In The Moment: Episode 54

Thom Hartmann with Venice Buhain—The Hidden War on Voting

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In this week’s interview, correspondent Venice Buhain talks with Thom Hartmann about the war on voting. Hartman compares voting systems in other countries to those in the United States, and discusses exit polling as a method of determining the winner of an election, both in the US and abroad. Buhain and Hartman reveal the mechanisms and justifications behind voter suppression, and the possibilities for changing our voting process or implementing policies to counteract voter suppression strategies. Get an insider’s look and stay in the know about what’s going on in this moment at Town Hall Seattle.


Episode Transcript

This transcription was performed automatically by a computer. Please excuse typos and inaccurate information. If you’re interested in helping us transcribe events and podcasts, email communications@townhallseattle.org.

welcome to in the moment a town hall Seattle podcast where we talk with folks coming to our stages and give you a glimpse into their topic, personality and interests. I’m your host, Ginny Palmer. There has been a surge of interest regarding the voter rights, fraud and suppression. Perhaps because it’s an election year, perhaps because of the foreign interference in our last presidential election or maybe it’s a greater understanding of the tactics and strategies the conservative elites use to prevent the quote wrong people from voting, American radio personality and New York times bestselling author Tom Hartman is coming to town hall on February 19th to talk about his new book, the hidden history of the war on voting, who stole your vote and how to get it back. Our correspondent that is behind is a Seattle area journalist, formerly the editorial director at the Seattle globalist. Her work has also appeared on TVW news, AOL KPCs FM, the Olympian, and more. Venice was a longtime board member, including past president of the Seattle chapter of the Asian American journalists association. She came to our media room at town hall to talk with Hartman. Over the phone. So, um, first question I want to ask you is, how did you come up with that title, the war on voting? Like how’d you come to decide to call it a war?

Well, it actually has been, I mean there’s, there’s strategy and tactics and, and, uh, you know, individual communities being targeted, States being targeted. The, uh, I’d originally suggested to, my publisher would be titled the Republican war on voting and they said, well, that sounds off of partisan and, but you know, at that point we had been doing a fair amount of research on and since 1965, uh, when the democratic party embraced, uh, you know, everybody voting with the voting rights act and the civil rights act over the loud objections of the Republicans. It was, uh, basically it’s been a one sided war. That’s really what’s going on is there’s, there’s one party that is very, very committed to preventing people from voting or suppressing the vote and reducing the phones and, uh, another party that has been working very hard to get as many people to the polls as possible.

Hmm. Okay. So, you know, is there anything in particular that spurred you to choose this topic in this series at this time? Or, um, you know, this is part of your, your series on hidden, his called hidden history.

Yeah, well it’s, you know, it’s an election year, but the thing that really got me started thinking about this, I lived in Germany back in the eighties. Um, uh, in Germany, they, the, the elections are, are uh, they take three to four days to count the vote. In fact, it’s like jury duty. You actually get a notice from the government saying that you have been selected, uh, to come in and be one of the vote counters and, uh, your employer has to give you time off work and all that kind of thing. And, but they call the elections the night of the election. Uh, 99% of the time. And the reason why is because they conduct exit polls all over the country. So by the time the vote is has, by the time the last vote has been cast, they pretty much know who won because the exit polls are always typically within a 10th or two tenths of a percent.

And so unless the election is really, really tight, they a unhesitatingly call them. We saw this with the U K, uh, with Boris Johnson’s election just a few weeks ago or a few months ago, um, where they pretty much called the election that night. And then, you know, it took three days for the, uh, for the entire boat to be tabulated. Um, exit polls are used by the United nations and by the Carter center that the gold standard, our federal government, when, um, I’m forgetting which Ukrainian president it was, but, uh, when the pro Russia Ukrainian president was elected and, and it was determined that, uh, the exit poll showed that the pro democracy guy won, but the pro Russia guy took office that sparked re we released that our government released the fact that there was a five or six point discrepancy between the exit polls and the actual election results where the election results are reported by the governor.

And that provoked the orange revolution that took down the government. So exit polls have always been the gold standard and we started using them in the nights night of six in the 1950s that became very scientific in the 1970s and throughout the 70s, 80s, and nineties, exit polls across the United States were always typically within, you know, at the very most, a half a point off. And then the 2000 election things went nuts. The, in particularly in Florida, but in several other States as well. But the main one was in Florida. The, the Florida exit polls show George W. Bush losing the election by tens of thousands of votes. And yet the actual count from the state came out that Al Gore lost and George W. Bush won. And this provoked to Florida Supreme court order, a statewide recount. And then of course, George were sued, uh, in Bush V Gore saying that if the recount continued, then complainant George W. Bush would be quite irreparably harmed.

And the Supreme court stopped. The us Supreme court stopped the Florida Supreme court. So that kind of perked me up. You know, what’s, what’s the deal here with these exit polls? And in 2002, uh, there were a number of other States where we saw this, it’s called red shift generally, but people in the election business, because it almost never happens in blue States, but in States that are controlled by Republican secretaries of state, you see these shifts where the exit poll says that, um, you know, person a one but the actual election results say that no, it was person B who won. And so, uh, the other thing that happened in the 2000, um, two, uh, this is the help America vote act that was passed, that, that made this possible. The other thing that happened in the help America vote act was that, um, they, we added a new kind of vowel to the national scene in addition to putting $5 billion in the voting machines nationwide.

This thing called the provisional ballot came out. So if you show up to vote, but for whatever reason, you’re not on the voting roles as a registered voter, they will still give you a ballot and you vote and you think you voted. And the problem is that in virtually all the States, uh, if you cast a provisional ballot, it never gets counted. And the election is contested. And even when the elections can test it, if you haven’t gone down to the local secretary of state’s already, your state secretary of state’s office, and, um, proven to them that you actually are who you are and that you’re a citizen and you’re legal and all that kind of stuff, then, um, you know, your, your vote literally will never get counted. And so, um, in 2004, we saw the same thing in Ohio and I big way, uh, again, 2004 showed John Kerry the exit poll, sir John Kerry winning the state easily by, by hundreds of thousands of votes, but the actual vote itself by a slim margin through the vote to through the state to George W. Bush.

Um, and we’ve been seeing this ever since. It’s, it’s become a regular feature of the American landscape. For example, in the 2016 election, the exit polls now around these even numbers, the exit polls showed Hillary Kent carried Florida by 48%, and the Trump got 46%. But the, uh, actual account, according to the estate, the official count was the Trump had 49%. And Hillary had 48% somehow Trump gained two and a half points. That’s the red shift in North Carolina. The exit poll showed Clinton winning 48 to 46% but the official result was Trump 49 Clinton 46 and 5.9% red shift. And Pennsylvania, the exit polls showed that Hillary Clinton won 50 to 46% for Trump. But when the official numbers from the state where the Trump beat Clinton by 48% so 47.6% red shift of 5.6% and in Wisconsin and Clinton beat Trump and the exit polls 48 to 44% but the actual count, according to the state of Wisconsin, there’s Trump beat her by 48.8% the 47.6% or Redshift or 5.1% now that’s the kind of red shift that we brought down the election and cranium.

And if the exit polls are accurate in those four States, or even in any two of those four States, Hillary Clinton easily won the election. So what accounts for that turns out, uh, the Republican has been since since 2000 when we did it right. A brute force in 2000. And that worked really, really well. And so got a little more sophisticated in 2004 has been systematically removing voters from the voting roles. And those people show up and they vote and they think that their vote was counted, but it wasn’t. But when they walk out, they tell the exit pollster, Oh yeah, I just voted for Hillary Clinton. I supposed to write it down and it gets tabulated. And this accounts, I believe accounts for the red shift. For a long time we thought it was, you know, problems with voting machines and whatnot. But it, it seems to only be happening in the States where these aggressive voter purges are happening, are being done by Republican secretaries of state.

And in some of them, they’re pretty, pretty, uh, strange. So we saying in the 2000 election, and this is, you know, well known now, um, uh, George W. Bush who was the governor of Texas, provided Jeb Bush who was the governor of Florida with a list of all the felons in Texas. About 60% of the phones in Texas are black or Hispanic, black and Hispanic. Name pools are relatively small. Most African-American names are derived from Anglo Saxon loans cause mostly holders were scotch, Irish or English. And uh, Hispanic names are almost entirely derived from Spanish, only two languages, whereas Caucasians have names from Slavic languages, Cyrillic languages, Scandinavian languages, Greek. I mean, you know, it’s just good. It’s all, one of the places is huge diversity of white names. So when George w Bush’s, excuse me, when Jeb Bush’s secretary of state, Katherine Harris compared to Texas felon list with the Florida voter list on the theory that some of those Texas felons might’ve moved to Florida to vote, uh, and in Florida fallen, can’t vote.

Um, they found, depending on whose lawsuit you’re looking at, between 30 and 80,000, largely African Americans and they didn’t compare the middle initials. So if it was James Q. Johnson and the Texas and Jimmy Johnson and Florida, it was the same person according to Jeb Bush. And they knocked all those people off the voting rolls and see, all you will recall was out marching in the streets about this one when it was figured out and all kinds of lawsuits and things. So that appears to be how and that accounts for the Redshift in Florida perfectly. And that appears to be how how George W. Bush won Florida. And then then in 2004 with the provisional ballots in Ohio, what they did was they started doing the same thing only instead of comparing as felony as they’re comparing one state against another. So the Georgia voting list would be comparative with the Ohio voting lists. And any overlap was deleted from both. And the overlap of course, was massively skewed towards black and Hispanic names.

Yeah. So you go over this in your book and it’s actually, you’ve got a good chapter where you’re going into this into detail. And so a lot of the mainstream analysis and the mainstream mainstream writers look at this and they came to the conclusion that the exit polling was flawed and you came to the opposite conclusion that it’s the official tally that’s flood. Is that, is that correct?

Uh, mr mr Matuski, I’m forgetting his first name. I think it might be Alan, but in any case, he’s the guy who really in the 1970s fine tuned exit polling into a science, he’s not passed away. And, um, he was confounded by the 2000 results in Florida and then the 2002 results in four or five States and then the 2004 results, particularly in Ohio, he didn’t know what to do about it because his company was finding these anomalous results. And the only answer, but he could come up with and, and he’s rather famous for this kind of sadly, was that, uh, for some reason in only some States and depending on the election, somewhere between 10 and 15 States, um, Republicans were embarrassed to admit that they had voted for Republican. It was called the shy Republican voter theory. And therefore these Republicans, when they walked out of the exit poll wide to the exit pollsters, it was the only answer that he could come up with.

I don’t think that, uh, they knew frankly about the provisional ballot and voter purges. I mean, this has only become widespread knowledge in the last five years or so. And it became really highlighted in the election of 2018 and in Georgia where the Brian camp, the secretary of state, threw a million people off the voting rolls in Georgia in the four years before the election, 200,000 year of the election and then ran himself for governor against Stacey Abrams and won by 50,000 votes. And, uh, and apparently there were hundreds of thousands provisional votes that were never counted in Georgia. So, uh, nobody ever demonstrated that there was anything wrong with the exit polling results. Exit polls are still used in Canada. They’re still used in every European country. The United nation still uses exit polls to certify elections in South America and Africa, Southeast Asia. Um, the Carter center still uses them. Nothing has changed except rappers, this handful of States that are controlled by Republican secretaries of state where thoroughly, reliably the vote will, will show that a Democrat won. But the actual official count for the exit polls will show the Democrat one. But the official results show that a Republican one

[inaudible]. So, um, for those of us who don’t know, can you describe how exit polling is done?

Sure. Yeah. Somebody stands outside the polling place for the voting station. And as people come out, they say, you know, would you please be willing on an exit pollster with Matuski Edison over the associated press or with NBC or whatever, and would you please be willing to tell me how you bought it? And we have this to be anonymous and I’m not going to ask her name or anything. And then they just basically go through the ballot and tick off what that person, and then they say, thank you very much from off the person goes. It’s a very straightforward process.

Okay. So just like it sounds, so, yeah. Okay. Yeah. All right. And, um, yeah. And I guess, uh, so what was the, so I guess is your argument that like, it seems to be accurate and other places, but you know, there seems to be a nominal, I, I’m just trying to make sure I understand.

Yeah. The exit polls, uh, on occasion there’ll be variations in blue States and States controlled by democratic, uh, secretaries of state. Um, but they tend to be random. You know, you’ll see a seven tenths of a point shift toward the Republicans or an eight tenths of a point shift toward Democrats in a variation between the exit poll and the actual results that might be accounted for by sample bias or by, you know, having a two smallest sample or something like that. But this consistent red shift running from two to as many as seven points, which is just unheard of actually pulling it literally any other developed democracy in the world. Um, this is a unique characteristic of Republican controlled States in the United States.

So do you think the issue of a voting integrity is being sort of ignored or slept on a side? You know, being shunted aside for other issues or,

yes, I do. And that’s why I wrote the book. I think it’s outrageous. I mean, the, the vote is like, you know, this is how we determine who is going to run our country is, you know, in our country, uh, our national government is what determines how we, how we regulate and protect our commons. So the vote is arguably the most important of all the commons. And it shouldn’t be screwed with like this or messed with this.

So why don’t people recognize this as an issue that’s relevant to everybody? Is there are the other things [inaudible]

most people don’t know about it. There’s been, you know, there’s been some reporting on this, but it tends to be in, you know, places like Politico or in the political pages of the New York times. Um, none of the stuff that I just shared with you is a secret. It’s all easily find-able. But if this is not something that is in the media on a regular basis, um, I, you know, I have theories about why, but I don’t have any evidence of exactly why the media doesn’t like distressing. So I suppose just leave those theories. They’re not in the book.

Oh, okay. So you don’t want to discuss what your, what your theories might be, why people learn it.

You know, I, I’ll just tell you that up front just kind of wanders into the realm of conspiracy theory as a word. But, but I’m in the media. I’ve, I’ve been doing this radio show for 15 years. I started in radio back in the late 1960s and, um, if your show is one that depends on guests showing up and a whole category of guests, like all Republicans start refusing to show up on your show, you lose your job. We no longer have a show. And so if the Sunday shows, for example, if the news shows were to start reporting aggressively on this Republican votes, voting suppression and you know, how it works and why it works and how it was organized and everything, um, I suspect that the Republicans to start a blackout in the shows and we don’t want that to happen. That’s just my theory. I, you know, I haven’t asked, you know, Chuck Todd, why he doesn’t talk about this or you know, George Stephanopoulos, I don’t actually know.

Hmm. I mean that’s interesting cause I mean you’d think that um, integrity of the vote would be nonpartisan or you know, interesting to everybody. Okay. Yeah. Hmm. Okay. So I guess what, what do you think are, can you name like three really important changes that would have to happen to increase trust and integrity in the vote and um, you can rank them in terms of most achievable or maybe most important? I’ll let you decide.

We need to have an absolute right to vote. So there was never a right to vote written into the constitution because the framers of the constitution were purposely excluding enslaved people. And women, um, after the civil war, you know, and, and Jim Crow kicked back in after the failure of reconstruction. Again, it was, you know, women were excluded from voting and people, men of color were excluded from voting right up until 1965. Um, and, and, and women didn’t get the vote in United States until 1920, as we all know. So because of this kind of male, white male, um, oligarchy essentially, or aristocracy or patriarchy or whatever you want to call it, you know, power structure in the United States. I mean, there’s a lot of legacies to that. You know, they’re mostly white male judiciary, the mostly white and not legislature. Um, and a largely white male electric. And, uh, so we’ve never really had a national discussion about building an absolute right to vote into the constitution or even into our law.

There is a 1993 laws, sometimes referred to as the motor voter law that allowed a federal law that allowed individual secretaries of state to, uh, to set it up so that when people read, uh, getting a driver’s license that they can check a box and be automatically registered to vote. Um, this was bill. This law says both in its preamble and in the body of the law, voting is a right in the United States, that exact phrase, but it’s never been subject to judicial review. It’s never been reviewed by the Supreme court. And so, uh, by and large it is ignored. Um, we don’t have an actual right to vote. In fact, in the Bush legal case, when you know, when judge re-encode and when William Rehnquist ruled in favor of George Bush, uh, part of the ruling said, and I quote, there is no constitutional right to vote for president of the ounce States and quote, and we need to have a right to vote.

If we had a right to vote, then before Brian Kemp can take your name off the voting rolls, you would have to meet some burden approved. Right now if you want to vote and he’s taken your name off the list, you have to make the burden of proof. I think that’s backwards. So number one, right to vote. Number two, I think we need to publicize what’s going on and then the stuff that we’ve already talked about here. And number three, we need to make voting a lot easier. Um, right now if you work on an hourly basis, you have to actually lose part of your salary, part of your income to go about. Um, you might even, you know, cause your job to go vote taking a day off to go vote. Um, you know, so it’s skewed. Voting is skewed in most States toward people who are on salaries rather than hourly.

And that tends to be the more upper income and largely more white population. And so, you know, there’s these structural things that make it harder for people who, who, uh, people who are economically challenged to vote. Uh, I live in Oregon where the entire state now votes by mail. And we’ve seen, you know, our voter, uh, compliance go up into the mid 60 range, uh, you know, much higher than pretty much any other state. And it works really, really well. My wife and I get the ballot three weeks before the election. We sit down, you know, go through it. If we’ve got questions, we can Google it people. Um, so without dropping the mail and that’s it. And it’s all on paper. There’s no questions about it. There’s no doubt about it. It’s solid, it’s secure, it’s safe. And uh, Washington state just to dr [inaudible] a couple of years ago also, and it’s spreading around the country, uh, in democratic States, but it is being fiercely resisted in Republican controlled States.

Hmm. Yeah. So, um, yeah, actually that does bring me to another question. You know, it’s interesting, I had a conversation with some folks from North Carolina about, uh, the system that we have in Washington state where people vote all by mail. And they were really surprised that people that we weren’t concerned about picture ID or that didn’t seem to be a concern in this state. And I was wondering, you know, like, have you heard about this concern elsewhere?

Well, this is, this is one of the, you know, when, when the Republican party decided to, to make a voter suppression the principle way that they were going to guarantee a continuation of their power or their electoral power, um, they had to come up with an excuse, you know, rationalization for the reasons for it. And so in the early two thousands, after George Bush won Florida, the way he did as I described, um, he concluded that any place, a Democrat one or some of the places where Democrats won, it must’ve been because quote illegal aliens and the Hispanic slightly, uh, who aren’t us citizens were voting in the elections. And so he ordered his all 100 of his federal prosecutors to, uh, allocate a certain amount of the resources of their office in certain amount numbers of staff members to look for people who had voted illegally in their, and seven of his prosecutors.

So this is crazy. There’s this, it literally is not happening. I mean, what illegal alien is going to risk two to five years in prison to vote. Nobody is that crazy. Um, I’m not going to do it. Then he fired seven people. It was a huge scandal. And then over the next two years, he spent, uh, I believe it was 70, $70 million in this huge campaign to find these people. And they found 13 people who had voted illegally, nationwide. And uh, more than half of them were Europeans who were here on green cards who thought that they could vote cause they had a green card. And the majority of them, I voted for Republicans. So this idea that we have to check everybody’s ID is crazy. Then there’s no, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than the voting illegal number one. Number two, we did have an actually more effective, more, more secure system than photo ID before the photo ID was.

And that was a biometric system. When you registered to vote, you signed a card and the, and the voting people would keep that card with your signature on it. It’s a lot easier to buy a phony ID than it is to, while you’re in front of somebody signing the paper, fake a signature. That’s very difficult to do actually. And so we had a system that worked really effectively, and you know, it’s been replaced by this, by this photo ID thing. And still we’re not finding these so-called illegal voters. They just literally don’t exist. But what does exist is the fact that in our big cities where you don’t need a car, my, my best friend lives in New York city has his whole entire life. He hasn’t, he’s never, literally never owned a car. I was not a driver’s license in 20 years. Um, you don’t need a driver’s license and poor people in big cities can’t afford a driver’s license, but can’t afford a car.

So he had a driver’s license. Um, uh, so, uh, what the ID laws do is they disadvantage poor people. They disadvantaged people over 65 who have stopped driving on their driver’s licenses, have expired, is in almost every case. They don’t just require an ID that required a current and valid ID. So, uh, and, and then also you find that, uh, they, the severely disadvantaged students, we were seeing this for the first time in New Hampshire this year cause New Hampshire just passed an ID law that doesn’t allow most types of college ID even for people who are living in state. I’m going to college and they will have had to go through the additional step or getting a New Hampshire driver’s license when they, you know, maybe their home state is, you know, California and Georgia, whatever. And so you’re going to see, I suspect a real fall off in student voting in New Hampshire in this primary today. We’ll see tonight. I mean, we’ll know in a few hours, but um, so what the idea was do is nothing more than make it harder for people of color. People who are poor, young people and old people, which is the democratic constituency by and large to vote.

Hmm. Yeah. And so I guess along that same vein, do you think that there are security measures or ideas that are kind of gaining traction that are in fact ways or things that people should be wary of in terms of, um, you know, things that would actually suppress the vote?

Yeah. Voter ID laws are explicitly a form of voter suppression. You know, we’ve had half a dozen Republican politicians say this out loud, um, over the last couple of years. Um, the, uh, you know, of course the voter purges in the name of we’re cleaning up the rolls to get rid of people who’ve moved out of state or people who are felons and shouldn’t be voting here, or people who’ve died. Uh, this massive voter purchase, you know, over 200,000 people in Wisconsin just before the 2016 election, over 190,000 people in Michigan, which just before that election, uh, almost 300,000 in Ohio, just before that election. These are permissions. And this went before the Supreme court last year. Um, Ohio, they’re gonna win. John Casick wanted oppression of a couple of hundred thousand people are the voting roles in Ohio, almost exclusively. And in cities that had large black populations. Um, UCLU in a group of, uh, another group of people took it to the Supreme court and the Supreme court in a five to four decision that was just ripped by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And, um, Elena Kagan, the five conservative justice of the Supreme court. So this is really a state’s matter. It’s not a federal matter. Uh, there’s no federal right to vote. We’re not grandchild, you know, so we’re going to let Ohio do this. And, and within a month of that, other Republican controlled state started aggressively compiling, you know, lists of different States, voters that they could compare with their state’s orders to purge, you know, common names.

Hmm. Okay. I noticed you didn’t, you didn’t even mention like electronic, you know, electronic voting or anything like that, I guess. Is that something also

know we thought for in the early two thousands, when the anomalous results were coming out, particularly in the 2004 election in Ohio. Um, and, and particularly after, uh, uh, Wally Odell, the president of Debold had written a letter, uh, saying that he was also the chairman of the George W. Bush campaign in Ohio, uh, saying that, you know, we’re going to bring in Ohio for George W. Bush. There were a lot of people who thought, Oh, it’s the D D Bolton machines or the S and S machines. They were the most widely used in United States. We, uh, two brothers who started the SNS are both Christian fundamentalists, uh, the time guys who believed that, you know, within the next 10 years, the world’s going to end. And, um, so there was a lot of suspicion about he’s like, try to buddy machines and you know, some of them obviously were insecure. I mean, you know, at the desk con hackers conventions.

So they regularly feature 11 year olds, you know, hacking the machines at 15 year olds doing it. 11 minutes, I guess. But, um, and, and I think that it’s frankly wrong. The, we have privatized our vote and we have for profit corporations telling us how we voted, but not telling us any of the details of it. They will not give us the [inaudible] even the code for how the machines work. And this should be fairly simple stuff. I mean it’s addition and subtraction. Um, and that’s offensive. I think it’s offensive to democracy. You know, Thomas Paine referred to the vote as the beating heart of democracy. It’s, it’s the, it’s the core of democracy. It should never have been privatized as it was in 2002 without the America vote act, which legalize this and providing the States of five point $6 billion to buy body missions from, for profit companies.

And, and I, I’d love to see them all go away, you know, and, and have us do the same thing that Canada does and the eye kingdom does, and France and Germany and every other developed country in the world. And that is vote on paper and have that average people ballots counted by hand or even countered by a scanning machine like we do in Washington and Oregon. Um, that’s, that’s important. But I don’t think that’s as urgent as stopping the purchase of the registered voting roles and, um, and informing people that if they’re handling provisional ballot, it almost certainly won’t be carded and they should protest loudly.

Yeah. And do you think that, uh, like the voter suppression is kind of baked into the process of voting, I mean, is it, is it like impossible to make any changes? Is it too late to change things?

It is right now in 20 some odd States, you know, the States that have passed these model laws that have to do with voter ID and cleaning the rolls and stuff that we’re promoting by the American legislative exchange council. You know, the Koch brothers kind of a group that proposes legislation for the States. Those laws are in place. Your sector, state’s offices are regularly doing this. Uh, it has, um, standard operating practice. Um, this is not happening in the democratic controlled States pretty much at all. And, uh, so I think that mostly we need to blow the whistle on it.

Mm Hmm. Okay. And I’m wondering, um, do you think that the idea of what it means to, um, influence the vote or undermine the integrity of the vote or, you know, what is, what that means, uh, has changed like in the past 20 years from kind of one idea to another or tactics changed or kind of what’s your, what’s your view on that?

Yeah. You know, we know, we know, for example, in the 2016 elections, uh, Russia and apparently several other nations, Seth Abramson wrote a book about this called proof of conspiracy, you know, in which he talks about how, uh, apparently Saudi Arabia was insider election systems and a couple of other countries, uh, China may have penetrated than North Korea and there, but we know that Russia did. In fact, we know, you know, we’ve got the fingerprints all over the state of Florida for example, where they were actually inside body systems. And so, you know, most voting machines are not online, but there are some that are, but most of the tabulating machines, the computers that actually count the vote are online or at least many of them are. Uh, none of that should be happening. It should not be possible to access our voting infrastructure that needs to be fixed right away.

And, um, I guess I was also wondering why do you think that this is not like an issue that has gained a lot of traction or like I just don’t hear a whole lot of noise on it. I, I will say like, I remember back in like, um, like 1994 when, you know, and I was getting ready to register to vote as a teenager. I mean, when I was a teenager and I was hearing all these things about like how important it was to vote, how important it was to register, I know know, like, are you hearing, I mean, I’m not seeing that kind of push. I mean, you know, I’m like, of course that, that was a long time ago, so I’m not seeing, you know, necessarily what teenagers see. But I, I was wondering, Yana do you think, yeah, I feel like it was a bigger issue. Listen, was

the big change point. I mean, yeah, 2000 was the point at which it really, really changed. And this, and by 2004 this, because of the help America vote act and the invention of provisional ballots, this would become institutionalized. Um, but frankly, everything that we’ve discussed here is relatively common knowledge in the black community in the United States. And we tune into some of the urban stations, the black stations, and you’ll hear these conversations literally every day right now. Um, it just hasn’t broken through into the, so called mainstream media into the largely white controlled white dominated media. You know, for whatever reason you’ve heard my theory. Um, and uh, the other thing is I remember back, this was like in 2005 when I was on air America and myself and Randy Rhodes and again in a couple of other of the, uh, like a host went to Washington D C and we met with a half a dozen or so of democratic Saturdays.

And at that time, you know, we were all jazzed up about the red shift and you know, Ohio in the 2004 election. And we were like, and it wasn’t just Ohio, there was like a half a dozen States where there was substantial shift, but Ohio was prolonged, the election turned on. And, and so we said to them, you know, we think this is these electronic voting machines being rigged or hacked or something. And why don’t you guys raise, how about this? And one of the senators, uh, said to, uh, I don’t recall if it was me or Randy was there anything said to us, um, we are concerned, we have concerns about this and we’re going to look into it. But our biggest concern is that if the American people think that their vote is not, doesn’t have integrity that, but it won’t be counted. They may lose faith in the system.

And if they lose faith in the system, they’ll stop showing up to vote. And if they stopped showing up to vote, then we’re in even deeper trouble than we are right now. And that was the kind of official policy of the democratic party up until 2016, you know, evils, you know, we will say no evil. That’s, and you’ve got democratic politicians. Now see, Stacey Abrams down in Georgia has started an organization called fair fight. Um, who is just taking on this voter suppression is this giant purchase, um, front, you know, front and center. You’ll hear a conversation about this pretty much every Saturday or Sunday. Andre reads program on MSNBC. She talks about it every single week. Um, you know, again, it’s, she’s a black horse and then there’s no, as I said, the, the black community, he knows what’s going on. Um, and I, I think that the democratic party is, is waking up and waking up the rapid and then you’re going to see more and more, uh, outrage around its issue.

Hmm. Okay, great. And, um, as we’re doing this interview, it’s been a week since the Iowa caucuses and, and the delays at the democratic party was having with tabulating the delegates and all that. I mean, it’s, you know, I know caucusing is not 100% the same as voting, but is this, do you think that there’s anything related here in terms of, um, trust or integrity or, you know, kind of what’s the, you know, I, I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on that.

I think the Iowa democratic party was a lot of credibility and trust. Um, you know, trying to roll out an app, um, doesn’t seem to have been a particularly good idea. Uh, but I’m quite willing to chalk this up to incompetence rather than criminality.

Hmm. Okay. You know, is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you hope people in Seattle know?

Yeah, you’ve been quite comprehensive. You know, you become an evangelist for voting by mail. It works really well and it is biometric by the way you sign the back of that envelope. So you’ve got something that’s actually harder to fake than voter ID, you know, and a good safe, secure system that produces high quality results the rest of the country she lived up.

Tom Hartman will be on our great hall stage on February 19th at 7:30 PM to talk about his book, the hidden history of the war on voting, who stole your vote and how to get it back. The tickets are selling quickly, so if you’d like to be part of the conversation or get a signed copy of Tom’s book, get yourself a ticket. Thank you for listening to episode 54 of in the moment. Our theme music comes from the Seattle baseband EBU and Seattle’s own bar Souk records to hear the events that happened on her stages. Subscribe to our arts and culture, civics and science series, podcasts, and to watch many of our hottest events, check out our town hall, Seattle, YouTube channel. Just search Townhall Seattle and subscribe to support town hall. Become a member or see your calendar of events. Go to our website, a town hall, seattle.org next week, our chief correspondent, Steve Cher. We’ll talk with Connor Dougherty about the fight for housing in America. Until then, thanks for joining us right here in the moment.

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