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Greg Palast: By Rejecting Recount, Is Michigan Covering Up 75,000 Ballots Never Counted?

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Investigative reporter Greg Palast has just returned from Michigan, where he went to probe the state's closely contested election. Trump won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes out of nearly 4.8 million votes cast. Green Party presidential contender Dr. Jill Stein attempted to force Michigan to hold a recount, but a federal judge ordered Michigan's Board of Elections to stop the state's electoral recount. One big question remains: Why did 75,335 ballots go uncounted?


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we continue our update on the presidential election to look at the results of the recount effort in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Wisconsin's Election Commission announced Monday, after its recount, Republican Donald Trump's margin of victory widened by about 162 votes. In Pennsylvania, a federal judge Monday rejected a request to recount paper ballots and scan some counties' election systems for signs of hacking. Hours later, state officials certified the results of the election, with Trump winning by less than 1 percent of the vote. Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had requested recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three states where Donald Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton. A federal judge had already ordered Michigan's Board of Elections to stop the state's electoral recount. Trump won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes out of nearly 4.8 million votes cast.

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We turn now to Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast, who went to Michigan to investigate the vote. He filed this report for Democracy Now!

GREG PALAST: Officially, Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes. But a record 75,335 votes were never counted. Most of these votes that went missing were in Detroit and Flint, Michigan, majority-black cities. How could this happen? Did the Russians do it? Nyet. You don't need Russians to help the Michigan GOP. How exactly do you disappear 75,000 votes? They call them spoiled votes. How do you spoil votes? Not by leaving them out of the fridge. Most are lost because of the bubbles. Thousands of bubbles couldn't be read by the optical scanning machines.

SUE: I saw a lot of red ink. I saw a lot of checkmarks.

GREG PALAST: Sue is a systems analyst who took part in the recount.

SUE: We saw a lot of ballots that weren't originally counted, because those don't scan into the machine.

GREG PALAST: The machines in Michigan and Wisconsin can't read these bubbles. But a much better machine, the human eyeball, can easily read what the voter intended. Both Michigan and Wisconsin, you have to pay the state millions of dollars to have humans read the ballots. This woman, Jill Stein, raised the money for the human count of these uncounted ballots. According to Stein, this human review was finding a whole lot of...

DR. JILL STEIN: Votes that were blank, many of which were in communities of color that are historically Democratic. So, obviously, this was a -- this was a concern for him.

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GREG PALAST: Enough votes that Mr. Trump would lose. So, then, a GOP politician came to Mr. Trump's rescue.

This is Trumpville, rural Michigan. And this is their hero, the man who shut down the recount. Bill Schuette is the Republican attorney general of Michigan. He issued an order saying that no one would be allowed to look at the ballots in over half the precincts, 59 percent, in the Detroit area -- the very place that most of the votes had gone missing.

DR. JILL STEIN: And it's shocking to think that the discounting of these votes may be actually making the critical difference in the outcome of the election.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)

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