The Republicans could use the fraudulent hysteria they've whipped up about vote-by-mail fraud to steal the presidency in the event that Donald Trump fails to win the Electoral College. Constitutional expert Thom Hartmann and I are concerned the GOP-controlled Legislatures could claim that mail-in ballots are fraudulent and thereby refuse to certify a Democratic win in states such as Wisconsin and Georgia. By refusing to send electors to the Electoral College and thereby denying any candidate 270 votes in the Electoral College, under Article XII of the Constitution, the election shifts to the House of Representatives whose members will cast one vote per state — Wyoming gets the same vote as California. Trump would then be “reelected” even if he loses both the popular vote and the Electoral College. That’s what happened in 1824 when John Quincy Adams LOST the popular vote and electoral vote but was elected by the House — a total swindle!
In this edition of the Election Crimes Bulletin, Palast and Bernstein explore the real and present danger presented by Article XII of the Constitution. They also reveal how the GOP have used and abused the legal system to snatch victory from the jaws of recent defeats in Texas and Wisconsin, and how Georgia's Brian Kemp has colluded with right-wingers in the judiciary to do away with an election altogether, because why bother stealing an election if you can simply cancel it and appoint a winner instead?
Dennis Bernstein: You're listening to another edition of the Election Crimes Bulletin. I'm Dennis Bernstein. We are joined weekly by muckraking reporter Greg Palast. He is again on the front lines protecting your vote. He's got an upcoming book, which is worth checking out if you're interested in trying to protect your vote. It’ll be out soon, How Trump Stole 2020. It's really about how to prevent him from stealing it, and that's what this Crimes Bulletin is all about. Greg, welcome back. There's been some activity in Texas, there has been a battle going on in Michigan, and the battle for the vote, and our lives, continues.
Greg Palast: Yes. A lot of skullduggery. My book is called How Trump Stole 2020, but we can steal it back. That is, we can bust the crime. It is not about whether you're for against Trump. I'm just hoping that this time, unlike 2016, the voters actually choose the president. That would be refreshing.
Bernstein: That’d be nice. So Texas, there was a bit of a victory. They went for the jugular, but they got beaten back. What happened?
Palast: Yeah. I hope you were enjoying the victory of democracy for the several hours we had it. A federal judge ruled that the Texas requirement, the hoops you have to jump through in order to vote absentee in Texas had to be swept away. Because it said you have to claim a disability in Texas or be over 65, they’re the main reasons that you can get an absentee ballot. And you have to certify that you have this disability. The judge said, if you were worried about being susceptible to the virus, that's a physical disability. So anyone that claims a concern cause they're susceptible or vulnerable if they have the virus should be able to get an absentee ballot.
In addition, by the way, the idea that you can be 65 and get that absentee ballot is a direct violation of the 26th amendment to the U.S. constitution. If you remember, during the war in Vietnam we lowered the voting age to 18. That amendment to the constitution also said that there could be no discrimination by age in voting as long as someone's 18 or more. So young people, sometimes we refer to them as Democrats, if young people want an absentee ballot, they're out of luck because of their age — which is direct violation of the constitution.
But while the judge caught this, within about two days, you ended up with the federal appeals court in that circuit setting aside the judge’s ruling. I gotta read from Judge Fred Biery’s statement on why. He said that you don't have to die to vote in Texas, even though he was overruled. He wrote:
“Two hundreds forty-years on, Americans now seek Life without fear of pandemic, Liberty to choose their leaders in an environment free of disease and the pursuit of Happiness without undue restrictions. There are some among us who would, if they could, nullify those aspirational ideas to return to the not so halcyon and not so thrilling days of yesteryear of the Divine Right of Kings, trading our birthright as a sovereign people for a modern mess of governing pottage in the hands of a few and forfeiting the vision of America as a shining city upon a hill.”
No wonder they slapped him down. That’s the story in Texas. So in other words, in Texas, if you want to have to avoid standing in line and getting infected, I advise you to cut off part of your leg or age very rapidly. And let's not forget this is not the only problem with Texas. We’re forgetting all the other things that happen in which this pandemic maximizes the problem.
You've mentioned many times that the forced election in Wisconsin in March resulted in the collapse of the number of voting stations in the African American majority city of Milwaukee from 180 polling stations to five. Well, Texas started long before there was a virus.
In the 50 counties with rising black and Latino populations in Texas, the average county, gave up more than 10 polling stations in each of those counties with rising Black and Hispanic populations. Whereas in the 50 counties where the white population grew, they lost less than one precinct per county for voting. In other words, let's forget all the other racial games and games against young people that are being played in these states, Texas has a long history of suppressing the vote.
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Bernstein: I want to swerve back to Wisconsin. It's 70 and counting in terms of people who are saying they got sick as a result of being forced to vote in the middle of the pandemic in that state. That's having to really put your life on the line to vote. Fast-forward, Trump is in Michigan today. There's a flood going on there. Trump’s acting as usual like a moronic child, refusing to wear a mask, jeopardizing other people. But the battle is about the vote, mail-in votes, and we have to talk about mail-in votes because there's a lot of confusion and people need to understand what is the problem, and what is the possibility.
Palast: A few things in Wisconsin… People thought that there was a great public victory because the right wing justice was removed from the court and the progressive won an election. But here's the bad news; The right wing still has a majority on the Wisconsin state supreme court, and the guy who lost is insisting that he will not give up his seat. He’s unrecused himself, which I've never heard of in a courtroom from my own legal experience. He's unrecused himself, saying since he's not on a ballot anymore, he lost, he has the right to rule on whether 232,000 Wisconsin voters should be removed from the voter rolls based on a bogus list. The GOP controlled legislature is demanding that the Elections Board remove these 232,000 people. This will now go before the Wisconsin supreme court. This list is so bogus. My team is going through these names. I can't give you the final result yet, cause I have to keep that embargoed, but this list is as phony as a $3 bill.
There are three Democrats and three Republicans on the Wisconsin Election Board. All six are saying this list is bogus, we don't want to remove these voters. But the Republican legislature’s saying, we don't care if these are legal voters, we want them gone because it's two to one Democrats. That's what's going on at Wisconsin.
And now in Michigan on top of everything else the Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered that, not every citizen get a ballot, but every citizen get a card asking them if they would like a mail-in ballot. Of course, Trump has lit his combover on fire over this, over just simply asking them if they want the opportunity to vote by mail. And a lot of states are moving in this direction.
Obviously, in other swing states we have some other big problems. Georgia, Indiana, Arkansas, Ohio, there’s some real problems. And as we get into the massive expansion of vote by mail, I keep warring people… I want people to understand, Greg Palast is not against voting by mail. We may have to do that. We either vote by mail or we die if this pandemic comes back in the fall, as experts expect. The problem is, and I want everyone to understand this number, 22%, more than one in five mail-in ballots never get counted. So while we move to mail-in voting, we better make sure that we know how to do it and how to protect our vote. And it is overwhelmingly young people and voters of color and people that use non-English language ballots especially. One in five ballots thrown in the garbage, that’s on average. But if you're young, black, and if you use a non-English language ballot, it's something like a 1200% higher chance that your vote will never get counted than if you are white using an English language ballot and are a bit older. That's just the truth.
Bernstein: We’re speaking with Greg Palast. This is the Election Crimes Bulletin. And we're talking about how to protect your vote… The election is at stake. Greg, I’ve never really seriously had this conversation on the air, but there are so many loopholes and ways to undermine the vote that can create a chaos that can allow Trump to steal an election. Right? He can steal, he can postpone, he could undermine, he could throw this into the House, so many things could happen if he manages to churn it up a little bit.
Palast: Okay. There's some real dangers here. Number one: Let's play the game out to the end. Our president is saying that there's massive fraud in mail-in voting. Experts like Lorraine Minnite, who’s the expert at Rutgers University on vote fraud, refute that. I actually did a calculation; you are five times more likely to be hit by lightning than to cast a fraudulent ballot. It just doesn't happen.
But by saying fraud, fraud, fraud — look out! The end game may be very serious. Under the constitution, if states cannot certify their results, so that their electors cannot go to a vote in the Electoral College… We had this in the Andrew Jackson / John Quincy Adams race in which Jackson actually won the majority of the Electoral College. He won a majority of the popular votes. You'd think that he would have been elected president. Not in 1824, because some states didn't certify their electors, it went to the House of Representatives.
If you don't have a majority in the Electoral College it goes to the House of Representatives. Each state gets one vote, California, New York, Illinois… Forget the electoral votes, they get the same single vote as South Dakota and Wyoming and Mississippi. So if it goes to the House of Representatives, this election, because some states are simply refusing to certify their votes, this could be a good trick. Saying there’s too much fraud in the mail-in voting, too much confusion… the system’s collapsed. If you vote by state, then Trump is as good as reelected. That is a real and present danger with all this screaming about fraud. It's setting up to disqualify electors, having Republican legislatures refusing to certify the victors in their states, and therefore throwing the election to the House. Don't discount that.
Bernstein: Wow. This is the Election Crimes Bulletin with Greg Palast on Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. We have been for years trying to do the kind of reporting together that helps you to defend your vote. Greg has been in this space big time since 2000, when the election steals became very prominent in the strategy of the right wing ruling this country. Now we're in the middle of a pandemic. There are all kinds of questions about how the vote is going to come down, what you're going to have to risk in order to vote. Before we close this edition up, it does seem, Greg, that the right wing is getting better and better at devising tricks and taking power at the level of the Secretary of States to control the vote in a way that makes it almost impossible for there to be a real honest tally.
Palast: Let me give you a couple of quick examples: Georgia and Ohio. Ohio is refusing to mail out requests. All voters in Ohio are normally supposed to get cards saying, do you want to mail in ballot? That is their standard even before the pandemic. But the Ohio Secretary of State is saying, I'm not going to send out more than a million cards to voters who are on the so-called inactive list. You skipped an election or two… That's a violation of federal law, but that doesn't matter in Ohio. They're not necessarily part of America. In 2016, you wonder how did it go that Obama won Ohio twice and Hillary, didn't get close. Part of it goes to the fact that 1,039,000 voters in Ohio were denied the card to request a mail-in ballot that wanted a mail-in ballot. And that list is two to one Democratic. Tell me who really won Ohio if everyone got to vote? That's just some of the games.
In Georgia, Brian Kemp, who I've been investigating now for seven years… Brian Kemp literally canceled the election for a supreme court justice and played a game where the justice says, well, I'm going to resign a few days before the end of my term, I'm still on the court. Brian Kemp said, I will name his replacement and therefore we don't need an election. So they literally called off the election. As the NAACP said, you had judges ruling on whether they have to stand for reelection. And believe it or not, they ruled that they don't have to stand for reelection. They can just be appointed by the governor. So this is the anti-democratic, a small D democratic, operations that are gearing up. They're playing games. There's no shame anymore. They can literally call off our elections. When you do that, that’s a precedent that’s beyond dangerous.
Bernstein: That's the voice of Greg Palast. His new book coming out, How Trump's Stole 2020, is a guide to how we can steal the election back. This is the Election Crimes Bulletin we do with Greg Palast investigative reporter, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy….The struggle continues. It's going to be a pitched battle to see if we can have a real election in 2020. And you know, how important this is.