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Too Fat To Vote

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Greg Palast       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Pew was advised by Yale law professor Heather K Gerken, who explained the study for the New York Times...

"Poor Southern states perform well, and they perform badly. Rich New England states perform well and badly -- mostly badly," she said. In other words, Justice Roberts is right: "The evil that [Voting Rights Act Section 5] is meant to address may no longer be concentrated in the jurisdictions singled out for preclearance."

In other words, why pick on Florida and the 15 others?

But wait. Something's missing: color. Sure, the average Floridian waited 23 minutes to vote, but what about black voters?

In November, I joined African-American voters on "Souls to the Polls" day. Their wait for a ballot: four hours. Then I went up the road to an all-white polling station. Wait: zero minutes. There were unused rows of balloting machines, more poll workers than voters and a pot of coffee brewing for the pale suburban-Americans casting ballots.

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Oddly, despite a hot, hot Presidential contest with an African-American candidate, by mid-May 2012, the Census Bureau reported that the number of African-Americans registered declined by over one million. Hispanic names on voter rolls fell, too, despite massive registration drives. A big decline in voters of color was reported in the South's huge swing state, Florida.

So, overall voter turnout fell short. But the reason, according to the Pew expert featured in the Times, is that, "States in the Deep South with high obesity problems seem to be having a problem getting people to the polling place."

Apparently, citizens of color south of the Mason-Dixon line are just too fat to vote.

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Maybe there's another explanation for black and Hispanic names disappearing from the polls. Willie Steen, a Gulf War veteran, was removed from the voter rolls in 2000 because the Republican Secretary of State of Florida listed him as a felon. I met Steen. He'd never got so much as a parking ticket. He was, like tens of thousands of others, guilty of "VWB"; Voting While Black. 

Secretary of State Katherine Harris sent Steen a note of apology for the "error," but only after the election of George W Bush. Then, in 2004, Steen, who is quite slender, was purged again.

Steen's name matched that of an Ohio felon named "O'Steen" on a database created by Republican hacks. The name-match game cost 58,000 innocent voters their registrations in just one year.

This was just one method of nine used to hold Florida's black voting rate to 58 percent compared to 65 percent for whites. 

Jim Crow isn't dead, he's just changed his white sheets for spreadsheets.

And in 2012, a new Republican Secretary of State again set out to bleach the rolls.  Using lists of illegal aliens, the GOP hack-marked 182,000 (!) voters whose names matched the deportees.  But wait: it's a jail-time crime for a non-citizen to register or vote, so that's one heck of a crime wave.

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So how many illegal foreign voters were arrested in Florida? One: a Canadian gun aficionado.

Yet, nearly one in 10 Hispanic voters would have been barred from the polling booth. But, at the last moment, federal voting rights law stopped the Republican's latest Jose Crow maneuver.

But wait -- if the Voting Rights Act required Florida to get federal approval for voter roll purges, how could Steen and other black men have been stripped of their rights?

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Greg Palast's investigative reports appear in Rolling Stone, the Guardian and on BBC Television. His latest film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, on how Donald Trump stole the 2016 election, is available on Amazon. Palast is Patron of the Trinity (more...)
 

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