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OpEdNews Op Eds        8/14/2004

Interview with Greg Palast: Don't Depend on Politicians to Defend Democracy:  The biggest threats to the vote, what Greg is doing and what needs to be done in every state, and in the high risk states he identifies.

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Interview with Greg Palast: Don't Depend on Politicians to Defend Democracy:  The biggest threats to the vote, what Greg is doing and what needs to be done in every state, and in the high risk states he identifies.

Rob Kall, editor, founder of OpEdNews.com interviews Greg Palast, author of Best Democracy Money Can Money-- the book that exposed the full story of the theft of the presidency by vote corruption in Florida

OpEdNews.com I 've been asking people what they plan to do so they don 't steal the election and what are they going to do if they steal the election. So... what do you think. What are you going to do so they don 't steal the election?

Greg Palast Tell the truth on them. One of the first things is people need to know how they stole the last one and how they 're doing it again. Last time I uncovered that they stole florida by removing tens of thousands of black people and calling them felons when they were just, voting law black.

They 're at it again. They have another list of 47,000 people and probably, I would say 90 percent plus on that list are innocent of anything except being democrats. It 's four to one democrats over republicans.

Now, I 'm also looking at New Mexico, wholesale, grabbing with both hands, and that 's a serious business. Remember that Al Gore won New Mexico by 377 votes. No-one 's looking at New Mexico. That 's a place that 's easy to steal. You 've got these kind-of local political warlords that could easily fix the vote for Mr. George.

OpEdNews.com I 've just come from a rally/sendoff for Joe Hoeffel here in Pennsylvania. He 's doing a 67 county tour of the state in 18 days and the energy level is boggling the minds of the regular politicians.

Greg Palast They don 't have any idea of what the heck is going on.

OpEdNews.com The number of committee people, ust for the local precints, increased by fifty percent. They didn 't have representatives for a lot of the precincts before. What I 'm getting at is all that energy-- you, or somebody might be able to put it to use.....

Greg Palast It 's not my job, as a journalist, to put anything to use, except to give people the information. What they have to do is, they have to be armed. I 'm afraid that just poll watching on the day is not going to be enough, if someone is knocked off the voter rolls

OpEdNews.com So, what are you doing in Florida and New Mexico that people could be doing in all 50 states.

Greg Palast One, make sure that you are registered. Call up the county election supervisor.

OpEdNews.com With the correct address. I understand there are people sending in false address changes for democrats, so they are taken off the proper voter rolls.

Greg Palast Make sure you are on your list with your correct address and that you know where to vote.

Second, go out and register more people and don 't mail in registration forms. Take them to the voter registry offices and keep track of them. Make sure they are entered in. That 's one of the biggest things. Jesse Jackson went around registering people, and a lot of college people were registering at the universities. They know exactly who you are votoing for. They 're not going to put your name on the voter roll until after the election. I saw this in Florida where students showed up for election day and they said "Oh sorry, we didn 't get your form," or "We had to verify that you weren 't lived at your home address," or something like that... by the thousands. And they 're still doing it. That 's a typical one.

Three, face the facts that you can 't win with a majority of the vote, you 're going to have to win with a super majority, which means, get your ass out and vote and make sure everyone you know votes. Americans don 't vote and that 's gotta end. It 's not gonna save the planet, but it 's ridiculous if you don 't. If you can spend an hour watching Friends on TV, you can spend an hour stopping fascism on the streets.

4 If someone tells you that you can 't vote, certainly fill out a provisional ballot. But understand that almost no provisional ballots are ever counted. Don 't be fooled by that either.

Also, look at the fact that bad voting machines are costing-- here 's a statistic you 'll like-- in the last electioin, 2000, the official number of votes thrown away was 1.9 million One point nine million votes were cast and never counted for technical reasons. And guess what. I looked at the demographics and the information I got from Harvard and the US civil rights commission is that half-- about a million of those voters are African American. And that 's not because they 're dumb and they can 't figure out the friggin ballot. It 's because they get the crap machines, just likethey get the crap hospitals and schools. And that 's done deliberately to make sure it will maximize the error rate in the black community. That 's one of the great hidden stories in America. It took me four years to get out the story of the fake purges of felons in America. It 's finally hitting the news four years after I broke it in England. This is the other part of the story that no-one is picking up-- the non-count of the black vote in America. It 's huge.

OpEdNews.com The other thing is you are going after the voter rolls in Florida and New Mexico and analyzing them. Is this something that people could be doing in every state?

Greg Palast There are certain states where it 's crucial, especially states that claim to remove felon voters. Remember, most states you don 't lose your citizenship just because you have a record. This unique to seven southern states. These are old Ku Klux Klan laws. So that 's where it 's really vital. But the other is removing voters for change of address or so-called inactivity-- whereever you have a secretary of state that can start purging people suspected of being illegal voters, then you 've got a big problem. You 're being prosecuted without a case being brought against you. This is a big issue. Can we stop it? No we can 't stop all the thefts. Most of the thefts will be through giving black people bad machines. One way, by the way, is computerization.

Those areas trying to fix their problems-- there 's a simple fix. There are voting machines that work well-- paper ballots with optical scanners in the voting booth. They work quite well. The problem is computers. They have a much higher error rate in the black community than optical scanners, and not because blacks can 't figure out computers, which is the kind of racist line that 's put about. IT 's because they 're given the crap machines that don 't work and crash... deliberately. They 're given these machines deliberately.

OpEdNews.com Computers that crash deliberately?

Greg Palast We saw that in Broward county Florida. When Jeb Bush was running for re-election, Katherine Harris pushed computer on Broward County Florida. In the white communities, the computers seemed to work. In the black communities, they couldn 't open them, people couldn 't get the passwords, they couldn 't get the votes in, they couldn 't get the votes out. No-one disagrees with this. This is accepted fact. Everyone knows that in the black communities in 2002 in Broward county, computers didn 't work and hundreds, maybe thousands of black people lost their vote because of it.

OpEdNews.com You 're talking 2002

Greg Palast This was 2002. This was the supposed fix from the disaster. "We 're going to fix, we 're not going to have hanging chads anymore. We 're going to have computers."

OpEdNews.com So what do they do when there are computer glitches and it 's a computer voting system?

Greg Palast You 're fucked. Your vote doesn 't count. Bev Harris, who I think has done a terrific job of pointing out how you can hack into computers, has missed the big one. I 'll be very straight with this. The big loss of votes in computers are computers crashing. They are not in hacking. Because we can 't identify elections at this moment where we are quite certain that they 've been hacked. The biggest single problem is computers going down. As they said at Johns Hopkins, "You want to fix the election? Unplug the computer." You can 't vote. In broward County you simply couldn 't vote.

OpEdNews.com So what do they do? They don 't have paper or something?

Greg Palast They say "come back later."

OpEdNews.com That 's nuts.

Greg Palast So, in some counties, they 'll have some absentee ballot blanks around, etcetera. But that 's already a problem. In the black communities they just told them, "well come back later. We have to fix the machine." Well, you know, people take off work and that 's it. Or what happens when the machine crashes and 140 people voted on that machine. That 's what happened in Florida. And they say well that was a test run. You bet and the test ran exactly the way they wanted. What you do is you make sure that your areas of the machine that they get are bad, that they screw up, that they don 't work. Can you imagine testing computer program with a hundred million users, new users, on a single day, and determine the presidency of the United States with a first day test of computer hardware and software? Can you imagine? That 's what we 're doing.

OpEdNews.com It 's Insane.

Greg Palast Millions of people will be doing a test of computer hardware and software on a single day with the outcome determining who is president. It is completely, absolutely... it is more than insane. It is deliberate. It 's a fix. Now think of this. The system that works, which is paper ballots with optical scanners in the voting booth, which we know works-- no hanging chads, none of that bullshit, right. This is a system that we know works and has a recountable paper trail. That system costs one fifth of the cost of computers, which have a known higher failure rate. Let me ask you a question. Why would the politicians spend five hundred percent more which does not work as well, unless they like the way it doesn 't work. That 's very, very important. They 're spending five times as much for a worse machine. It costs one fifth the price to use a paper ballot with an optical reader. Why. Why would they do that when optical readers have a lower error rate than computers. So, why?

OpEdNews.com I have word that Rush Holt 's legislation (for recountable paper record of electronic voting) they 've got 149 people committed to the legislation and they don 't think it will go through in time because of all the other stuff on the docket.

Greg Palast It 's not going to go through in time because George Bush and Jeb Bush like it this way. Believe me, if it were country club voters who were losing the vote, if it were members of the golf club in Coral Gables Florida whose names were struck off the voter registries, do think that there would be a problem getting that on the agenda? This is about race in America. WE have an apartheid voting system in America and you can 't get the Democratic party, let alone the Republican party interested in fighting this battle. The very mention that I saw was John Kerry speaking to the NAACP, saying that there were a million black voters disenfranchised in the last election. And he got that from Jesse Jackson, who made John Edwards sit down and read my stuff.

OpEdNews.com I heard about that and published your article on it ( Black Americans Discovered By Democratic Party Kerry Mentions the 'D' Word by Greg Palast )

Greg Palast That was very funny. He made him, like... "you gotta read this stuff, you gotta watch this film," and then he took it to Kerry.  But my concern is that Kerry said that to the NAACP. If Kerry, who is a senator, got up on the floor of the senate and said, "this will not stand," I would be a little bit more comfortable. It's one thing to use it as an applause line to a black audience. It's another thing to say we're going to commit this party to make sure that black people's votes count.

And if you wonder why the democratic party's not been strong on this, don't forget that  the white Democratic party leaders are there in many states because  they suppressed the black vote, especially in states like Georgia and in parts of Florida. It's a very  serious problem-- Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico-- you've got politicians who do not want the minority population to have too big a vote, and that's true democrat or republican.

OpEdNews.com I just want to get back to one thing. Florida and New Mexico-- you're going after the voter rolls and evaluating them for the demographics, right?

Greg Palast Right, as well as looking at the machinery of voting.

OpEdNews.com Is this something you think would be good for every state to look at?

Greg Palast  I think that you have to look at the purging of the voter rolls in every state and it's not being done.  I mean people are dead asleep on this one. The problem is that a lot of the Democrats think that they're saved if your name is not on the voter roll you can get a provisional ballot. The chance of your provisional ballot being counted is less than one in a hundred.

OpEdNews.com What are some other risk states?

Greg Palast I think a high risk state is Illinois, but that's in the Democratic column. I would say Georgia, the Carolinas, New Mexico, Florida... and I haven't seen what's going on in states like Michigan, Ohio. And remember you can't just look at what's going on at the state level. You've got to look at  on at these rural elections boards. It's mostly the Secretary of States offices that now have the power to purge people. If anyone is not looking at those purge lists-- who's getting purged and why and checking name by name-- that's the game. And the second game is not entering people who've put in registration forms in the registration file. If you're collecting, go out and get registrations, bring them to offices and then say we're going to make sure that these people are registered. We're going to check in two weeks and make sure that their names are on the voter rolls. It's very, very important.

OpEdNews.com This is great stuff, Greg. What about after. I started having a conversation with someone, observing that if this happens again, that it's obvious that they stole the election, it could get real ugly. And I said that maybe it would be a wise thing to do some kind of Ghandi-like civil disobedience...

Greg Palast That is the one thing that I've written about. In 200 three elections were stolen at the last minute, in Yugoslavia, Peru and the United States, on the vote count. And in Peru and Yugoslavia, people took to the streets, shut down the country and said we are not, this country is shut down, no work until the guy who got the most votes takes office. It happened in two of the three countries and only in the United States did people say, "Oh well, let's move on."

And the sickening spectacle of the leader of the so-called opposition, Mr Gore, saying that American democracy has triumphed because the guy with the most votes loses. 

Bottom line, We can't depend on politicians to defend democracy.

Comments from Rob Kall, editor of OpEdNews.com:

Within this interview, there's a mandate that antibush individuals of all parties can take as lead towards action.  You can volunteer to help protect the voting process at www.ElectionProtectionVolunteer.org

Rob Kall rob@opednews.com  is publisher of progressive news and opinion website www.opednews.com and organizer of cutting edge meetings that bring together world leaders, such as the Winter Brain Meeting and the StoryCon Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached.  Over 100 other articles by Rob Kall


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