Tuesday 14 October 2008
by: Sari Gelzer, t r u t h o u t | Report
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast have teamed up to tell voters how to ensure their votes will be counted. (Artwork: www.stealbackyourvote.org)
Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. believe that the 2008 elections have already been stolen. What's an American to do given these circumstances? They suggest: "Steal it back".
Palast, an investigative journalist, and Kennedy, a voting rights attorney, paired up to create a nonpartisan voter guide that illustrates the six ways that American votes will be stolen this election and seven ways to steal them back.
You may ask who's stealing your votes. Palast and Kennedy believe that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), created in 2002, is one of the main reasons votes are systematically being stolen. Secretaries of state attempting to comply with HAVA are purging voters from the registration rolls and blocking new ones from registering. The purging occurs if a voter's name does not match a government database.
Those who are at most risk for having their vote stolen are new voters, people of color, low-income, elderly and swing state voters, Palast told Truthout.
In 2006, Palast says that 40 percent of citizens who were purged from the voter rolls in California had Islamic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic names. These names were at most risk for misspellings.
The Steal Back Your Vote Guidelines promote the importance of going to the secretary of state Web site for your state to confirm that you are registered ahead of the election.
The New York Times appeared to confirm Palast and Kennedy's findings on mass voter purges in its report last week titled "States' Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal". The newspaper found that tens of thousands of eligible voters were being illegally purged ahead of the 2008 elections.
In the crucial swing states of Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, The New York Times reported that Social Security databases are being used to verify voters, as opposed to more accurate state databases. Federal law requires Social Security databases to be used for verification only as a last resort.
The swing states of Michigan and Colorado are also violating federal law, according to The New York Times, because they are removing voters from the registration rolls within 90 days of the presidential election.
When a name has been purged from the voter rolls, election workers will hand out a provisional ballot. However, Palast points to 1.1 million provisional ballots that went uncounted in the 2004 elections as proof that provisional ballots often go uncounted.
"Once you sign that provisional ballot, the chances are officially one in three that your ballot will be thrown in the garbage can," said Palast.
In their guide, Palast and Kennedy write that a provisional ballot will most often render a vote uncounted. They suggest seeking adjudication on the spot, by calling a voter's rights hotline instead of accepting and signing the provisional ballot.
"Don't go postal," says Palast, urging voters not to mail in their ballot.
Palast told Truthout: "All you need is the most minor error, like you didn't use your middle initial in your registration; not enough postage cost a third of a million votes in the US the last time around because most ballots are two stamps, not one. There's a million ways to not count your vote on a mail-in; don't do it."
The other suggestions in the "Steal Back Your Vote" guide include voting early, getting involved in voter-registration and get-out-the-vote organizations, and pursuing legal action if disenfranchised.
Palast and Kennedy will be following the 2008 elections as they unfold, including publishing reports in Rolling Stone and BBC news.
t r u t h o u t | Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: "Steal Back Your Vote!"