The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Whose vote will count in this election? According to Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, close to 2,000,000 ballots were tossed out in the last election. According to CNN, those numbers are low. A CNN report estimates a couple million votes were lost due to faulty equipment--and another couple million or so were lost due to registration mixups. Lost votes did not impact all communities equally.
Listen in on the following exchange with NPR reporter Tavis Smiley:
Mr. GREG PALAST ("The Best Democracy Money Can Buy"): People don't realize that in America 1.9 million, almost two million, votes were never counted. You went and voted and they just chucked them out for technical reasons. I was noticing that there was a kind of racial stench to the ballots rotting in the Dumpsters, and the US Civil Rights Commission looking at some of my information, Harvard Law, determined that about half of the ballots not counted in America, one million ballots, are cast by black folk.
I first noticed this in Florida when I was investigating for BBC. I know--you know, a hundred and eighty thousand votes were never counted during the presidential election. That was determined by 537--a hundred and eighty thousand votes just chucked away. And I looked, and sure enough in the blackest county in Florida where most of the votes were lost, they were paper ballots, you made a mistake on a ballot--and by the way, a mistake meant writing in Al Gore's name.
Mr. PALAST: If you made a mistake on a ballot, your ballot was thrown out, couldn't be read by the machines. In the white counties, they had machine readers right in the ballot booths, and if you made a mistake, you got your ballot back and you got a new ballot. It was like a plantation system. So in other words, black ballot out; white ballot, make a mistake, you get another one. And so in Florida, I brought it to the Civil Rights Commission. They said, yes, of the 180,000 votes cast, their demographers say 54 percent were cast by black folk.
SMILEY: After all these years, tell me how it is that race--I mean, for that matter, this many years after the Voting Rights Act first went into effect, how is it that race can still play such a prominent role in electoral politics?
Mr. PALAST: Well, because it's not that the Bush family and Jeb Bush doesn't like black people. They just don't really like the color of their vote. In other words, if you knock out a black voter, you know what party is going to lose on that end.