Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jacking the Nation with the Myth of Voter Fraud

AMY GOODMAN: Today, we spend the hour looking at voting rights and the political manipulation of the voting process. We begin with a report filed by BBC investigative journalist Greg Palast on how both parties are accusing each other of trying to steal the election.

GREG PALAST: There’s a war on for that White House over there. Both political parties say the other is trying to take it, not by winning the vote, but by stealing it. In fact, the Democrats say the Republicans have done it before.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.: You know, a lot of Europeans wonder, why are Americans so crazy? They keep reelecting this guy. Well, the answer is, we don’t. You know, they keep stealing these elections. And they stole it in 2000, they stole it in 2004, and they’re all set up to steal it again.

GREG PALAST: Now, the Republicans accuse the Democrats of voter fraud on a massive scale. Republicans charge that Democrats have registered as many as five million illegal aliens, fakes, felons and fraudulent voters.

So, the question is, are the Democrats stuffing the rolls with millions of bogus voters, or are the Republicans blocking millions of genuine voters?
"TOVA WANG: This idea of massive in-person polling place fraud on Election Day is just an absolute myth."

GREG PALAST: The bipartisan team found Democrats were right to worry that legitimate voters were being excluded, but by the time Bush’s chairwoman published the report, the experts’ conclusions were turned upside-down.

TOVA WANG: They left out a lot of the information that we provided regarding voter intimidation and vote suppression. They left out—edited out a number of things that could be perceived as critical of the Department of Justice’s handling of voter intimidation cases.

GREG PALAST: US law permits political party workers to go right into the polling stations and challenge voters when they show up to vote. Experts fear this could lead to intimidation of legitimate voters. Despite the election experts’ views, Republicans demanded new grounds for challenge, they said, to stop Democrats cheating.

UNIDENTIFIED: We know that, and we know—your party rests on the base of electoral fraud.

GREG PALAST: The answer came from the man known as Bush’s brain, Karl Rove, who demanded new ID voting laws.

KARL ROVE: I go to the grocery store, and I want to cash a check to pay for my groceries, I’ve got to show a little bit of ID. Why should it not be reasonable and responsible to say that when people show up at the voting place, they ought to be able to prove who they are by showing some form of ID?

GREG PALAST: New ID laws will hit black voters hardest, says Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the late attorney general, and voting rights lawyer.

You know, Karl Rove said he goes to the grocery store, he has to show an ID to cash a check. So, why can’t you be required to show a photo ID when you vote for president of the United States?

That seems sensible. However, in America, it raises a racial issue.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR.: I have an ID, and most Americans have an ID. But one out of every ten Americans don’t have a government-issued ID, because they don’t travel abroad, so they don’t have passports, and they don’t drive a car, so they don’t have driver’s licenses. The number rises to one in five when you’re dealing with the African American community.

GREG PALAST: Altogether, an estimated 100,000 black voters in just one swing state, Indiana, will lose their vote to the new law.

But when I stopped by the Native American pueblos of New Mexico, I discovered that when it comes to voter suppression, Democrats don’t have clean hands, either. Local politicians wanted to reopen a uranium mine on the pueblos’ sacred mountain. The pueblos were not happy.

NATIVE AMERICAN MAN: See, that’s a very sacred mountain that we have. There is a place, special place, that we pray for—to have a nice summer, have good rain.

GREG PALAST: The officials gave the pueblos ballots without envelopes. Then these same politicians threw out their votes, because they didn’t come in the right envelopes. The Democrats were charged with cheating the pueblos by this man, David Iglesias, a rising Republican star appointed US prosecutor by George Bush. But the Bush administration wanted him to go after individual Democrat voters. Republicans bombarded Iglesias with allegations of fraud by Democrats.

DAVID IGLESIAS: Over 100 complaints we investigated for almost two years. I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case in the entire state of New Mexico.

GREG PALAST: So the Bush administration fired him.

Not prosecuting innocent people led to your removal?

DAVID IGLESIAS: Yeah. I mean, they wanted some splashy pre-election indictments that would scare these other—these alleged hordes of illegal voters away. They were looking for politicized—for improperly politicized US attorneys to file bogus voter fraud cases.

GREG PALAST: In the last presidential election, officially, three million votes were cast and never counted. This time, it could go a lot higher.

And then, there is the chronic shortage of voting machines. In Ohio last time, voters in prosperous white neighborhoods waited only fifteen minutes to vote, while voters in poor black areas waited in line four hours. It all adds up, and it can change the outcome.

TOVA WANG: If you combine people who are disenfranchised by voter ID, people who are disenfranchised by other things, such as there not being enough voting machines, combined with people who will be shut out because they have been left off the voter registration list, that’s enough to swing the election.

GREG PALAST: If the final count is as close as the polls indicate, the next man in that house won’t be chosen by counting the votes, but by blocking the voters.

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