Investigation Reveals New GOP Tactic to Purge Millions of Minority Voters in 28 States

Posted Nov. 5, 2014

MP3 Interview with Greg Palast, journalist and author, "Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps", conducted by Scott Harris

voterpurge

A six-month investigation conducted by journalist and author Greg Palast for Al Jazeera America has uncovered a new method by which 28 states, mostly controlled by the Republican Party, have threatened to purge as many as 3 million predominantly minority voters from the voting rolls in the 2014 midterm election and beyond. Palast's report, titled: “Jim Crow Returns,” examines something called the Interstate Crosscheck System, a project of right-wing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who’s known for his advocacy of restrictive voter ID laws and anti-immigrant legislation nationwide.

State governments using the Interstate Crosscheck System have compiled a list of nearly 7 million voters’ names who officials claim have voted in two or more states during the same election, which is a felony crime. However, the list of suspect voters are determined by finding a simple match of first and last names in two or more states, disregarding different middle names, and with no apparent effort to filter out the vast majority of blameless individuals by using unique birthdates and/or Social Security numbers.

When Palast requested copies of the voter purge lists from these 28 states, only three responded: Georgia, Washington and Virginia. Upon close examination, Palast found that Georgia’s Republicans had a list of an estimated 500,000 suspected double voters based solely on simple matches of first and last names from other states, with no other corroborating evidence. Georgia’s Democratic legislators were shocked to hear that they had not been informed about the state’s plan to purge this large group of voters. Documents turned over to Palast by Virginia officials revealed that state government had already purged more than 41,000 voters on the dubious information supplied by the Crosscheck system. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Greg Palast, who summarizes the findings of his “Jim Crow Returns” investigation and the potential that the purge of millions of Crosscheck identified voters could play a decisive role in deciding key contests in the 2014 election that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

GREG PALAST: The total list is 7 million names and they say that's 3 1/2 million double-voters. It's the biggest crime wave in American history if it's true. But it's not true. It's not a flawed list. It's not a "bad list." As far I can tell, there's not a single double-voter on the list of 7 million. For Al-Jazeera, the website and television news there. I was able to get these lists and typical of the list, are names like John Adams Smith voting in Virginia and he's supposed to be the same person as John Larry Smith in Georgia. And that's a typical match. That's not just something I picked out to make it look bad. Literally, 26 percent, that is almost two million of the supposed double-voters in fact have a mismatch, or no match of middle name. Tens of thousands, probably a little over a 100,000 names have "junior and senior mismatch. While they advertise having Social Security numbers, the internal instructions which we obtained at al Jazeera show that if there are Social Security numbers, and that's rare – if they don't match, and they never do – if they don't match, your name stays on the purged list. Middle names don't match, you're on the list. Junior, senior, doesn't match, you're on the list, etc. There are no dates of birth used to knock people out. If the date of birth doesn't match, hey, you're still on the list. That's why 27 states have 7 million names or 3.5 million supposed double-voters.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Greg, your report says Virginia has purged 41,000 voters as a result of this Crosscheck list. Do we know the numbers of voters in other states combined that have lost their vote because of this dubious Crosscheck system?

GREG PALAST: Well, that's one of the problems is that, again, remember, they wouldn't give us the list because they said it's a criminal investigation. So they're playing another game. They're not telling how many people are getting knocked off in other states. Only Virginia, which seemed to proudly announce that it had removed 41,000 voters from the voter rolls as alleged double-voters. If you consider Virginia is typical, that's about 10 percent of their list. They said they're going to get more. They call it "low-hanging fruit." Given that the list is pretty heavily racial, that's a pretty loaded statement. So if the other states are purging at the Virginia rate, you're looking at three-quarters of a million to a million people are going to eventually altogether lose their vote because of this accusation that they're voting twice. So again, we're having elections which are being decided not by what the vote is, but who's blocking the vote. It's a secret purge. And that's one of the things that makes it insidious and most dangerous.

BETWEEN THE LINES: You've been doing some critical investigations of partisan voter purges since that tumultuous 2000 presidential election. What's it going to take to correct this failed system of partisan voting that is now is in full swing across so many states across the country?

GREG PALAST: Voters have to be upset about it. We have to decide as a nation that everyone has the right to vote and we will defend it no matter what that vote is. We now think it's very cute to knock out the opponent's voters. They say, "Well now that's the rules." And so this is a huge problem and unfortunately at the moment, most purges like that are especially racially based are conducted by Republicans on a mass basis because they benefit when they knock out minorities, the usual targets these purges.

The problem is, Democrats have been doing it too, not effectively, not as well. I've seen it all over the country. We have Hispanic Democrats knocking out Native American voters in New Mexico, for example. And so, because all parties' hands are dirty, we can't expect the parties to take this on. You think, oh, well the Democrats want to stop this because it'll stop Democrats from voting. No, no, Democrats have their hands in this. So it's we the people. There are a lot of good organizations. Tonight, I just spoke to Rev. Barber of the Moral Monday movement. He's filing a complaint. You have the Asian American Defense League looking at this because so many Asian Americans are affected by any purge involving common names. And they know why they're being targeted. Seventy-three percent of Asian Americans vote Democrat. But we'll only be able to end it when citizen organizations say no-no, we all get to vote. Otherwise, it ain't America, it ain't democracy. No other way to do it.

See more of Greg Palast's work at gregpalast.com.

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