The new book Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal An Election in 9 Easy Steps, by Greg Palast, has a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., wit and humor, even a 48-page comic book by Ted Rall in the middle.
For me, as a Democrat, it was terrifying.
Billionaires and Ballot Bandits delineates the potential theft of democracy.
Page 18: In the 2008 elections, according to the author, "5,901,814 legitimate votes" were tossed out. If Palast's contention is true, Obama may be in office only because he won by a landslide.
This year could be much worse. Since 2010, many Republican-controlled states have passed new laws making it far more difficult to vote.
It is conceivable that Democrats could lose the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Presidency -- even though we actually won.
Tuesday, September 25th, is the non-partisan National Voter Registration Day. Whatever day you read this, I suggest you Google and visit their website, and share with friends. Their official hashtag is #925NVRD.
Could an election be stolen? Palast makes the possibility plain.
Example: Remember how George Bush "won" the 2000 election by 538 votes in Florida?
Palast states that many times that number of Democratic votes were removed by something called a felony exclusion -- which denied the vote to both criminals and non-criminals alike! Florida is one of six states which denies the vote to ex-convicts. That was apparently used as a trick to deny legitimate votes. In districts likely to vote Democrat, voter "purges" were carried out. If your name was "Bob Lee" for example, and another person with that or a similar name was a convicted felon -- both names could be removed from the lists, declared ineligible to vote.
Page 20: "I started covering election games in 2000 when I got my hands on computer disks from the office of Secretary of State Katherine Harris of Florida. My team cracked the computer codes and found the names of ninety-one-thousand criminals -- felons -- Harris listed to purge from voter rolls. (91,000 -- and Mr. Bush won the election by only 538 votes!)
"We went through Harris's list name by name. We did not find felons. But most were guilty of VWB: Voting While Black."
On the very next page is a statement from Karl Rove:
"Even a small drop in the share of black voters would wipe out (Obama's) winning margin in North Carolina." -- "Why Obama is Likely to Lose in 2012", Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal, June 2011.
Some of it is almost funny, in an OMG kind of way.
Like page 44: "Why are we running (the XL) oil pipeline to Texas?
"The answer is: Flint Hills Refining of Corpus Christi, Texas -- now owned by Koch Industries."
If you don't know who the Koch brothers are, you will by the end of the book.
"Charles and David Koch (are) the richest men you never heard of." Not any more. Today they are worth (according to Palast) more than $20 billion each.
What is their effect? To me, it was staggering, how vast their political (Republican) connections are. You heard about the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think-tank? The Koch brothers casually gave it $50 million. (p.78)
Remember the attempt to recall Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker? He won, and not only because he had a budget of $31 million so he could out-spend his opponent (Democrat Tom Barrett had only $4 million) nearly 8 to 1. He had other help as well.
p. 233: "... the Kochs spent at least a million on absentee ballot handling... Using their new monster database... Republicans received a pre-printed ballot with envelope and all the personal data properly filled in to make it reject-proof. Just sign and drop in a mailbox... "
Also during the recall: "A group called United Sportsmen of Wisconsin (USW) sent Democrats absentee ballot request forms with the wrong address and deadline. USW... was created by John W. Conners -- until recently, Director of the Kochs' Americans for Prosperity.... " Of course, anyone who believed the official-looking "documentation" lost their vote.
So what's the take-home message from the book?
Page 258: "According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, ... voting and registration restrictions passed in just the year before the 2012 elections... are going to cause five million Americans to lose their civil rights."
President Obama could win the election in terms of people showing up to vote for him -- but still lose the election -- if enough citizens are denied their right to vote.
For more on Palast's work, go to: www.BallotBandits.org.
Tuesday, September 25th, is National Voter Registration Day. Celebrate it by protecting your right to vote. Not sure if you are registered? Here are some clickable helps.
1. CALL YOUR SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE AND FIND OUT IF YOU ARE REGISTERED. Here is their contact information: www.nass.org.
2. For more on the struggle, visit: www.brennancenter.org.
3. Easiest of all -- www.canivote.org.
Go there, click on your state, and it will tell you what you need to know.
Coordinate with your friends. If somebody does not have a driver's license, bring them to the Department of Motor Vehicles and help them register to vote (you do not need a car to get a voter card). Remember, states vary, so check on the website www.canivote.org.
Do it for America.
Register now, so you can vote when it counts.
Remember in November.
Follow Don C. Reed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/diverdonreed