In 2008, 488,136 voters nationwide, had their absentee ballots thrown out on nutty technicalities like using the wrong size envelope or crossing out a bubble instead of filling it in.
In more than 100 years, there has not been a single case of voter identity fraud in the state of Indiana. Yet, in 2008, 145,000 legitimate voters there were turned away from the polls because they could not produce the photo IDs acceptable to state officials on a crusade against “voter fraud.”
Approximately two out of three of those voters were black. Ten of them were black and white (nuns from the Sisters of the Holy Cross). One nun, aged 98, had given up her driver’s license as had her “younger” sisters.
If someone steals your wallet, you don’t take the rest of your money and throw it in the street. In more than 100 years, there has not been a single case of voter identity fraud in the state of Indiana. Yet, in 2008, 145,000 legitimate voters there were turned away from the polls because they could not produce the photo IDs acceptable to state officials on a crusade against “voter fraud.”
Now, 16 states have passed voter ID laws similar to Indiana’s. The story is that legislators are trying to stop an epidemic of people voting under false names or casting the ballots of dead people. But nobody’s come up with more than a tiny handful of cases where that’s happened. Taking away the votes of hundreds of thousands of people to stop one or two fake votes is like killing a flea with a shotgun.
Moreover, no fewer than 68,029 Indiana citizens, and 488,136 voters nationwide, had their absentee ballots thrown out on nutty technicalities like using the wrong size envelope or crossing out a bubble instead of filling it in.
In all, my fellow investigator, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and I found that more than 5.9 million citizens were wrongly barred from voting or having their ballots counted in 2008.
Nonetheless, Indiana, birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, was won by a black man, Barack Obama, despite the massive number of votes tossed and voters turned away.
That happened because in Indiana, and nationwide, a massive turnout of African-American voters and record registration of young voters—both groups that are hugely affected by voter ID laws—overcame efforts to block votes.
Because of all the attacks on voting I’ve reported, I’ve been asked, “Why bother? If they’re going to steal my vote, then why should I vote at all?”
The answer is, “That’s what the thieves want you to say.” If someone steals your wallet, you don’t take the rest of your money and throw it in the street. If someone steals your vote, don’t just hand them the next one.
It won’t be easy to protect our votes this year—estimates say the new restrictions could again disenfranchise as many as 6 million people. But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. protected the votes of African-Americans when voting while black meant risking your life. Our task in 2012 is far easier.
First and foremost, check your voting status. Think you’re registered to vote? Check again. Under new federal laws, secretaries of state have eliminated 22 million voters from the registries in the past two years. Check online right now.
Do you live in a state with new ID laws? Find out what ID you need, and figure out a way to get it. It may not be easy—but that’s the point. They’re hoping that people will just throw up their hands—and throw away their votes. Do you vote at one address and register a car at another? That’s asking for trouble. Have you added your middle initial to your signature? Well, don’t.
Read the instructions on your absentee or mail-in ballot. If they tell you to fill in a bubble, don’t cross it out. If they say to use a pencil, don’t use a pen. It may seem like trivial stuff, but it killed almost half a million votes last time.
The people who don’t want your vote to count are counting on you to give up easily. Don’t do it. We can work to fix the laws after the election. But right now, the most important thing is to find out what rules are in place and make sure you follow them.
Get informed—then get going. Voting is for We the People, not Them the Ballot Bandits.
Greg Palast wrote this article for It’s Your Body, the Fall 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Greg is a widely published investigative reporter and author of several books. His latest, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, a look at the role of big money in the current election, features comics by Ted Rall. BallotBandits.org
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Looking for something?
New on bluetabletalk…
- The Parched Truth About American Jobs
- When Are 12-year Olds Sex Offenders?
- Obama Admin Secretly Obtains Trove of Associated Press Phone Records in “Unprecedented Intrusion”
- Failing to Heal: Hunger Strikes in Guantánamo and the Role of Medical Professionals
- US Foreign Policy on Trial in Guatemala’s Genocide Trial
- Future Politics: Fast Forward or Full Reverse
- Survival of the … Nicest? Check Out the Other Theory of Evolution
- Victory for Lake County 8th Grader as School Board Settles Gay-Straight Alliance Lawsuit After One Day
- America Wages War on Sex
- How Reinhart-Rogoff and the Austerians Produced a Sloppy Scholarly Fraud
- National Day of Reason Reaffirms the Separation of Church and State
- Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History
- Dump the AARP
- Why Pride, Dignity and Respect Hold the Key to Ending Violence
- ACLU Statement on Miranda Rights of Boston Bombings Suspect
- Painting a Grim Picture of Art Education
- Following Push by ACLU, Lake County School Board Decides Not to Ban All Clubs
- The Case for Platonic Marriage
- CEO Pay: The French Have a Better Idea
- Fracking the First Amendment
The good man understands what is right,
the bad man understands profit.
“The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds — where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough — a modest living— and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.”
–Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
'He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.'
–The French President, François Hollande, speaking of Stéphane Hessel, dead at age 95.
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…”
Around the web…
Above the law"The laws, Cicero wrote in the days of the Roman Republic, “are silent in time of war.” But what if the war has no end, no defined enemy, no defined territory? How can markets work if the financial behemoths are too big to fail and too big to jail? If the national security state has the power of life or death above the law, and Wall Street has the power to plunder beyond the law, in what way does this remain a nation of laws? " --Katrina van Heuvel
Waking From My Moral Coma"It is the killing, it is the permanent war, it is our deranged national priorities. It is the system we live under which requires the serial deaths of all those innocents to maintain our economic health that should appall us. We sup upon the blood and bonemeal that is the byproduct of the idea that is America, and we sleep. And we sleep." -William Rivers Pitt
- Diana on Is Your Bubbly Soap Making the Kids Sick?
- Bob HILL on Vocabulary for the New Millenium: Reconciling Independence with Interdependence
- Gerry Tatham on Alan Grayson. “Aaron Swartz, R.I.P.”
- Rabbi Stanley Howard Schwartz DD on Alan Grayson. “Aaron Swartz, R.I.P.”
- j j on SOTU 2013: Not a Game-Changing Agenda
Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition