. And my investigation for Rolling Stone laid out in detail and quantified how they went through and basically ripped off these Republican-controlled swing states. There are five swing states, and Hillary won only one officially, because it’s the only one in which you had a democratic Secretary of State running the elections. Now, here’s the trick. So there were--and how big is the suspect list of people voting twice? Seven point two million, 7.2 million names of double voters. Now, no one questioned this system because no one got the lists. And as you said, I’m an investigative reporter; that’s why you see the hat, i’m an investigative reporter. So as an investigative reporter, I spent--with a whole team--five months; we got our hands on those lists.
Kasia Anderson: So can you just situate us in time, when you got your hands on those.
Palast: I first got the lists about two years ago; it took five months of work. Because you remember, Donald Trump, by the way, has been talking about this rigged election and multiple voters since before he announced. He was on the speaking circuit for a group called Citizens United. People don’t know this story; this is where he started, OK? And that’s one of their claims, is that people are voting many times. So they created a list, an official list of seven million suspects. No one could get the list, because--you know, criminals! You can’t get a criminal suspect list; I got the list. And I looked through it, and you look at these names--for example, in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, I go and meet some of these terrible double voters. I go in Ohio and meet Donald Alexander Webster, Jr., Donald Webster. And they said, he’s the same voter as the Donald Webster in Virginia--except Donald Webster in Virginia is Donald Eugene Webster, Sr. There’s just no connection; it’s just a common name.
Emma Niles: You mentioned earlier that this rigging is racially charged. Can you expand on that?
Palast: Ah, yeah. You got it, you got it! See, race is the Achilles’ heel of the American electoral system. We’re still running Jim Crow elections, except now, instead of using white sheets to scare away black voters, they’re using spreadsheets. So one of the tricks here is that--it’s basically common names. James Brown. John Black. And by the way, David Lee--the Asian American community was really hit hard by this Crosscheck. Because for example, in the Korean community there’s four names: Park, Ho, Lee, and Kim--that’s it. And so they got really wiped out in Korean communities.
Anderson: And also Hispanic voters, right?
Palast: Well, let’s put it this way. Ninety-six percent of people named Garcia are Hispanic. Now, I don’t know who the other four percent are [laughter], but [inaudible] 96 percent of Garcias are Hispanic. As our experts--we brought in experts from eBay and the people that handle eBay’s, and Amazon, and American Express, databases. And they never get it wrong; you never get a toaster meant for one James Brown that’s supposed to go to another.
Anderson: Funny how that works, yeah.
Palast: So they don’t mess it up; they don’t send the wrong bill out to the wrong people, right? So how did this happen? They deliberately used a deliberately poor system. And what happens in America--in America, the history of black slavery meant that African-Americans have common names, tend to share names, like James Brown. The history of the conquest of Latin America means that there’s eight hundred and--there are 836,000 people named Garcia. If your name is Joe Garcia, or Jose Garcia, as our experts say, you supposedly voted in 27 states. No, you’re just named Garcia! So, but if your name is Charles Koch, for example, that’s a unique name; there is no other Charles Koch, there’s one.
Anderson: [Laughs] You would know, right?
Palast: Kris Kobach--Kris Kobach who runs the system, there’s one. So white people tend to have these very unique names. The Census Bureau keeps track of the racial breakdown of every single surname in America. So we got the census documents, compared it to the list, and lo and behold, this [was] a complete Jim Crow purge operation.
Wesley: So what I’m understanding is that they’re targeting the African-American, Latino and Asian community because they’re most likely to vote democrat, and that’s why it’s the--
Palast: Exactly, exactly, exactly--and see, it used to be--this is the first attack on Asian-Americans. Because previously, Asian-Americans, a couple decades ago, voted Republican. And now they’re voting as if they’ve turned black. In fact, in my film, I have a segment called Voting Gangnam Style. I have a bunch of Korean kids who are breakdancing, dancing Gangnam style, to try to get their parents to vote, and so they call it Voting Gangnam Style; and then it goes pop, pop, pop--they turn Black. And suddenly there’s John Lewis dancing Gangnam style. So this is the only film in which you will ever see John Lewis dance Gangnam style, the great civil rights leader and congressman. And what’s happening is, is that--so they went after the Asian-American vote because it’s going solid, solid democrat, even more than Hispanics. So what’s happened is, this is a cheap way to get rid of these voters. And no one is going to defend people voting twice. It was done in stealth, so that no one knew about it. I tried to raise the alarm, that’s why I made a movie, I tried to do everything, meeting these people. In fact, actually, there are a few white people on there, including one Willie Nelson, a country singer, I’ve heard, who was accused of voting a second time as Willie May Nelson. So they didn’t even match the genitals, let alone the middle names. In fact, I go in to see Willie, I bang on his door--because it looks like he could, he could vote in multiple states; he lives on a bus, he’s got all these state stickers on it--
Anderson: And has some residence in Hawaii too, right? Yeah.Palast: So what happened is, I go into Willie’s bus and I confront him with the evidence, you voted twice! And he kept giggling, because you know, he just thought it was pretty ridiculous. And it’s so funny, and I said, are you high on something? Are you smoking something? And he said, aren’t you? Because this is ridiculous. And so, while a lot of the film is done as fun and slapstick, it’s really pretty grim stuff. Because it’s a deeply racist program.
Niles: A lot of our readers definitely are agreeing with the sentiment of a rigged election, but they’re really focused on the DNC primaries, and thinking that Hillary stole the election from Bernie Sanders. So did you work on that as well?
Palast: Yeah I did, I did; in fact, I got roundly attacked by the Washington Post, which said “respected investigative reporter Greg Palast”--now, I want to quote their “respected” part--“respected investigative reporter Greg Palast has lent his name to conspiracy theories that Bernie Sanders won the democratic primary.” I called up the writer and I said, since when is arithmetic a conspiracy theory? We, in fact, one of the things that really killed Sanders in the democratic primary in California was that over a million people were shoved into something called provisional ballots. I call them placebo ballots, because they rarely get counted. People--this is, by the way, how we know Hillary won; exit polls in the swing states went for Hillary. The problem is that people, when they exit the polls, say “here’s how I voted,” but they don’t know if their vote counted. So for example, if you’re on the Crosscheck list and your name is missing, they don’t say you can’t vote; they say, no, fill out this ballot; they usually say “we’ll count it later,” which is not true.
Anderson: That’s the provisional ballot.
Palast: The provisional ballot, you fill out this thing, they stick it in an envelope and throw it out. You walk outside to the exit polls, they say, how’d you vote? I voted for Hillary. Yeah, but your vote didn’t count. So now the United States State Department uses exit polls as the legal standard for measuring whether an election’s been rigged. Now, polling is often off if you’re projecting, because you don’t know who’s actually going to vote.
Niles: Yeah, that was a big problem in this election.
Palast: But the reason why exit polls are considered the absolute standard, and trustworthy, is that someone just voted. They can tell you--you know, they didn’t walk in and not vote, or they’ll say so, but you know who they voted for; they just did it. So if there’s a difference between exit polls and the official count, something went wrong. And so we have something like five million--you ready for this?--this is never discussed--there’s something like five million provisional ballots that were cast in this presidential election. There were, in addition, two or three million votes that were invalidated for other reasons; they call it “spoiled.” Now, in my movie I have, like, this Uncle Wiggily game with like all the 10 ways you can spoil--I use cartoons. I hired the guy that drew “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” to draw cartoons. So I have a lot of cartoons.
Anderson: It keeps people’s attention, right?
Palast: It keeps people’s attention, and it tells you something grim about our democracy, but in a funny way. So what we want to do is--but there’s many ways your votes spoil, because the machines don’t--for example, the machines don’t record or something. But we saw, for the first time, white people get provisional ballots. Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I was in Palm Springs; this is about as white as you can get. And it was an audience of 100 or so people. And I said, how many of you have ever received a provisional ballot? There were two black men in the audience; that’s it. Those were the only two people that raised their hands, two black men in the audience raised their hand they had a provisional ballot. This past June in California, a million white folk got provisional ballots and they didn’t even know what the hell these things were. Because they’re black ballots; they’re handed out like candy in minority areas for any little old thing, your name’s not there or whatever. So we really have these Jim Crow, apartheid elections. It’s enough, the numbers are enough--for example, in Michigan, I just--I came a little late to the broadcast, I do apologize, because I was talking to the Michigan ACLU, which wants to take action. Because Trump supposedly won by 13,107 votes; that’s miniscule. But the number of people on the Crosscheck purge list were 449,000, almost half a million. Now, not all of them got removed, but basically, Trump would not have Michigan if it weren’t for this Crosscheck purge. And you look at Florida, if it weren’t for the games they played there, no way. Et cetera. I was in Ohio on election day, and the weekend before; massive, massive suppression of the black vote. North Carolina, same thing. So if you go to North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, those states are flipped by Jim Crow tactics, and therefore Donald Trump wasn’t elected; he was selected by a Jim Crow process.
Anderson: You also mentioned to me, the couple of times we’ve spoken about this, and we also have a new interview with you posted on the website--
Palast: From before the election.
Anderson: Before the election, too, yeah; one before and one after, before and after pictures here. But you talked about how there were also the Voting Rights Act, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court had a big impact, since this is the first presidential election that we’ve had since that happened in 2013. So that’s another piece of your puzzle, right?
Palast: That’s exactly right. Like, OK, you just heard about this stuff where you wipe out guys named James Brown, because James Brown, Jr. votes in Georgia and James Brown, Sr. votes in New Mexico. So you say, like, no, they’re not the same James Brown. You couldn’t get this type of system approved by the federal government under the old Voting Rights Act. So this was the first, the first Jim Crow election, but it’s the first that, we had Jim Crow official in this nation until the Voting Rights Act of ‘65; three years ago, the Supreme Court sliced up the Voting Rights Act. And it’s only because of that that Donald Trump was elected. Let me tell you, Barack Obama would not be president if the Voting Rights Act had been gutted in 2007. Donald Trump is the direct Rosemary’s Baby of the destruction of the Voting Rights Act, and look out, because he’s got both houses of Congress; he’ll have control of the Supreme Court; and they’re going to eliminate, they’re going to try and eliminate the rest of the Voting Rights Act.
Niles: We have a reader question that just came in, [Richard] who is watching, wants to know, pretty blankly, how do we stop this? How do we change it? Do you have any thoughts on that moving forward?
Palast: It’s not easy, but getting your voting rights has never been easy. Ask Martin Luther King, who took a bullet for it. And I’m working a lot with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who’s my coauthor at Rolling Stone. And let me tell you, it’s a process; we’re going to have to restore the voting rights movement in this nation. And what that means is, as we did in ‘65, look; in 1965, Martin Luther King--black folk didn’t have the vote. They didn’t have that power, they didn’t have the guns, they didn’t have the money, they didn’t have the banks, they didn’t have the politicians. And yet they won because as Senator Sanders, Hank Sanders of Selma, Alabama, said, We had marching feet, we had praying prayers, we had singing songs, they amassed 35,000 people in Selma, marched over the Edmund Pettus bridge; four people were murdered on that march. OK? It wasn’t a walk in the park; four people were murdered. You meet the people who were beaten nearly to death. One young woman, Linda Blackman, who’s in my film, she was beaten so severely that she was actually loaded into a hearse; they thought she was dead. Then she jumped up, she came to and jumped up, and she ran right back to the bridge to continue marching. That’s what you gotta do. You think you’re dead, you’re not; you gotta get up and keep marching.
Wesley: I have a question. If we do get up and march, what are we demanding from Congress? What type of policies? Because it’s clear that obviously, in the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton primaries, that was rigged; that came out in Wikileaks. So it’s not just happening on the GOP side, but it’s also happening on the democratic side. What are the policies that we need to demand when we’re out there protesting?
Palast: There’s several things. Number one, we have to protect the remnants of the Voting Rights Act and then reverse it so that we get back the right to vote; that no one can lose their vote because of the color of their skin, and through any trickery that results in people losing their vote because of the color of their skin. Or their age, because they went after students; they went after, you know, basically the poor; they go after those who are vulnerable, and therefore, democratic in the general. You can’t count on the Democratic Party to be your defender, because in primaries, the Democratic Party gets its hands dirty with these same tricks. And then they turn around and say, OK, we stole your vote in June, but forget about that; vote for us now in November. So they lose all their legitimacy. The Democratic Party is not the vehicle for saving your vote. We have to do it ourselves. So we have leaders and we have our organization from the national action movement. We have, I was just off of the phone with the ACLU; and we have the great--I’m going to be, by the way, I’ll be in Washington D.C. on the 13th of December; there will be a special Congressional hearing to review my evidence, which will be hosted also by Barbara Ehrenwein, who is the great voting rights attorney.So you got to work with progressive organizations. We have to join together and we have to--if we can’t win with 51 percent of the vote, we’re going to have to win with 56 percent of the vote. That means you’re going to have to fight like a dog to resist these things and learn how to protect your vote. It’s no longer as easy as just showing up and voting. In the back of my book I have something called “Steal Back Your Vote”; it’s just a thing you take out, also at GregPalast.com. At GregPalast.com you can get “Steal Back Your Vote: Seven Steps to Beat the Ballot Bandits.” And what that is, is like basic protection, like go check out whether you’re registered. And one way to defeat the system is to keep re-registering. My daughter fought three months to get the right to vote in Georgia, she had to, including getting a Georgia driver’s license proving she was a citizen, et cetera. They don’t want students to vote because as far as they’re concerned, they are just--you know, when you’re in college, you’re basically a Negro voter as far as they’re concerned, when you’re in Georgia. They don’t want you to vote; they know how you’re going to vote. So they’re going to apply all the ugly racial techniques to the student population; look out, we have to work very hard to preserve our own votes.Niles: I have a question. You mentioned about a loss of legitimacy, and you also talked about the Washington Post, and what they said about you during the primaries. And we have another reader question; Dusty Miners wants wants to know how we get the national media to pick this story up, and they mention no offense to Truthdig. [Laughter]
Wesley: We’re independent, so that’s fine.
Palast: Independent media, thank God, bless Truthdig and independent media, no kidding. If you think--you know, I’m not going to be on the NewsHour whose official corporate sponsor is Chevron, which is going to do very well under the Trump regime. So you’re not--you know, I am mainstream in the rest of the world. I report for BBC television, the gold standard of English-language news; I report for the Guardian newspaper, the top newspaper in this world in English. And now I’m in Rolling Stone here, which has a long history of digging out the truth. Now, what we can do is, we have to now pressure those national outlets. You know, why are people still supporting the Petroleum Broadcast System? Send them back their mug if they don’t give you the news; say, keep the mug, we want the news.
GW: Well, I actually saw some protesters outside of CNN, and they had Standing Rock signs saying, please cover this; please show more coverage. So I think people are a lot more mobilized right now. I have a question, though, about this evidence, this huge mass of evidence that you have that’s suggesting that the GOP rigged the election. And you said you have a meeting in Washington. Does this mean that this can result in some sort of lawsuit?
Palast: It’s already a lawsuit. So for example, Reverend William Barber, who’s head of the NAACP, he’s really the new Martin Luther King; he’s a brilliant, inspired man. But more than that, he also understands the law, and he has filed a lawsuit in federal court in North Carolina to stop the electors of North Carolina from voting for Trump. Because he said they used racist trickery to cut the democratic vote, including citing my investigations with Crosscheck. Like I said, the Michigan ACLU is suing; they’re nonpartisan, but they said, you know, this 13,000 vote margin was stolen by Trump in Michigan. North Carolina, stolen. And I will be going on December 13th to Congress for the Voting Rights Caucus, 70 united members of Congress, will be gathering to review; they’re actually going to watch my movie first, and then we’re going to have a review of the evidence. I have stacks of evidence. I have said that I never can give out sources, but I can give out evidence, and I will be handing the Justice Department evidence. Alcee Hastings, the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, took my film and book and my Rolling Stone articles and put them in the hands of Loretta Lynch, our attorney general--at the moment, for a few more weeks--and said, OK. You’ve got the evidence in your hand. So you can’t say you didn’t get it. We want some indictments, because I’m a former federal judge; I know a criminal conspiracy when I see it; this is it. So we have lawsuits, we have the Congressional Black Caucus, we have congressional hearings, we have state-by-state suits going. My phone’s ringing off the hook because of all these civil rights organizations who are jumping in now and saying, we need that evidence. And I’m very glad--I mean, it’s late, because I was kind of doing the Paul Revere thing, like--hey! Hey, guys! Just look at the film, the election’s about to be stolen! And you know, and I actually thought, boy I’m going to look like a real idiot when Hillary walks away with this. But unfortunately, it was--you know, I don’t like being right in this case.
Anderson: What about in the movie, you confront some of the people that you’ve brought up here. And what has the response been, if any, since we hast checked in about that. Because you did, you go up to Kris Kobach--
Palast: Yeah, well, Kris Kobach is the guy who created this system for Trump of wiping out--
Anderson: Secretary of State of Kansas.
Palast: He’s the Secretary of State of Kansas; he’s also the guy that wrote that racist SB1070 law--
Anderson: For Arizona.
Palast: It’s called the “Driving While Brown Law” by the ACLU. He’s the guy who came up--by the way, he’s the guy who came up with the idea of creating a wall and making Mexico pay for it.
Anderson: And he’s being implicated in stories I’m seeing about the Muslim registry--
Palast: Well, not just implicated. He, just so you know, Kris Kobach--and you’ll see this in my film; I actually have this cartoon about him, another set of cartoons--in the cartoon, I show that he set up this Muslim tracking system for the Department of Homeland Security. Remember they used to have that eyeball total information awareness thing? I don’t know if you remember that from after September 11th, with George Bush--
Anderson: I should, but I don’t.
Palast: Anyone remember the total, TIA, total information awareness--they had, like, the all-seeing eye on top of a pyramid. [Laughter] It was really creepy! And then Kris Kobach with his Arab detector. And George Bush himself, not exactly--he’s not exactly Martin Luther King--but he actually said, Kobach, get rid of that thing; that’s racist on its face; I don’t want my name attached to it. So it was George W. who said that thing is racist, and now--
Anderson: Look now far we’ve come.
Palast: --it’s come back, and they’re resurrecting the Muslim tracker. And that’s Kris Kobach. And now, instead of being part of Homeland Security, unfortunately, we can pretty much count that he will become the head of Homeland Security. I did confront him personally with the evidence he was rigging the election. I showed him the documentation; he couldn’t believe it, because this stuff was supposed to be confidential. So he’s like [gasps]--you know, and I snuck in there; I had, it’s very funny, you’ll see in the film, I walk in with one of those handheld microphones with a cube on it that said 4, like Channel 4 eyewitness news; so he thought I was coming at him from a local TV station. In fact, I was working for Channel 4 of London, England, so it wasn’t a lie; the cube was for real. I’d had the cube made, but I really was working for a Channel 4. But then I confronted him and said, what about this? This is evidence that you are fixing this election. Here’s the names. Why are you doing this? And then he just lies! He just spews lie after lie after lie. So the British papers actually contacted him, and the lies continued. “We’re not removing anyone, we’re not doing this, we’re not”--and I have the actual written, stone-cold evidence. They can’t get out of this one. They can’t get out of it.
Anderson: Can they follow the same--I asked you this last week, but I’m curious about it because we’re getting a lot of pushback from readers and commenters who are saying oh, you know, he’s just creating conspiracy theories. I know you’re used to this kind of stuff. But can you tell, you know, another time to this audience, can you say a little bit about how you justify your data? You know, because not everyone’s a statistician, so they can’t all look at the same data set and know what it means. So we rely on you here to give us the interpretation.
Palast: Well, some of you have--look, I used to teach statistics, OK? And I have a degree from the University of Chicago, from Obama’s old school. And I taught statistics and all that, but you don’t have to be very sophisticated. If you look, this is--I don’t know if you can focus on this--this is a piece of the Crosscheck list, but I’ll read you of it. These are names that they said are the same. OK? Michael Eugene Jackson, Sr., is supposed to be the same as Michael LaVerne Jackson. Michael Leonard Jackson is supposed to be the same person, or the same voter, as Michael Paige Jackson. Michael Jerome Jackson is supposed to be the same as Michael Eugene Jackson. And so on and so on and so on. You don’t need a PhD to know that this is a phony--
Anderson: Right, but were all those people removed--
Palast: And then they said--so they remove about one in eight. Because what they do is they send out a postcard, and if you don’t return it, your name’s removed. And by the way, that’s another little trick: white, suburban people return postcards from the government. Young voters, and especially voters of color, young voters, they’re moving around; they don’t even get these postcards, and so they lose their votes. It’s another way to bend this system further. There is zero doubt. Because I have--see, they tried to hide the list from me. Once I got the list, that’s the stone-cold evidence that they’re removing these voters. And I show the cards that they created. And also--by the way, it’s not the only thing that they use; they use tricks like caging, they use tricks like purging, they use tricks like the long lines. You’ll love this one--
Anderson: And closing down balloting.Palast: Yeah. So, like, for example, you have in Ohio, I was there on Souls to the Polls day, Sunday before the normal voting day. Seventy percent of African Americans in Ohio vote on Souls to the Polls day; they go after church. Why? Because in 2004 they waited in the rain for eight and nine hours and didn’t get to vote. That re-elected George Bush over Kerry in Ohio. So do avoid that, they say, OK, we’ll do early voting. So the Republican, violently Republican Secretary of State of Ohio said, the court said you have to open the polls on Sunday. You must. So he said, OK, tell you what. To be fair, we’ll have, every county will have one polling station on Sunday. One. That meant that little podunk county with 6,000 residents had a polling station. It meant that the entire city of Cleveland had one polling station. The entire city of Cleveland, the entire city of Dayton; I was at the Dayton thing, hours and hours waiting in line to get to the poll, which wound up and down a three-story county building and out into the parking lot, spiraled around, thank God the Hillary people had a tack truck there. They did!
Niles: But of course if you look at the statistics of who generally lives in rural areas vs. urban--
Wesley: I have a question, how do you know it’s the GOP, because we see this kind of racism all over urban communities, when it comes to food, access to health care, housing. I mean, how do we know it’s not just racism or just a white supremacist agenda. How do we know it’s specifically the GOP?
Palast: It’s interesting, because for example, in the case of Crosscheck, Kris Kobach is the official, this guy Kris Kobach is the official creator and controller of Crosscheck for the state, so it’s official. They have a document that says he’s the CEO. And you see, like, Jon Husted--and by the way, I don’t think that these guys are actually, necessarily racist. They don’t care about the color of people’s skin; they care about the color of their vote, which is generally blue. I’m not a big defender of the Democratic Party by any means, but in this case, they’re going after these voters because they vote blue; they vote democratic. And so it’s not kind of your daddy’s redneck racism; it’s a very sophisticated operation to say that these are vulnerable people. Like, for example, in Florida in 2000 I’m the reporter who discovered--when I was working for BBC--who discovered that Katherine Harris, the republican Secretary of State, and Jeb Bush, the governor at the time, had removed over 56,000 black men from the voter rolls saying that they were felons, criminals, not allowed to vote. Well, it turns out, I got my hands on the list--this is what American reporters don’t do! They don’t get the material! And so I got the list, and lo and behold, start going through the list, I go, turns out that exactly zero--exactly zero! We show this in the film, in a cartoon--exactly zero were illegal voters. But they were all removed as felons. And it’s very easy--this is where the racism comes in--it’s very easy to say that a young, black man has a criminal conviction. So, like, this guy Willie Steen, who’s in my film, he was a Gulf War veteran, he works at a hospital; you can’t be a felon and work at a hospital in Florida, you can’t even get the job. He went in with his five-year-old son to show him, hey, here’s how we vote in America, and he was told, you can’t vote, you’re a felon. Says, I never even got a traffic ticket. Get out of here. The Democratic Party would not defend these black folk from the charge that they were criminals, because they didn’t want--oh, we can’t defend felons--they’re not felons! They’re just young, black men trying to cast a legal vote. So there’s no defense from the Democratic Party. Very little, very rare, it doesn’t happen. And I’ve seen this again and again. And a lot of it is because the democrats use these same tricks in their own primaries, their hands are dirty.
Anderson: Yeah, they don’t want to blow the lid off it.
Niles: I’m curious, you were talking about resistance and marches and forms of protest, and I’ve seen a lot since the general election of people arguing that there should be faithless electors who vote the way they think the popular vote went. Do you have any thoughts on that as a form of protest?
Palast: Well, to quote my friend Jesse Jackson, the Reverend, said the winner should win and the loser should lose. And the person with the most votes is the winner in a democracy, and the person with the lesser votes is the loser. So the faith should be kept with the American people. And I would hope that electors would find it in their conscience and heart to vote the truth, including those states where they know--they know--it was flipped by ugly, Jim Crow tactics.
Anderson: What about absentee ballots? You mentioned to me that you didn’t think that Hillary Clinton should have conceded when she did, and that Gore shouldn’t have conceded when he did, because they weren’t his votes and her votes to concede.
Palast: Now, I mean, Gore, I will give him credit for one thing. I mean, it was odd, when Trump said elections are rigged, Hillary Clinton ran out and said, no American candidate has ever questioned the integrity of the American vote! I said, what, excuse me? Al Gore went to the Supreme Court to challenge the vote. But it did all but unfold like a cheap suit. And Kerry, John Kerry later said, Greg Palast--this is a quote--Greg Palast is correct, in his analysis of the 2004 election. Kerry does believe now that it was stolen from him in Ohio 2004, to some of these less sophisticated but still-effective tricks. So we do have a big problem. And one of the things that we don’t ever talk about in America is the uncounted vote. So for example, we have about, probably--now, this is a wild guess, I’m telling you, because I can’t get these numbers yet. But from history, it’s about five million provisional ballots. Most will not be counted. My God, Hillary should say, I want and demand that those ballots be counted. Five million ballots. Most of those will be her votes, by the way. Absentee ballots, especially from soldiers overseas; soldiers, yes, are conservative by nature, but they don’t like, they were very pro-Clinton. OK, again, that military vote, the overseas vote; absentee ballots coming in late because in many states like California, you don’t, all you have to do is have your ballot postmarked. And some of these ballots are not counted. Plus, we have what’s called the invalidated ballot, the spoiled ballot; it’s about two and a half million of those in a typical presidential election. We don’t ever talk about the spoiled ballots, ballots that just never get counted because they say oh, there’s a stray mark, the machine didn’t read it. Oops! The machine didn’t record it. Oh, someone dropped coffee on the bubbles. Hanging chads. Hanging chads still exist! They still exist.
Anderson: Hanging chads, here we are again. Hanging for 16 years.
Wesley: Have you seen more efficient ways of voting in other countries?
Palast: Oh, yeah! For example, in Switzerland, where if you don’t vote, you get a fine. Everyone votes, they want you to vote, and they make it easy to vote, and you got to vote, by law, OK? So the Swiss voting company came to me with this ballot that cannot go wrong. It’s colored, and it’s real simple, and there’s no way they can screw it up. And they said, would you endorse this ballot? And I said, that won’t help; in fact, it’ll hurt, because these guys don’t want the machines to work. They have an advantage. So for example, I was on, the day before the election on Monday, I was in a court in Columbus, Ohio, the capital of Ohio, for Rolling Stone, and I was in Democracy Now! And I was latter chambers with the judge, where a great voting-rights lawyer, Robert Fitrakis, had said, I have evidence, your Honor, that the anti-hacking software has been turned off on these machines, and furthermore, the ballot imaging software--what this is, you know, when you vote electronically sometimes, they now use systems--because people say oh, there’s no paper trail--they can take a picture of your vote on screen. They can take a picture in real time, so they know, OK, there’s your voting pattern. Right? They turn off the imaging software so there’s no record. It just tallies, but there’s no record of an individual vote. And so that’s hard to--you can’t recount if there’s no imaging. And they got a message from the FBI, be aware of possible mass hacking of the vote--their response to the mass hacking notification from the FBI was to turn off the anti-hacking software, the stuff that tells you if someone’s tried to break in and tamper with the machine, added votes after closing hours, et cetera. So you can imagine! So I expected them to go, of course, oh come on, Fitrakis, this is conspiracy-nut stuff. Instead they said, yes, we did turn off the imaging software, yes we did turn off the anti-hacking--I kid you not! I can’t make this up. They told the judge, they told the judge that they turned off the anti-hacking software--it’s like, I almost fell out of my seat! This is the attorney general, the Republican attorney general, and the republican secretary of state’s lawyers. And they said, but to turn it back on--the anti-hacking software, the imaging software, to make sure no one’s messing around--they said, well, that would create havoc. No, that would create democracy! So we’ve got a system that is meant--you can’t, they don’t want a technical fix. Because as we saw in Ohio, when the voting machine company said, OK, we will create a fix to these machines to reduce hacking, to create an image trail--so even when they have the equipment, they just turn it off, because they don’t want it to be a fair vote. They don’t want it to be a fair vote. Because there’s no--I’m going to put it bluntly--there aren’t enough white guys in America to elect Donald Trump. So they got to get rid of the un-white guys, and that’s how this election happened. It wasn’t a vote; it was an unvote.
Wesley: Wow. I think we have a lot to think about with this conversation. Thank you so much for the wealth of information and for all of your research that you’ve done, and we look forward to following up, too, on your meeting in Washington. And don’t forget he has this book and film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, go check it out. Thank you again for everyone that commented below. Continue the conversation, and we’ll try to get to you in the comments. Make sure, if you enjoyed this conversation, that you support Truthdig. We are independently run, and we really rely on your support. So go to Truthdig.com/support to give anything that you may, or leave comments. Send us your feedback.
Palast: I endorse that. I really do. [Laughter]