Purging Voter Rolls

The "Shocking" Truth About Election Rigging in America

Monday, 05 September 2016

By Victoria CollierTruthout | News Analysis

RICK: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
POLICE CAPTAIN RENAULT: I'm shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
CROUPIER (handing Renault a pile of money): Your winnings, sir.
CAPTAIN RENAULT: Oh, thank you, very much... Everybody out, at once!
(Scene from Casablanca.)

If there is anything positive to say about the 2016 elections, it's that they have finally forced an end to the official denial of computerized election rigging. In the past month, the fact that our voting technology is a hacker's paradise has been validated by no less than all the major TV news networks: NBCABCCBSReutersThe Washington PostThe New York TimesThe Boston GlobeThe AtlanticUSA Today,The HillThe GuardianMother JonesPolitico, and a dozen other outlets.

Of course, the corporate media and political parties are now professing "shock" at the very prospect that US elections can be manipulated, and yes, even stolen. 

Yet it has long been an open secret that game-changing races have been decided not by voters, but by insiders; from the presidential race of 1960, appropriated for John Kennedy by Democratic muscle in Chicago, to the two victories secured for George W. Bush by GOP fixers in Florida and hackers in Ohio. Among other suspect elections in recent years are key Congressional races hijacked by combinations of voter suppression, gerrymandering, dark money and the ugly little secret of American elections: rigged voting machines.

Congress and Activists Mobilize to Fight Voter Suppression

June 23 voting rights press conference; Rep. Veasey, (D-Texas), Rep. Sewell, (D- Alabama) Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow -- PUSH, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus, Barbara Arnwine, chair of the Voting Rights Alliance, Terry O'Neill, National Organization For Women and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York). (Photo: Ben Ptashnik)

June 23 voting rights press conference; Rep. Veasey, (D-Texas), Rep. Sewell, (D- Alabama) Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow -- PUSH, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus, Barbara Arnwine, chair of the Voting Rights Alliance, Terry O'Neill, National Organization For Women and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York). (Photo: Ben Ptashnik)

Sunday, 03 July 2016
By Victoria Collier and Ben Ptashnik,
Truthout | Op-Ed

The voting rights struggle led by Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, marked the beginning of a steady march of progress toward true electoral democracy. Yet 50 years later, we see that progress reversing dramatically since the Shelby v. Holderdecision of June 25, 2013. In that decision, the Supreme Court gutted the "pre-clearance" provisions of the Voting Rights Act and legitimized discriminatory and anti-democratic policy changes in 33 states.

The Shelby decision strengthened and codified a multi-pronged assault on voting rights already underwayby legislatures since 2010 -- not just in the South but also in red states in every other region of the country. These attacks, a coordinated political coup led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Tea Party, are a thinly veiled conspiracy to suppress progressive and liberal voters, especially voters of color. In the 2016 primaries we began to see the results as discriminatory voter roll purges and ID laws suppressed voting in Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Wisconsin, Arizona and many other states, portending a highly manipulated result in the November elections.

In May, a group of Congress members organized to fight back, launching a newVoting Rights Caucus, the first official congressional organization devoted to the cause of defending electoral democracy. Now 71 Representatives strong, the caucus is made up predominately of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

For more original Truthout election coverage, check out our election section, "Beyond the Sound Bites: Election 2016."

A main objective of the new caucus is to force Congress to take up the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 2867). Introduced in 2015 by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Alabama), the bill seeks to restore pre-clearance Section 5 provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Regions with ugly histories of racial discrimination -- nine states and more than 60 counties -- previously had to seek preclearance from the Department of Justice for any changes to their voting laws. The conservative Supreme Court majority struck down pre-clearance on the bizarre proposition that it was no longer needed because the Voting Rights Act had been "working well." 

In her sharp dissent of Shelby, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that destroying preclearance is like "throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."

The Voting Rights Act had been renewed under the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations with overwhelming bipartisan support. Yet it has become clear that the new GOP majority in Congress has no intention of continuing to uphold this essential defense against discrimination: GOP leaders have refused to hold one congressional hearing on voting rights in the three years sinceShelby. Representative Terri Sewell, who was born in Selma, spoke passionately at the press conference explaining that in the Shelby decision the Supreme Court had challenged Congress to modernize the Voting Rights Act, but all efforts to do so were obstructed by the GOP. It’s now clear that any movement for voter protection will require both a serious, broad-based, people-powered protest movement for democracy, and also a change in the leadership of the Congress.

At the grassroots level, citizens are also organizing in profound ways to educate the population and inspire action. The new Voting Rights Alliance was formed in June to support the Voting Rights Caucus. On June 23, Alliance members from across the country came to DC for a rally and press conference. Speakers included Representatives Sewell and Veasey, Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, Terry O’Neill of the National Organization For Women, Rev. Lennoxx Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, and Barbara Arnwine, Chair of the Voting Rights Alliance.

At the same time thousands of callers flooded the Congressional Switchboard, demanding the House Speaker and Judiciary Committee Chairs hold hearings on the Voting Rights Act. 

That day, the Alliance also held a Twitter town hall and a Twitter storm using the hashtag #ProtestShelby2016. The social media conversation included thousands of participants helping to launch a national campaign to push for the Voting Rights Advancement Act’s remedial legislation needed to restore voting rights, and to build a resistance movement to voter suppression.

Further efforts to fight the racist attack on voting rights include a new bill (H.R. 5557) called the Poll Tax Prohibition Act. Introduced by Representative Veasey, co-chair of the Voting Rights Caucus and nineteen co-sponsors, it pushes back against the slew of new voter ID laws byprohibiting the requirement that an individual present a piece of identification that has an associated cost. Currently, millions of voters in dozens of states face costly new identification demands that force them to chase documents in order to vote, even if they have already been voting for 50 years.

Women are most affected, especially elderly women of color, since many now have the onerous task of proving why the maiden names on their birth certificates do not match their married names. They are also less likely to be able to drive themselves on the chase for newly required documentation, as are would-be voters with disabilities.

Another piece of legislation promoted by the Voting Rights Caucus is the VOTE Act (H.R. 5131), which focuses on the security of future elections, calling for transparency of election tabulation and for addressing the reliability of aging voting machines, which often wind up in minority districts, breaking down and causing long lines at the polls. The VOTE Act was introduced by Hank Johnson (D-Georgia), who believes that "non-proprietary, open source software is imperative for next generation voting."

Currently, the majority of the United States' voting technology is owned and programmed by private companies. Their expensive voting machines, particularly the Touch Screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE), are prone to breakdowns, and their vulnerabilities to fraud and hacking are also well documented in studies by John Hopkins, Princeton, Rice and Stanford Universities, as well as by the Brennan Center for Justice, the Government Accountability Office and Argonne National Laboratory.

Last year, Virginia decertified 3,000 voting machines used in about 30 counties after determining that there were severe security problems with the systems, including a poorly secured Wi-Fi feature for tallying votes that would have allowed someone to alter election results without leaving a trace.

These machines had been used in hundreds of elections since 2003. Similarly insecure voting systems are in use throughout the country.

Through the VOTE Act, states will be able to apply for federal funds to develop new, more transparent "open-source" technology for vote tabulation that can be publicly owned.

The VOTE Act also aims at making ballot recounts and audits more transparent. It states that, "upon passage of the VOTE Act, jurisdictions and parties to a recount, or election contest proceeding, would have access to the voting system software used in the election being contested."

As the Voting Rights Caucus and the Voting Rights Alliance gear up to fight voter suppression and manipulation of elections, organizers are seeking to build broad-based participation in the actions and educational campaigns being planned for August 10, the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and in the weeks leading up to the elections in November.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Paul Davis files lawsuit against Kris Kobach over purging of suspended voters list

Paul Davis filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach over a new rule that will remove names from the suspended voters list.

Davis, a Lawrence attorney who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2014, said federal law prohibits Kobach from “purging voters.”

GOP-led Purge Threat to 3.5 Million Voters

By Greg Palast for Al Jazeera America

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voter rolls, especially targeting minority voters.

Al Jazeera America has obtained 2.1 million names from the target lists,  kept confidential until now.  Experts reviewing the lists conclude it is suspiciously over-weighted with Black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters.

The targeted voters have been tagged as “potential  duplicate voters,” suspected of voting twice in the same election, in two different states, a felony crime punishable by 2-10 years in prison.

Until now, state officials conducting the purge have refused to turn over their lists on grounds that these voters are all subjects of a criminal investigation.

Read the full exposé
Watch the TV report

The match lists of suspected double voters, called Interstate Crosscheck, has been compiled for each state by Kansas’ controversial Republican Secretary of State, Kris Kobach.

The lists are rife with literally millions of obvious mis-matches:
Al Jazeera found that nearly a fourth (23% ) of the accused voters lack matching middle names.

For example, Kevin Thomas Hayes of Durham, North Carolina, is allegedly the same man who voted in Alexandria, Virginia, as Kevin Antonio Hayes.

“Jr.” and “Sr.” are regularly mismatched, potentially disenfranchising two generations in the same family.

While Kobach, in his public description of Crosscheck, claims that double voters are matched by Social Security number, in fact, internal documents admit that “Social Security numbers might or might not match.”

So far, no case has been made against a single one of the accused double-voters on the lists, though tens of thousands have already lost their right to vote based on inclusion in the lists.

Read Full Story

JIM CROW RETURNS

Millions of Minority Voters Threatened by Electoral Purge

by Greg Palast for Al Jazeera America

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

Until now, state elections officials have refused to turn over their Crosscheck lists, some on grounds that these voters are subject to criminal investigation. Now, for the first time, three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — have released their lists to Al Jazeera America, providing a total of just over 2 million names.

The Crosscheck list of suspected double voters has been compiled by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from participating states. Interstate Crosscheck is the pet project of Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, known for his crusade against voter fraud.

The three states’ lists are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim — ones common among minorities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities.

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