Here’s What Really Should Be Pre-Election News

In a better world, that is, in a world where journalists weren’t obsessed with ultimately meaningless and self-serving polling results, the Sunday news shows before Tuesday’s elections would not have been all about the results of this or that poll, or the likelihood that Republicans are going to take over the Senate, or the idea that people have turned on President Obama. Nope. In a better world the Sunday shows would have featured a stunning—and depressing—investigative news report titled, “Jim Crow Returns: Millions of Minority Voters Threatened by Electoral Purge.” Here’s how that report, which was released last week, began:

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

Now, that’s news. That’s the kind of stuff journalists ought to be doing and the kind of reports that ought to be the focus of endless hours of pre-election political chatter on TV, including Sunday shows like NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week with jim crow returns from al jazeeraWhoever’s Turn It Is, or CNN’s State of the Union. I mean, if Al Jazeera America’s report isn’t worthy of at least a segment on any of the pre-election Sunday news programs, then one has to wonder just what kind of democratic values do TV journalists respect or give a damn about?

Without going into too many details (you should read the report for yourself, written by Greg Palast after a six-month investigation), the person in the middle of this absolutely anti-democratic scandal is Kris Kobach, the ghastly but influential Republican from Kansas whose day job is supposed to be secretary of state. He apparently invented a system called the Interstate Crosscheck program, “which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names,” supposedly representing “legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.” Problem is, it’s all bullshit.

The original selling point of the program was that it “would match possible double voters on multiple points: first, middle and last name; date of birth and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.” Turns out that most of the matches were of names only, and the program even mismatched middle names and Social Security numbers. As Greg Palast noted:

In practice, all it takes to become a suspect is sharing a first and last name with a voter in another state.

The result of that intentionally sloppy practice is that the purge lists disproportionately include African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans. Why? Because, for cultural reasons, “a sixth of all Asian-Americans share just 30 surnames and 50 percent of minorities share common last names, versus 30 percent of whites.” Here’s what the results look like in graph form:

crosscheck program and minorities

That’s no accident, folks. Blacks (93%), Hispanics (71%), and Asian-Americans (73%) overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2012. In 2008, it was 95%, 67%, and 62%, respectively. Republicans had to do something about such numbers, since changing their extremist ideology wasn’t an option. So, they figured out a way to purge as many minority voters as possible from the rolls under the cover of preventing non-existent “voter fraud.” Pretty slick. And pretty sick.

Here’s the way it affects three states, including important battleground states this election cycle:

tagged minorities as double voters

In close races, like the Senate races in North Carolina and Georgia, those numbers can mean the difference between victory and defeat, between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Yet, not a word about the Interstate Crosscheck program or the extensive Al Jazeera investigation on Sunday’s “news” shows. Apparently, unless such reporting comes from The New York Times or The Washington Post, it ain’t worth talking about.

NBC’s Chuck Todd did mention voter ID laws to his guest Rand Paul, as did CBS’s Bob Schieffer. Both of them, though, let Paul escape rather easily (Paul claims he generally favors voter ID laws, but thinks the GOP shouldn’t make it a “big issue.” What the hell does that mean? They have made it a big issue.). CNN’s Candy Crowley allowed Paul—is it just a coincidence that Paul, who is trying to snuggle up with African-American voters, appeared on three Sunday shows in order to explain how friendly he is to them?—to advertise his very good idea about restoring voting rights to millions of convicted felons who have served their time, many of them African-Americans. Fine. That would be a great accomplishment. But what’s the chance of getting a majority of Republicans, especially House Republicans, on board? Zero. Ain’t gonna happen. In the mean time, what about the efforts by Republicans all over the country to purge minorities from the rolls? Huh? Silence.

But we did hear from Jonathan Karl, a conservative pretending to be an objective correspondent for ABC’s This Week, that,

in a bid to boost the African-American vote, some Democrats are resorting to scare tactics.

The only reason Republicans like Kris Kobach can get away with voter suppression efforts is because of shitty journalism like that.

As a final note, the state of Missouri is listed by Al Jazeera America as a participant in Kobach’s Interstate Crosscheck program. Our secretary of state is a Democrat, Jason Kander. I have met him and like him very much. So, I called the media contact for the secretary of state’s office, Laura Swinford. I talked with her about the Al Jazeera article and Crosscheck. She didn’t think Missouri was utilizing the program in the same way that Kris Kobach of Kansas and others were doing so, but she said she would get back with me after I sent her the link to the article. I’ll let you know what I find out, if anything.



  1. Well posted, Mr. Graham. Scores of times over the months of this blog you and your readers have pointed out that voter suppression is the only hope of the GOP. The demographics are violently against Republican success or even survival. It only takes a few corrupt Governors and gerrymandered state representative districts to make this work out badly for real Americans. Sleepwalking voters (or rather “non-voters”) have sodomized the rest of us and hijacked our democracy. Let’s face it: too many Americans are stupid and lazy. We don’t like doing our own research. We don’t like thinking for ourselves. We easily buy into the idea that “all politicians are crooks”. God help us. We have pissed on the promise and potential of democracy because we care more about the NFL than voting rights — and more about Games of Thrones than women’s rights — and more about the Kardashians than health care rights. Any liberal (or “progressive” for those liberals without sufficient gonads) who doesn’t vote on 11/4 — and who hasn’t been “purged” from the voter rolls by the fascist (goddam it, that’s what they are) GOP Governors and Secretaries of State in NC, Wisconsin, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, et al — needs a swat in the teeth with a bag full of ball bearings. We vote — we win.


    • I agree that if “we vote, we win.” I don’t think there is any question about that, even though I have heard some challenge it.

      About research, that’s a strange thing. I know people will get online and research the hell out of flat screen TVs, smartphones, and other such things, before they make a purchase, but when it comes to politics, many of them don’t bother. I don’t really know why that is, except for the cynicism you cite. As you know, I hate cynicism and try very hard to fight it on this blog.

      I do have one other possible explanation, though, which I will explain: We have an amendment to Missouri’s constitution related to what is called “propensity evidence” in trials for sex crimes involving victims under the age of 18. At issue is whether prior bad acts, such as convictions or even accusations for a similar crime, should be admissible at trial. Now, that is a very complicated issue, involving a lot of legal and social considerations, including how we define and determine justice. Yet our state legislators put that complicated issue on the ballot. Why? Because they knew that people, upon reading the ballot language, would naturally agree with it. They are counting on an emotional reaction and not a reaction that involves a lot of thought and research.

      I will admit to you that I had to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how I would vote on this one. I have absorbed as much information as I could and have gone back and forth. Here it is voting day and I am still not sure how I will vote. But I would bet that most people made up their minds very quickly and it will pass overwhelmingly. My point is that I think most people, most of the time, go with their guts when they are asked to make decisions like that. It’s just too confusing and time-consuming for people to agonize the way I am right now. And when it comes to politics in general, maybe it is that too many people are, as you say, “stupid and lazy.” Or maybe it is more that too many people just don’t want to make a difficult decision and be responsible for it. They are protecting themselves. It’s much more satisfying–there’s no confusion or time spent–to say, “To hell with it, they’re all corrupt and my vote doesn’t count anyway.” I guess I would label these voters more selfish than stupid.



  2. Just got back from a one-day trip in my time machine to check on the polls. This is what I heard:

    OK, all you people line up and show your birth certificates or passports. Those that don’t have them will be booked and investigated. Because of necessary efficiencies, we have busses waiting outside to take special groups for processing. Please step forward when your name is called:

    James Johnson’s go to area 3.
    William Jefferson’s go to area 21.
    Robert Williams’s go to area 19.
    Charles Smith’s go . . .

    That’s all I could stand – I had to return. 😦


  3. Troy

     /  November 3, 2014

    Another great post my brotha! How soon the vast majority of Americans forget the bad shape this country was in under the republican regime. America, please don’t make that mistake again! Keep hope alive!


    • It is hard to believe that people have so soon forgotten how bad a shape the country was in when O came into office. But most people don’t understand how the government works in the first place, and most popular journalists don’t do a good job of informing people of what is actually going on, so we have a “what have you done for me lately?” reaction among the public. Part of the problem is that Democrats don’t do a good enough job defending their own progress and spend way too much time on defense. That’s where Republicans have an edge. They are offensive minded. And just like in the NFL or elsewhere, people like offense.


  4. ansonburlingame

     /  November 4, 2014


    As all politicians are trying hard to do today, you have written a blog to “get out the vote” at least for people that agree with you. I am sure you could care less whether I vote, or not though you would not demean my right to so vote as I choose, stupid as I might seem to your supporters.

    Now watch where the “buses” go from Dem and GOP HQ to get “their” people to the polls. Do you believe any Dem bus would go to a rich neighborhood or a GOP bus to a gheto? Very unlikely in both cases. As well check out any “voter guides” to those getting on “buses”. All depends on whether it is a Dem or GOP bus I suppose.

    The original concept of the America Republic was that each American citizen (initially only white men with property but changed over time to each American citizen, of any race, gender, etc.) legally show they are just that, an American citizen and then go to the polls and vote, once in each election.

    That process provided the opportunity to vote, the legal system to vote. But voting was left up to each citizen. They had to do the “work” to decide for whom to vote and then get to the polls to do so.

    Now, on a mass scale, each party attempts to selectively round’em up and bus them to the polls. I take mine and hope you don’t take yours. Rally the base and forget the others. Promise your base the world and demean how the other side does that, rally then own base. The best base getters win!!

    I have written a blog entitled “Information, Knowledge and Wisdom” based on the Kissinger book. In our Republic it was hoped that voting would be based on knowledge and wisdom left up to those so elected to pass laws on our behalf. Today it is a race to flood the market with information only, accurate or cherry picked information being left to the minds of the beholders of such information. And even if the information is correct, that provides zero knowledge over what to do with such information. 50% of our kids lack proficiency in academic achievement in our public schools. That is information, true or not, well …….. But even if true, what to do about it is beyond the scope of the information.

    If a “vote” was held by supporters of this blog and any “conservative” that decided to participate, it would be about a 20 to 1 majority (me being 1). Is that really the way this country should be governed?

    I read this blog every day and comment most of the time (usually to disagree). I also read Lyons and Reich’s columns in the Globe, Will’s columns and usually local folks that write as such, conservative or liberal. Then I decide how to vote, get myself to the polls (or ask family to drive me there) and pull the correct levers to vote as I choose, in private, no one knowing unless I tell them.

    You do the same. But in Joplin, your vote is “neutered” by one redneck that can’t spell “Obamacare” but hates it because Long told him in a TV clip to hate it.

    Which is better for the country. Bussing rednecks or minorities to vote “as directed” or letting each person decide on their own how to vote and take the initiative to do so?

    Incidentally, I read in the Globe where the local Dem party is providing rides to vote for anyone that calls. No “litmus test” etc. Great!! I applaud that effort, but would also wonder what “information” might be exchanged while riding to the polls??

    I “think” the principle is “one man (or woman now), one vote”. I don’t disagree with that as long as the word “one” is underlined and enforced. You have now provided “information” and scream wrong information, cherry picked information, etc. But certainly you would agree with one man one vote as a matter of principle I suppose. OK now figure out how to achieve that goal and bus as many of your “men” to the polls as you can possibly find while leaving me standing in the rain waiting for ride???

    I suppose that is another dilemma to argue about.



    • Interesting, Anson.

      I will note that you didn’t express any outrage or even concern about what was presented here. I’m guessing it doesn’t much bother you. But what if, say, the same effort was undertaken to limit military or ex-military voters? Most of them tend to vote for Republicans, so if an effort, designed to singled out and disenfranchise those GOP-leaning voters, was discovered, would you be upset? I’m betting you would. Probably pissed off. That’s the way I am with this revelation. And you should be, too, just like I’d be upset if military or ex-military voters were being disenfranchised by Democrats. 

      I would say this about some of your other points: If there is a Democratic Party member in this or any town who is spending gas money hauling Republicans to the polling place, that is a waste of money, from a purely political point of view. As long as it isn’t money given by donors, it’s each person’s business, but it is still a waste of money.

      Sure, every person of age has the right, and should exercise the right, to vote. No one is arguing about that. It is fundamental. But politics is about winning and losing first, then getting something done, second. If I have certain views about what needs to get done on behalf of the well-being of the country, I must first make sure my guy wins the contest. So, why should I haul the other guy’s voters to vote? It might be the civil thing to do (like, for instance, seeing to it your elderly neighbor has a ride), but it is a dumb political move. 

      The sad reality today is that for too many politicians it is just about winning an election and to hell with governing or getting anything done. That is what the Tea Party has been about since 2010 in my view. The House Republicans claim that Harry Reid has stalled most all of the legislation they have passed. But they never mention that almost all of that legislation was not designed to actually become law, but to score political points—like the 56 times Long claims he voted to appeal or defund ObamaCare. That’s dishonesty, Anson. No Republican leader expected any of those bills to become law. It’s pure theater. (And, yes, Democrats do this kind of stuff, too; but Democrats have more of an incentive to get things done, since they actually believe government can better people’s lives.)

      So, we can’t blame voters—dumb voters or ignorant voters—for everything we see wrong with out politics. I put the biggest blame on indifferent citizens, those who don’t bother to vote at all. Republicans, when they can’t disenfranchise large numbers of voters, have come to count on such indifferent non-voters, in mid-term elections especially, to slither into office and obstruct good governance. 



  5. I first heard about the Interstate Crosscheck on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman. I’m really surprised that one has to read Al Jazeera or Domocracy Now or The Erstwhile Conservative to even know about this. I live in NC, where our local paper printed an article by Associated Press saying that some voting machines in Greensboro switched votes from Hagan to Tillis. And some of our polling states opened 90 minutes late, losing voters who had to go to work and could not wait. I’m not optimistic about our country.


  6. In Indiana, if you pressed a selection button a little too hard, your vote disappeared. If you noticed, you could recast — if you didn’t, too bad. There should be a paper trail for elctronic voting machines — a receipt, if you will. Still, there are enough Democrats to overcome voter suppression. I’m not sure what overcomes laziness and apathy.


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