Via America’s Lawyer: As we hurtle toward the November election, Greg Palast joins Mike Papantonio to explain how mail-in ballots and voter roll purges continue to dilute our democracy, particularly among black and poor communities.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: Voter suppression efforts have been ramping up as the 2020 election inches closer and if they’re successful, these attempts to stop voters could definitely change the outcome of the election. Joining me to talk about that is Greg Palast, award-winning investigative journalist and author of, “How Trump Stole 2020.” Interesting title, Greg, I tell everybody, I think I’ve interviewed you for about every book you’ve written. This one, this is an important book, which tells me that mainstream media, corporate media is not paying attention to it, probably. Am I right?
Greg Palast: You mean the, the see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil press? Yeah, I think so. And thank you, that’s why I appreciate you having me on your program.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Let’s start with the elephant in the room, vote by mail. A lot of developments there in the past few days. Tell us what this administration’s done and give us the whole Greg Palast vote by mail 10,000 foot so we can move onto the next question. What’s your take?
Greg Palast: Wow. Okay. Here’s the problem. 22% of all mail in ballots don’t get counted. That’s an MIT study. That’s not Greg Palast. One in five ballots is junk. Now, how does that happen? One in 10 people never get their ballot who’ve asked for them, by the way, that’s why we had those long lines in Georgia. Those are African Americans in Atlanta who never got their mail in ballots, but had requested them including, by the way, the head of the ACLU in Georgia. So people don’t get their ballots. That’s number one. And number two, once you send them in one and 10 is junked. For any type of reason, anyone can challenge a ballot in, in, in America. So they don’t like your signature. You left off, you didn’t put your middle initial when you, when you signed, when you registered with the middle initial. Postage due cost a hundred thousand votes in 2016, 3.3 million ballots in 16 that were mailed in were never counted.
Mike Papantonio: Okay Greg, what we have, what we have here is an election that’s tightening up. You know, the Democrats thought they had the leisure of gee the, you know, Biden’s double digit lead. It’s shrinking as we speak, it’s shrinking in States that really matter, swing States. But the Democrats, I literally heard James Carville say, well, Biden can just stay down, he can just stay down in the cellar and he’s going to win this election. Doesn’t that sound a lot like what they were talking about with Hillary Clinton?
Greg Palast: Yeah.
Mike Papantonio: So I wonder that the vote by mail could be important. It could be important. How safe is vote by mail? How safe is it?
Greg Palast: Not in the least. And this is the big problem, because you can have all these jerks in Hawaiian shirts, the Boogaloo boys, the proud boys, they’re going to go in 50,000, Trump’s calling for 50,000 volunteers. It’s not an intimidation army. People have that wrong. The real danger is, they’re going to go in and say, I don’t like that signature on that ballot. That ballot was taped shut instead of sealed shut by licking the ballot, by licking the envelope. I’m not kidding. And if you think it’s just the Republicans who do that, in New York this past week, the democratic party challenged the counting of 28,000 mail in ballots, the democratic party. Once they establish that precedent, how many ballots do you think Trump’s people will challenge? How many millions I should say. So it’s not safe to mail in your ballot.
Mike Papantonio: Where do we get this idea, you know, you’re, you’re a great investigative journalist. I got to tell you, I, I, I follow your stuff.
Greg Palast: Thank you.
Mike Papantonio: When you say something and put it down on paper, I can count on it. But what I always have wondered is where do we get this idea that the Democrats are going to be better on this than the, than the Republicans? Because I’m hearing these spots of what you’re describing, like what took place in New York, what took place in the primary elections, where, you know, there was a democratic hustle on trying to get rid of Bernie. What, what, what makes you think there’s going to be any difference here?
Greg Palast: Well, because, well, two things. Number one. Yeah, the Democrats do it too. In fact, in my book, I have a chapter called California reman. And for the, for the guardian, I uncovered, are you ready for this? Bernie Sanders was shafted out of 553,000 votes in the March primary here, where I’m calling, speaking from California. That’s what the democratic party did. But nationwide, what you have is a mass wipe out of voters by the Republicans. We’ve had a big purge of the voter list, 16.7 million people, according to the federal government have been erased from the voter rolls. They’re going to have a truck, tough time getting their mail in ballots if you’re not on the voter rolls. And the Republicans will learn, have learned from the Democrats in New York and the Democrats in California and throughout the nation, they’re going to be challenging every single mail in ballot that comes in.
Mike Papantonio: You’re saying they’re, they’re going to cast a ballot. Okay. Where we, we, we know there’s going to be a ballot cast, but you, in your investigation for years, you’ve been at this for years. I remember, I remember talking to you about this four years ago, but in your investigation, what you’re finding is even though those votes are cast, that they’re going to be invalidated. If it, depending on who’s in charge, they’re going to be invalidated according to need of who’s going to, who, who do you want to win the election? Is that, did I state that right, or is it an overstatement?
Greg Palast: That’s correct. You know, the nasty little secret of America’s democracy is that we don’t count all the ballots. So for example, 935,000 people who cast what are called provisional ballots had their ballots rejected, never counted about a million. 1.9 million ballots in, that were cast in precinct were disqualified. Someone said, no, I don’t like that. You know, said, oh, there’s a miss marking, the machine can’t read it. By the way, the chance that your ballot, ballot will be invalidated is 900% higher if you’re black than if you’re white. And now mail in balloting, they can challenge all over the place.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. So your book, I, I, you know, it’s, it’s the same quality. You don’t just say it, you’ve investigated it. You put it out there you say, here is what the issues are. I’m wondering why I’m not seeing more of this discussion on corporate media. I have a theory and my theory is that corporate media goes after low hanging fruit and if a producer can’t put a story together that the talent on air talent can deliver, they don’t do the story. I think you’ve said something similar to that, similar to that to me in the past. What’s your take on what, why, why is this whole issue disappearing? This book should be, it should be a national bestseller because it’s getting ready to happen. Your title is Trump is going to win this election and here’s why, I mean, basically, that’s what you’re saying in your title. Isn’t it?
Greg Palast: Well, I’m saying the title, “How Trump Stole 2020,” is he’s already stolen it. That is we’ve wiped out 17 million voters off the voter rolls, overwhelmingly African-American and young. That is the bluish voters, but we can steal it back. That is we can bust the burglary. People who’ve been wiped out from their, wiped off the voter rolls, you can re-register. And that’s why I encourage everyone to check their registration now. So it’s not a done deal, but you’re right about investigations of these matters. Number one, it’s very uncomfortable to talk about the deficit of American democracy, that what we have is a mockery of democracy, it’s not exactly democracy when you don’t count 5.8 million ballots. And by the way, that’s the official number from the elections assistance commission, the federal government, we don’t count those votes.
So we don’t like to talk about that on national TV and you brought up something else, investigative reporting. I have a foundation, my own foundation to back this work, my discovery of the millions of voters wrongly removed from the voter rolls, that was a seven year investigation that cost several hundred thousand dollars. If you think that there’s any American commercial outlet, that’s going to pay for that and stick with that, that doesn’t happen. We are going to get some big coverage is coming up in the mainstream, but basically we had to pay and conduct the entire investigations ourselves. But it’s a very uncomfortable subject for American commercial television and print.
Mike Papantonio: It’s uncomfortable for corporate TV to do this. So they don’t do it. It’s probably one of the most important issues we have out there because if I, if, if I read you right, and if we see the history, for example, Detroit, I remember what happened in Detroit. Was it like 6 million votes, almost 6 million votes that just disappeared in Detroit?
Greg Palast: In, in the book, I explain how, while Trump won officially Detroit by 10,700 votes, 75,000, in fact, 75,355 ballots to be exact were never counted in Detroit because 87 counting machines, that is the scanners, broke down. So the ballots simply weren’t counted. And in Detroit, so whose votes are those? That’s Motown. So who really won Michigan? But why weren’t we covering big time, the fact that 75,000 ballots were not counted?
Mike Papantonio: Both you and I have done corporate media over the years quite a bit, a lot, actually a lot.
Greg Palast: Yeah.
Mike Papantonio: And we know the inside of what happens and it is the, it’s always the low hanging fruit stories. It’s easy to get on and just attack Trump and or attack Biden. And, you know, it just, this, this food fight, this food fight mentality in corporate media is preventing you, real investigative journalists, from actually telling stories like this. And it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. Let me, let me ask you this. There’s a hot button issue now, and it’s the longevity of the US postal service, which is already struggling financially before this pandemic. What’s the impact on mail in ballots if we’ve got problems with the postal service? Or maybe that’s not, maybe that predicate isn’t correct. What’s your take?
Greg Palast: We’ve already had a disaster with mail in ballots. Like I said, one in five, aren’t counted now. The biggest problem is you don’t get them. Sometimes that’s the government slow walking it to, especially into communities of color, which is what I saw in, in Georgia, in June. The other problem is that so the post office has imploded with mail in balloting that we’ve had before. So this is a huge, huge problem. And by the way, the corporate media doesn’t really like talking about it because they want to encourage people to vote by mail as I do to stay safe, I don’t want you to die to vote, but you have to understand how difficult this is and how we have to correct this system.
Mike Papantonio: Greg I’m out of time. I want to have you back about this book, it’s an important book, God, I wish corporate media would do their job and get this out there. I’ve got to go right now, but thanks for joining me. Okay.
Greg Palast: Thank you for doing your job.