How Trump could win: (2) by election rigging

The stability of a democracy rests on losers of an election accepting the fact that they lost fair and square and that they will have another chance to win next time.  But what if that isn’t true?  What if the system is rigged?

Greg Palast, an outstanding investigative reporter, thinks the system is rigged.  He has been devoting himself exclusively to this topic for years.

He reported his latest findings in his new book, HOW TRUMP STOLE 2020: The Hunt for America’s Vanished Voters by Greg Palast with comics by Ted Rall. The book is highly readable, but if you don’t have time to read the whole book, Ted Rall’s cartoons sum up the story.  If you can’t get the book, check out Palast’s home page.

Palast found that, in the 2016 presidential election, 5.87 million votes were cast and never counted.  These included 3.03 mail-in ballots rejected or lost.  In addition, 1.98 million voters were blocked from casting votes.

This did not happen at random.  The 7.85 million Americans who lost their vote were disproportionately African-American, other people of color and younger citizens—all Democratic constituencies.  This probably gave Donald Trump his margin of victory over Hillary Clinton.

In Michigan, for example, 75,355 votes were not counted because ballot scanners in Detroit broke down, even though they could have been counted by hand.  Trump won Michigan by just 10,700 votes.  There are similar stories in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Since 2016, 16.7 million American voter registrations have been canceled, and they are disproportionately minorities.  The Democratic politicians are not the victims here.  The victims are American citizens who have a right to expect fair elections.

Voter suppression and election rigging at this moment in American history is done mainly by Republicans.  That’s not to say that Democrats are angels.  But, according to Palast, what election rigging they do is mainly in primaries.

In the past, ballot-stuffing by Mayor Richard J. Daley’s political machine in Chicago may have give President John F. Kennedy his margin of victory.  The word “gerrymander” comes from Elbridge Gerry, a 19th century Democratic governor of Massachusetts.

Present-day Democrats are strangely indifferent to this issue, as is much of the press.  One exception is Stacey Abrams, a Georgia state legislator who fought against voter suppression even before she ran for governor in 2018.

Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. Photo: CNN

Her opponent was Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, who purged 500,000 voter registrations on the grounds that they supposedly had left the state.  One of them was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 92-year-old cousin, who was turned away when she tried to vote.

Palast put together a team that checked out every name.  They found that 340,134 of the purged voters had never moved.

Kemp also refused to accept registrations of some 40,000 new minority voters and threatened to arrest Korean-American voter registration volunteers.  His margin of victory over Abrams was just under 55,000 votes.

This is something that has been building up for a long time.

In 2000, George W. Bush’s margin of victory over Al Gore in Florida was 537 votes.  Florida’s vote gave Bush a majority in the Electoral College.

Palast discovered that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris canceled 94,000 voter registrations, mostly of black voters, on the grounds that they’d committed felonies in other states.    Palast got the list and found that exactly zero were illegal voters.

This was just the beginning.  Just in the past two years, 16.7 million voters have had their registrations canceled.  Among those who’ve turned up on purge lists are Sequanna Taylor, a Milwaukee County supervisor, who, coincidentally or not, is African-American

Palast said his investigators found that, in certain states, one in seven African-American votes and one in eight Hispanic and Asian-American voters were purged.

I refer you to Greg Palast’s book and web site for details about the Crosscheck system, voter caging, voter ID laws, removal of voting machines from key districts, voting machines with verification and anti-hacking features turned off.

Instead I’ll concentrate on the main threat to the integrity of the 2020 elections, which is problems with mail-in ballots and rejection of mail-in ballots.

Democratic politicians favor mail-in voting in order to keep voters safe from the coronavirus.  Donald Trump opposes it, claiming that it opens the door to fraudulent voting.

But the threat, as Palast pointed out, is exactly the opposite.  The threat is that legitimate voters will be blocked from voting, or have their votes canceled without their knowing.  If that happens to your vote, you’ll probably never know.

Click to enlarge

Many states intentionally make it difficult to vote by absentee ballot.  If you live in Wisconsin, Michigan or certain other states, you have to have your vote witnessed, Palast said; if you live in Alabama or Missouri, you have to get it notarized.

If you are a first-time voter in 34 states, you need to send in a copy of your ID.  In Wisconsin, student ID is not good enough; you have to have a letter verifying that you are enrolled.

Your ballot can be thrown out for any number of technical reasons—for example, indicating your preference by an “X” instead of filling in the bubble, or not keeping your signature in the required space.

Even in ordinary times, a high fraction of mail-in ballots are never counted, he noted.  One study puts the figure at 22 percent.

Many voters who request absentee ballots never receive them.  Andrea Young, executive director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, asked for an absentee ballot 45 days in advance of the Georgia primary election on June 9.  Her ballot arrived June 10.  Coincidentally or not, she, too, is African-American.

The deadline for having ballots counted is based on when they arrive, not on when they’re postmarked.   Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has adopted a policy of slashing hours of work and not allowing overtime pay for postal workers, even though this will mean delays in mail delivery and mail piling up at distribution centers.

Another thing that could add to the confusion is an expected tidal wave of evictions and foreclosures, leaving many homeless and others on the move.

Click to enlarge.

In February, the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee announced they would spent $10 million—since raised to $20 million—on election-related lawsuits.  Lawsuits have been filed in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.

In Pennsylvia, the RNC seeks to ban the use of secure drop-boxes for submitting take-home ballots and eliminate the requirement that poll watchers can only serve in the county they live in.  In Florida, the RNC seeks to prevent the state from paying postage on mail-in ballots and acceptance of mailed-in ballots just postmarked (rather than received) before election day.

Back in 1981, Republicans in New Jersey created a bogus Ballot Security Task Force to deter minorities from voting.  They were sued, and, without admitting wrong-doing, the Republican Party along with the Democratic Party accepted a consent decree to refrain from voter intimidation.  That consent decree has expired, and the 2020 election will be the first in which the decree isn’t in effect.

Now President Trump is talking about postponing the election.  The election date was set by law in 1845, and the United States has never missed a national election, not even during the Civil War or World War Two.  But this has the effect of creating doubt about the legitimacy of the election.

Trump doesn’t have to win.  All he has to do is create a situation as in 1876 or 2000, when the election results were in doubt.  This means the decision goes to the Supreme Court, where Republicans have a 5-4 majority, or the House of Representatives.

Under the Constitution, failure of the Electoral College to reach a decision means the House of Representatives will decide, on the basis of one-state, one-vote.  Republicans are a majority in 26 state delegations and Democrats in only 22.

Of course it may not come to that.  In spite of all the obstacles, Democrats may win in a large enough landslide to overcome the tilted playing field.   I most certainly don’t advocate giving up.

If so, I hope Democrats do what they failed to do after 2008, which is to reestablish voting rights and fair elections.

President John F. Kennedy famously said that those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.  It could come to this.

LINKS

Greg Palast – Investigative Reporter.

The Plot Against America: How the GOP Plans to Suppress the Vote and Sabotage the 2020 Election by Andy Kroll for Rolling Stone.

Voter Purges Prevent Eligible Americans Form Voting by Danielle Root and Liz Kennedy for the Center for American Progress.

USPS Plans to Slash Hours at Many Post Offices, Hoping to Save a Buck by Aaron Gordon for Verge.

 

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